SA executive candidates debate activity fees, campus safety

By Felix Sarver

Huskie spirit, student activity fees and campus safety were three of the issues Student Association executive candidates debated Tuesday.

Elections Commissioner Jasmine Harvell moderated the debate in the Sky Room at the Holmes Student Center and asked candidates questions on university issues. All candidates were present except for Rachel Wilkins, who is running for vice president. Candidates were given two minutes to answer questions and then offer closing statements.

Delonte Leflore and Derek Koegel, candidates for SA president, were asked what their biggest projects would be for the next academic year.

Leflore said he was working on the student satisfaction survey to draw feedback on student services and planned to address the negative perception of safety on campus. Koegel said he wanted to improve safety on campus by having cameras installed and wanted to improve school pride.

When it came to the question of promoting Huskie spirit, the candidates were split. Koegel said creating traditions will ensure school pride. NIU does not have traditions that reach out to every student and student organizations do not reach out to non-traditional students, he said.

“With traditions, something that’ll gather everyone together under one flag, will be what it takes for students to feel that sense of pride,” Koegel said.

Leflore said students need to stop relying on the university for change and rely more on student leaders and organizations to reach out to students.

“Once we begin to work together, we understand each other’s cultures,” Leflore said.

Daihee Cho, president of Residence Hall Association, asked the candidates if they agreed with the Vision 2020 goal of increasing enrollment. Leflore said he agreed with it but was concerned about maintaining the retention rate. Koegel said standards would have to be lowered for incoming students to meet the Vision 2020 goal. NIU should not make sacrifices to draw students, he said.

Candidates for SA treasurer Josh Venaas and Jack Barry were asked if they think the student activity fees should be increased for student organizations.

“I don’t necessarily think so,” Venaas said. “We just need to allocate resources more properly and more efficiently.”

Barry said as treasurer he wanted to reach out to student organizations and keep them well informed about about how SA funding is done. Venaas said communication and collaboration are key for the position of treasurer.

Gina Gregolunas, candidate for vice president, was asked how she would improve the Organizational Expo where student organizations are promoted. She said she would be more proactive in planning the event and promoting the expo online.

Unopposed candidate for student trustee Elliot Echols said he planned to report information to the SA to keep students and student organizations updated on his activities as a trustee.