Minutes Show Student “No Confidence” Votes Politically Motivated

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Various student government groups around the state are working very hard to promote the idea that there is some sort of a student uprising against embattled Chancellor Hamid Shirvani. Frankly, I’ve been a little skeptical.

Most of these student governments are a bit of a joke. Very few students actually vote to elect those serving in the governments, and for good reason. They’re usually little more than rubber stamps for the university administrations. I’d like to see the results from a name recognition survey for members of the student governments on some of these campuses. Because I’m willing to bet that few of the rank-and-file students have even heard of these people.

So, right off the bat, I’m not sure these student groups have any sort of a real mandate to speak on behalf of the students. But still, the various student governments along with the North Dakota Student Association have been getting a lot of headlines with their “no confidence” votes. The latest is the student senate at the University of North Dakota.

But I did some digging over the weekend, and came up with the minutes for the minutes for the NDSA meeting on February 22nd, 2013, at which the statewide organization held their vote of no confidence. According those minutes, which you can read in full below, NDSA lobbyist (yes, they have their own lobbyist) Johan Mahlum said “if we find substantial evidence and he is removed and we support it, we will look better and we will gain political benefit.”

The emphasis there is mine, and the sentiment should raise some eyebrows. It would be interesting to hear, from Mr. Mahlum, just what “political benefit” the NDSA hopes to curry with this vote. And from whom that benefit is to be received.

Reading the minutes, it becomes clear that Mr. Mahlum and SBHE student representative Sydney Hull were pushing the NDSA pretty hard for this vote. Which smacks of top-down orchestration, not some sort of a bottom-up, grassroots upheaval against Shirvani.

Which, of course, is very different from how these student votes are being portrayed in the media.

NDSA Minutes by

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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