The student senate voted no confidence tonight in President Theo Kalikow and her council following a series of cuts on Friday.
More than 20 students gathered tonight at the Woodbury Campus Center in Portland to help the 13 present student senators draft a proposal that will be taken to the upcoming Sunday and Monday Board of Trustees’ meeting in Machias. The group’s no confidence vote was passed almost unanimously, with only one abstaining.
The proposal cites the senators’ disapproval of the recent actions of the president, provost and their council in regard to 12 faculty lay offs Friday and four proposals for program cuts last week. Many present at the meeting said that they were frustrated by the administration’s use of their tuition dollars and said that they also felt that the administration’s recent decisions did not reflect the vision of a metropolitan university envisioned by the work of the Direction Package Advisory Board previously this year.
As a member of the Direction Package Advisory Board, who worked with that body for months to produce recommendations for the president’s council to use in steps forward, Student Body President Kelsea Dunham said that her relationship with the deciding administrators has been sullied by the recent cuts.
“For me what [it] feels like is happening right is that that vision is being gutted,” she said. “The vision of an urban metropolitan university is one that is really engaged with the community.
She added that her trust has been broken. “I feel like what’ happening is not in line with that vision.”
Senators and the students and alumni who gathered drafted the resolution to represent the sentiments of the student body at large.
“We don’t feel that the seventh floor is doing their best duty,” said student senator Kyle Frazier to the group assembled in the Woodbury amphitheater. He continued that he felt that based upon the group’s lack of confidence in the administration, they should ask that the trustees offer financial and political assistance.
Executive Director for Public Affairs Bob Caswell was contacted by the Free Press earlier today. He told the Free Press that neither President Theo Kalikow nor Provost Michael Stevenson would be available to talk, but that they both hoped to connect with students and the USM community to respond at some point during the week.
The resolution reads:
“The Student Senate of the University of Southern Maine, representing the student body, embraces the concept of a metropolitan university as proposed by the Direction Package Advisory Board. However, we have no confidence in the current administration’s plan to implement a vision in keeping with that ideal. The use of simplistic metrics to determine program and faculty eliminations is not in line with the comprehensive strategic plan that is needed to bring the University of Southern Maine forward.”
After the resolution had passed, Dunham immediately noted when the applause had faded that the vote was a big step for the group. “That felt good,” said vice chair of the senate Will Gattis.