November 2, 2006

THE CAMPUS LEDGER: Best 'No Confidence' Vote Ever

This article was originally published in The Campus Ledger Nov. 2
'No Confidence' Creates Cohesion
Campus community urges, warns trustees to take note of the vote
by Miguel M. Morales
The woman who ran for a seat on the Board of Trustees with the endorsement of the Faculty Association now faces their wrath.
The Faculty Association successfully launched a campus-wide vote of No Confidence against trustee Elaine Perilla Oct. 26.
The vote of No Confidence accused Perilla of “failing, as board of trustees chair, to act on sexual harassment reports against former president Charles Carlsen” and “using her position to intimidate administrators and other college employees and of contributing to an atmosphere of fear and distrust at the college.”
Four days of voting allowed full-time and part-time faculty, administrators and other full-time and part-time staff to participate.
The vote in favor of the resolution of no confidence broke down as follows:
Full-time faculty members voted 240 to 9.
Non-faculty employees, including administrators, voted 107 to 8.
Part-time faculty and staff voted 107 to 15.
“It falls now to Trustee Perilla to explain herself and her recent decisions, and to initiate a dialogue with college personnel about the steps needed to restore confidence in her stewardship,” said James Leiker, professor of History.
Perilla declined to comment on the vote.
However, Perilla will convene with her fellow trustees and college lawyers in executive session, Nov. 9.
There they will further discuss the multiple allegations of unlawful harassment against former president Charles Carlsen.

Perilla and Benjamin Hodge, trustee, will meet with the JCCC New President Screening Committee Nov. 13.
At the meeting, the two trustee co-chairs of the committee will discuss applicants for college president.

Hodge faces censure from the Board of Trustees for allegedly violating the board’s code of conduct.
“I just wanted to say that the vote speaks for itself.”
Michael Hembree, professor of History
Csilla Dunesky, professor of Science, said Perilla has tainted the search for a permanent president.
“I hope that Ms. Perilla will recognize that her continued position as co-chair of the Presidential Screening Committee is inappropriate,” she said.
Michael Hembree, professor of History, adopted Perilla’s tactic for speaking to the press.
“I just wanted to say that the vote speaks for itself,” he said.

'Guilty by Association'
For many, the No Confidence vote served as a referendum on the entire board.
Tom Bryant, assistant, Carlsen Center Box Office said there may be board members who do not agree with the “overly-vocal screening committee co-chairs” but are hesitant to contradict them.
“Sadly, they are deemed guilty by association,” he said. “There are some who think the current firestorm will cool and just go away. We can't allow that. It will grow and it will fester and unfortunately it may get nasty.”
Bryant said he wonders if any trustee is strong enough to stand up and examine how they collectively fell from grace.
“We must not overlook the other actors and issues involved in the chain of events that have led us into this travesty,” he said.
“As a long-time staff member of JCCC, I totally agree with the no-confidence vote,” said Rita Hartsook, accounting clerk, Financial Services. “If we do not stop this pattern of behavior, what will happen if another incident occurs on campus? More of the same – sweep it under the rug and reward those who participated?”
Duneczky said she hopes to see a change in behavior and a willingness to work with the faculty.
“Where we go from here depends on whether the Board listens or ignores the message,” she said.
“As for the next step, that is largely up to the board members,” said Leiker. “It has been communicated loud and clear that the employees of JCCC are disappointed with present trustee leadership.”

A Call to Action
The discussion of censure and a vote of no confidence appeared on the Faculty Association listserve Sept. 28 and appeared on the blog, http://a-time-for-healing.blogspot.com/, days later.
“I may have been the first to actually suggest a no confidence vote in writing, but the idea had been discussed informally among FA members,” said Leiker. “Same goes for the Ben Hodge censure.”
Leiker addressed comments Hodge has alluded to that the Faculty Association is trying to capitalize on the Carlsen scandal to push its own agenda.
“I think the results of the vote shatter the illusion offered by some that this expression of discontent is merely the work of a few radicals in the Faculty Association,” said Leiker. “Most of the bargaining unit of faculty -- FA members and not, regardless of political affiliation -- turned out to vote, as did many staff, administrators, and part-time employees.”
“The faculty can do what they choose to do,” said Ben Hodge, trustee. “I fully support their large amount of workplace freedoms.
"I hope that they appreciate that they are free to do what, in most workplaces, people are not free to do.”
Both Leiker and Bryant have called on the campus community to take action with their votes.
“Voters in Johnson County need to take notice of this as well and elect trustees who understand the meaning of collegiality and have a proven record of working with educated professionals in a democratic environment,” said Leiker.
“There are more of us than there are of them and we have to keep the issues out there for everyone, both on and off campus, to see,” said Bryant. “An election is coming and we can make a difference.”

An Unexpected Result
While a vote of No Confidence may seem divisive, many on campus say it has actually unified the campus.
“In this case, the vote created community throughout the college, which had been absent to a large degree,” said Betty Bullock, professor of Sociology. “It allowed all college employees the opportunity to voice their concerns and see they were not alone.
“The actual ballot area provided a common gathering place and an opportunity for informal sharing among colleagues we do not often get to see on a regular basis.”
Bullock said in creating solidarity, the vote moved the campus toward healing.
“I wanted to express my feeling through voting,” said Jeanne Walsh, assistant dean of Nursing. “It's important we show as a group the fact that there is a unity among all of us no matter how we vote. I think it's fantastic. I've never seen anything like it in 17 years.”
Contact Miguel M. Morales, news editor at mmorales@jccc.edu

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