JT Baker ’21, who was disqualified from the student trustee race, would have won the position had he stayed in the race. He will fill a vacant spot on the Cornell Board of Trustees alongside Jaewon Sim ’21, the undergraduate trustee-elect, for the next two years starting July.
What a terrible mess. This year’s student-elected trustee race saw Jaewon Sim ’21 take the prize, but only after the ugly disqualification of JT Baker ’21, who ran a campaign focused on student-athletes. The latest news is that Baker would’ve won were he not booted out for breaking an election rule. In light of that, the Committee on Board Composition and Governance opted to split the difference. The CBCG recommended Sim take the traditional student-elected trustee seat and Baker fill a vacant trustee seat.
JT Baker ’21, a football player who ran for student-elected trustee, was disqualified because of an email a Cornell Athletics official sent alerting athletes to Baker’s campaign and encouraging them to vote in the election.
In light of the controversy surrounding this year’s student trustee election, I feel that it is important for the campus community to understand a bit of history and context. Over 35 years ago, the University’s Board of Trustees, out of respect for the concept of “shared governance,” voted to create a Trustee Nominating Committee as the entity that would oversee the election of both student and employee representatives to the Board of Trustees. The TNC is not a committee of the Board of Trustees. It is comprised of campus community representatives, including the current student, faculty and employee-elected trustees as well as additional student representatives; and its authority was quite consciously delegated to this representative campus group and not retained by the Board or granted to the Cornell administration. The TNC is responsible for its decisions, and it has the ability to change its decisions.