Secret meetings to focus on Star

By Brian Slupski

A committee established to investigate The Northern Star will conduct its business behind closed doors, continuing an NIU policy of secrecy on such matters.

The committee is the second of two, which were created after about 150 protesters marched into Star offices on April 26 to protest what they considered to be racist journalistic practices.

According to a letter sent by the committee to Star advisor Jerry Thompson, it is supposed to “evaluate the degree to which The Northern Star has complied with its responsibilities under the 1987-1988 Institution Action Plan to Address Discrimination.”

Incoming Star Editor in Chief Jami Peterson said she did “not like the tone of the letter which insinuates that they (NIU administration) are dictating the way in which a student newspaper is run.”

Peterson said the letter infers that the Star must accept any orders of the administration, even if they regard the content of the paper.

“The Star welcomes suggestions the administration might have, but the content of the paper is completely up to the student editors,” she said.

Peterson also criticized the committee for sending the letter to Star Advisor Jerry Thompson, because Thompson has no control over the content of the paper.

“If they are trying to affect the content of the paper, then the letter should have been sent to the editors,” Peterson said.

Thompson agreed, saying, “All things relating to content are the decisions of the editors.”

However, no one on the committee would comment on what the committee’s task is, when or where the committee will meet, what will or has been discussed or when its duties will be concluded. The committee also refused to comment on why its meetings are closed and why the meetings must remain a secret.

Committee members Jorge Jeria, asst. professor of leadership and education policy study, and Harold Kafer, chair of the School of Music, both referred their comments to Committee Chair Marilyn Monteiro, chair of NIU’s Affirmative Action Office.

Kafer said Monteiro would be the spokesperson of the group to ensure “consistency of statements.”

When contacted Monteiro said she was “unable to comment,” “couldn’t comment,” “can’t comment at this time” and then referred questions to NIU President John La Tourette.

La Tourette did not return phone calls Monday.

The information lock-down is the second this year involving the Star and NIU’s administration.

A similar situation developed when the first committee created after the April 26 incident closed its doors, rejected a Star reporter and then refused to comment on the goings on behind those closed doors.

However, that committee did vote to close the meetings and reasons for the secrecy were given.

One reason the first committee’s meetings were closed was personal matters would be discussed. It is unknown if personal matters are having any bearing on the decision to close the second committee’s meetings. It is also unknown if any vote was taken to close the meetings.