Editorial—What’s up with blocking our new BOT member?

do+not+cross

Sam Rush/NW

North Wind Staff

Republican lawmakers in the Michigan Senate have blocked several governor-appointed officials, including one for NMU’s Board of Trustees. Citing opposition to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 policies, certain politicians selected appointees to block and allowed others to take their positions. One of the blocked appointees is Jason Morgan, NMU alumni and former ASNMU president. ASNMU has passed a resolution urging the state senators, including Republican Senator Ed McBroom, to reconsider blocking these appointments. 

These politicians say that until Whitmer lifts the restrictions put in place during the pandemic, they will not allow the routine approval of these appointments to go through. Blocked appointees were kept from taking positions in such areas as Michigan Technological University’s BOT, administration in Grand Valley State University and local positions managing health and energy.

Morgan does not yet know if he will be accepted. He could still potentially get that seat on the BOT if enough action is taken in support of him. ASNMU hopes he will because he is a relatively young, alumni from NMU and has the potential to work with ASNMU on issues important to students. 

Yet while Morgan awaits certain confirmation or rejection, the BOT cannot work at its full capacity without the full breadth of perspectives it might otherwise have. There is an element of timeliness at play here.

ASNMU’s resolution seeking to encourage his acceptance is the student government’s way of taking a stance. They are looking for support from other universities and from other politicians who might be able to persuade these lawmakers to reconsider their actions. We at the North Wind urge administration at NMU, as well as at other state institutions, to stand behind ASNMU’s resolution.

Morgan has experience studying and living at NMU, and he has worked in other government agencies as well. The blocking of this perfectly qualified and capable candidate is not only frustrating but childish. We must remember that this action is being taken to retaliate against the unrelated regulations put in place by Whitmer, which are meant to keep people safe and prevent mortalities. This situation certainly seems to have echoes of playground politics. Well, I don’t like you, and so now I’ll get in your way and annoy you.

What is normally a routine procedure of accepting governor appointments to these varied positions has become a platform for polarized political games. This hurts the people directly impacted by the lack of representation in these government positions (us, the students). In some cases, those who were refused appointments were in highly necessary positions coordinating such things as health and energy. Their seats remain empty, and the citizens who would otherwise benefit from their management of these services are now liable to suffer.

Some appointments went through. One appointee to NMU’s BOT, Gregory Seppanen, was approved by the lawmakers earlier this year when thirteen other appointees to state positions were blocked. Officially said there was no rationale as to who was accepted and who was blocked. However, it certainly seems the lawmakers accepted Gregory Sappanen because he was good friends with one of the senators in question. These decisions were not random, they had everything to do with who is friends with who and what views they hold.

This situation as a whole stem from the polarized politics we’ve been seeing on a national level. Now it is infecting local politics and causing paralysis on local issues. Rather than looking at the issue at hand, the appointment of a BOT member for a state college, in this case, politicians are more concerned with who made the appointment, and what side of the political line they fall on. This time, the petty games hit close to home. It says a lot about the state of politics in this country, and in this state, when routine government tasks are not happening the way they ought.

Editor’s Note: The North Wind is committed to offering a free and open public forum of ideas, publishing a wide range of viewpoints to accurately represent the NMU student body. This is an editorial, written by the North Wind Editorial Board in its entirety. It reflects the majority views of the individuals who make up the editorial staff of the North Wind. It is the policy of the Editorial Board not to endorse candidates for any political office, in order to avoid aligning this public forum with particular political organizations.