Policy change initiatives questioned

By Katrina Kelly

As NIU continues to interpret Regents Chancellor Rod Groves’ explanations of proposed changes in Regents’ policy, more people and stories wind their way into this ever-widening power struggle.

Illinois State University’s student newspaper, The Daily Vidette, reported Wednesday the proposal’s possible link to Gov. James Thompson. Quoting a source present at a March 22 Regents’ executive session at which the proposal was discussed, the story explains the proposal is a result of pressure from Thompson to stabilize the Regents after NIU and ISU’s recent bids for separate governing boards.

Mary Barber, an education assistant to Thompson, said Frdiay that Thompson has not been involved with he Regent’s proposal. Barber said she is “not aware of anyone making statements in those” areas of internal Board governance.

Groves addressed last week’s meeting of the NIU Faculty Assembly , to which he was invited to answer a list of previously-submitted questions about the proposal. When asked if the policy discussions in the March 22 closed session were illegal, Groves answered “no.”

Groves has said repeatedly that the Regents initiated the proposal, which many fear would transfer power from the three Regency presidents. The Regents govern NIU, Illinois State University, and Sangamon State University.

Groves sent a memo outlining the proposal to the three Regency presidents and Regents Chairman Carol Burns on March 27. The Regency system attorneys denied The Northern Star’s request for a copy of the memo, citing exemptions in the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

According to an Aug. 24 letter denying the Star’s request, “preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, memoranda and other records in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated” are exempt from disclosure. Groves said he “didn’t write it (the memo) for public consumption.”

Student Association President Huda Scheidelman said although she was not satisfied with the explanations Groves offered at NIU last week, she thinks he “defined his position as best he could.” The proposal’s sole intent is to “preserve the Board,” she said.

ISU’s Academic Senate will meet Wednesday to continue discussion of the proposal. After attending NIU’s Faculty Assembly meeting Wednesday, Groves attended an ISU Senate meeting, where he was confronted by a group of students, faculty and administrators with a “mob mentality,” as described by one observer.

Carroll Moody, executive secretary of NIU’s University Council, said if the Regents approve the proposal, the American Association of University Professors will “immediatley begin a drive for a separate governing board” for NIU.