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Green seeks Student Seat on West Virginia University Board of Governors


By Mike Feinstein, Advisor, Green Pages Editoral Board .

Matthew Kolb, 21, is running for West Virginia University Student Government Association President (SGA) in March 5-6 elections. A senior mathematics major from Follansbee, West Virginia, Kolb is the current Secretary of the Mountain Party – the national Green Party affiliate in West Virginia.

Among the SGA President’s duties is to serve as the Student Governor on the 17-member the Board of Governors of West Virginia University (WVU) – which governs the control, supervision and management of the financial, business, and education policies and affairs of the university.

Protesting academic cuts

Matthew Kolb, right, speaks into a megaphone during a student walkout organized by the West Virginia United Students Union against proposed program cuts.
August 21, 2023

Photo credit: Chris Schulz/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

During 2023, Kolb helped lead opposition to academic cuts proposed at WVU by co-founding the West Virginia United Student Union, and organizing student walk-outs, which were also joined by faculty whose jobs were going to be cut.

“One of the important things about the student union is the way that it brings students from across the university together to advocate for themselves and for their peers”, said Kolb in an interview with West Virginia Public Broadcast. “I fully believe that this student union has altered the way that students relate to each other, the way they relate to faculty and staff and how they understand the power dynamics at this university. We’re hoping that that cultural change is a permanent change at this campus.

However despite these efforts, the student-led organizing was not successful in preventing the academic cuts proposed by the University administration, as WVU ultimately eliminated 8% of its majors – including all language majors — as well as it’s mathematics Ph.D. program, into which ironically, Kolb had planned to enroll after finishing his undergraduate studies. “After these cuts,” he said, “I would have to leave the state [in order to continue my education]…The state already has a problem with people leaving. I could be one of those people.”

Campaign platform

Today Kolb is running together on a SGA president/vice-president slate with fellow Student Union co-founder Winston Smith. As Kolb stated in his interview with The Daily Athenaeum, West Virginia University’s official and independent student newspaper, “ The broad theme of the campaign is student empowerment.”

But it doesn’t stop there. Kolb and Smith have published their extensive platform on Instagram, with sections on Student Engagement, Student Housing Councils, Replacing the WVU President, Transparency, Mental Health and Addition, Graduate Worker Protections, Environmental, Student Organizations, International Students, Executive Stipends, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Green history running for Student Trustee/Student Governor

If Kolb is elected, this would be the ninth time a Green has been elected Student Trustee/Student Governor at a college or university in the U.S. – with five times previously in California (four consecutive times at Napa Valley College and once at Santa Monica College) and three times in New York (all consecutively at SUNY Broome Community College in the city of Binghamton.)

Fourty-seven other U.S. Greens have run for non-student Community College Board of Trustees positions, with 11 elected in California (7), Oregon (3) and Illinois (1).  On the University level, 48 Greens have run for non-student University Board of Governors/Regents/Trustees positions. While none have been elected, in the state of Michigan their candidacies have helped the Green Party there remain on the ballot for many years.

Mike Feinstein

Mike Feinstein is a former Green Mayor and City Councilmember in Santa Monica, California; a co-founder of the Green Party of California and a 2018 Green candidate for California Secretary of State.

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