SA questions controversial phone calls

By Eric Krol

Student Association officials have spoken out against controversial phone calls made by an SA presidential candidate.

SA presidential hopeful Maurice Thomas made almost $100 in personal and business phone calls at the SA office last December.

Thomas said the calls, including one three-hour call, were related to the financial aid project he was working on, the CASHE system. Thomas made calls to Lewis University in Romeoville and Aurora University in Aurora. However, neither of the two colleges were considering the CASHE system.

In addition, Thomas recently transferred from Aurora U. and also admitted the phone calls to Romeoville were to “a sorority sister to my fraternity,” who happened to be involved in student government in an unspecified capacity.

SA President Preston Came said, “There’s no doubt that the calls should never have been made.”

In a Sunday interview, SA Public Relations Adviser Rebecca Bahr said, “All these calls couldn’t have been CASHE-related.”

Thomas later admitted some of the calls were personal and paid $68 on March 19 after a several month-long investigation.

“It bothers me that in both of the cases that the persons contacted were acquaintances of Maurice Thomas,” said SA Speaker Michael Starzec. “In both cases, the bulk of the conversation was personal, which wasn’t helping CASHE at NIU.”

Starzec said he could justify the calls if they were to public schools such as ISU, but Thomas was calling private universities who do not have the CASHE system.

Came said the problem had been solved. “We’ve taken steps to remedy the situation,” he said.

After finding out about the calls, Came said he disconnected the long-distance accessibility in the main SA office. Thomas made the calls after regular business hours and did not use the phone log because it was locked in another room, Came said.

Thomas said there was a long delay in paying the bill because his loan from the Illinois Opportunity Program was delayed.

However, SA Faculty Adviser Michelle Emmett, who sat down with Thomas to determine the amount owed, said Thomas never told her about the delay in the loan. “He did tell me he would pay me quickly,” she added.

The investigation began Jan. 30 when Emmett received the phone bill. Thomas explained in a Feb. 5 memo why he made the calls, but Emmett said she needed more information.

After little action was taken, Thomas met with Emmett on Feb. 28 and agreed to pay the cost of the personal calls he had made.