Extra security for Regents provided

By Sean Noble

Relatively elaborate security measures, prompted by threats of student protest, were taken for Thursday morning’s Board of Regents meeting in the Holmes Student Center but ultimately proved unnecessary.

Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs, said the extensive University Police security set up for the Regents meeting was “because of rumors of (protesters) shutting the meeting down.

“We have to make sure that the Regents can get in (the Sky Room) and sit down—it’s an order and safety concern. We want to have the balance of appropriate security and an open meeting,” he said.

Student demonstrators protesting the firing of CHANCE counselor Martha Palmer had disrupted the Sept. 15 Regents meeting and Wednesday’s committee meetings at NIU. On several occasions this semester, protesters threatened to disrupt this week’s Regents meetings to demand the reinstatement of Palmer.

Also, Chicago 9th Ward Alderman Robert Shaw and his brother, State Rep. William Shaw of the 34th Legislative District, said on Nov. 10 and 25 they would speak out at the meetings on behalf of Palmer.

UPs were stationed in the student center’s elevator lobby Thursday and in each of the center’s three elevators leading to the Regents’ 9 a.m. meeting on the 16th floor. Only the Regents and university staff members were allowed by the police to ride elevators to the meeting site until 9 a.m. At that time, people were gradually let into the meeting room until police said the room was filled to capacity.

UP Sgt. Ed Bohn said a total of “20 or 21” police officers were involved in the security measures, which he said had been decided on only shortly before the meeting.

Bohn said he expected there to be room for about 30 people after the Regents and staff had taken their places.

NIU President John LaTourette said the seating capacity of the Sky Room is 107 people and that fire safety regulations prohibit the gathering of more than 120 people in the room.

Three TVs were set up in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium for live meeting broadcasts. However, only one viewer was taking advantage of the provision at 9:30 a.m.

Dalton said the extra security decisions were the result of a “discussion by the administrative executive cabinet.

“We probably could have some provisions (for entrance into the meeting room) if students arrive late; even student protesters could get some delegation in,” he said.

However, protesters ultimately decided against their original plans of demonstrating at Thursday’s meeting. Jim Fabris, a member of Students for the Freedom of Martha Palmer, said many of the protesters were tired after Wednesday’s six-hour long demonstration, and many did not know of the arrangements for the proposed Thursday protest.

The Shaws also failed to appear at NIU for the Regents meetings, saying Wednesday night in telephone interviews that they had other commitments.