Public Comments Shine Light on Challenges, President Commits to Shared Governance Inclusion

Dan Maurer, News Editor

With the Budget Town Hall of Jan. 24, 2023 fresh in everyone’s minds, there were multiple members of NEIU’s community ready to speak their minds at public comments during the Faculty Senate meeting on Jan. 31, 2023. Two professors, Lauren Meranda and Ashley Elrod, both spoke to longstanding grievances between the faculty and successive administrations, with Meranda saying “They have used the language of professionalism, the mask of respectability, to gaslight us,” and Elrod added, “There was every opportunity along the way to collaborate with the university community.” Elrod made a point of quoting comments from President Gloria J. Gibson at the Budget Town Hall on Jan. 24, 2023 where Gibson said she welcomed the help of the university community: “Thank you for your offers to help. We need help… I heard you, we heard you.” That quote was verified by the Independent. President Gibson later reaffirmed her commitment in her own address to the Senate, saying, “I do want to hear what ideas you have for helping us out of our budget crisis, and I am willing to schedule a meeting for ideas, or through shared governance.”


“Please consider us… as you are making these power plays.”


Students gave public comments, as well. Multiple students cited challenges working with staff and faculty. One student, a 2022 graduate, cited, “a lack of support and respect.” Referring to the budget and enrollment crisis, she implored faculty and administration, “Please consider us [students], the number one stakeholders at Northeastern, as you are making these power plays, because it does not affect the bottom line as much as it affects our futures.”

Krystal Donegan, an online student in the College of Business and Technology (CBT), claimed her emails and phone calls went unanswered at CBT, and that even when she did make the two hour drive to campus, she was “given the runaround” and had to seek assistance from chairs in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). She said that it was only her mentors in CAS that kept her from leaving NEIU. Jane Xu, a faculty senator of CBT, promised to address her issues after the meeting and was later seen speaking with Donegan after the Senate adjourned.

Students also voiced concerns about representation among the faculty. “It’s important for us to have representation in our school,” one student said, “Not only representation that looks like us, but a representation of people that care about us.” Donegan brought up the issue of representation within CBT specifically, calling the lack of it, “disgusting and undeniable.”

Many expressed their impressions of the Town Hall in public comments as well. Elrod quoted a colleague who said it was an “unprecedented expression of community anger.” Meranda said, “There is nothing unreasonable about voicing concerns passionately, and about asking for accountability.”

Edwin Medina, the President of the Student Government Association (SGA), compared the Budget Town Hall to the insurrection at the US Capitol, saying, “Last time I had such intense feelings was on January 6, 2021. When I witnessed the unfolding of events in the nation’s capital.” He went on to say, “[Events at the Town Hall] made me sick to my stomach to watch students being used as weapons to further someone’s own agenda.”

Nancy Wrinkle, the Chair of the Faculty Senate, said she had heard from many people who had differing views of the events at the Town Hall. “What people told me afterwards that was common to both of these perspectives,” she said, “was that the experience of the town hall meeting was traumatizing for many people in the room.” Wrinkle went on to say that many of the entities within the shared governance framework at NEIU were already reaching out to work more closely with administration and the Faculty Senate. She also said that she would be attending a meeting of the SGA on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023 at 3 p.m. in Alumni Hall, and urged senate members to join her there to hear the differing student perspectives.