The College of Charleston's Student Government Association voted Tuesday that it has no confidence in the school's Board of Trustees.
The vote was prompted largely by the board's handling of the presidential search process and some members' comments on a freshman reading selection.
The group approved the no-confidence bill with a 17-5 vote with four abstentions, said Jordan Hensley, president of the association.
She now will forward the document to the school's administration and board. "Now it's the waiting game to see how the board responds and the administration responds."
Hensley said the bill was not about any individuals. It was about the Board of Trustees as a group.
Board Chairman Greg Padgett attended the meeting and answered questions from students, Hensley said. Students especially wanted to know which presidential candidates were on a search committee's list of recommended candidates, she said. But Padgett told the students he couldn't answer that because the search committee process was confidential.
"Students were irritated because they wanted answers," Hensley said. "But ultimately they were satisfied by the bill passing."
Padgett said the students were courteous and he answered their questions as best he could. He wanted to reassure them that the board is concerned about them. But, he said, "we made a (presidential) decision we feel is best for our institution."
According to the bill, the board didn't adequately consider students when it failed to:
Listen to the majority of them who expressed opposition to Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell being hired as the school's next president.
Have enough student representation on the presidential search committee.
Follow the search committee's recommendations despite spending an estimated $100,000 on the process.
The bill also stated that the board recently approved a resolution supporting academic freedom in reaction to the state House cutting the school's budget $52,000 because it selected a gay-themed book for its freshman reading program. But despite that resolution, some members of the board expressed disapproval of the book when they were interviewed by a legislative committee.
The bill called for the board to refund to the school's foundation the money spent on the presidential search. That money should be spent on scholarships and campus improvements, it stated.
It also called for an unbiased external auditor to examine the presidential search process, and specified that board members should not be part of the process nor should they oversee it.
Freshman Senator Brendan Geiling, who also is the association's chairman of communication, said he was one of the five who voted against the bill. He thought Padgett answered the questions thoughtfully, and is convinced he considered students when he made decisions.
He's also glad his fellow students had the opportunity to have their voices heard. The meeting was packed, which is unusual for a student government meeting, he said. "It shows it's a really important issue."
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.
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