Fees committee votes out chairman

The switch is a result of a controversial vote Friday that removed then-chairman Sean Niemic.

by Luke Feuerherm

A new committee member is acting as chairman of the Administrative Unit Fees Committee, a subcommittee of the Student Services Fees Committee that allocates over $24 million in mandatory student fees to organizations such as Boynton Health Service and the Department of Recreational Sports. The switch is a result of a controversial vote Friday that removed then-chairman Sean Niemic. According to SSFC adviser Erich Martin, Niemic was replaced by former chairman Kenny Kapphahn. âÄúWe never properly voted,âÄù Niemic said. âÄúAnd the audio will show that.âÄù Kapphahn was the committee member who initially motioned to vote on NiemicâÄôs removal. The vote was motioned because the committee was displeased with NiemicâÄôs position on the financial status of The Minnesota Daily, Kapphahn said. The Daily is currently addressed as an administrative unit. NiemicâÄôs first action as chair of the AUFC was to review whether fees requests from the Daily should be heard by the AUFC or the Student Group Fees Committee, which are both part of the SSFC. âÄúHe wasnâÄôt representing the committee fairly,âÄù Kapphahn said. âÄúTwo days after he was elected, Sean wrote an e-mail to the committee and said that he had decided that The Minnesota Daily would present to the student organizations committee instead of the admin units committee.âÄù Following NiemicâÄôs action, five SSFC members voted in favor of a measure to remove him at the first committee meeting of the year. Four voted against the measure. However, the vote did not carry the two-thirds needed to have him removed. Tensions between members increased when the Daily presented to the AUFC on Feb. 22. Members were angered when the SGFC attended and Niemic allowed its chairman, Paul Freeman, to ask questions, Kapphahn said. It was against the AUFCâÄôs rules to allow members of the SGFC to ask questions at the presentation. On Feb. 26, Kapphahn motioned to remove Niemic. A standing vote was used, in which members stand if they support the motion at hand. Seven of the nine members present stood in favor of removing Niemic. Niemic said this type of vote is against procedure. Additionally, there is debate over language in âÄúRobertâÄôs Rules of Order,âÄù a book that outlines how small voting bodies should operate. A two-thirds vote is required to remove a committee member, which would mean eight votes would be required to remove Niemic. Kapphahn, and Martin said the two-thirds rule refers to members present. âÄúI was trying to explain to the committee how to properly make the motion to remove me,âÄù Niemic said. âÄúBut they refused to listen.âÄù University of Minnesota administration is addressing Kapphahn as chairman but will hear an appeal from Niemic regarding meeting procedures, said Amelious Whyte, chief of staff for the vice provost for student affairs. After the vote, Niemic adjourned the meeting and threats were made to call University police if he did not willfully leave, Niemic said. Following the meeting, Martin advised committee members via e-mail not to respond to communications from Niemic. Remaining members said they went on with business after Niemic left. However, when administrative units expected to get initial fee recommendations Monday, they received an e-mail saying the decisions had not been made. The next committee hearing will be Wednesday, where administrative units can express their thoughts on initial recommendations. Kapphahn said if Niemic attends WednesdayâÄôs meeting and attempts to operate as chairman, he will be asked to leave. âÄúIâÄôm going to go Wednesday,âÄù Niemic said, âÄúand have every intention in chairing it.âÄù