By Dena Tackett/Editor
One year after Eastern’s student body president got into trouble for not meeting the requirements for the position, his successor also fell below full-time status. Chris Pace, 1999-2000 Student Government Association president, was forced to return an $1,800 scholarship in the Spring of 2000 after the university concluded that he did not meet the requirements to be president or student regent.
Last semester, Student Government Association President Ritchie Rednour also dropped below the full-time requirement.
Rednour said he maintained his full-time status through more than half of the spring semester, but dropped a partial-semester class before the withdraw date. That lowered him to nine hours.
“At the time I made the decision, I was worried about my grades and myself academically,” Rednour said. “There was nothing that alarmed me.”
Rednour was a full-time student the entire fall semester.
Rednour said dropping the class was a “conscious decision” and that he checked SGA’s constitution to make sure he wasn’t violating any rules.
According to the SGA’s constitution, “The President shall be a member of the Association, have and maintain at least a 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) cumulative GPA, at the time of election and be a full-time student.”
Rednour said he thought he only had to be a full-time student at the time of election.
Besides SGA’s constitution, the student body president also must meet the requirements to serve as the student regent on Eastern’s governing body, the Board of Regents.
Those requirements are outlined in KRS 164.321.
According to the statute, “If the student member does not maintain his position as student body president or his status as a full-time student at any time during that academic year, a special election shall be held to select a full-time student member.”
This requirement is echoed in Eastern’s Board of Regents By-Laws.
Rednour said since SGA’s election cycle had already begun before he dropped the class, he didn’t think there would be need for a special election.
“If I did wrong by doing that, I apologize,” Rednour said. “It was not with malicious intent.”
Rednour said his case was different than Pace’s because he had the hours to begin with and only dropped them at the end of the semester.
Pace also did not meet the full-time student requirement to serve as president and student regent.
After a story uncovering the neglected requirements appeared in The Eastern Progress in the Spring of 2000, the university did its own investigation.
University Counsel Kacey Coleman made the decision to revoke Pace’s scholarship after the investigation into Pace’s status during the fall ’99 semester. Pace was ordered to pay back the approximately $1,800 fall portion of the scholarship which comes with the position.
So, the question is who checks to make sure these officials meet the requirements? No one seems to know the answer.
According to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, a student’s educational records are private, with some exceptions. But then state law requires that the student regent be a full-time student.
Pace said in an interview Tuesday that he doesn’t see how anyone could legally check up on the elected regent.
“Federal law is against it and state law is for it,” Pace said. “I don’t know where the full-time law came from, but it is something that needs to be looked at.”
Pace said it wasn’t fair that the student regent has more requirements than others on the Board.
SGA Adviser Aaron Thompson said it is not in his power to monitor the president, either.
“The SGA president is elected by the students, and I don’t necessarily have the authority to check and see if he or she meets the requirements,” said Thompson, who also is assistant vice president for academic affairs and executive director of the Student Success Institute.
Thompson said his was more of an advising role than one of power.
“I could advise him or her, if I was made aware, of what I thought he or she should do, but I would have no punitive power or responsibility,” Thompson said.
Eight of the 11 Board of Regent members are appointed by Gov. Paul Patton. They must be nominated and then reviewed by the Postsecondary Education Nominating Committee in Frankfort.
This committee does not deal with the three elected positions on a public university’s governing board, though. Those are the student regent, the faculty regent and the staff regent at Eastern.
Sitting SGA President Nick Bertram said he believes the issue is something SGA can take care of internally.
Bertram, who is taking 15 hours this semester, said he will draft a proposal to expand the role of the SGA adviser to include the responsibility of checking to make sure the student body president meets the requirements. The proposal could be ready as soon as Tuesday, Bertram said.
“It’s an easy fix,” Bertram said. “It’s just that nobody’s ever thought about it before.”