A group of students opposed to the merger have filed an official petition with the Board of Regents, the appointed group that must approve the consolidation, seeking an audience with the board at its meeting scheduled for next Tuesday and Wednesday in Atlanta.
Regents meetings are open to the public but have no public comment period, said John Millsaps, spokesman for the university system.
“There’s not really a public comment section as a part of the meeting,” Millsaps said. “It’s not like a local school board, for example, that might have a set public comment.”
Individuals who want to speak to the entire board can make a request to the Regents’ secretary to be placed on the meeting agenda, but Millsaps couldn’t say who decides what requests make it on the agenda.
Eric Cooney, a student leading the charge against the merger, said his group hopes to “express our opinion and distaste for the
He wants to know how and why the decision was made to merge a school with a pinpointed focus on technology with a liberal arts institution.
“They’ve remained silent and we think that shows cowardice, if nothing else,” Cooney said.
C. Dean Alford, a regent from Conyers, said it’s rare for a group to be denied an audience with the board.
“We’ve had several student groups speak to the Board of Regents about various issues,” Alford said.
He called the response by Southern Polytechnic students “perfectly acceptable, normal and appreciated.”
Part of the reason there is no concrete plan for how the merger will go forward is the board wants to include the schools and communities, he said.
“I understand they want to give us some thoughts on even the concept of this happening … and that’s fair,” Alford said. “I’m absolutely always interested in what people have to say.”
The proposed SPSU and KSU merger isn’t the first to take place in the state and won’t be the last, Alford said. He called it a “necessary evil” and “not something we relish,” but said he’s willing to listen to input from students.
Still, the university system is in a “very tough situation,” he said.
“Do you continue to raise tuitions to do whatever everyone wants?” Alford asked.
The consolidation will need final approval by the regents in January 2015.