Student Trustee Brings Campus Voice to Board
American University is always listening to its students. If you ask second-year grad student Randall Warnas, that’s a great thing.
“The university fosters a good relationship among its faculty, administration, and students, where they want their students to be able to voice their opinions,” he said. “With students who are politically active there are going to be students that have loud voices and know how to express themselves, and the university fosters that.”
Warnas himself is listening closely now too, but to both sides—administration and students. As newly appointed student trustee, the Utah native sits on the university’s Board of Trustees.
His job? To bring the student voice to the table. Literally.
In addition, School of Public Affairs junior Joe Ste.Marie was recently appointed as student trustee-elect. He will shadow Warnas before taking over for the French and American citizen next spring.
Both are taking their opportunities seriously.
“The trusteeship is a unique opportunity to be a part of the decision-making process in a high level institution,” Warnas said. “We have 14,000 students [plus] alumni. Their futures rely on the reputation of the institution. What the institution does going forward affects not only current and future students but previous students as well.”
For the School of International Service’s Warnas, his role is all about communication. Though he can’t vote on the Board, he is looking to improve the dialogue that last year allowed students to successfully advocate for increased financial aid as well as the university’s lowest tuition increase in recent memory.
To that end, he plans to expand communication between students and the Board via social media and email.
Another key piece is making sure the Board’s work and goals are successfully brought to the campus body. As a former Student Government comptroller, Ste.Marie points out that communication is always a two-way street.
“The student trustee can act as interpreter alongside administration and Student Government groups to ensure that the communication flows in two ways,” he explained. “It’s not just bringing student voice to the Board but also the Board’s voice to the students and helping facilitate that dialogue.”
Aside from it being an incredible way to help improve the university, the student trustee position offers real-life professional development that students can take to any career.
This aspect is certainly not lost on Warnas, as the first-generation college student finishes his master's this year.
“It gives me an opportunity to see how a boardroom setting works, to see what kind of decisions are made, how the conversation flows, and to be around people who have accomplished great things in their lives and try to learn how to maybe become one of those people,” he said.
Warnas will be keeping his ear open to campus more than ever as he anticipates the first Board meeting of the semester on September 26 and 27. In his efforts, he wants to pave the way for other students to support the university that continues to support them.
If you ask him, he feels it’s his duty—his way to say thanks to the institution he dreamed of attending at 14 years old. And that’s a great thing.
“Giving back to the university is showing my appreciation and understanding that [AU is] providing me with quality, and quality should be expected of its students as we expect it from the institution,” Warnas explained.
Get in touch with Randall Warnas and make your voice heard at firstname.lastname@example.org.