Desler absent from ASG administrator forum

Christina Chaey

Dean of Students Mary Desler was noticeably absent Thursday night in the first of a series of open forums organized by the Associated Student Government and meant to foster communication between students and top university administrators.

Director of Judicial Affairs Jim Neumeister spoke for Desler, who had a family medical emergency.

“I don’t feel like the students were cheated in any way,” said Jack Eichorst, speaker of the Senate. “It was a very nice gesture on his part.”

About 15 students attended the student affairs forum, held in the Northwestern Room in Norris University Center. Neumeister spoke alongside Sarah Pearson, vice president for alumni relations and development, and Michele Morales, director of health education for health services.

Administrators introduced their respective departments and addressed several issues spanning a wide range of concerns for the university community, including alcohol abuse prevention, off-campus safety and strong alumni relations. The panel was followed by a brief Q&A session.

Neumeister addressed the sharp spike in the number of student alcohol-related incidents, which has more than doubled since 2006.

“It’s alarming,” he said. “On the good side, it could mean students are more willing to look after their friends and make a call for help, and we think that’s great.”

Morales said health services would like to make alcohol and drug education a priority, especially with the recent creation of the Alcohol Safety Task Force, an ASG-propelled initiative.

Pearson said although the “dramatic elimination of wealth” has made the fundraising process difficult in recent months, the university is still making alumni relations a top priority.

“Who you give to in a recession depends on your values,” she said. “Our job is to try to keep NU in the top three or four priorities.”

The forums are one way ASG is attempting to bridge the “huge information disconnect” between students and administrators, Eichorst said.

“We’re not here to coddle the administration, but we don’t want to denigrate them either,” the Weinberg senior said. “If there is any way to break down the barrier, I think that’s a good thing to invest our time in.”

The second forum, which will focus on career development and financial aid, will be held on March 10 in the Northwestern Room.

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