Support for open doors

By Darrell Hassler

The NIU student regent supported opening to the public the advisory board meetings which will decide how much control the Student Association will have over student money.

Jim Mertes, a board member, said even though the law allows the meetings to be closed, he does not understand why the public is excluded from them.

“I can be as open and honest in front of the press as I can be behind closed doors,” Mertes said. “And I cannot see why they (other board members) cannot be that way.”

But opening the meetings might cause board members to be overly cautious with their ideas, said Steve Duchrow, assistant director of University Programming and Activities.

“If somebody is in there recording my ideas down, I am not sure I could be as open as I normally would to coming up with a better settlement,” Duchrow said.

Barbara Henley, vice president of Student Affairs, who created the advisory board, also said allowing the press in the meetings would limit free debate.

The Northern Star tried to attend the second meeting on Nov. 29, but Henley’s assistant Gary Gresholdt said the meeting was closed.

The board was created by Henley after SA officials questioned her right to allow $850 of student money for art gallery refreshments after the SA senate had earlier denied the funding.

Gresholdt said the board members went over the Board of Regent bylaws about student fees and listed questions they had about the wording.

Duchrow said the board had discussed whether or not to open the meetings. “Obviously somebody was not happy with the answer,” he said.

Senate Speaker Preston Came said he recognizes the right of administrators to close the meeting, but he said students will still be represented fairly.

“I will fight for the students the same whether it’s opened or closed,” Came said.

Henley said closed meetings which advise President John La Tourette are common, but Mertes said he is not aware of those meetings.