Brown Act ensures transparency in universities

In 1953, Ralph M. Brown of the California State Assembly created an act that guaranteed the public to equal rights to view and participate in legislative gatherings. 

The Brown Act was created in response to uproar from the public in regard to not being able to witness decisions being made by government officials. The main purpose of the Brown Act is to provide transparency to the public by allowing them to attend meetings to ensure their right to have a voice for their community. 

The public cannot be asked to identify themselves or be asked to purchase their way into any public meeting. The act is more commonly known as California’s Open Meetings Law.

The Brown Act is making huge bounds in being implemented into the 21st century. The California School Boards Association (CSBA) meets multiple times with school board members to describe the meaning and purpose of the act. 

The act started out as a very small document, but over half a century of changes to it have added significant depth and nuance to the legislation. 

This act is impacting college campuses throughout the country by giving the students the ability to attend and participate in meetings so they can see the changes in their communities and country are made and how they can have an active voice in legislature. 

However, if a student or anyone from the public wanted to submit a topic to be put on the meeting’s agenda to be discussed, that person must post the topic to one of the meeting officials within 72 hours of the upcoming meeting. 

The officials also must allow the public to address to committee or board at any time during the meeting on any item that hasn’t been addressed by the committee in an earlier meeting of the board. 

The Brown Act has played a large role in Sonoma State student’s rights to be present at meetings they otherwise would not be permitted to attend. Sonoma State students have been able to sit in on and ask questions at meetings regarding recent issues such as the Academic Success Fee and the Student Center.