Two representatives to the Board of Regents, Rodrigo Tojo Garcia and Anthony Kahane, were appointed to vacant positions near the beginning of the University of Minnesota’s fall semester.
Eight students from across the University of Minnesota system are selected to serve as student representatives to the Board of Regents, assisting the Board’s decisions by presenting the voice of their respective student bodies. The Twin Cities typically has four representatives, two of which must come from Minnesota Student Association and one of which must come from the Council of Graduate Students or the Professional Student Government.
Representatives attend Board meetings, serve as nonvoting members on committees and present reports to the Board. Each report, according to COGS Executive Committee Speaker Scott Petty, serves as “a collective document of all eight” representatives.
Rodrigo Tojo Garcia — Minnesota Student Association
Tojo Garcia, a sophomore from New Ulm, Minnesota, studying political science, said he was initially interested in becoming a representative to bring “concerns of students to the Regents so that they can act on them and improve the University as a whole.”
The position’s significance, Tojo Garcia said, is to ground the Regents’ decisions.
“There’s really nothing to me that’s more powerful than the experiences of students,” Tojo Garcia said.
Tojo Garcia said his background may help him bring a fresh perspective to the Board.
“I’m a Latino person who serves as a student representative, not necessarily so that I can advocate exclusively for Latinos, but at the very least so there is a perspective when these decisions are being made,” Tojo Garcia said.
Tojo Garcia identified economic and physical accessibility as personal priorities but said he is focused on giving a voice to the student body.
“Whatever the student body thinks should be a priority, I’m going to make a priority,” Tojo Garcia said.
Anthony Kahane — Council of Graduate Students
Kahane, a graduate student in the Department of German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch from Glenview, Illinois, said he is approaching his position with curiosity.
“I would at least like to, before I form concrete judgments, experience decision making about things like budget and administrative salary at the level of the Board of Regents,” Kahane said.
Kahane said he has “personal pet projects” he would like to advance but will not “put those ahead of faithfully representing the members of the Council of Graduate Students.”
These projects include cutting costs in campus lighting and water treatment processes, as well as making data about graduate students’ stipends more transparent.
Kahane also expressed interest in addressing misconduct among tenured faculty.
“We want everybody to be held accountable,” Kahane said. “We want this to be a place where everybody is safe and free to exercise their right to say ‘no’ and not lose funding over it.”
Though they represent different student bodies, Tojo Garcia and Kahane said they both intend to share the voices of students and guide the Board’s decisions.