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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
Multimedia Editor

Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Two members of SFC resign

After a March 20 meeting concluded with two members resigning, the Student Finance Committee (SFC) was left with a pair of open seats to fill.

Both Hobart Webster and Tony Paquette submitted letters of resignation to the SFC during the meeting.

Webster’s resignation came one week after the SFC presented him with an official letter of censure, based on comments he made to The North Wind and on Facebook regarding the recent SFC decision to fund Ann Coulter’s visit to NMU.

The censure letter, which was intended to be a formal reprimand from the SFC, alleged that on the Facebook group NMU Students AGAINST Ann Coulter, Webster posted the votes that individual SFC members made in the Coulter decision.

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“When Mr. Webster posted how individual members of the SFC voted, he singled them out for their decisions instead of respecting their right to vote as they choose,” the letter read.

While Webster did not deny that he posted the names, he claimed that the student body should have access to that information.

“I maintain that the members of this committee are surrogates who represent the will of the student body,” Webster’s resignation letter read. “In that capacity, we vote as trustees of the students in a public forum. Fellow committee members, if you were humiliated, embarrassed, or ashamed for your vote to be associated with your name [then] perhaps you voted in a way that was humiliating, embarrassing and shameful.”

Newton later made it clear that, while the SFC doesn’t officially record how each member votes individually, that the data is not difficult to get for any interested parties.

“It’s definitely not a secret how people vote, because our meetings are open,” she said. “If anyone had been at that meeting, they could have seen how people voted. In my mind, the difference is in the way he made that post on Facebook about how people voted and [he] singled them out.”

At another point, the censure letter said that, by stating on Facebook that the Coulter event was a poor decision, Webster disrespected the NMU College Republicans, who are hosting the event, and undermined the integrity of the SFC.

In his resignation letter, Webster made it clear that he saw no reason to leave his opinions behind when he left the SFC meetings.

“I would make emphatic that at no point should members of this body be expected to sacrifice their convictions once our meetings have adjourned,” the letter said. “My vote was one made on three semesters of experience on this committee. I maintain that it was the correct vote, an informed vote, and a vote that I would not do the university community the disservice of refusing an explanation, should they demand one.”

In a later interview, Webster said that he felt morally compelled to resign from the committee and that the problems may stem from something deeper than the Coulter decision.

“From this point on, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be on the SFC because I think there are these problems with transparency,” he said. “I think it’s really interesting that what we talk about when we talk about Ann Coulter is the freedom of speech and expression. [The SFC is] essentially trying to censure-formally condemn-my freedom of speech to say that not everyone agreed with this, while at the same time saying that we have to respect her freedom of speech to attack our members in the Jewish community, our friends who are gay or who are women or any other non-white male protestant group. She has a right to say that, but the people who actually represent the will of the students aren’t allowed to voice their opposition.”

Although not present at the meeting on March 20, SFC member Tony Paquette also tendered a letter of resignation. Paquette, who resigned due to scheduling conflicts, approached Newton earlier in the semester about possible time conflicts.

“He has been on the SFC for a long time and I feel like he is a valuable member who makes good additions so I told him, ‘If you can work around your schedule, I would like to see you stay on,”‘ Newton said of Paquette. “But it just hasn’t happened. It was a very amicable, amiable departure.”

After the pair of resignations, the SFC must work to fill the empty committee seats. When full, the SFC is made up of eight members and the chair. In order to function, at least five members must be present at the meetings.

Newton said that a few people have already applied and that current members of the SFC and of ASNMU would soon get together to interview the applicants.

The speed with which the empty seats are filled depends on numerous factors, Newton said.

“If, as a group, we feel that these people really have what we’re looking for, then we will appoint them right away,” she said. “If we feel that the applicants we’re interviewing just aren’t going to fit well and don’t have a strong interview, then we have no problem waiting.”

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