This Friday, Daniel Ruthenberg-Marshall was chosen as the new Student Trustee-in-Training Designee. He will take over for current student trustee-in-training Debbie Travers in May and eventually become student trustee for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Ruthenberg-Marshall, along with his new position of student trustee-in-training designee, is also currently President of SafeRide and an active member of SEAC, the outdoors club, and the rock climbing club.
“I look forward to seeing how Danny will add his own personal touch to a unique and special position in the campus community,” said Jeremy Pevner, the current Student Trustee. “I know that he will represent the student body to the Board well.”
Other finalists for the position, such as sophomore Sophia Traven, also spoke highly of both Ruthenberg-Marshall and other applicants. Shortly before the decision was made, Traven said, “I believe [the Board] won’t be able to choose wrong.”
The position of Student Trustee, according to Pevner, is a “way of pulling together students with the right set of administrators, and sometimes the trustees as well, to manage the lines of communication.” Officially, the Student Trustee is an ex-officio member of the SGA executive board, and has such duties as reporting back to the SGA senate on the executive board’s actions and authoring and cosponsoring legislation. The Student Trustee also sits on multiple SGA and administrative committees, such as the Enrollment and Student Affairs and Strategic Planning committees. What makes the position of the Student Trustee unique, however, is his or her work with the Board of Trustees; at every quarterly meeting, Pevner has had the duty of informing the board of current events on campus and opinions on issues currently facing the College. According to Pevner, in his time as Student Trustee, he had to express student opinion on such issues as the River Center and tuition increases. Pevner said simply, “You have to be the representative of the students.”
The process of selection for the next Student Trustee began last semester, when applications were sent to students asking them about issues such as what constitutes a campus role model, how they would improve the quality of life for St. Mary’s students, and what the role of Student Trustee should entail. Some students, such as sophomore finalist Hillary Powell, were also recommended for the position by professors and staff; all applicants, however, had to submit three letters of recommendation. The seven applicants then presented their case at a candidate forum held two weeks ago. Feedback from students was then used to narrow the selection pool down to three Sophomore finalists: Ruthenberg-Marshall, Traven, and Powell. A committee of consisting of Pevner, Travers, sophomore class president Charles Onwuche, and two other students chosen by Onwuche made the final decision.
According to Ruthenberg-Marshall, he will have two main priorities as Student Trustee: listen to student opinions, and fight for the student’s perspective.
“I would love it if I could know all 2,000 people on this campus, and I really feel like I can get people’s opinions and express them very well,” he said. Because of this strong focus on representing the students, Rutherberg-Marshall plans on getting student opinion before bringing any concrete plans forward to the Board of Trustees.
Ruthenberg-Marshall also expressed the fact that he is not afraid to push for the student perspective, even if student views are unpopular with the Board of Trustees. “I don’t like taking no for an answer,” he said. “I will stand up…and explain to [the Board] that this is what the students want, this is what the students need, and this is what we should be doing.”
Although enthusiastic to take on the role of Student Trustee, Ruthenberg-Marshall still has a year as Student Trustee-in-Training, during which he will, according to Pevner, sit on committees such as Building and Grounds, begin to take on increasing responsibilities, and learn more about the workings of the Board of Trustees and the SGA. By May of 2010 Ruthenberg-Marshall will inherit the full position from Travers, a position that in the grand scheme is quite unique.
“The fact that we have this [position] is really special,” Pevner said. “A lot of schools don’t have this kind of representation for their students.”