The SA Senate is the students’ voice at NIU

I was recently asked by a classmate of mine, “Preston, I read about the Student Association all the time in the paper but I still really don’t know what you guys do. What do you do to help the students?”

This is not a new question for the people who work in the SA office. Please allow me this time to explain what the SA is, and what it is up to this year.

The SA is the students’ voice on this campus. It is run by students who put a great deal of time and heart into doing what we feel is in the best interests of students. We make issues known, scuffle with the administration, and try to reach decisions that will help the students of NIU.

One of the most important things the SA does is allocate $850,000 in student activity fees. These fees are allocated through the Finance Committee and the Senate (both are all-student committees). These fees go to pay for groups like the Campus Activities Board, Organization of Latin American Students, Black Student Union and the Recreation Center. This is the students’ money and we intend on keeping it that way.

For over the past year, the SA has been in a debate with the administration over whether they have the right to spend STUDENT activity fees. The vice president of student affairs decided that in some cases the administration could spend your Student Activity Fee. If the president does not uphold the students’ rights then he is the one who must be held accountable.

The Student Activity Fee is a way for students to pay for vital student services. One of the most vital is the Students’ Legal Assistance Office. Students’ Legal is funded by the SA and is made up of two superior attorneys who work for students.

Donald Henderson Jr. and Lynn M. Richards provide legal assistance to thousands of NIU students annually in areas including landlord-tenant, criminal law, traffic and ordinance violations, consumer law, domestic relations, public benefits, discrimination, and torts. All fee-paying students are eligible for services that include advice and consultation, advocacy, and appropriation in court.

These attorneys service between 11,000 and 12,000 students annually and it has been rising in recent years. What the SA executive board wants to do is add a few dollars to the Student Activity fee to help pay for staff and compensate them for having no benefit plan (It is truly amazing that these two work so hard for so little and don’t even have a benefit plan!).

We feel that this action is in the best interests of the students and we believe that a few extra dollars is well worth the resources of two lawyers who work here not for the money but because of their love for students.

I mentioned earlier that some of the Student Activity fee went to pay for the Recreation Center. The SA and the administration are now meeting to forge a new agreement on the rec center. There is an agreement signed in 1980 which gives students a certain amount of control over the center.

We are now in the process of amending and restructuring the old agreement to make it more workable for the future. I hope that we come up with an amended version that will give students the greatest amount of input and can be accepted by both President La Tourette and the SA Senate.

An issue that already came up is the ROTC issue. The SA will be involved (as it was in 1990) when this debate heats up. In 1990 the SA Senate voted down a resolution that called for the removal of ROTC.

I voted against the resolution because I do not believe that the innocent ROTC students should be played like pawns in a political chess game. These students are not the ones who wrote or are enforcing the policy that restricts homosexuals from the military.

I believe that if you want the policy changed, then what you should do is write your congressmen and senators, not restrict the educational possibilities of other innocent students.

The most current issue is the “politically correct” sexist language guidelines that the Freshman English Committee is thinking about adopting. These guidelines from the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) would be for the English 103 and 104 classes.

These guidelines encourage professors to restrict the words students can use. Words like “cave man” should be replaced by “cave dweller” and “waitress” should be replaced by “food server.”

The NCTE guidelines suggest that when there is sexist language in a direct quotation that, “If the quotation is fairly short, recast it as an indirect quotation, substituting non-sexist words as necessary.” Does this suggest that a reporter should change quotes?

In the guidelines under the heading labeled “book lists” the passage listed number one in importance when choosing works for a book list reads as the following, “Items for a book list should be chosen to emphasize the equality of men and women and to show them in nontraditional as well as traditional roles.”

This seems to deal with a lot more politics than it does with English (so much for Ernest Hemingway). The Freshman English Committee will meet in the near future to talk about these policies.

I encourage all students to ask what ramifications this policy would have. Would you be graded down for writing mailman instead of letter carrier?

These are just some of the issues facing the students and the SA this term. There will be others like the Student Life Building and a possible “Speech Code” for the campus.

We at the SA will be involved in all of these issues and anything else that comes up throughout the ear. We would very much like your support, encouragement, and most of all, your involvement. We are trying to do the best for you.

God Bless.

Preston Came

Student Association President