Council reacts to SA resolution on campus violence

By Greg Rivara

The DeKalb City Council met quietly Monday night until the NIU Student Association sparked an explosion of words when it presented a resolution condemning campus violence.

Jennifer Novak, acting SA community affairs adviser and liaison, told the council that recent violence on and near the NIU campus should be investigated and arrests should be made more quickly.

“That’s a crying-‘fire’-in-a-theater type of comment,” said 3rd Ward Alderman William Hanna. Calling the resolution “poor judgment,” Hanna and 4th Ward Alderman Rita Tewksbury criticized the SA for not investigating the incident further before accusing city officials.

DeKalb Police Chief Donald Berke reiterated to the council that two suspects were apprehended in the early morning hours of Oct. 15, soon after an incident where a black NIU student fought with two attackers after a traffic dispute. The suspects were released when the victim could not positively identify the two as his attackers.

Michael Spizzirri, 19, Rolling Meadows, Ill., was arrested Thursday by DeKalb Police and charged with battery and criminal damage to property in relation to the incident. Spizzirri is not an NIU student and the investigation is continuing.

NIU student and 6th Ward Alderman Jamie Pennington said the incident was not racially motivated and agreed with Hanna and Tewksbury that the SA resolution is erroneous. However, Pennington commended the SA for confronting the “tense” racial and violent environment at NIU and said the “SA’s heart is in the right place.”

Novak said she was “disappointed” with the council’s reaction to the resolution because the information the SA received came from the victim and attempts to gain information from NIU and the DeKalb officials were fruitless.

In other business, the council approved to pay General Electric Co. about $188,000 for a new police communication system including updated technology for portable radios.

The city will hire local Contel of Illinois to update the telephone system, allowing for future growth and expansion.

DeKalb Police Officer Jan Masilunis was honored by the council for 21 years of service to the department. Masilunis will retire Saturday.

andicap accessibility improvements to the Municipal Building Annex on South Fourth Street will begin as soon as possible, after the council approved almost $55,000 for the project.