Actually, nepotism might be a problem with the SA

By The Editorial Board

“People think that there is an issue of nepotism among those appointed. My appointments are based upon experience, work ethic and a close working relationship with those in question.”

These words were spoken by Student Association President Erik Calmeyer during Sunday’s SA Senate meeting when the issue of conflicts of interest was raised as the SA cabinet was being approved.

So is there nepotism in the SA? Nepotism is the act of rewarding friends and family members without considering merit. So who’s friends with whom? A good way to see pre-existing relationships is to examine group memberships.

For example, Calmeyer is in the same fraternity, Sigma Nu, as Jonathan Kite, chief of staff; Josh Venaas, director of mass transit; Dan Makousek, director of academic affairs and Craig Sepich, director of Greek affairs.

Calmeyer leads the NIU Masonic Order as well; it’s the same order of which Steven Vaughn, director of governmental affairs, is a member.

The Black Student Union has a number of SA representatives as well. Darrell Nelson II, the former president of BSU, is now the SA treasurer. Current BSU president Deldric Henderson, an SA senator last year, is now the director of organizational development. Other BSU members include student trustee Robert “Rob” Sorsby and Alyssa Ford, director of cultural affairs.

However, club memberships can only go so far. In large organizations, it is certainly plausible for members to not be friends with each other, or just know each other by name only.

And even if they were friends, doesn’t this follow the old adage about networking: It’s not about what you do, but who you know.

This may be the case here. If the SA executives are looking at their friends and seeing how well organized, dedicated and hard working they are, why wouldn’t they offer them a position in their administration? You also have to factor in the number of applications, too. After all, we cannot imagine there are hundreds of people dying to be the SA director of academic affairs.

And then there’s the issue of dedication. It does make sense that the members of the SA would be involved in other activities as well.

In the end, it seems to come down to performance. People criticized John F. Kennedy for appointing his brother as U.S. attorney general, but that criticism is muted now. It could be the same case with these SA directors. If the SA directors do their job to the best of their ability, fantastic. Thank you for doing your best.

But suppose the opposite happens. If the SA directors stop showing up for office hours, stop fulfilling their constitutional/bylaw-required duties, mock the organization’s mission and still keep getting paid, then congratulations, you are no different than some of the other corrupt elements of our society. You just happen to be taking 15 credit hours.

Earn your pay and title. Work hard so that you confirm the confidence of your friends and supporters, and silence your doubters.

As long as we’re talking about conflicts of interest, we think it would be prudent for Nelson to recuse himself when BSU presents its budget to the SA Finance Committee. As the chair of the committee, the treasurer has considerable power in determining which student organizations get funding and which ones do not. In order to keep the process as fair as possible (because there are always winners and losers in this game), Nelson should recuse himself from those deliberations to give the impression that every group got a “fair shake,” and that no one group was slighted/favored.

The same should go for Kite. He is the president of the Residence Hall Administration and the SA chief of staff. It’s common for RHA to appear before the SA at least once for a supplemental funding request. At the very least, he should have someone else from the RHA ask the senate for money.