Separation bill gains support

By Susie Snyder

Republicans and Democrats are banding together in the DeKalb community to support a senate bill that would grant NIU its own governing system.

Senate Bill 0001, submitted by Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, would remove NIU from the Board of Regents’ control and set up a separate governing board. The bill recently was introduced to the Illinois State Senate and will be assigned to a committee on Feb. 1, Welch said.

The new board would consist of six members appointed by Gov. James Thompson, one voting member who is an NIU employee but not a faculty member, one voting NIU faculty member, and one voting NIU student.

The bill’s method of selecting the faculty, employee and student members would be determined by campus-wide faculty, non-faculty, and student body referenda, respectively.

The student member would serve a one-year term beginning on July 1 of each year. The faculty and non-faculty employee members would serve four years, beginning on July 1 of the year of their selection.

Members of the new board would annually elect a chairman to preside over the meetings. Meeting would be held at least once each quarter on the NIU campus.

The Regents, which consists of 12 members and governs NIU, Illinois State University at Normal, and Sangamon State University at Springfield, meets at each of these campuses about once every three months.

John Morealli, legislative aide to Welch and president of the NIU Young Democrats, said Welch has submitted “two or three” bills similar to SB0001 to the senate during the past few years, but they were not received as well by the senate of the DeKalb community.

Welch’s bill previous to SB0001, was introduced in the fall of 1988 and called for the reduction of the new board from 12 to seven members, the elimination of the chancellor’s position and the addition of a non-voting faculty member.

Morealli said more people seem to be accepting the new bill because it is the first time the proposal includes a voting faculty member and a voting student. He said most organizations on campus and throughout the community are actively supporting the bill.

Welch said that several controversies over past Regents’ actions are now “coming to a head,” which also is helping the bill’s popularity.

“It’s nothing personal, but the (Regents’) system is inadequate for a school this big,” Morealli said.

Mark Brierton, president of the NIU College Republicans, said he is supporting the new bill because “it is neccesary for NIU to grow, become a great institution and get its voice heard in Springfield. NIU is growing, but it’s being stifled by the Regents,” he said.

Rep. John Countryman, R-DeKalb, plans to present a similar proposal to the Illinois House of Representatives later this spring. Countryman said he might make some changes to Welch’s bill before he brings it to the House.