No confidence vote saga results in resignation of two senators


In an unexpected turn of events, two Franciscan University Student Government senators resigned their seats after a controversial vote of no confidence was passed against one of them during the Oct. 3 meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Daniel McNichol and Sen. Jacob Watson both resigned their seats in protest after a vote of no confidence stripped McNichol of his leadership position.

The charge against McNichol was led by freshman Sen. Ahysen Silva, who, in his first business meeting since being elected, called for McNichol to be removed from his leadership position for McNichol’s alleged cronyism when nominating Watson to be chair of the Rules and Order Committee. Silva was also in the running for the chairmanship and had won it minutes before the vote of no confidence came up.

Before the vote, McNichol asked the senate to consider the seriousness of passing such a measure and compared its gravity to that of an impeachment, saying, “A vote of no confidence means just that – no confidence. It’s not that you have some confidence and you’re just upset at me, but absolutely zero confidence.”

McNichol said he had not been made aware of the motion until just two days prior and that no one had come to him about the allegations to explain the problem or seek to resolve it, instead moving directly to remove him from his position.

“I have asked the originators of this motion repeatedly, ‘What is the issue?” he said. “They have refused to do so, which makes me wonder, how serious are they about addressing the problem?”

After McNichol’s remarks, Silva said the position of majority leader was not necessary, inferring the position should be eliminated.

“It seems like a concentration of power which is unnecessary and superfluous,” he said.

Silva then said McNichol’s nomination of Watson for Rules and Order chairman – a position Silva had also run for – was proof that McNichol was not capable of being majority leader.

“It seems Majority Leader McNichol cannot remain clear-headed in his office due to his apparent favoritism of friends,” Silva said. “It speaks to me of subservience and cronyism and I have no confidence in the majority leader’s ability to maintain a pure office and a pure mind in operating his office.”

Despite saying he planned to allow McNichol an opportunity to defend himself after speaking, Silva immediately proceeded to moving to the vote without allowing McNichol such an opportunity. According to Student Government’s rules, once the motion has been put forth, a vote must immediately take place without allowing further debate.

The resulting vote was 7-5 to remove McNichol as majority leader. Immediately after the vote was taken, McNichol resigned his seat as a senator, a sudden turn of events.

In an even more surprising twist, Watson also rose to resign his seat with a dramatic resignation speech he delivered to the body, citing Student Government’s alleged “sins of backbiting, insults behind closed doors and duplicity, which have been perfected down to a fine art.”

“I have seen an even greater disregard for rules and law here … where the men entrusted with the responsibility of preserving adherence to rules and proper order – which should really be all of us – disregard them for their own agenda,” Watson said. “I cannot in good conscience stay in this environment with its scandal and drama.”

Following Watson’s resignation, Silva nominated Sen. Joseph Starcher to replace McNichol as majority leader. Starcher accepted the nomination and was confirmed by the senate without opposition.

The Graduate Counseling Center was the beneficiary of four bills at the meeting: an allocation of $530 for a retreat, an allocation of $100 for a talk by a clinical psychologist, a reimbursement $84.24 for a talk by a TOR sister and a reimbursement of $64.21 for a private breakfast. Each bill was passed.

Student Government also passed several bills during the meeting:

Fall Bill 29 reallocated $18 to International Coffee Club.

Fall Bills 34 and 35 were reallocations to Public Relations Liaison Bridget Christensen for purchases made for the “Thank a Friar” event, coming to a total of $25.74.

Student Mikey Irvin was announced as the winner of the Midnight Madness design contest, which came with a prize of $100.

Student Government will next meet on Oct. 10 at 11 a.m. in the St. Leo Room.