Students were protesting Brad D. Smith’s Marshall University presidential candidacy last week, including a student senator with the Student Government Association who proposed a resolution requesting the Board of Governors to reconsider Smith’s candidacy.
However, the resolution was voted down by a subcommittee of the SGA 13-1 on the night of Wednesday, Oct. 20 during an emergency meeting.
Jessica Spoor, SGA senator and Marshall University senior, spoke against Smith’s run for Marshall University president.
She referred to instances in Smith’s past, particularly controversies that were presented during his time as the CEO of Intuit, the U.S.-based software company behind services like Credit Karma and TurboTax.
Spoor sponsored the resolution titled “Petition for the Reconsideration of Brad D. Smith’s Presidential Nomination.”
The resolution details Spoor’s concerns about Brad Smith as a candidate; the ethics behind different decisions made by TurboTax during his time at Intuit and how Smith’s past donations to Marshall can be seen as a conflict of interest.
“I am a big fan of the democratic process on all levels,” Smith told the Parthenon. “I think it was absolutely appropriate if information had come to any group students that felt like it was not aligned with their values that they should ask the question.”
In the resolution, Spoor said that during Smith’s time as the CEO of Intuit, the company made decisions to deliberately hide TurboTax’s free tax filing services from search engine results, deceptively encouraging users to pay for their services, despite possibly being eligible for free filing.
“It’s actually an ideological difference of opinion between a group of people thinking the tax system should operate one way and then Intuit and many others who think it should operate a different way,” Smith said. “I am very proud of Intuit.”
“I should have discussed the situation more with my peers to gain their support, as well as worked with the faculty senate,” Spoor said. “I have talked to many students, staff and faculty, and they have the same concerns that I do.”
An online petition uploaded to change.org titled, “We do not want Brad Smith as our President at Marshall University,” was created by an anonymous user.
The user shared other concerns regarding Smith’s candidacy in the petition’s description, stating that “As students, want a President with a history and care in academics, not business.”
“My intent is not to bring controversy to Marshall” Smith said. “My intent is to help Marshall build on its great foundation and literally put us in the international limelight where we have the ability to tap into all the relationships and all the experiences that I had the chance to benefit from around the world.”
The Marshall University Board of Governors will formally vote on the next Marshall University president on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 28.