Senate denies former Star columnist empty SA seat

By Matt Gilbert

A former controversial Northern Star columnist was denied one of two empty seats on the Student Association senate at the SA senate meeting last night.

Phil Dalton wrote a column in the Star last April that caused a storm of controversy. In the column Dalton attacked NIU NAACP President Marcus Lee, challenging him to a debate on the second Rodney King verdict.

Dalton’s column resulted in demonstrations against both him and the Star from African-American and Latino/Latina groups.

Dalton said he wanted to deepen his involvement in the SA. “I consider myself to have a very open mind.” He said he apologized to Lee in the Star, and that kind of behavior “wouldn’t occur in the future.”

Ironically, the African-American members of the SA senate turned out to be his most ardent supporters. Senator Curry Kimble, in moving to reconsider Dalton’s confirmation, said “I saw the contradictions inherent in our society not to vote for him because of our personal opinions about whether or not he’s a racist. The reason we’re condemning him is because of his personal opinions. In order to be fair to him, we need to vote on his qualifications and not whether or not he’s a racist.”

SA Minority Relations adviser Collin Halliman fully endorsed Dalton. “I consider myself an educator and a source. Racism is ignorance. It comes from not knowing.

“Once someone is educated, they can educate their friends, and so on and so on.” Halliman said.

Some of the Latino senators appeared unconvinced. Jessie Medina questioned Dalton’s ability to represent all students. Medina suggested some of the wording in Dalton’s column indicated he was racist. “I read something last semester that was to the effect of ‘white honkey butt.’ Could you elaborate on that please?”

Dalton said the quote was “white butt” and that it was merely a “use of slang” in the column. Dalton agreed with Medina that the use of the term was racist and that’s why Dalton apologized to Lee.

“I come from an atmosphere and a community at home in which I haven’t been conditioned to be as sensitive as I could be.” Dalton said.

Dalton is president of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, otherwise known as the “Pikes.” Part of his opposition came from members of the Campus Activities Board and the Homecoming Committee who were angry over allegations from senator Kelly Dworniczek, who accused Dalton of making a promise to zero-fund Homecoming if he were appointed to the senate. Dworniczek also accused Dalton of telling a Homecoming official he would use his influence at the Star to “slam her in any way possible” because he was being treated unfairly.

Dalton said he did feel as though his fraternity was treated unfairly in that certain rules were written unclearly and that resulted in his fraternity losing Homecoming points. He said he never promised to zero-fund CAB, who funds Homecoming. With his involvement with Greek Row and its heavy involvement in Homecoming, Dalton said it would be like “shooting myself in the foot” to recommend its zero-funding.

The SA voted twice on whether or not to confirm Dalton’s appointment to the SA and both attempts failed.

After the meeting Dalton said the SA’s rejection of him demonstrates they are not really open to all points of view, and that hurts their case for advancing a multiculturalism class. “The African American and Latino/Latina Caucus divided tonight and effectively destroyed any mandate they felt they had to promote Unity in Diversity by contradicting each other and arguing amongst themselves.” Dalton said he has been and will continue to work with the SA’s minority relations committee.