SGA town hall hears students’ need for community


Summer Fitzgerald

Several students sit at the SGA town hall on Wednesday.

By Jack Strunk, News Reporter

What to Know

  • SGA president, director of student affairs and director of academic affairs directly addressed questions and concerns from the student body.
  • The director of student affairs addressed that NIU will no longer accept personal exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Campus Activities Board vice president outlined plans to have more events in the Holmes Student Center to create a sense of community for students.

DeKALB — The Student Government Association informed students that personal exemptions for the COVID-19 vaccine would not be accepted for the spring semester, and that there is currently no intent to put disposable mask stations on campus in their town hall meeting on Wednesday.

SGA hosted a town hall meeting to address student concerns on Wednesday in the Holmes Student Center Oasis.

SGA president Devlin Collins told students who attended that the event was designed to make it easy for students to have their voices heard, especially with the frequent changes to academics and student life within the past few years due to COVID-19.

Amit Patel, director of student affairs, opened the event by reading questions to the crowd asked anonymously through social media and answering them.

Staffing is an issue that we are facing not only on campus but all over the state. This is an issue that we are working to solve, but it is still going to take time.”

— Amit Patel

Patel addressed student concerns about wages for on campus jobs being too low.

“Staffing is an issue that we are facing not only on campus but all over the state,” Patel said. “This is an issue that we are working to solve, but it is still going to take time.”

Patel also discussed COVID-19 vaccination requirements for the spring semester. 

“(Students and faculty) need to get vaccinated unless they have a religious or medical exemption; personal exemptions will no longer be allowed in the spring semester,” Patel said. 

Patel went on to explain that if a student receives a medical exemption, they are required to undergo surveillance testing in accordance with the university’s guidelines.

Patel also addressed a student question about whether SGA would create disposable mask stations for students to be able to access if they do not have their own. Patel stated that SGA is considering ways to do this, but that it had been attempted before and had created too much litter on campus.

Patel responded to a student question about campus activities that inferred there were not enough campus-wide events. 

Patel suggested the attendees look into the Campus Activities Board, which hosts frequent events. He encouraged people to get involved with CAB and to look for their events on Huskie Link. 

Another student expressed that student activities often felt divided by major or college, and they didn’t feel a sense of community among the entire student body. 

Matthew Outzen, vice president of CAB, responded to this question with CAB’s plans to create a sense of community between majors at NIU by making the Holmes Student Center the “living room of campus” where students of all groups and majors can come together for events. 

Outzen also discussed CAB’s goals to have frequent events, almost every week, for students to join to meet new people on campus. He said that the best place to find and keep up to date with CAB events is their Twitter page, @NIU_CAB

Students also expressed their concerns about science labs for physical science classes not being worth additional credit. 

Duane Meighan, director of academic affairs, said that although he cannot confirm yet whether SGA could begin the process of making labs for credit since they typically require three classroom hours per week. It is something the SGA is discussing.

Meighan responded by encouraging students who were struggling to create study groups with their classmates, as well as group chats to discuss the coursework and get support from other students in their classes.

Meighan ended the meeting by encouraging students to attend on-campus events to help with the revival of campus life and to consider joining or attending meetings of community council and the Residence Hall Association to address concerns they have with residence halls and dorm life.