Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Lectures, legal aid top list of promises

Northwestern students will gain free legal advice, a revamped student handbook and a universitywide lecture series as a result of student input. But improvements to academic advising will take more time and energy, administrators said.

NU officials said they will fund a variety of new programs and overhaul old ones in response to a presentation by the Undergraduate Budget Priorities Committee, a group of five students.

The group is administered by the Associated Student Government but operates independently. More than a month after making an hourlong presentation to NU’s Budget Planning Committee in March, the group learned nearly all of its requests have been fulfilled.

The university will set aside $30,000 for a quarterly lecture series beginning Fall Quarter.

“It’s an opportunity to bring a lot of students together for an academically based tradition,” said Trevor Nelson, UBPC chairman. “We also thought it would be a great way for Northwestern to distinguish itself nationally, because other universities aren’t doing these things, really.”

Nelson, a Weinberg senior, said the demand for the Medill School of Journalism’s Crain Lecture Series proves there is a strong desire on campus for quality speakers.

“I see this as an event that perhaps could be different over time,” University President Henry Bienen said.

A committee is being formed to develop a wish list of speakers for the series, which might be organized around a theme each year, he said.

ASG President Adam Humann said the event might become an NU tradition.

“I’m really excited about the lecture series,” said Humann, a Weinberg junior. “It potentially could turn into something that is just amazing.”

Humann said themes for the series might include topics such as the upcoming presidential election and women in literature.

Following UBPC’s requests, the university also will hire a professional lawyer to provide students with access to free legal aid. The lawyer will dispense advice from an office to be established at Norris University Center. The service, to be funded by ASG, will replace the Legal Aid student group that disbanded last year.

“It was something that was lacking with the demise of Legal Aid as a student group,” said UBPC member Steve Spaulding, former ASG president.

Spaulding, a Weinberg senior, said the Campus Activities Office has received as many as 75 calls this year from students seeking legal aid.

NU’s student handbook also will be overhauled next year with the help of funding given to the Office of Student Affairs.

But administrators said improving academic advising will take more than money. The UBPC report found that the majority of undergraduates were dissatisfied with advising services and did not know what services were available.

“If creating a perfect academic advising system were easy, it would have been done a long time ago,” said Eugene Sunshine, NU’s senior vice president for business and finance.

In its report, UBPC called for a more centralized system of advising. Administrators said they hope the Academic Advising Center, open since September, will eventually serve that function.

“We need to give some things a chance,” said Bienen, who also said academic advising needs improvement.

Bienen said differences among the schools make it difficult to create an advising system that serves students of each school effectively.

“You can’t have one glove fitting everything,” he said.

Administrators said they are working to improve the system but “cannot, in all honesty, give a timetable” for improving student satisfaction with advising.

But Nelson said he was satisfied with the administration’s response.

“The committee was not anticipating that the university would have a solution (to advising),” he said. “We were rather looking for — and we received — a commitment from them that they would dedicate a considerable amount of attention to revising and repackaging the advising system for students.”

The administration, Nelson said, was willing to listen to student input.

“On every point we presented on, they have made a great effort to understand and help solve our problem or issue,” he said. “I hope results will demonstrate that the university is willing to listen to students’ concerns and that progress on the behalf of student life is occurring on our campus.”

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Lectures, legal aid top list of promises