SGA proposed petition criticizes NIU’s efforts at inclusion


Northern Star File Photo

The Castle Drive Black Lives Matter mural after being painted in 2020 (top) and in April 2022 after two years of fading due to weather. On Friday, the Student Government Association proposed a petition for NIU to address concerns such as performative activism and representation of diversity in NIU’s staff. (Northern Star File Photo)

By Evan Mellon, News Reporter

DeKALB – Amid growing concerns of what it’s calling NIU’s inactivity toward racism and lack of diversity on campus, the Student Government Association has proposed a petition to shed light on student concerns.

The proposed petition was co-authored by Historian Atlas Babcock and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Olivia Newman and was developed in collaboration with feedback from Black student organizations on campus.

The petition proposed highlights three issues with the university raised by students: “A lack of diversity and representation in campus staff and administration,” “performative activism” and “lack of long-term community support.”

Among examples of student complaints are over-policing at Black events, a lack of Black representation among administration and staff, failure to provide upkeep to the BLM mural and more.

Much of the discussion around the proposed petition centered on the university’s handling of inclusion in the past and what the SGA wants NIU to do going forward.

“I want actual policy. I want work to be done. I want something concrete,” Chairperson Princess Rogers said. “I do not want another MLK commons statue. I’m sorry, to me that’s nothing.”

The petition calls for NIU to create a plan detailing how it will address these concerns.

“This new plan needs to work faster than current efforts, involve students as much as possible, and be better communicated to students overall,” the petition reads. “We demand this plan regarding the remediated treatment of Black students (and students of color as whole), taking into consideration the charges listed above, to be put in effect as soon as possible.”

According to SGA bylaws, petitions must pass two rounds of voting in order to be fully approved.

Since the SGA voted to approve the petition during its latest meeting, the petition will undergo revisions based on discussion from the senators and will be voted on again during its next meeting on Friday.

If fully approved, the petition will be sent to the office of President Lisa Freeman.

“Put yourselves in the shoes of an African American. We’ve gone through so much, through history, through now, and potentially also in the future,” Senator Alexia Musgraves said. “This petition is just the stepping stone for something that can possibly bring the whole university together.”

SGA meetings are open to the public and held at 2 p.m. on Fridays, with locations posted in the senate’s agendas. SGA minutes and intent to speak forms are available on Huskie Hub.