High absence rate leads to dismissal of senators

By Matt Gronlund

With poor attendance at senate meetings and talk that the Student Association is useless, students might be wondering if the SA plans to take action or just sit back and let more opportunities and issues pass them and the NIU student body by.

The most notable case of absenteeism on the senate’s part was Super Bowl Sunday, in which a quorum of 18 senators was not met. There are a total of 34 senators.

Due to low senate attendance, NIU has lost the opportunity to see Saturday Night Live comedian Kevin Nealon, a number of organizations had to wait to have their funding approved and Kathy Brandenburg could not be approved as advertising adviser for the SA at the designated time.

A number of decisions also might have been made that do not truly reflect the student body. Public Relations Adviser Anna Bicanic said when senators do not attend meetings the students and districts they represent are not equally represented, but are instead represented by the core group of senators that are usually in attendance.

“We need to be firm and follow our bylaws as far as attendance goes,” Bicanic said.

And with those words in mind, Senate Speaker Nelson Perez said the SA is not going to stand for it any longer.

“We’re going to take action,” he said. “We expect to have new senators Sunday, at least five.”

Nelson said there would be several automatic removals during the week and those senators being removed would be notified during the week.

According to SA bylaws, senators are allowed five half absences or up to 2 1/2 absences from senate meetings. Absences also include missed committee meetings.

“I’m disappointed that we had to lose senators this way, but I’m enthused that the senate will be revitalized,” Perez said. “The senate will have a new face.”

Perez said the SA change might lower its quorum by three until the new senators are approved.

“If a person is not putting in the time, energy and commitment to the senate agenda, then they should be removed,” Sen. Dan Gaddis said. “If the people aren’t showing up they should be removed.”

Bicanic said the SA is pleased to be receiving a number of applications for the senate positions. “In the future we hope to attract the kind of people who will put in the extra

effort,” she said.

As far as the senate being issueless, the SA strongly disagrees.

“We have not been an issueless senate,” Bicanic said. “Because one person said it everyone has the mind set that we are.”

At last Sunday’s SA meeting Sen. Abe Andrezejewski said the senate is, “quickly turning into a rubber stamp committee, an issueless senate.”

And if they have been issueless, some think that things are going to be different. “It’s going to change because of the athletic fee increase,” Gaddis said.

He explained that the senate is both pro-active, as in events like the housing bazaar and the blood drive, and reactive. “Sometimes we have to wait to see what the administration does.

Perez said, “I myself am going to make sure the senate is focused on the athletic fee increase and the Campus Life Building.”

Bicanic added that the SA has addressed the Illinois Board of Higher Education program cuts, violence on campus and the need for greater availability of financial aid information among other things.