Lupstein talks student engagement, change for SA executive goals


Student Association President Nathan Lupstein works at his desktop on May 4 in the Campus Activities Board office. Lupstein wants to incorporate sexual assault awareness into UNIV 101/202.  

By Augustin Zehnder

Student Association President Nathan Lupstein said his newly-inaugurated ticket will look to create an app that would allow students to voice ideas and find answers to questions about the SA.

Lupstein and his ticket, the Voice of Change, faced disqualification after being sanctioned during the 2015 SA executive election in March. The SA Supreme Court declared the sanctions unfounded and lifted the disqualification at a March 31 hearing.

Lupstein won the presidential election by popular vote, receiving 1,682 votes to opponent Ben Donovan’s 633.

Inaugurated on Thursday, Lupstein said he wants to bring campus support systems and resources to students who have never heard of them.

Q: Could you outline the plans your administration has for your term as SA president?

A: Yes, so our administration has three basic pillars. … First, we want to make sure that not only is the student body educated about the Student Association, but that as a cabinet we make as wide an effort to connect with the student body as we can.

… A lot of administrations have talked about making sure students know what the SA is, what it does. Our administration wants to carry that on but we also think it’s important that we educate ourselves about what the students want. We’re expecting to do that through educational meetings, through public forums where students and SA members can collaborate and help each other have accurate ideas of what’s going on on campus.

… We’d like to create an app, possibly through the NIU app or maybe even an entirely new one, where people can submit different suggestions, different ideas or criticisms and find answers to questions. So we think that would be really cool since a lot of people our age expect to have a digital avenue to send in recommendations and stuff like that.

… Our second pillar is effective engagement. Our administration, we’d like to think, has developed to be all about Engaging Student Solutions so [engagement] is a big part. It’s not just informing students, it’s engaging them.

One of the things we do in campus outreach is find out what the issues are, the problems students see on campus, and then educate the student body collectively. Because if we hear an issue on campus from a student or organization there’s a good chance that a lot of other students are dealing with the same issue. If we engage the student body around certain issues, then change is a lot more likely.

… And that segues perfectly to our last pillar, which is the most important: evident change. … For someone that has never heard of the Student Association, we’d like them to be able to say at the end of our administration, because of our work with the SA or because of our involvement on campus, that students have noticed some change during their time here. So maybe they’re not like, ‘Oh, the SA did this, this and that.’ But even if they have no knowledge of what the SA is, we still want to affect those students by giving some sort of change that’s noticeable on campus, something that the everyday student can say is changing for the better.

Q: Going along with the idea of evident change, how can the SA help address NIU’s declining retention rate?

A: I think the SA can help fix the problem in two ways. One, the SA does preside over all student organizations. If we have students engaged and being really active members on campus I think that will help.

If we’re going out there and making sure the SA is helping student organizations grow and thrive as much as possible I think that involvement will become a much bigger aspect of student life here. Having students involved in other areas on campus besides academics is great for retention and more importantly, we’ll have prepared them professionally and personally for life after college.

But another thing we can do is … push for campus outreach in a way that the Student Association and NIU have never seen before. I think a lot more students will be aware of the Student Association and know that their voice is represented and that will increase the likelihood of keeping the things that make students want to be here.

We have a lot of great things here on campus to engage with students, but there’s a lack of knowledge. So, I think the Student Association needs to play a very active role in engaging the student body, of going out there and interacting with them, talking to them about important things on campus so their interests can be a lot more accurately represented and make for a more compelling student experience.