Discrimination subject of NIU bylaw changes

By Tom Omiatek and Tammy Sholer

A definition of harassment and additions to the NIU constitutional bylaws concerning non-discrimination were two recommendations made by the Discrimination Task Force.

A complete report will be given to the University Council at its last meeting of the semester, May 6; however, an incomplete version was reviewed by the NIU Faculty Assembly Tuesday.

A definition of harassment will clarify the Judicial Board’s policy for students who discriminate against other students on campus, said Jim Giles, executive secretary for the council. This recommendation was made because last year the Judicial Board did not have a policy about harassment, he said.

Another recommendation is to add non-discrimination against “sexual orientation and handicapped” to NIU’s bylaws, Giles said. The bylaws only state non-discrimination against “race, sex, religion and national origin,” he said.

Because the report will not be complete until next week, Giles said he did not know the remaining recommendations.

Giles said the task force will be terminated with the completion of the report unless a request to the council is made by the task force to retain its status. A portion of the task force would make this request to ensure its recommendations are enforced, he said.

The assembly discussed supporting the continuation of the task force only if the request was made for a limited period of time, Giles said.

Cletus Fisher, professor of communicative disorders, said the committee should continue for about two years. After such time, the assembly could decide if the task force should merge with an existing committee.

The purposes of the task force are to investigate injustices and violence to minorities on campus, Jon Dalton, vice president for Student Affairs, said at the time of the formation of the task force in February. He also said there are two dimensions of the enviornment which the task force should look at: community perceptions of discrimination and specific acts of injustice and violence.