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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Neptune to turn single dorms into doubles

Rachel Cormier
A mock-up single dorm in Neptune North sits with a bed, mini fridge and a desk. The Board of Trustees approved a funds request to convert 150 single beds into double dorms. (Rachel Cormier | Northern Star)

DeKALB – The Board of Trustees approved Laurie Elish-Piper as the new executive vice president and provost.

NIU had been searching for a new executive vice president and provost since the summer. Elish-Piper stepped in as the interim on July 1, 2023.

President Lisa Freeman said Elish-Piper’s commitment to NIU and all of NIU’s values is unquestionable. 

“I think we all know she has spent the last eight months enhancing communications, sharpening the focus of the provost office on students success and faculty success, collaborating with the deans to implement academic efficiencies, and developing strategies for broadening the audience we serve including adult learners and students who have stopped out NIU prior to earning degrees,” Freeman said.

Elish-Piper will officially start her new role on April 1. 


Housing and Residential Services requested funding to switch 150 single dorms to doubles which will not exceed $450,000.The board approved the request.

“This is to accommodate an increase in student demand for campus housing,” Freeman said. 

There will be 400 junior loft beds, XL mattresses and pedestal desks purchased. 150 desk chairs will also be purchased.

There is also a plan to replace old furniture in Neptune North on the third floor so all rooms are of equal quality.

Freeman said there will also be sustainable disposal of the old furniture.

The total estimate of the project is $445,700.


Aaron Sebourn, a culinary worker, requested a wage increase for dining hall workers to make up for time they aren’t working due to breaks in the school year like spring break.  

“Well everyone else at NIU was able to work, even our management staff was working, but I am not sure what they were doing or who they were managing without us, but they got paid,” Sebourn said. “But when it comes to proposals made on the behalf of NIU and the Board of Trustees I think it is important to factor in these layoffs that you subject these employees that got you through COVID while you sat at home.”

Sebourn said the raises to the higher paid positions at NIU are causing the essential employees to be overlooked and NIU to be a place no one wants to work. 

“You, the Board of Trustees, are proposing a yearly wage for your essential employees that is less than a bonus that you give out a year.” Sebourn said. “We prioritized the students’ lives through COVID and we impact the students’ lives daily. It has become apparent that you, the Board of Trustees, don’t value your essential employees the way you intend too. If you did, you wouldn’t be proposing poverty wages, you would not be setting up NIU to be a secondary employer.”

Sue Phelps, Building Service worker, also spoke during the public comment portion. 

Phelps said one of the items holding back Local 963, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union at NIU, and NIU from making a contract deal is the ability to force overtime onto BSWs.

“NIU believes that snow removal constitutes as an emergency,” Phelps said. “NIU already has a grounds crew to address snow removal, we are building services, not grounds. I understand that it may be a lot of work, but if the ground staff is too small to handle this, you can always hire more groundworkers.”

Phelps said NIU has lost 86 Building Service workers since 2011.

“NIU already overworks us, now they plan on taking time from our families,” Phelps said.

The Board of Trustees plans to have committee meetings on May 9.

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