Meeting creates new task force

By Michael Berg

A newly-created task force addressing gay, lesbian and bisexual issues on the NIU campus is the result of a meeting between the Gay/Lesbian Union and the presidential office.

GLU officers met with NIU President John La Tourette, along with Ann Kaplan, executive assistant to the president, Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Henley and University Legal Counsel George Shur, to discuss a proposal to form a Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation.

NIU’s financial situation and the fact that a presidential commission would be a big first step to take led to the decision to form a task force, said David Huggins, co-president of the GLU.

The informal task force will be headed by Shur and Henley. They will choose people from areas the GLU recommended, said Huggins.

The task force will “look at the goals and objectives set up in the proposal and attempt to accomplish those through the structure already in place at NIU,” Huggins said. They later will evaluate the need for the commission, he said.

The goals include ensuring “a safe environment for students, faculty and staff, including members of alternative sexual orientation,” according to the proposal.

The university should make an effort to welcome homosexuals and provide them with a chance to pursue academics in a comfortable manner, free of harassment, Huggins said.

He said he knew many examples of recent harassment in the residence halls, including the burning of a door and someone who was forced to move because of a nasty roommate.

“NIU has a reactive stance to the plight of homosexuals,” Huggins said. “When something happens, the judicial code is put into effect.

“NIU was not doing anything proactive, no educational role to stop problems before they happen,” he said. “The task force is a step in that direction.”

The GLU was seeking a full-time staff member to look into gay needs on campus.

Other minority groups have buildings and staff provided by the administration, Huggins said. For example, Latinos make up 3.28 percent of students at NIU, while the black population is 6.88 percent.

NIU has no accurate statistics of homosexuals on campus, but Alfred Kinsey of Indiana’s Kinsey Institute researched and estimated the homosexual population in the U.S. to be 10 percent.