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Olivia Britton appointed as UMaine Board of Trustees student representative

By regularly raising awareness of the evolving campus concerns and vocalizing student reactions to policy priorities, Board of Trustees representatives bridge the gap between student suggestions and the Board’s official decision-making process. As a newly appointed University of Maine student member of the Board, Olivia Britton strives to amplify student perspectives before the Trustees finalize authorizations affecting campus life. 

Britton, a second-year civil engineering and political science student from Islesboro, Maine, hopes to lead by example in demonstrating the importance of advocating for an array of interests within the student body. 

Initially interested in UMaine Student Government during the past semester, a recent board report summarizing ongoing projects immediately captured her attention.

 “I learned a bunch of things that I did not know were happening on campus system-wide. I want that information to be as accessible as possible,” Britton said. 

She aims to improve information-sharing inconsistencies between the Trustees and students as well as serve as an “access point” for the student body to feel heard. 

“The decisions that happen at the Board level, even though they are sometimes complicated and a little bit confusing, affect our everyday lives,” Britton said, referencing the Board’s discussions about campus housing and dining. “It’s important for student voices to be heard in those conversations.” 

Britton says Board Representatives are the go-between for students with questions and recommendations for the Trustees to consider and synthesize before finalizing executive actions. 

Earlier this week, Britton met with student government executives and senators to address concerns raised at the Jan. 29 Board of Trustees meeting. 

“It was clear that students were confused and wanted to know what was happening,” Britton explained, citing the conversion of the Estabrooke dorm into an office facility. “It’s a bummer that space won’t be for students anymore.

Britton explained that other renovations are ongoing for dorm buildings. Hart and Hancock will soon occupy additional spaces to improve living standards with single-use bathrooms, kitchen areas, and other facility advancements.

“I can’t wait for students to have that space,” Britton reacted.

The dorm renovation plans were inaccessible before the Jan. 29 Board of Trustee executive session, where students criticized the board’s decision regarding the Estabrooke dorm hall. 

“It’s really unfortunate that the information did not all come out at the same time because it, rightfully so, felt like things were being taken away from students,” Britton said. She clarified the circumstances before clearly conveying the Board’s undertaken plans to prioritize dorm improvements on campus to the concerned student body. 

Britton also strives to cultivate a community network with other student representatives and leaders throughout the University of Maine system and personally evolve as a leader in her new role. 

“I’m excited to make a really strong foundation for the other representatives to be as effective as they can,” she remarked. “I would like to make sure that the Reps all feel like they can rely on one another and have a really clear understanding of what the expectations of their job are and also what opportunities there are to grow in the job.”

“I want to do as much listening to the student body as I can because they spend more time here than I do and have a better understanding of what their needs are,” she said.

Britton explained that her top priority in this position is to continuously consult with students, presenting them a receptive avenue to voice important issues before reiterating them to the Board of Trustees. 

Britton concluded by saying: “Before I come up with my own changes, I want to do a good job of listening first. I would love to hear any thoughts about what life is like on campus and questions about where money is being spent and how decisions are being made.” 

Britton’s active membership of the Executive Board of undergraduate student government entails attending every board meeting with other UMS campus representatives, including the eight-hour

sessions, which convene once every two months, and attending the senate, executive and cabinet meetings. She meets with people in positions of power at the University level and submits her reports to the UMaine Student Government. 

All student members of the Board are appointed for a single two-year term. Britton will fulfill her term requirements by Spring 2025. Britton is also a member of the Society for Women Engineers and Partners for World Health. In addition, she serves as the Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Chair in the Chi Omega Sorority. 

Students can direct concerns surrounding campus life, suggestions to improve future investments, and feedback for the Board of Trustees’ recent decisions by meeting Britton at the student government offices on Wednesdays from 11 to 12 p.m.

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