Exline responds to Biondi letter

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Kristen Miano / Editor in Chief Students, faculty march in support of ‘No Confidence’ votes.

Kristen Miano / Editor in Chief
Students, faculty march in support of ‘No Confidence’ votes.

On Saturday, May 4, the University will host a gala to celebrate the 25th anniversary of President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., in his position; SLU Students for No Confidence is sponsoring an Alternative Gala, outside of the event, protesting Biondi’s continued role as president. The competing events are both fundraising for student scholarships.

Standard tickets to Biondi’s gala are $1,000 per person. The gala has already garnered more than $1 million for scholarships and academic initiatives, according to a University statement.

The final Board of Trustees meeting is also set for May 4. The first presentation by the Climate Assessment Committee will occur during the meeting, at which point the results from the campus-wide assessment, asking for opinions on communication, climate and voice at the University, will be revealed. The Student Government Association will also give a presentation to the Board  in order to voice student concerns.

The no confidence conflict has come to a head in anticipation of the Saturday meeting and following Biondi’s appearance at the SGA meeting on April 24. The meeting generated a large amount of negative feedback from faculty and student groups after Biondi requested the removal of two facutly members.

“After speaking with Mr. Exline, it was our understanding that the Q-and-A session with me would be only with the student leaders, as well as the support staff who normally attend SGA meetings,” Biondi said in a memo on April 30. He also stated that upon seeing the faculty members, he explained his understanding of the situation to SGA President Blake Exline and that Exline agreed and asked the faculty members to leave.

Kristen Miano / Editor in Chief Roughly 50 protestors marched to Cartier Hall on May 1, calling for the removal of Father Biondi.

Kristen Miano / Editor in Chief
Roughly 50 protestors marched to Cartier Hall on May 1, calling for the removal of Father Biondi.

“Because the Q-and-A session was planned as a dialogue with the student government representatives only… I believe the criticisms of me regarding my participation in the meeting are groundless, as are any suggestions that I should be censured for the events that took place that evening,” Biondi said.

Exline responded to the memo in his executive report on the May 1 SGA meeting due to discrepancies between his understanding of Biondi’s question-and-answer session and Biondi’s memo.

“There was never a point in time when everyone said this meeting would be closed,” Exline said.

Many senators found Biondi’s visit to the Senate unfulfilling and messy.

However, they discussed at length how they might host a better meeting with the president, as he expressed a desire to appear before Senate every semester to have a dialogue with SGA.

Senators were hopeful about generating stronger communication in the future.

“I think we need to continue to work and commit to doing what we can to have… respectful candor and a dialogue,” Dean of Students Mona Hicks said.

Exline released a statement to the student body following the meeting in which he thanked Biondi for all of his positive contributions, but requested that the Board remove him from his position.

“It is time to bring students, faculty, staff and community together by supporting and directing a change in the presidency of the University,” Exline said.

A “Time for Action” march was held on May 1, with roughly 50 people in attendance. Students for No Confidence members were handing out orange T-shirts with “SLU for No Confidence” written across the front in black.

Orange has become the official color of the movement, and the protestors decorated the campus with orange ribbons and small flags with “NC” written on them.

University administration responded to the protest with a statement.

“The University feels today’s march was a counterproductive effort that had nothing to do with moving SLU forward, but instead was just another unwarranted attack on the University and its president by a small group determined to undermine the leadership of Father B,” the statement said.

“It should be noted that the vast majority of the Saint Louis University community did not participate in this staged event. SLU is a community of 20,000 students, faculty and staff, and the overwhelming majority of these individuals are attending classes and doing their jobs today.”