Motion to take action against NIU Ski Club fails

By Greg Rivara

Questions about the status of an NIU club suspended after destroying a university vehicle were raised when a Student Association senator proposed to remove the club’s privileges associated with SA recognition.

The motion, made by former SA Sen. John Martin, failed due to the lack of a second. Martin resigned at the end of Sunday’s SA senate meeting citing the senate’s ineffectiveness.

SA Recreation Adviser Huda Scheidelman said alcohol was found in a van that jumped a guardrail and crashed into a tree on Feb. 4 while carrying eight members of the NIU Ski Club.

The club was going to a weekend race at Wisconsin’s Mount Hardscrabble near Rice Lake. Six members of the team who were passengers in the van are under the legal drinking age.

Steven Brown, driver of the van, received tickets for driving too fast for conditions and allowing open containers of alcohol in the vehicle. Brown was notified of the tickets Feb. 6, Scheidelman said.

Names of people in the van were not presented to the senate because Betty Montgomery, Office of Campus Recreation director, told Scheidelman that a “liability problem” might arise if the names were announced at the senate meeting.

Montgomery could not be reached for comment Monday.

The club was suspended by the OCR while the incident was being investigated and will be reinstated in the fall, Scheidelman said. The issue did not come before the senate because alcohol was not directly involved in the accident and disciplinary action was already taken, she said.

“Alcohol had nothing to do with the accident,” Scheidelman said.

Brown was not drinking at the time of the accident but did have “a beer” with lunch, Scheidelman said. Scheidelman did not know what kind or how much alcohol was found in the vehicle.

Brown said two cases of beer were in the van at the time of the accident, but did not know if anyone was drinking. He said he did not purchase the beer.

Brown said his concentration on the poor road conditions and the darkness prevented him from seeing if anyone was drinking in the van.

“It’s kind of hard to say (if people were drinking). They weren’t drinking to my knowledge … I didn’t stare over my shoulder to see who was drinking and who wasn’t drinking,” Brown said.

“Tickets were issued because the van reeked like beer,” he said. “I don’t know if they (police) can prove someone was drinking in the van,” he said.

Brown said the beer odor in the van was from beer cans breaking open when the van crashed into a tree.

The club missed four meets due to losing the use of NIU vehicles, Scheidelman said. The club participated in five previous meets, she added.

The van was rented from NIU through the OCR and funded through an allocation in the club’s SA budget.

Scheidelman said Martin mentioned to her about taking further action against the ski team “about a week or two ago,” but Scheidelman discouraged the action because future members would be affected by Martin’s motion and alcohol was not directly related to the accident, she said.