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West Texas A&M faculty vote no confidence in president who cancelled campus drag show


The ballot count for a referendum on West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) President Walter Wendler concluded on Apr. 25, revealing a 179-82 no confidence vote in his leadership.

Members of the WTAMU Faculty Senate launched the vote with an Apr. 14 resolution accusing Wendler of governing by his personal beliefs after he cancelled a student organization’s charity drag show.

Kelly Carper Polden, WTAMU’s Assistant Vice President for Communications and Marketing, shared a statement with Campus Reform explaining the Faculty Senate’s process.

“Of the total 368 e-mails sent to full-time faculty and full-time professional librarians (excluding deans, associate deans, department heads, or equivalent) deemed eligible to vote by the senate, 261 (70%) participated by submitting a valid ballot,” the statement reads.

Those who voted are “17% of [WTAMU] employees.”

[RELATED: UNC faculty protest proposed state civics requirement as ‘undue interference in university affairs’]

Though the vote is symbolic, Wendler also faces a lawsuit from Spectrum WT, the student organization that moved its drag show off campus after the cancellation. The lawsuit alleges that Wendler violated members’ First Amendment rights, and Texas A&M University System leadership failed to intervene.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), the organization’s legal representation, shared a statement with Campus Reform from Spectrum WT Vice President Laur Stovall, a plaintiff in the lawsuit:

WTAMU professor Brad Johnson told Campus Reform that there are other inciting incidents for the vote, “ranging from DEI issues around Dr. Wendler’s support of traditional marriage to his passionate work steering students away from college debt.”

[RELATED: UF Pres. Ben Sasse welcomed by leftist protesters claiming ‘far rightist political agenda’]

Johnson wrote an email to his colleagues defending Wendler, later published by Amarillo Globe-News. He refutes claims that Wendler “hurt freshman enrollment” during his tour of high schools when he suggested community college as a way to avoid student loan debt.

“There are some of our faculty who teach primarily freshman and sophomore ‘core’ courses. Their enrollments have been falling for the last several years,” Johnson says in a statement to Campus Reform.

“Since these courses are taken by freshmen, these faculty have decided the university must not be recruiting as many freshmen as in past years.”

But he writes that “[t]he real reason is a combination of changing interests by students and the fact that freshman students arrive with credit for many of these classes already granted while they were in high school.”

Johnson also points out the number of faculty members who were ineligible to vote or otherwise “refused to vote” and says that “over half of the faculty did not vote ‘no-confidence.’”

“Of course, that doesn’t make as good a headline.”

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.

Republished with permission from Campus Reform

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