Officials’ efforts ignored

Students protesting at “Tent City” on Thursday to make university administrators and students more aware of the lack of higher education funding had the opportunity to speak with NIU President John LaTourette and Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs. But some protesters blew it.

LaTourette and Dalton made a special trip Thursday night to the Martin Luther King Memorial Commons to talk with students personally about their funding concerns. But when the administrators got there, they found no overwhelming crowd with which to mingle.

Many students had left by the time LaTourette and Dalton arrived in the commons. In fact, the number of protesters remaining was so little that the administrators were forced to cancel an informal speech they had planned and, instead, talked with students individually.

The absence of a large number of students in the commons for the administrators’ visit is puzzling, in light of the fact that student protesters two weeks ago were complaining of inadequate access to the president.

Looking back to Day of Action III on April 19, this was the main point made by the sit-in at Lowden Hall. Students “camped” outside LaTourette’s office to show their displeasure with his seeming lack of concern for meeting with students about their problems.

Well, LaTourette and Dalton made their concern for students known, albeit in a relatively small way, Thursday evening. And many students chose to ignore them, whether intentionally or not.

Accusatory fingers should not be automatically pointed at those students who missed the administrators last week. But neither should students blindly accuse administrators of being uncaring about students’ needs. Participants in Tent City should be commended for their non-violent means of protest, and LaTourette and Dalton for their steps toward more communication with students.