Elise Gregg | Editor-in-Chief
In the midst of fighting back against potentially drastic restrictions to higher education from Tallahassee, the faculty senate will decide on whether to vote no-confidence in its chair.
With a short yet decisive agenda for April 4, the Senate has only two motions from the steering committee to pass: a vote of no-confidence in the Chair Deanne Butchey and amending the constitution so that “any officer of the Faculty senate may be removed from office, with or without cause, by a two-thirds vote of the Faculty Senate.”
The vote has been a possibility over the last several months, with senators feeling as though Butchey has not fully been their representative to the administration.
“Are you or are you not our representative out to the Board of Trustees? Aren’t you to present our resolutions to present our concerns, to speak up for what we believe, discuss, vote on, et cetera at these meetings?” asked library senator Patricia Pereira-Pujol at the last faculty senate on March 14. “I don’t get why it is that every time we ask you, your response is you’re a trustee and therefore you cannot do what we’re asking for.”
Pereira-Pujol was asking Butchey why she hadn’t ensured that the BOT had read a resolution passed earlier in the semester regarding academic freedom.
While Butchey reported that the resolution was passed and sent to the BOT’s office, she did not send it directly to trustees or check during the last BOT meeting that it had been circulated and read.
Pereira-Pujol’s questions echoed broader sentiments from other members of the senate, who fear that administrators may be failing to represent the interests of the university over those of Tallahassee.
“My sense is that the administration is accepting the position that the law is the law and the administration’s role is to implement it,” said College of Business senator Marc Weinstein during the March 14 senate. “I think it’s important for the senate really to find its voice because this could be a divergence of interest between the administration and the Senate.”
PantherNOW reached out to Butchey, who declined to comment, saying she preferred that her statements be made during the senate. PantherNOW also reached out to several senators, who either declined to comment on the record about the vote or who did not respond before publication.
The vote comes in the middle of the senate explicitly opposing higher education reforms from Tallahassee. Last senate meeting, senators voted to support the Steven J. Green School’s Statement of Concern about the Consequences of HB999 for FIU Students and a resolution from the Libraries’ Academic/Intellectual Freedom Ad Hoc Committee.
With a BOT that has been somewhat apathetic amidst faculty concerns about state legislation that could compromise academic freedom, this vote could be critical in determining the senate’s representation and power in regard to legislation coming down from Tallahassee and the Board of Governors.
This article was corrected from an earlier version that indicated that a vote of no-confidence would result in the Chair’s removal. Per the Faculty Senate’s constitutional bylaws, such a vote does not lead to the removal of the Chair.