How is NEIU spending their money?


Chuck Sipps, Arts and Life Editor

When it was announced that T-Pain would be the headline attraction of NEIU’s Fall Fest, there were two questions that usually followed the news. The first, why T-Pain? The second, how much did it cost? While the first query is a more philosophical one, the second is more definitive. 

It took $60,000 to bring T-Pain to NEIU for about an hour and 20 minutes. Not bad work if you can get it. The question that should be asked based off this information is this: why are we spending $60,000 on T-Pain when so much of our campus is falling apart?

To get this out of the way early, for those readers in the know and those who are not, there are separate budgets allocated for different uses at NEIU. Meaning that the money that has been spent on T-Pain was always meant to be used for entertainment and would never have been used for our campus’ much needed repairs. Even with that said, this still falls into the idea of “perception is reality.”

Part of the beauty and tragedy of humanity is the limits of our perception. Most of us are blessed and cursed with the ability to only understand that which is put in front of us. So for some, it is only natural to question the use of school funds on an entertainer when so many of our facilities are in disrepair and understaffed.

The second thing that must be addressed is the state budget crisis. There seemed to be a point when NEIU was to close its doors for good and it is to be expected that it would take a few years to right the ship. Once again, while this must be taken into account, that doesn’t mean we can’t criticize the optics of spending $60,000 on Terrance Pain (probably not his real name) when our school is falling apart.

If you haven’t seen the damage for yourself here is a recap of some of the facility problems that are currently happening on campus. 

Stage Center Theatre was originally planned to be replaced 10 years ago and if its ceiling is any indication, it is now more in need of a rebuild than ever. 

Since the start of the semester, the ceiling tiles of the men’s bathroom in the B building have been missing.

Many of our facilities leak when it rains, including the Student Union and the CMT department’s hallway, among many others.

One of our emergency response towers on campus has an index card taped on it that says “out of order.”

The elevators. Oh, sweet baby Jesus, the elevators. Each time I step into one, I am forced to wonder if this ride will be my last. The number of stories of students and staff getting stuck in one of these things is ridiculous.

These are just some of the problems around campus and there are likely many more I am unaware of. The more alarming thing is that there is no public schedule/information of when or even if any of these issues will be fixed. I am self aware enough to know that there are factors in all of this that I don’t know about.  Still, it is hard to look at spending $60,000 on T-Pain, $50,000 for the Goodwin Lecture Series and $600,000 to pay for an empty Nest and not question the justification for it all.

The arguments for burning through the money like we have seem cheap, unlike our spending. Things like high-profile entertainers and speakers are good for morale or they bring eyes and attention to NEIU. Do you want to know what might actually improve morale on campus? For students to not have to worry they will get trapped in the elevator while headed to tutoring. To not have to walk around trash cans filled with rain water while on the way to class. Or how about being able to show our theatre off as a showcase instead of a potential hazard? These kinds of improvements aren’t just important for optics, they are a vital part of our campus’ long-term viability. But hey, at least we paid $60,000 to see T-Pain.