Low turnout at president event

Kierra Frazier

DeKALB — Pizza with the Presidents was held Monday for the second time this academic year with only four students in attendance and Student Association President Khiree Cross absent.

NIU President Lisa Freeman joined students for lunch from noon to 1 p.m. in the Capitol Room of the Holmes Student Center. Freeman said Cross was supposed to attend the event with her and wasn’t sure why he didn’t attend. 

In an executive report given during the Feb. 17 SA Senate meeting, Cross initially said he planned the event, Pizza with the Presidents Part Two, alongside Freeman and wanted to invite presidents from all student organizations to bring more participation to the event.

Last semester, part one of the event was held Nov. 5 and resulted in a larger student turnout. 

The purpose of the event was for students to get to know leaders within the NIU community by having lunch with them. 

Freeman said if the event was publicized more, the student turnout would’ve been higher. 

She said there need to be additional partnership efforts in order to draw the optimal turnout. 

“[The event] is important,” Freeman said. “I think we’ve got to work with more groups to get the word out. This is the second one we’ve held, and it’s a Student Association partnership. I think we need to partner with more organizations like the Greek organizations, the resource centers and some of the other student groups to make sure we have the best turnout possible.”

Gerardo Caballero, junior environmental studies major, said he just transferred from Waubonsee Community College and came to the event because he wanted to get to know the president.

“I thought this would be a really fun and interesting chance to meet with Freeman,” Caballero said. “It was a really nice and fun way to get to know more people and have pizza; although, I was also looking forward to meeting the president from [the] Student Association as well.”

Graduate student Siyuan Gao said he came to the event to see Freeman and make friends. He said the event was also a good opportunity to learn more about the university because he moved to the U.S. from China in August as an international student.

Freeman said the two-part series event was a comfortable place for students to give their ideas on ways to help improve NIU or even just to say hello to one another.

“We certainly want to see the students’ [voices] raised on every issue that’s important to our campus so that we have feedback from a broad cross section of our students about the things that are important to us as Huskies,” Freeman said. “We’ll continue to hold events like this and to hold office hours. I’ll try to go to as many events as possible, but we would love to see more students involved in student government and taking advantage of opportunities like events like these.”

She also said her first school year as president has been fast and furious, but a lot of fun.

“This is just such a great institution,” Freeman said. “I have the opportunity to be amazed and to see the positive impact of our faculty, staff and students, and even from our alumni daily and weekly, and it makes it a wonderful job.”