Student Affairs faces changes, new positions and roles

By Sophia Mullowney

DeKALB — The Office of Student Affairs is phasing in new leadership positions and a presence in the Holmes Student Center for Student Involvement and Leadership Development [SILD].

After facing some vacancies due to staff departures in the last academic year, Dean of Students Kelly Wesener-Michael said she hopes to refill empty positions and create others to serve student needs. A national search is ongoing for an Associate Dean of Students.

A position for Coordinator for Signature Programs and Event Administration will be added. The individual to be appointed will oversee student safety, implement scheduling and registration and uphold division policy for all on- and-off-campus events.

“We’ve taken the opportunity to use these vacancies to reinvent or transition them to be able to align the needs of the students with those of the staffing structure,” Wesener-Michael said.

Wesener-Michael said changes within staff structure mark a shift toward a traditional portfolio other universities have adopted for Student Affairs functions.

A new office for SILD will be added to the Holmes Student Center once ongoing renovations to the facility are completed.

“This actually aligns with how other Student Affairs organizations are aligned at other institutions because we know this is a good practice to best meet the needs of students,” Wesener-Michael said.

Former SILD director Jill Zambito, who is now the assistant vice-chancellor for student life at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, said in her time at NIU it struck her as odd that no student-union model was in place. She said the possibility of an eventual move to the model had been discussed in previous years but not implemented, and said she is happy to see the transition finally underway.

Some of the changes occurring are in regard to Greek life. The Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life will be given its own office in the Holmes Student Center and a newly created position of director and associate director.

Junior marketing major Patrick Mulhern of Phi Kappa Theta said new rules were handed down for off-campus events this year.

“The university is trying to hold Greek life accountable with updated guidelines,” Mulhern said.

Mulhern said such measures include a mandatory social policy quiz to be passed with a score of at least 85 percent by all members and the presence of one safety coordinator per 25 people to check OneCards, distribute wristbands for those of age to drink, ensure rule compliance and record arrivals and departures for fraternity and sorority-hosted events.

Wesener-Michael said the changes have been received well by associated student organizations.

“People have been supportive because they see how this reorganization will benefit students,” Wesener-Michael said. “What we’ve learned in the past year in terms of what our organization needs we aligned that with what we know about the future needs of students. At the end of the day, Student Affairs staff are here to support [students’] success.”