SA Senate approves environmental affairs position

By Alexander Chettiath

The Student Association Senate approved a new cabinet position, director of Environmental Affairs, with 29 of 30 senators voicing approval Sunday.

The position was proposed by SA President Nathan Lupstein, after he introduced it to the senate in his executive report at last week’s SA Senate meeting. The legislation, which was drafted by SA Deputy Speaker Robert Kreml, includes 14 initiatives for the position including coordination of environmental service projects, collaboration with university environmental groups for programming and a minimum of one sustainability workshop per semester.

While in attendance of a leadership conference for student body presidents, Lupstein said he recognized NIU lacked a university-appointed sustainability officer.

“A lot of universities have what they call a chief sustainability officer whose sole, full time job focuses on making the university a more sustainable campus,” Lupstein said. “Here at NIU, we don’t have that position. So there’s definitely a lack of attention being put to this issue, and there is so much we can do.”

The conservative approach to the budget thus far and the position’s reduced pay rate will allow for a trial period that will not unsettle the budget, Lupstein said.

Bomb threat resolution

A resolution to thank various members of law enforcement and the NIU community that assisted during the NIU bomb threat was approved by the senate.

The Oct. 8 evacuation of NIU’s main campus and all satellite campuses, after a bomb threat was called in, was the first time it had been done in Illinois, Phillips said. The campus was shut down for three hours as police from local agencies and volunteers evacuated and closed all university buildings after a bomb threat was called in just before 6 p.m. Students were directed to the Convocation Center, the first building cleared after the threat.

Ultimately, the threat was determined to be a hoax.

“I think we are going to have a suspect identifiable soon,” Phillips said. “This is serious business. Bomb threats are serious business. People joke about them, about midterms. If you want to end your academic career, this is the best way to do it.”

Phillips said he will meet with NIU President Doug Baker to improve evacuation procedures and the alert systems. Some students remained in university buildings as late as 7 p.m., an hour after the threat was determined, and others were seen walking in and out of residence halls as late as 8 p.m. as police conducted searches.

State budget rally

SA Senate Speaker Dillon Domke said he has been in talks with the governor’s office to set up a private meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner when he visits DeKalb.

Rauner is scheduled to visit NIU for the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation’s Annual Dinner and State of the County event on Oct. 29. Domke said he hopes to emphasize the importance of NIU’s state allocated funding and MAP Grants.

Rauner proposed a $29.3 million cut to NIU’s state allocation, a cut the university has prepared for with an interim budget of $389 million — down 9 percent from Fiscal Year 2015’s $426.5 million budget.

SA Senators will pass out fliers and handbills in the Martin Luther King Jr. Commons publicizing Rauner’s arrival in DeKalb and their rally which will be held in the commons the day of Rauner’s visit.