The people have spoken

Youngstown State University students are tired: socially, emotionally, mentally and especially politically.

With our latest hardship being the board of trustees’ presidential selection process — we’re being mocked by the same system created to provide the best for us. 

The board of trustees told us there would be opportunities for community participation in the search. Those opportunities were not only limited, but handled with unprecedented secrecy. 

According to 21 WFMJ, the documents created during the presidential search will be destroyed or will remain with the search firm. A court order is necessary to release the documents to the public. 

The university has pushed forward — defending its choice of a confidential selection process because a search firm said it was standard.

Confidentiality does not overrule ethics, especially when the man selected has voted to overturn the 2020 election and against COVID-19 pandemic relief bills

U.S. Rep. William “Bill” Johnson’s appointment came as a huge shock. However, it becomes less shocking after learning his political campaigns received donations from several YSU trustees, according to Mahoning Matters and FEC records.

The three trustees who donated, Richard C. Fryda, Joseph J. Kerola and Charles T. George, as well as every other YSU trustee, have been appointed by a Republican governor. 

Did these trustees inform the other board members they had donated to Johnson’s campaign? What other interactions did these members have with Johnson prior to the presidential search? 

Where was the transparency that our trustees had stake in the game we never knew was being played — rather paid — behind closed doors? 

Although the search firm chose candidates, shouldn’t these trustees have abstained from the vote to preserve ethical standards and ensure integrity? Let’s take a look at the board’s bylaws, shall we?

Under Article II, 5(c), the bylaws clearly state, “A trustee may abstain from voting on a matter. A trustee that abstains from voting shall be counted in the determination of a quorum but shall not be counted as voting in favor or against the matter upon which the vote is taken. Trustees having a direct personal or pecuniary interest in a matter that is not common to other members of the board should declare that interest and refrain from discussing and voting on that matter.”

For Fryda, Kerola and George, the definition of pecuniary is as follows according to Merriam-Webster: consisting of or measured in money. 

If these pecuniary interests went unknown to the community until recently, what other personal relations might these trustees have to Johnson behind closed doors?

To the board of trustees: who are you truly representing? 

The Youngstown State University Mission Statement’s Values clause states, “We root all behaviors, decisions and actions in the achievement of integrity, mutual respect, collegiality, equity and inclusion.”

You’re representing a set of standards students, faculty, staff and other administrators demand to be upheld. 

There is no integrity, respect, collegiality, equity or inclusion when the decisions you make on our behalf are met with protest and outcry, which you push to a later date to address. 

The people have spoken, and you have sewn your ears shut.