Student voices opposition to cutbacks

By Chris Nelson

Recent proposals suggesting NIU eliminate programs and trim departments might cause some to doubt the legislature’s backing of NIU.

Hena Sereno is one person, however, who believes NIU is a special institution deserving support.

Sereno and her six children all have earned degrees from NIU. Sereno herself has earned a master’s degree in art education and is presently a candidate for a second master’s degree in art history.

Sereno also holds an official position in the campus group ALPHA: Friends of Antiquity.

Sereno said she clearly has strong ties to NIU. She said when she hears of state-proposed cuts intended for the university, she becomes adamant.

“Twenty years ago, there was a surge of funding for education. Nowadays, few people are willing to fund educational services. I don’t think people realize that the education of students is an investment in the future,” Sereno said.

Sereno said she believes NIU has many excellent facilities to help expedite the mission of education. As a result, she speculates that the recommended cuts might have a detrimental effect on the educational services provided by NIU.

The Sereno family knows well what NIU has to offer.

Each of Sereno’s six children have taken their undergraduate degrees from NIU and have proceeded to earn Ph.D. degrees at prestigious universities.

“When my kids were students (at NIU), a person could buy a T-shirt that read ‘NIU, the Harvard of the Midwest.’ Well, my daughter wore that shirt to Harvard.”

Sereno’s other children attended Brown, Columbia, the University of Chicago and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Recently, Sereno’s son, Paul, was credited with the discovery in Argentina of the earth’s oldest dinosaur.

As for Sereno, she has been an art educator to elementary school children for 27 years. As a teacher she recognizes the potential in students.

“Every single child has the potential to be something fantastic,” she said.

Such potential is nurtured within the educational process, which is why Sereno finds the cuts to education so confusing.

When the reductions are made, specialists leave, and often are not replaced, she said. Sereno said she believes those who are hurt most by this are NIU students.

“I stand by NIU. It’s a marvelous school, and I don’t understand what the state is doing,” she said.