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Students weigh in on confidence; McDavis responds

May 18, 2007
By Breanne Smith with contribution by Laura Yates

In a highly successful electronic election that turned out some 4,900 voters, students elected a new Student Senate president, re-elected the current Graduate Student Senate president and voted a lack of confidence in President Roderick J. McDavis' ability to lead Ohio University.

Four separate issues on the ballot asked students their opinions about the decision-making process at the university and students' role in that. The most talked about of the issues, Issue IV asked, "Do you have confidence in President McDavis' ability to lead Ohio University?"

"No" was the answer given by 3,426 undergraduates, which comprised 78 percent of the Issue IV vote. 

For graduate students, the vote and the issues were far less of a draw. Those responding to the confidence vote were nearly evenly divided. Only 331 graduate students turned out for the elections.

The TOGA party took most of the highest Student Senate offices Thursday night, with Timothy Vonville garnering 1,346 votes for president, Amanda Roder taking 1,344 votes to win the vice presidency and Will Wemer winning the treasurer position with 1,897 votes. 

Incumbent Graduate Student Senate President Dominic Barbato ran unopposed, again leading the senate, which is composed entirely of REvision Ohio party members. Brittany Buxton was elected vice president for committees and legislative affairs, and Cherish Odom will serve as vice president for communications. Eric Zimak will be treasurer.

In a statement, McDavis acknowledged the challenges of the past year and said he hoped the campus community -- and its new leaders -- would work together to move the university forward:

"Ohio University has seen repeated and substantial declines in state support over the last decade," he said. "Just 10 years ago, the state provided almost half of our annual budget. Today, it's just 30 percent. Since the year 2001, state support for OU has fallen by nearly $20 million.

"This reduction has forced us to make deep and increasingly difficult budget cuts, including the elimination of four varsity sports. And we've been forced to shift a greater and greater share of the cost of education onto our students and their families. This situation has concerned and frustrated us all.

"In such a challenging fiscal environment, I am not at all surprised about this vote," he said. "It is a natural response during a time when people on campus are feeling anxious and uncertain. These sentiments are precisely why I said in my speech on May 7 that now is the time for us to work together to solve our problems in a positive spirit of cooperation.

"I have not lost my confidence in our students, and in our faculty, staff and alumni. We have a strategic academic plan, and we are beginning to move it forward. The plan will guide us through these changing times, and it will help our great university reach new heights. We must remain patient and optimistic.

"I am pleased that our students are taking an active interest in their student government, and I congratulate the winners on their elections. I and my colleagues in the administration look forward to working with these student representatives next year."

Although controversial, the four issues on the ballot evaluating the administration gave students a chance to be heard directly, said Barbato, the re-elected Graduate Student Senate president.

"I think it's good to have it on the ballot because it gives students a voice that we in government sometimes take for granted," he said. 

Issues I through III asked students to choose from "strongly agree," "agree," "neutral/unsure," "disagree" and "strongly disagree" in relation to statements about the administration. 

The results are as follows:

Issue I
"The McDavis administration seeks out student opinion with regard to university policies and the decision-making process."

Undergraduate
74 percent disagree/strongly disagree
11 percent neutral/unsure
15 percent agree/strongly agree
Graduate
48 percent disagree/strongly disagree
18 percent neutral/unsure
34 percent agree/strongly agree

Issue II
"The McDavis administration respects student opinion with regard to university policies and the decision-making process."

Undergraduate
75 percent disagree/strongly disagree
11 percent neutral/unsure
14 percent agree/strongly agree
Graduate
54 percent disagree/strongly disagree
18 percent neutral/unsure
28 percent agree/strongly agree

Issue III
"The McDavis administration makes university budgeting and financial information available to the greater university community."

Undergraduate
65 percent disagree/strongly disagree
21 percent neutral/unsure
14 percent agree/strongly agree
Graduate
46 percent disagree/strongly disagree
26 percent neutral/unsure
28 percent agree/strongly agree

Issue IV
"Do you have confidence in President McDavis' ability to lead Ohio University?"

Undergraduate
78 percent voted no
22 percent voted yes
Graduate
54 percent voted no
46 percent voted yes

 

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Published: Jan 3, 2007 9:35:38 AM
 
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