U of I withdraws membership in ISA

By Lisa Ferro

Despite a referendum by University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana students to keep their membership in the Illinois Student Association, U of I’s Board of Trustees voted Thursday to withdraw the university’s membership anyway.

The ISA is a student lobbying group in Springfield that tries to influence state representatives toward student interests. NIU has been in the ISA for more than two years and each student pays a $1 ISA fee for its services.

U of I administrators recommended against their ISA membership because they questioned the judgement of collecting a fee to pay for an outside agency’s services, according to U of I’s newspaper, The Daily Illini.

NIU and U of I are two of the biggest contributors in ISA’s membership. NIU students pay about $25,000 for their ISA membership, while U of I students pay more than $36,000 for their membership. The two schools combined make up more than half of ISA’s income.

The Board of Trustees’ decision comes after the U of I student body voted in February to keep their ISA membership. NIU’s student body also will put their membership up to vote at the beginning of fall semester.

NIU Student Association President Preston Came said he was not pleased to see U of I students’ wishes not being respected by the Board of Trustees after they voted to keep their membership.

“I do not support the Board of Trustees telling students how they should spend their student fees,” Came said.

He said the SA and its future SA president, Paul Middleton, will have to access the information this summer and decide what NIU will do to inform NIU students before the fall semester referendum.

Cheryl Peck, assistant to the chancellor of the Board of Regents, said the BOR does not run the same way U of I’s Board of Trustees does, so they would not automatically make a decision like U of I’s Board did.

The Regents govern NIU, Illinois State University at Normal and Sangamon State University in Springfield.

“If the students voted to keep it (their ISA membership), it

would be kept,” Peck said.

U of I’s Board of Trustees voted to withdraw the university from ISA while they were going over their student-fee package.

Although the BOR is going over NIU’s student-fee package Thursday, Peck said there would have to be a proposal from the NIU to the BOR, before it would even look into NIU’s ISA membership.

“The ISA will still keep functioning,” said Patrick Sanchez, NIU’s interim ISA director. “It’s nowhere near dead. They’ll just have to do some restructuring.”

Sanchez said when the ISA met Saturday, they decided to have a search for a new executive director and to eliminate the position of field director. They plan to divide the duties of the field director between the executive director and the legislative director, so they could save money, he said.

The ISA also discussed several restructuring options, Sanchez said. One idea came up to find another way of getting U of I student fees, since they voted to keep their ISA membership, he said.

“There’s always room for improvement. I think in the upcoming year we can see some of that improvement,” Sanchez said.