Nixon picks student representative

Nearly 12 months after initial recommendations were sent to Jefferson City, Missouri Southern finally has an official student representative again to the Board of Governors.

Ezekiel “Zeke” Tarrant, a senior biology and biochemistry major, was selected for the post Tuesday by Gov. Jay Nixon.

“I’m very honored,” Tarrant said Wednesday. “I’m excited and I’ve been looking forward to this given all the stuff that’s going on with the University right now and I felt like I would be the right person to do it in terms of representing the students.”

Tarrant replaces Student Senate President Lindi Todd, who had been filling in while Southern awaited an appointment from the Governor’s office. Will Lynch had done the same last semester.

Four recommendations were sent to Nixon’s office last April, and again last fall after delays in the process.

“This is a premier position on campus,” said Darren Fullerton, director of student life. “They go through the same vetting process and application process as a full-time member of the Board, the only difference is the student members technically don’t have an official vote, but I can tell you with the current Board of Governors they are very involved in asking the students’ opinions and I think this is a great opportunity for students at Southern.”

Concerning recent student protests at Southern over the school’s non-discrimination policy, Tarrant said he too supports adding sexual orientation language.

“Personally, yes I do,” Tarrant said of his support. “But I’m a representative of the students, so I’m going to let the Board know whatever they think.”

Tarrant also said he supports bringing a medical school branch to campus, but has concerns about destroying a tract of remnant prairie at the northeast corner of Duquesne and Newman roads to construct a building. Tarrant also serves as president of the biology club.

“I’m all for the school, but like we were talking about in one of our meetings, even though some of us may be pre-meds or whatever it may be, we’re biologists first and I think we have an obligation to help conserve natural resources and that is definitely one of them,” he said.

Tarrant said recent controversy over the presidency of Bruce Speck was one reason he submitted his name for nomination to the position. Students have been largely left out of discussions, he said.

“Ultimately it’s the students who have to pay for it because our fees and our tuition pay at least part of their salaries and I just felt like there may have been dialogue between the administration and the faculty but none between the students and the rest of the University,” Tarrant said. “The students weren’t allowed to put their two cents in on the matter.”

Todd on Wednesday described the position as a “vital connection” between the student body and Board members.

“Even though I never got to vote or have much of a voice in the meetings I think it was a great opportunity,” she said.

“Apart from me everyone else was a Board member and really had little knowledge of what it’s like to be a student,” she later added. “I hope whoever takes this position understands how important of a role it is.”