The city of DeKalb can reach out to NIU in new ways as the mayor, city manager, and the university’s president and several administrators step aside.
This is the final installment of the Editorial Board’s three-part editorial series, Clean Slate. The series examined the university, city and athletics department. The Editorial Board wants better from all of them for the good of NIU students.
It’s time to wipe the slate clean and start anew.
Working Toward a Communiversity
Communiversity: A silly word, a noble purpose.
The city of DeKalb’s website boasts that “the DeKalb/NIU area is a communiversity,” but that has yet to come to fruition. While it may benefit both the university and city if the two work together, it simply is not consistently happening.
While this does not fall entirely on the city’s shoulders, the city government could be more proactive when it comes to engaging the community and the university. The two forces can only come together once we find a common goal. What is our common goal? Trying to find solutions together may work; two heads may just be better than one. With issues that the city and campus are currently facing, we need teamwork now more than ever.
The issues behind the “communiversity” became apparent at a City Council meeting in the fall. This was a pivotal moment for the city: the safe and quality housing issues were just being brought to the table. NIU’s presence was invited and encouraged, especially to that specific meeting, but a representative was not sent, according to a Sept. 20 Northern Star article.
Although the council pointed out that NIU’s presence was missed, the problem seemed to hit a wall. The Northern Star Editorial Board has not seen any public acts of the City Council reaching out since.
Fourth ward alderman Brendon Gallagher spoke candidly that September night. “Are we a university with a city or a city with a university?”
Well, can’t we just finally be that communiversity?
NIU’s presence should be requested and encouraged at every City Council meeting so the two forces can work together and truly create a community for all. We should see more discussion and interaction between the new university president and new mayor. While these talks may be happening now, the public does not know of them.
The city government needs to be easily understood and easily accessible by both residents of the community and residents of the university.
Who Manages Our City?
The city manager position is one that many may not understand.
The city of DeKalb’s website shows the city manager has many responsibilities and much power. According to the website, the city manager is responsible for “supervision of all city departments, personnel, and programs; administration of all Council policies; preparation and administration of the annual city budget…,” among a variety of other things.
For a person who prepares and manages the city’s budget, this is a position that needs to be as transparent as possible and its holder needs to be accountable to DeKalb citizens.
For this to happen, the city manager needs to be elected by the people, not appointed by the government.
The current process holds that the city manager is appointed by the City Council.
While this is the norm for most cities in the United States, DeKalb is a special case due to the problems the communiversity has experienced.
This change can ensure the people’s choice is elected.