We're sympathetic to Columbia Basin College's President Rich Cummins' dilemma about a proposal to add a student to the school's board of trustees.
We won't dwell on his quandary, but one of his concerns is that the short length of service student board members could offer would limit their effectiveness.
He also expressed worries about the potential conflicts that might arise from having a student be the governor and governed.
On the upside, Cummins recognizes that students are the very population the board serves and their input is valuable.
We agree with Cummins.
He has a predicament.
And we especially empathize with him because the issue is one we have been grappling with as an editorial board.
In our case, we have considered adding a community liaison to our board. It's an idea we've chewed on for years.
We recognized the value of adding a fresh perspective to our discussions, but we were concerned that an ever-rotating board position might be disruptive to our process.
Finally, we took the leap. We decided the potential benefits outweighed any drawbacks.
What started as a three-month stint of Kayla Pratt as a reader representative on the editorial board turned into a stay almost twice that long. We had a hard time saying goodbye.
We are now in the process of recruiting her replacement from the same place we found Pratt, the ranks of the Young Professionals of Tri-Cities organization. We have plans to draw from other groups in the future.
In our case, adding someone new to the mix was refreshing.
We can't guarantee CBC would have the same outcome, but here are a couple of other considerations.
Because lawmakers have recently allowed school boards to include a student, we're going to assume that they see the value in students' voices.
We wouldn't go so far as to say legislators don't make mistakes, but they don't make decisions quickly or without deliberation.
Another point to consider is the success similar programs in Tri-Cities already are having with high school students sitting on their school boards.
Most of the school boards have student representatives and we've never heard anything but praise for those programs.
One notable difference, however, is that the high school students are appointed by their school boards, handpicked if you will, and the college students would be elected by other students then appointed by the governor.
Also, high school students are not voting members on school boards. The college students would be full voting members of the board of trustees.
One more thing that piques our interest in this proposal is not so much what the student can bring to the board -- which could be significant -- but what serving on the board does for the student.
In all likelihood, a student voice would probably produce a better board.
But just as certain, students with leadership experience on a board of trustees would be better prepared to serve their communities.
We need young leaders and future leaders.
The proposal to put students on the board is being championed by CBC's student body president and vice president. It's a student-led movement.
So already we can see that Yesenia Lazaro and Michael Fuller are young people on a track to be future leaders.
The benefits of encouraging students to serve alongside mentor/leaders on the board of trustees promise to be long-lasting and far-reaching.
Speaking from our board's experience, change is difficult -- even good changes. We encourage CBC's board of trustees to give this change serious consideration.