University of North Dakota student government and school administration came upon an “understanding” Wednesday, ending a showdown that called for the resignation of UND’s president.
The memo of understanding promised more transparent communication between officials and students at the university.
Before the understanding came the vote of no confidence. UND Student Body President Tanner Franklin authored the resolution, which demanded President Robert Kelley and three other administrators to resign.
Proposed tuition hikes riled up student government, Franklin said, but he said he was most disappointed in the lack of transparency and communication between administration and students.
“Public institutions such as UND should not be operating behind closed doors,” Franklin said. “It shouldn’t be like pulling teeth when attempting to obtain basic information.”
The vote of no confidence accused administration of withholding information and lying directly to its students.
A heated emergency debate April 16 ended with the vote being tabled for further discussion. On Wednesday, it was again tabled, this time indefinitely.
Franklin, Kelley and Student Body President-Elect Matt Kopp signed the memo of understanding before Wednesday’s meeting.
“I am confident that measurable results will be seen over the next year,” Franklin said of the memo.
While the resolution never came to a vote, Franklin said it “served as a wake-up call to the administration.”
“I do think that the vote of no confidence was necessary to spark these conversations and have action taken on them,” he said.
Critics of the vote of no confidence included Collin Hanson, a junior studying political science.
“The proposed action should not be taken lightly and students need to make sure that they are taking enough time to fully investigate the matter,” Hanson said before the initial meeting.
Franklin said the resolution was needed to start the conversation.
“It resulted in action being taken. It reminded them of what the number one priority should be at UND – its students,” Franklin said.
UND student government created change.org petition that nearly 2,300 people signed. Some who signed voiced their displeasure toward Kelley in the comments, though the top comments had nothing to do with tuition. The university’s controversial nickname and logo change brought names to the petition.
Franklin said these topics were not factored into the vote of no confidence.
While Franklin, a senior, will be leaving his helm as student body president on Sunday, he said all students need to keep open communication with what their school administrators are or are not doing.
“I believe that all North Dakota institutions should be wary,” Franklin said. “We all have drastically different models currently in place, but I would ask that all administrations share their proposals on how they plan to adhere to SBHE guidelines.”