Students didn’t ask for Huskie Pups

NIU should consult with the Student Association about students’ transportation needs before making costly purchases like the Huskie Pups.

The four pups, which were a $95,000 addition to NIU President Doug Baker’s plan for a 10-minute campus and introduced in fall 2014, will not return for general student use this year — a decision based on their usefulness, said John Cheney, senior associate athletics director for facilities and event operations, according to an Oct. 8 Northern Star article.

The electric shuttles were intended to transport students across campus in conjunction with the HuskieLine, but couldn’t be used during the winter. They will still be used for football games and orientations.

“The university decided based on ridership, we are no longer able [to use them],” Cheney said, according to the Northern Star. “And since they’re not able to be used during inclement weather, it really wasn’t a viable option. And now that the Lucinda [Avenue] extension is going through, it is more economical to use buses.”

The SA, which serves as the voice of the student body and plays a large role in shared governance, has been making changes based on what students’ ask for, like improving the quality of the HuskieLine.

The SA held a student-centered focus group in February and allowed students to propose bus routes and give other bus route-related suggestions. One concern was the distance and lack of easy transportation between buildings on the east side of campus like Barsema Hall and residence halls. The SA created the Barsema Express, a shuttle between Barsema Hall, the Holmes Student Center, residence halls and the Music and Engineering buildings in response to that concern.

“You guys are in charge, you guys pay for the system, you should be the ones to tell us where the buses go,” said Brett Williams, former SA director for Mass Transit, according to a Feb. 12 Northern Star article.

The SA is now working to improve the HuskieLine tracking system by using more efficient GPS trackers from a third-party company called ETA Transit — a change that will cost the SA and NIU $41,090 initially and $19,440 annually. The system is much needed as Rob Jusino, Student Association director of Mass Transit, said the current system has a lot of errors and deficiencies.

The SA is doing its job in regard to transportation by asking students what they want and making improvements students need. NIU should take advantage of the SA’s insight before making big purchases for students — afterall, that’s what the SA is here for.