The jig is up for Board of Regents Chair Constantine Curris and his cohorts.
On Wednesday, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway issued an opinion that found the board in violation of the state’s open meetings law when it discussed University business at a private social gathering March 14.
The Attorney General’s opinion gives plenty of ammunition to the student body, faculty, staff and those in the community who have long alleged wrongdoing in the lead-up to the decision not to renew President Randy Dunn’s contract. The question remains as to whether or not the students, faculty, staff and community members are willing to use it.
The Attorney General’s opinion did not go as far as attorney Jim Deckard and many others, who requested that the vote itself be voided and a new vote held on Dunn’s contract, wished. The opinion does not require the vote be voided and a revote held. It does not apply any penalties to the Board of Regents for this clear violation of the open meetings law.
It is clear that Attorney General Conway is not, at the present time, willing to press further action on the issue. It is likely the board would vote the same way, even if another vote was held. It is also likely that many among us are tired of this entire process and are ready to be done with the ongoing battle between the Board of Regents and Dunn.
So what is to be done? Shall we simply let bygones be bygones and allow the board a free pass, even though it violated the law? Should we just carry about our regular business, go to class, take our exams and write our papers? We understand the fatigue on campus. It’s springtime. It’s nice outside, it’s sunny and finals are quickly approaching. We don’t have much time left, so why should we be spending what time we do have on rehashing these arguments every single week?
Because it matters.
At Murray State, we operate – in theory – under a system of shared governance. Faculty, staff and students are supposed to have weight at the decision-making table.
We are supposed to have a voice, and we are supposed to be respected as earnest partners in the growth and development of this institution. The fact our representation on this board chose to vote against renewal of Dunn’s contract, in stark contrast to the will of the student body, throws up a red flag, and we should take notice, but that in and of itself is not illegal. What the board did, in contrast, is explicitly illegal.
If we, as students, refuse to protest the illegal actions of the Board of Regents, then we are in effect abdicating our right to govern and our right to be taken seriously as partners in the day-to-day operation of this University.
It doesn’t matter if Dunn has a snowball’s chance in hell of having another vote on his contract. It doesn’t matter if this means upsetting the people that are charged with the day-to-day operation of this University. What matters is we stand up for what is right, regardless of whether or not it will make us any friends in high places.
The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News Editorial Board.