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No-confidence vote not the way to go


The Daily Iowan

November 28, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by The Daily Iowan, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Daily Iowan.]

It appears the faculty and students of the UI are playing a dangerous game in their fight against the Nov. 17 controversial 6-2 vote by the state Board of Regents to disband the presidential-search committee and reject the four finalists the panel presented.

In a move expected today, the UI Faculty Senate and Student Government will pass "no-confidence" votes that call for a cleaning of house on the board. With the radical events that have transpired over Thanksgiving break, the central makeup of the regents is clearly in need of restructuring; however, a no-confidence vote would also effectively destroy any hope for cooperation between the UI and regents in finding a new president.

In addition to a complete collapse in cooperation, the no-confidence vote would signal the end of communication between two central UI representative bodies and the regents. The vote has been called mostly symbolic, yet if contact between the groups and regents is indeed to be terminated, it would appear as though these UI representatives are mistakenly going silent.

At a time when the relationship between the university and the regents might be described as disastrous, it would seem as though a breaking of communication would be the last thing anyone would want. It is the hope of this Editorial Board that the threat of a no-confidence vote will be a sufficient enough bargaining chip and that the real votes won't need to be cast.

UISG President Peter McElligott has stated that without the no-confidence vote, Gov. Tom Vilsack would likely not have intervened to meet with the UI representatives and Regent President Michael Gartner. It is distressing to think that the only way to get our supposed pro-eduction governor to intervene is by threatening irreversible damage to communication lines between the school and the regents.

We've reached a point where petty slights are being spat from both sides. Vilsack must lead by example and communicate with both sides, mediating the situation to find a solution that ensures this meeting of minds is not the last. The regents do not exist to simply appoint a UI president; they also allocate UI funding and are a part of a continual stream of university issues. The university cannot muddy this relationship over a single issue, with so many others requiring a constant conversation among those involved.

We fully support the need for some change, and a lobbying effort against the regents may be in order, but to totally dissolve contact appears irresponsible. The point of the search was to solve a major problem that afflicts the UI: finding a permanent president. The university must be involved in this process; shutting our ears and mouths toward the regents, even in its currently frustrating state, would be a self-inflicted wound this university doesn't need.