SAMTB votes not to expand Eco Park bus line

By Matt Gilbert

It looks as though there won’t be any expansion of the Eco Park bus line, according to Student Association Mass Transit Board (SAMTB) Chair, Charlotte Chambers.

Chambers said as of now the board plans to keep a #4 bus express run, starting at 7:30 a.m. and afterward at every ten minutes past the hour, from 8:10 a.m. until 8:10 p.m., to Eco Park Apartments.

Her board decided to review the service after they received a petition from concerned students asking for permanent change in bus route #1 that would go through the apartment complex.

Chambers said ridership was not high enough to expand the service past current levels.

NIU’s Student Association also voted Sunday night to join the new Illinois Students United for Responsible Government in Education (ISURGE). ISURGE is a student advocacy group comprised of various Illinois state colleges.

According to Maura Jandris, chairman of the SA’s Student Political Education and Action Committee (SPEAC) and ISURGE representative, ISURGE is more than just a simple lobbying group for students.

“It’s a loose coalition of the public universities getting together on political issues and forming a communications network to exchange information, mainly on issues coming up in Springfield,” Jandris said.

As of now, the membership of ISURGE includes NIU, Western Illinois, Illinois State, Eastern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Sangamon State and the University of Illinois.

Jandris said the organization hopes to oppose tuition increases. They also plan to discuss the plan to eliminate Illinois governing boards, including the Board of Regents, and replace them with individual boards at each school.

ISURGE replaces the Illinois Student Association, a now-defunct organization NIU’s SA opted to drop out of on Nov. 15, 1992. Jandris said there are many differences between ISURGE and the old ISA.

“There’s a huge difference,” Jandris said. “ISURGE is just a loose coalition of students meeting together exchanging ideas.

“The problem with ISA is that it was too structured and too formal. There was also a cost to membership in ISA. There’s no cost to being in ISURGE. ISA was run by professional lobbyists. ISURGE is run completely by students.”

Jandris said one thing ISURGE would like to do is push legislators in Springfield to pass a law putting a cap on tuition increases, as well as increase state support for colleges. Illinois currently ranks 50th in state support for its colleges, she said.

Jandris also said that just last year, ISURGE successfully pushed for a voting student member on the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE).

“A lot of the people that are involved in ISURGE have a lot of connections in Springfield. They are well informed. Seeing what they got done last year, I think we have a good chance of getting (the tuition cap) issue to the floor,” Jandris said.