Niemic unfairly ousted

by Paul Freeman

I am shocked at the petulance the Administrative Units Fees Committee (AUC) has exhibited in their efforts to expel Chairman Sean Niemic. One of the charges against Niemic boils down to his executive action to give jurisdiction over The Minnesota Daily to the Student Organizations Committee, which I chair, after we voted 11-1 to transfer the authority. The goal was to ensure all registered student organizations were responsible to the same committee âÄî the aptly named Student Organizations Committee. In parliamentary bodies, the chair is often endowed with executive powers an ordinary legislative member does not possess. Sometimes executives disagree with their legislative colleagues when they take executive action. ThatâÄôs fine; they donâÄôt have to agree all the time. Niemic asserted his executive authority to improve the process and honor a fair vote from the SOC. One responsibility of a chair is to preserve a fair and uniform process. Reasonable people can disagree about whether moving the Daily to the other committee would make for a fairer or more uniform process. Unreasonable people kick those who disagree off their committee. The AUC indicated that the joint hearing of the Daily was a major source of their dissatisfaction with Niemic and felt it was a power grab. I met with Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart on Feb. 4 regarding the issue of who gets to hear the Daily fees request. I was told the SOC could conduct a hearing with the Daily so long as the AUC heard them as well. I present a Feb. 4 quote from Rinehart: âÄúThe Daily needs to stay with the administrative group; it can also be heard by the student registered group if you would like to do that.âÄù That same day, Niemic clearly indicated in an e-mail to both committees that a joint hearing would occur, a product of input from both committees and Rinehart. Apparently this constitutes a lack of credibility and professionalism, as lamented by the members of the AUC in yesterdayâÄôs letter, âÄúKapphahn fairly voted chairman.âÄù Furthermore, these members of the AUC say they were outraged that Niemic allowed me and the SOC to speak at the DailyâÄôs joint hearing. Niemic told me twice in advance his committee didnâÄôt want me asking questions. I told him, âÄúI donâÄôt answer to you or to your committee.âÄù The SOC does not need the AUCâÄôs permission, or anyone elseâÄôs, to speak to registered student organizations. At the DailyâÄôs hearing, nobody (including Kenny Kapphahn) expressed any objection whatsoever to my asking of questions. Since Niemic was practically the only other Student Service Fees Committee member asking questions about the Daily and its budget, his committee was only given more insight by letting me speak, and we still finished ahead of schedule. Nobody was harmed. The AUC and administration must stop the theatrics. Niemic has been targeted throughout this process because his proper understanding and use of parliamentary procedure has sometimes prevented a majority from silencing him. IâÄôve heard the recording of the meeting expelling Niemic. The griping AUC members who claim to understand due process, professionalism and credibility display, to be generous, a weak understanding of the rules and intolerance for disagreement, which undercuts any claim to professionalism. The disputes between Niemic and his committee are unfortunate. If he is guilty of anything, it is failing to stroke fragile egos. He should not be expelled. Niemic asks tough but reasonable questions. He knows the rules of the fees committee, and he knows RobertâÄôs Rules of Order. He doesnâÄôt âÄî and shouldnâÄôt âÄî stand and salute when Jerry Rinehart, Erich Martin or Kenny Kapphahn enter the room. In a process rife with administrative coercion and manipulation, the process needs a chair like Sean Niemic. Some people just canâÄôt handle that. Paul Freeman Student Organizations Committee chairman