Students need to attend Bold Futures Workshops


By Kim Randall

NIU President Doug Baker has been making extensive efforts to bring about change. Perhaps the most important one he’s put forth is the Bold Futures Workshops.

These workshops were created with the intent of bringing our community together to collaborate on how to eliminate issues we’re facing: declining enrollment, student retention rates and state funding cuts.

Students should attend these workshops and use them as an opportunity to voice their opinions.

James Zanayed, speaker of the Student Association Senate, urged student support in these workshops in an Oct. 21 letter to the editor to the Northern Star.

He also expressed frustration to me about students not attending the workshops.

“An obvious major factor is student retention rate,” Zanayed said. “If students aren’t there, how will we know what student priority is, why the retention rate is declining? The students are the biggest constituent of the university, but the hardest to get to the table.

“Students need to step up to the plate and start giving their opinions about what their concerns and issues are.”

Zanayed also said a major problem now is students are signing up for the workshops, but are not showing up.

Though we are the university’s biggest population, changes are often made without much inclusion of students’ opinions and concerns. As a result, we have to just go along with what changes.

These workshops are the opposite of that: We finally have an opportunity to be heard, as we should.

It’s easy to find students expressing their concerns and frustration to their friends about the university, but those opinions should not be left there.

If you feel strongly about an issue, you should do what you can to make sure those who are here to represent you, like the Student Association, hear you loud and clear. Participating in the Bold Futures Workshops is the perfect opportunity to do that.

In a Sept. 25 NIU Today news release, Baker wrote the goal for the workshops is to “generate new ideas, to identify changes at NIU that can be achieved, and to encourage innovation and new ways of conducting the university’s business.”

Since the workshops have started, faculty, staff and community members have been the main participants.

While that’s good, it’s not enough without the students. The issues they’re discussing are ones that concern students and the future of our success here.

“I think the workshops are a great idea. I just recently found out about it, but I definitely think students should attend, especially with all the things that keep changing that we never know about it. This gives us a chance to speak on it all,” said Joshua Nixon, junior energy and environmental technology major.

Change cannot depend on students alone, but our support and opinions certainly help to make sure we are heard and included. Without our involvement, we are doing a disservice to ourselves.

The last two workshops take place from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.

You can sign up to attend the sessions at