Student life building discussed

By Jean Dobrzynski

NIU students had their chance to pick and prod at the preliminary plans for a student life building Tuesday night.

In a last attempt to get student input before Eddie Williams, vice president of Finance and Planning, attends the Board of Regents meeting in December, NIU administrators held an open forum.

About 25 students, campus organization leaders and NIU administrators attended the meeting that lasted over two hours. Williams and Vice President for Student Affairs Barbara Henley both gave presentations at the start.

Henley gave a brief history of the student life building and reminded everyone the project has been in the planning stage since the space problem was first discussed in October, 1988.

She said several studies were done over time and Judd Baker, Holmes Student Center director, concluded on May 3, 1989, that the HSC could not accommodate space needs.

Henley said at that point four possibilities were studied: a free-standing building near the Chick Evans Field House, an addition to the HSC, reconfiguration of interior space in HSC and the use of Gilbert Hall.

She said the possibilities were studied, but rejected after further investigation and in the summer of 1991, an entirely new facility was introduced.

“This project was not pulled out of a hat,” she said. “It has been brought about over long periods of discussion.”

Williams said the discussions must continue if NIU is not to become stagnant.

“It would be a travesty for this institution to not address its problems and needs and move forward,” he said. “As a campus we are half the size we should be.”

One student appeared to be upset that NIU is planning to hike student fees $35 to $45 to fund the 56,000 square foot facility, recently raised from 48,000 square feet.

Junior political science major Jeannie Guillem said at a time when Gov. Jim Edgar is asking everyone to prioritize, NIU should do the same.

“How dare all of you clam up about office space when I don’t know if I’ll be here next year,” she said. “I sympathize with your needs, but please prioritize … I can’t afford to stay here an extra year because I can’t get the classes I need.”

Another student said he commutes to NIU from Wheaton every day and he wanted the administrators to take the parking problem into consideration.

Williams said he will ask the BOR for the go-ahead to hire an architect, which will cost approximately $70,000, and to have a financial profile done to assess further costs.

“Once we get some firm numbers we can move forward from that junction,” he said.