NIU back on right track with Cole Hall


No one imagined NIU students and faculty would be completely left out of the decision on what to do with Cole Hall, and now it turns out they won’t.

It’s a good thing too, because people didn’t warm too well to Gov. Blagojevich visiting DeKalb last week to announce that he would push legislation to bring $40 million to NIU for the demolition of Cole Hall and the construction of a new building, Memorial Hall.

People questioned how such action could come so quickly – students had only been back in class for three days when the announcement was made – and without the input of the general NIU community, including students, faculty members and staff.

In an e-mail to students and faculty Tuesday, President Peters announced that “part of our healing process must involve a family discussion about these issues and how to express our feelings through a permanent legacy.”

He also explained that he is forming a Memorial Committee that will include students, faculty, staff, families and alumni to solicit input for creating a fitting memorial. Further still, as President Peters explained in the e-mail, “we must engage in a campus-wide discussion about the future of Cole Hall.”

This is the right course of action for NIU and, even if it comes a little late, the input of the greater NIU community is too important to be ignored. It’s a shame that last week’s developments delayed the process of gathering a campus-wide consensus on the topic, but better late than never.

There may certainly be an appropriate role for the state legislature to fulfill, but NIU and its community must be given the opportunity to determine what that role is first. This sentiment has been expressed by many over the past week, and President Peters was indeed listening. In his e-mail Tuesday he said this: “Once consensus is reached, it will be up to the NIU family to communicate our needs to our state leaders and ask for assistance in meeting those needs.”

Now that the whole process has slowed down and will include input from the NIU community, it is up to students, faculty members, staff members and alumni to make their opinions known. NIU belongs to us, and we owe it to those who will come here in the future to take this process seriously.

So get organized and make contact with the NIU administration. Mike Malone, vice president for advancement, will be heading the Feb. 14 Memorial Committee. Provost Ray Alden and Paul Stoddard, executive secretary of the University Council, will be assessing campus views on the topic. Peters also said in the e-mail that the Student Association will be working to gather opinions.

There is even an e-mail address, [email protected], for opinions to be sent.

We, as the NIU community, wanted our say in this process and now we have it, so let’s not disappoint.