New appointee will represent student needs with a first-hand perspective


Selected by the Washington State Governor, senior Joshua Neil hopes to represent the voice of the student body while serving on the EWU Board of Trustees.

Neil is the 14th student trustee to be selected in Eastern’s history, a tradition that has helped the members on the board of trustees better understand the needs and values of the students and faculty that they govern.

A new student trustee is selected every year, while the rest of the members of the board serve six-year terms, according to the board of trustees website.

“It is my duty to express the opinions of the students that go to Eastern, so I try to do that to the best of my ability. We have so many types of people and everybody’s an individual, so everyone’s needs are different,” said Neil.

Neil began the application process last spring and was chosen for the position from a pool of three applicants.

The University is required to have a minimum of three applicants and a maximum of five.

If there are more than five, the board narrows it down and then the applications are sent to the governor’s office.

“It can be difficult to find people to apply for it because it’s not a well known position,” said Neil.

Neil stated that while the board meetings often have a lot of information to take in, he still has fun taking part in the meetings and seeing the university from a different perspective.

“It’s been really interesting to see a different aspect of the university that generally you don’t see as a student. Because usually you’re just focused on classes and activities, you don’t generally see how the university is run,” said Neil.

“After just one meeting [I could tell] they really do value students’ opinions. The board consists of people throughout Washington [and] while most live in the Spokane area, some live on the west side or middle of the state, so they don’t have as much contact with the university… so hearing what students feel about things is very important to them,” said Neil.

Paul Tanaka, chair of the EWU Board of Trustees, said having a student on the board is extremely important.

Tanaka said that when the board made the decision to build the new residence hall, they all looked to the student trustee to find out what students really wanted and needed.

“The University exists for the students, and the student trustee … provides perspective on various policy issues that we may be addressing,” said Tanaka.

The student trustee has all the same responsibilities as a regular board member with the exception of not being able to vote on personnel issues.

“The trustee’s primary job is to set basic policies for the university. We vote to approve all budgets and to hire the president. Basically we’re an oversight board for the university,” said Tanaka.

Neil grew up on Whidbey Island and is currently working on his Bachelor of Arts degree in social work.

Neil originally planned on majoring in athletic training and education, but after a few major changes realized that his passion was for people and advocacy, leading him to settle on social work.

Neil remains involved in other student activities, such as the EWU Eagle Pride club, and also works with students in Morrison Hall, where he also resides as a tutor in the “Explore” living learning community and as an office worker.

“Being involved on campus, … that is the main tool that I’ve used to see what students want. In the residence halls and various meetings that I go to … overhearing their concerns about a specific dining hall or service on campus, how they’re feeling about things,” said Neil.

While this is Neil’s first governing board job, he believes that his previous leadership roles on campus have equipped him to successfully take on the responsibility.

“My major as well [has prepared me] to think objectively and consider all options. I think that being aware is essential to a position like this,” said Neil.