Guest Column: NIU students need a nightlife in DeKalb

By Elliot Echols

With homecoming right around the corner, I believe it’s safe for me to say I’m concerned.

Of course you might ask, “Why?” and the reason is simple: WHAT ARE STUDENTS GOING TO CELEBRATE AND WHERE WILL THEY DO IT? It’s no secret the social scene that represents NIU and the surrounding DeKalb community may be the worst of any institution this size in the U.S. I am concerned because neighboring institutions, such as University of Illinois, take their homecomings seriously and very socially. In fact many of us find ourselves attending their social events and venues regularly. I get nervous when the weekend arrives because the social scene in DeKalb and around campus is a complete tossup: no one ever knows exactly what the social aspects of DeKalb will be at any time. This is beyond unfortunate. If students are not socially entertained, a breakdown in the social structure can occur. Ultimately students will begin to lose their sense of pride or ownership in NIU. That’s one less Huskie NIU will be responsible for.

It saddens me that students will find just about any reason to go back to their surrounding communities to enjoy their weekend instead of staying at their university. I am especially empathetic for the students who invite friends and family to visit them over the weekend. Upon arriving, I imagine these guests will re-pack their bags and leave, vowing never to return to NIU out of boredom.

Overall, this is a major challenge the NIU communtiy faces as a whole. As the main stockholders of the institution, we have a voice. I believe this is the perfect time to begin asking questions to those who hold the answers. As the President of the Student Association I find this to be an issue we, as students, should take on personally. This hinders the true collegiate experience we all envisioned. That is, college is suppose to challenge us both academically and socially.

It is my sincere hope that the students of NIU band together and begin to critically think and brainstorm on this issue so we can deliver the appropriate plans to resolve it. As a trusted leader I will begin this campaign by asking the city of DeKalb what its plans are to improve the social setting for NIU students for 2012. If it does not have a plan, then my only step, I believe, would be to implement one for them on behalf of the student body. Lastly, in regard to the university, I will make immediate contact and form a partnership with Bill Nicklas, the university’s new associate vice president for Institutional Planning and Sustainability, who did a magnificent job for the city of Sycamore as its city manager for the last 13 years. I believe he brings not only experience but a true and unbiased passion for seeing DeKalb become the best student-friendly city in the Midwest.