At today’s North Wind’s Board of Directors’ meeting, I, Marquette Social Scene’s Brice Burge was thrown out for questioning the closed session. This was an illegal tactic by Northern Michigan University’s Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services Steven Neiheisel.
The meeting had just moved to a closed session for what the agenda stated was “Interviews”. The full agenda can be read HERE.
However, the board sat in the closed room for five minutes without calling an appointment. The meeting was held in room 1216 of the University Center, which has a glass door. I was able to see the board discussing inside.
The board had just finished discussing how the board would handle the interviewing process by voting about whether or not previous Editor in Chief candidate Michael Williams would be reconsidered and whether or not current Editor in Chief Emma Finkbeiner would be included in the closed session. Since the procedures were already voted on, there was no reason why the board should be having a discussion in closed session for this length of time without it being on the agenda.
After knocking twice on the door, I opened and stated “Hey, I have a question. What part of the meeting is this?”
Neiheisel immediately stated that the meeting was closed, to which I responded with “I’m allowed to ask a question about the procedures involved about the Open Meetings Act.”
I was able to notice that Chairperson of the Board Aubrey Kall and Board Parliamentarian Troy Morris waited for my question as Journalistic Adviser Cheryl Reed confirmed my right to question the agenda. However, Neiheisel then stood up and raised his voice to say I “had to go.”
I responded with “Then you call the cop and have them escort me out, I am properly exercising my rights to question the meeting.”
At that point, Director of Public Safety Mike Bath asked me to leave, to which I obliged.
According to Michigan’s Open Meetings Act, there is no legal reasoning to stray from the agenda in the closed session. Marquette Social Scene has covered other problems with closed “executive” sessions of the North Wind Board of Directors in the past that were illegal, so a precedent was already set.
I am looking into my legal options.
Before the closed session, I live tweeted the meeting at our Twitter page @MQTSocialScene.