SA opposes athletic fee increase

By Matt Gronlund

The Student Association voted to oppose the much-debated proposed athletic student fee increase at its meeting Sunday.

Even with Intercollegiate Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell and Eddie Williams, vice president for Finance and Planning, guest speaking in support of the proposal, the SA voted to oppose the fee increase by a 18-8-2 vote.

In part the resolution read, “The SA recognizes the financial burden on the student. In light of the current state condition the NIU Student Association opposes a fee increase for intercollegiate athletics.”

A number of senators spoke out both for and against the proposed increase. In support, Sen. Jim O’Shay said, “It’s an investment in our future, in our university.”

“I do believe I have an informed opinion on this and I severely question this,” said Senate Speaker Nelson Perez.

Some senators even offered their own solutions. “The best way for us to become self-sufficient is for us to go down to Division III,” Sen. Abe Andrzejewski said.

To ease those who thought the increase should not be passed in light of the financially faltering academic programs, Williams said, “Our number one priority is always our academic programs.”

Williams explained that the increase would just maintain NIU’s athletic program at its current state. He added that for every dollar put into athletics, a dollar would be put into academics.

Even with the funding, the athletic program’s problems would not necessarily be solved. “They are not saying that if they get the fee increase there will not be cuts,” Williams said. He added that in fact there would have to be cuts.

O’Dell emphasized the importance of NIU’s athletics and pushed for the increase. “It’s important for us to realize an athletic program is an integral part of a university,” he said.

“Without increased funds you would have to make drastic cuts in our athletic program,” he said.

The SA is considering a student-wide referendum. Andrzejewski also is organizing a petition against the proposal.

Perez, however, did note that the SA is only making a recommendation to the five individuals on the senate who will make a recommendation to NIU President John La Tourette. The five who will make the recommendation to La Tourette are SA President Paul Middleton, SA Vice President Anastasia

riscione, Treasurer Tony Lopykinski, Perez and student Regent John Butler. In the end, however, La Tourette does not have to follow any of the recommendations given to him.

In other news, the SA intensely debated the budget of the Organization of Latin American Students (OLAS).

OLAS asked the SA for a budget increase which would surpass the SA’s limit of a 5 percent increase per year. The organization originally wanted $2869.

The budget was voted down in large part because the senate did not want to set a precedent of allocating more than a 5 percent increase.

“The precedent we could set for that could open the floodgates,” O’Shay said.

Senators pointed out that the SA has allocated much larger amounts to much smaller groups. “We’ve given other organizations, that do not serve students as well as OLAS, $10,000. Let’s be fair” Perez said. The issue will be decided in an upcoming meeting.