All-time low attendance

Felicia Maxa, Staff writer

During student activity hour on Sept. 19, the Free Speech Taskforce held an open forum. Only three students attended.

It is this number, the number three, that brings to mind the searing question: do the students of such great ethnic, racial and cultural diversity seriously care about their rights to free speech? One would think that with all the immigration rallies being held across the country, the picketing concerning Operation Iraqi Freedom, social security anxieties and the like, that students would want and stand up for their rights to speak freely on campus.

One would think that such students would be more willing to participate in such forums to allow for the student body to express their thoughts on how to better enable themselves to enjoy their freedom of speech. However, it appears that only three students in the whole of the NEIU student body have any care about whether things get said or not. Collectively, the student body of NEIU has dropped the proverbial ball on this one.

The several other people in room 1001 of the Classroom Building where the meeting took place, were there to speak about proposed resolutions to issues that the readers of this newspaper (the students of this university) seem to care deeply about, but must be to busy to attend.

It was not so long ago, last spring in fact, when the Independent published a story about an incident involving an off-campus anti-gay/lesbian group clashing with the university’s gay, lesbian and bisexual community. Name calling was involved, and there was much distress about the availability of free speech on campus. Yet only three students showed up to listen and help achieve change in the system. In fact, one might assume simply by looking at attendance, that students here really don’t care about their First Amendment rights.

Free Speech Task Force member Evelyn Nazario-Rose said it best after the forum had released: “[Students] have to take responsibility for shared governance.” When will people understand that it takes action to make change happen? And its true, just as democracy should work in the real world, the general principals are applied to the politics of education.

For all of you out there who have ever felt upset by the state of free speech at NEIU, (unless you were one of the three people at that forum who shared their opinions), keep your opinions to yourself – at least until the next open forum. As this new proposal makes its way to the vice president of student affairs, you will have had no final say in its content. Yet again, students will have to rely on the administration and the task force alone to determine how free speech will be run here at NEIU.