No confidence vote passed by faculty: 37 percent of faculty abstain in referendum

Nicholas Ebelhack, editor-in-chief

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The Western Illinois University Faculty Senate revealed the results of referendum of no confidence in the school’s administration, with 42 percent of voters (213 votes cast) claiming “no confidence.”

Twenty-one percent of voters (109 votes cast) voted “confidence” in Western’s administration. The vote stems from a petition asking for a vote of confidence, in which 24 percent of faculty members asked for a referendum.

While not a majority of all votes able to be cast, as 37 percent of votes (181 votes) were not mailed in, the majority of voting faculty who voted “no confidence” elicited a response from Board of Trustees Chair Cathy Early on Friday.

“We value our faculty, and we certainly respect the differing points of view,” reads Early’s statement. “When the results of the vote are formally brought forward to the Board of Trustees at our next meeting, we will discuss further.”

Early further said that the Board of Trustees remains in support of Western’s administration despite the results of the vote.

“It is the opinion of the WIU Board of Trustees that the University administration has maintained the University’s viability, as they were asked to do, during these unprecedented times of financial crisis and has continued to move the University forward,” Early said.

In her statement, Early states that because of the abstaining voters, the motion did not pass when considering the total number of eligible voters, 503.

“It is important to note that of the 506 faculty to whom ballots were sent, only 42 percent voted no,” Early said. “According to the Faculty Senate Constitution, a majority vote is required for a referendum to pass.”

However, of the voting members, 65 percent of votes cast were for “no confidence,” signifying a majority. In a statement to The Western Courier on Sunday, Faculty Senate Chair Steven Rock, said that according to Article VIII of the Faculty Senate Constitution, the body is governed by the rules presented in Alice Sturgis’ “The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure.”

“In that book, it states ‘A majority vote is the vote of more than half or the members voting,’” Rock said. “Later on it says ‘A majority of the legal votes cast is the requirement that most commonly approves a motion or elects a candidate. When the term ‘majority’ is not defined and no other type of majority is specific, the law holds that a majority of the legal votes cast is required.’”

Faculty Senate Parliamentarian Annette Hamm also made a statement on the issue to The Western Courier, elaborating on what happens after referendum is initiated.

“The ballot specifying the issue of concern to the petitioners is then prepared, and sent to all eligible faculty for a vote,” Hamm said. “The issue of concern to petitioners (as raised by the faculty requesting the referendum) passes if it receives a majority of the votes cast.”

“As far as the Faculty Senate is concerned, the vote of no confidence therefore passed,” Rock said.

In a response to Rock’s statement, Early acknowledged the results as presented, but claimed that Rock was unclear and had previously said that the Faculty Senate would not interpret the results.

“Since calling for the vote required a percentage of total  faculty, I was left to assume that total numbers were used to measure the results,” Early said. “I simply didn’t realize that the Senate would use a different methodology to evaluate the vote. It is their right to choose their own method. The Faculty Senate Chair determined the results, and the Board of Trustees will view them in that light.”

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