Update (12:02 p.m. on April 21)
As Friday’s deadline approaches on a no-confidence vote against West Texas A&M University President Walter Wendler, university officials told MyHighPlains.com that they expect that the ballots will not be counted until early next week.
CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with West Texas A&M University confirmed that a no-confidence vote “is in progress” against WT President Walter Wendler as of Monday, though they could not provide further comment on the vote.
This comes after Wendler sent out a letter to students, faculty and staff, announcing that a planned on-campus drag show would not be permitted on the Canyon university grounds, citing his belief that drag shows are discriminatory against women and do not preserve “a single thread of human dignity.”
Since then, Spectrum WT, a Gay-Straight Alliance student organization that organized the event, filed a lawsuit in Federal Court against Wendler, as well as other West Texas A&M University and Texas A&M University System officials. The organization requested in the lawsuit that a declaratory judgment be issued that Wendler’s cancellation of the event, and his pledge to prevent similar events from occurring on WT’s campus, violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
In an email sent out to faculty Monday morning, Ashley Pinkham, an associate professor of psychology in the West Texas A&M University Department of Psychology, Sociology and Social Work, who also serves as the Faculty Senate President, said that the “Faculty Senate has taken the position that we have no confidence in the ability of President Walter Wendler to lead WT in a manner that enables our faculty, staff and administrators to educate and serve our students effectively.” This email was confirmed to have been received by a member of the university’s faculty on Monday.
The email reads that voting began on Monday and is expected to continue until 5 p.m. Friday. The voting will take place using a hard-copy ballot “to ensure confidentiality, anonymity and protection from public records requests.” All full-time faculty and full-time professional librarians are eligible to vote.
“We do not take this step lightly,” the email reads. “However, we believe that the mission to provide intellectually challenging, critically reflective, and inclusive academic programs at a well-respected, high-quality institution of higher education is at jeopardy. We believe we must take action now to restore the reputation of West Texas A&M University.”
In a resolution that accompanied the email, which was confirmed by a second WTAMU faculty member, the Faculty Senate outlined the reasons why this vote is occurring.
In the resolution, dated April 14 and signed by Pinkham, officials provide multiple reasons why the vote should occur, claiming that Wendler has:
- “Repeatedly and explicitly encouraged prospective students to not attend WT by arguing that it is ‘immoral, costly and cruel to mislead students’ into attending a four-year institution rather than a community college.”
- “President Wendler has acted contrary to WT’s commitment to academic freedom and ‘champion[ing] the free exchange of ideas’ through prohibiting previously approved on-campus activities contrary to his personal worldview.”
- “President Wendler has used university resources and his position as university president to govern based on personal religious ideology… in apparent violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment…”
- “President Wendler has shown a pattern of divisive misogynistic, homophobic and non-inclusive rhetoric that stands in stark contrast to the Core Values of the university.”
“Resolved that the Faculty Senate of West Texas A&M University has no confidence in the ability of President Walter Wendler to lead WT in a manner that enables our faculty, staff and administrators to educate and serve our students effectively,” the resolution ends, “and be it further resolved that the Faculty Senate will welcome a new President who embraces West Texas A&M University’s commitment to providing a high-quality education, embraces the university’s mission to provide ‘intellectually challenging, critically reflective, regionally-responsive and inclusive academic programs,’ champions the university’s commitment to academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas, fosters a climate of mutual trust and respect, enriches the regional and national reputation of the university as a high-quality institution of higher education, and works to actively correct the issues identified in this resolution…”
Officials said that copies of the resolution were also sent to Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, the Board of Regents, WTAMU Executive Vice President and Provost Neil Terry, the Texas Council of Faculty Senates, the WT Staff Council, the WT Student Government as well as Wendler.
According to West Texas A&M University’s website, the faculty of West Texas State University conducted a vote of “no confidence” of then-President Ed. D. Roach in 1988.