A dose of reality for voting

By Erica Fatland

For those of you who haven’t read the front page of the Star today, or the page facing this column, or seen the numerous fliers littering the King Memorial Commons, you may not know that Tuesday and Wednesday mark yet another election.

Yep, it’s that time … again. These two days will determine, with luck, the next Student Association president, vice president, treasurer and the student trustee.

Sounds exciting, right?

Before you shut the paper and move on to more exciting things, like say, watching paint dry, think about this:

Like I’ve said before, voting for these positions is so important, and often students take that right for granted and just let about 10 percent of the NIU population make up everyone else’s minds for them. Not such a great idea, folks.

This is not going to be another column harping wholly on the apathy of the majority of NIU students. Really, it isn’t.

I would rather do something a little more constructive, something that actually may serve some sort of purpose.

Many people just don’t vote because one, they don’t know who most of the candidates are, and if they do, it’s usually through some sort of controversy (need I say more?) or two, because they don’t know what these positions entail, so why vote for someone when you don’t know what the heck they are doing in their office every day?

No, they aren’t learning how to perfect the art of paper airplanes or the “rubber pencil” trick – – well, at least I hope not. They do perform work.

In an attempt to try to get some more students to vote, I think it would be a good idea to give a rundown on what exactly these people do, namely the president and the student trustee, a position that for the first time is made by electing, not appointing.

According to the infamously long-winded and forever confusing 2000 NIU SA Constitution, the Student Association president has a lot on his shoulders.

Here are the main responsibilities of the new president:

1. “Act as chief spokesperson and liaison for the SA in all matters inside and outside of the university community and with the administration.”

2. “Direct ALL programs of the SA.”

3. “Prepare the SA budget and determine spending priorities of the SA.”

Now, before Ken Getty calls to complain about making his job seem less-than-difficult, I want to reiterate that there are 11, yes, 11 jobs of the SA president, but, being that there is only so much space in a measly column, things have to be cut. For those hanging onto the edge of their chairs in anticipation of knowing more about the job requirements, the SA Constitution can be readily accessed at the SA office, Campus Life Building, Room 180 or online through NIU’s Web site. It’s just that easy.

Moving along …

The Student Trustee is a member of the NIU Board of Trustees, the governing body of the university.

Here’s the lowdown on the main job requirements of the board, according to the NIU Constitution, Board of Trustees section:

1. “Formulating master plans for higher education”

2. “Receiving and reviewing budget proposals from the governing boards”

3. “Reviewing all existing academic programs”

4. “Establishing minimum admission standards to be applied by the universities”

5. “Approving plans for noninstructional capital facilities”

6. “Formulate bylaws, rules and procedures for the university’s operations”

7. “Establish academic programs and make other academic decisions (prescribe the courses of study)”

8. “Set tuition and fee charges”

9. “Spend monies appropriated by the state and seek such funding through budget requests”

10. “Set tuition and fee charges and acquire property”

There’s certainly a whole lot of responsibility on the Board of Trustees’ shoulders. The student trustee is the only voice for the students on that board and

therefore has to comment on all of those issues. Because this is the first time students have the opportunity to vote for this position, this is a landmark year and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. The student trustee sits on the very board that makes all of the above decisions for NIU.

Let’s hope this all doesn’t fall on deaf ears. This is an important election, just like any other election, whether it be mayoral, presidential or otherwise. It needs to be taken seriously. In this instance, the power is all in the students’ hands.

Don’t sit and let the chance to make a difference go by. Students make up most of NIU — don’t let a small number make all the decisions.