Building communication

As we start a new academic year the excitement will begin to fade and life’s pitfalls will begin to cross your path. All students at this time of the year are very busy. Those of us living in apartments do not have the time to deal with some of the unnecessary headaches that occur with apartment living. We do not have the time to deal with unresponsive landlords or a troublesome apartment. We have more important things to do than bicker back and forth with a landlord or fix a broken-down apartment. This why the Student Association’s Community Affairs Committee has made better tenant-landlord relations a top priority for this upcoming year. Community Affairs will be working on several projects throughout the year to facilitate a more interactive and responsive line of communication between property managers and renters.

First and foremost will be the formation of a tenant union. The purpose of this group or organization will be to advocate the rights and needs of students regarding off-campus housing. The tentative plan for the formation of this union is completed and will be going through revision very soon. The union will be composed of members from the S.A. senate, city government, student legal services, property managers, NIU students and myself, the Community Affairs Adviser Eric Grice. Hopefully, with the composition we will be able to obtain a diverse group of viewpoints. This group will meet biweekly to discuss issues that are of interest to tenants, settle disputes and hopefully come to reasonable agreements on issues and policies.

Other projects that we will be working on this year will include a property management survey, a housing bazaar and various activities regarding upcoming elections.

The property management survey has already been started and will continue throughout the semester. This survey was launched for two reasons. First it will give the tenant union a starting point as to where they need to focus their attention. Secondly, this data will be compiled into a pamphlet that will be distributed to students so they can have some idea of what different complexes are like and aid them in selecting comfortable housing.

The housing bazaar will occur this year as it has in the past. One change being considered is to hold the bazaar earlier in the semester. Judging from the response we got last year it will be better to have the bazaar earlier so that management companies are able to reach the students before many of them can sign leases. This will also give students more time to thoroughly shop around for an apartment.

Being the Community Affairs Adviser I find it extremely important that students be well informed on issues that face them in the political world. Therefore, the Community Affairs Committee plans to take an active role in the upcoming elections.

With all of these high hopes for this year comes the need for student involvement. With the formation of the new tenant union, and the elections, this promises to be an exciting year full of many challenges. If you are interested in helping out the students of the university by serving on the Community Affairs Committee and helping yourself by gaining worthwhile experience stop by the Student Association Office and fill out an application for a committee position.