This year, UNH doesn’t hold either of the two voting student trustee positions on the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) Board as it did last year. However, each school in the system still has a student board representative, which is the position that senior history major Lincoln Crutchfield holds this year.
Crutchfield, who was the UNH Student Trustee last year, said, “My role now is the same as it was last year, I do essentially anything that needs to be done for students. I’m in a unique position to leverage a system level viewpoint to affect change across the system.”
The system works in that the four USNH schools of UNH, Plymouth State University, Keene State College and Granite State College share two voting student trustees and those positions rotate throughout the four institutions. The difference between a student trustee and a student board representative is that representatives don’t have voting powers or access to non-public meetings.
“Which is rather unfortunate because it really hinders communication. If you’re asking people to be informed members of the conversation and help in the board decision making process, how can you expect a quality product?” Crutchfield said.
According to Crutchfield, representatives are not just focused on their own school.
“The thing that you don’t understand going into the job initially is that you don’t work for the students at UNH. They send you, but you work for all the students across the system,” he said. “You’re not supposed to be thinking about what’s good for UNH, you’re supposed to be thinking about what’s good for everyone across the board.”
He said he has learned a lot from this job about teamwork and the many needs of students.
“One of the things that this job has taught me is taking about four steps back and saying, ‘Okay, what is the world saying about this situation? What are the experts saying about this situation?’ Listen to those people and then go back and figure out how you can best affect a change that you want to see,” Crutchfield said.
It is apparent that he enjoys working with the people on the USNH Board, of all types.
“I’ve yet to meet someone of senior level authority that doesn’t want to work for students, that doesn’t want to be the best that they can be,” Crutchfield said.
In addition to that, he said, “It’s a fantastic group of people. Remembering that you’re on a team, while you might have disagreements, is important because you’re going to achieve much more when you’re working with these people.”
Knowing the possible dissention between students and those who control the UNH purse strings, Crutchfield believes that the power of communication is an extremely important aspect to the process.
“It’s really expensive to run this small city we call UNH,” he said. “So the idea that folks are overpaid, that’s where listening comes in, and you find out that we’re at industry standard; essentially, average.”
Crutchfield possesses a very team spirit oriented mind-set when it comes to his work as a USNH student board representative.
“Let’s build that team atmosphere rather than that gridlock. Let’s communicate,” he said.
In speaking on the passion he has for the work he does, Crutchfield said he has an “obsessive faith” in his peers.
“I spend a lot of time working for my fellow students and that’s what I love to do,” Crutchfield said.
This passion also carries on to the other aspects of his life.
“I will not give up if something is right. I think that’s gotten me into some interesting situations,” he said. “I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. I don’t know if that makes me cool or just crazy.”