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Students react to proposed vote of ‘no confidence’ for Gee, Reed

On Monday, the West Virginia University Faculty Senate will consider a resolution to declare, “no confidence” in the university’s administration. 

President Gordon Gee and Provost Maryanne Reed are the only administrators named in the document, published Wednesday as part of the Faculty Senate’s meeting agenda.

“According to the WVU Faculty Constitution, any senator can introduce a resolution for consideration and potentially a vote at a Faculty Senate meeting. A group of faculty drafted a resolution and submitted it to the Faculty Senate Office to be included on the agenda,” Faculty Senate Chair-Elect Scott Wayne told The Dominion Post in an email.

“The fact that this resolution was placed on the agenda for Monday’s Senate meeting simply reflects our responsibility to ensure the senators who presented the resolution on behalf of the faculty they represent are given an opportunity to have their resolution considered and that all senators have the opportunity to express the voice of the constituents they represent with respect to the resolution,” he said.

The Dominion Post spoke to a dozen WVU students at the downtown Morgantown campus to gauge campus reaction to the news. Although most were only vaguely aware of the resolution, they were aware of the issues cited in the document.

“I’m pretty happy about it. I’m in support of this, because it does seem like they’ve prioritized the economic interest of the university over the health interest of the students,” said senior Thomas Lueckel. 

The resolution listed the administration’s refusal to institute a COVID vaccine mandate despite calls from the Faculty Senate and other campus bodies first among its reasons for no confidence.

The lack of a COVID vaccine mandate makes WVU a regional outlier, as other major universities like the University of Pittsburgh, Ohio State University and the University System of Maryland all require COVID vaccines to be on campus. 

“For mediation of a lot of people saying no … it makes logical sense to not have one so that (Gee) can try and ameliorate everything. But like, not moral sense, because a vaccine mandate would probably benefit a lot of people,” said sophomore Chloe Johnson.

As of Wednesday, 82.15% of WVU students on the Morgantown campus were vaccinated against COVID-19. All but two of the students The Dominion Post spoke to were in favor of a campus COVID vaccine mandate.

Vaccination was not the only issue raised in the no confidence resolution. The third clause cites a failure, “to carry out a transparent Academic Transformation process …”

“The university removing programs and consolidating colleges is creating less opportunity for students. They took away one of the programs that I was thinking about for a master’s program, so I have to completely restructure what I plan on doing postgraduate,” said junior Hunter Neel.

The resolution posits that the administration has not adequately explained, “why programs that are eliminated are of especially limited value.”

If passed, the no confidence resolution would ultimately be symbolic, as the appointment of the university’s president is up to the Board of Governors. The next BOG meeting is scheduled for Dec. 17.

But that doesn’t make it meaningless.

“I really do think that this is a step in a direction in which both faculty and students are being heard more. Our voices matter, and we will take actions for things that we believe are important,” Neel said.

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