Wong speaks to students at ‘coffee talk’

Brice Burge

ll and played basketball, NMU President Les Wong addressed a small crowd at the PEIF Wednesday night, March 30. Many of the questions had a sports association of some kind, including question about USOEC funding cuts and how NCAA eligibility can affect the possibility of moving to a trimester compared to semester schedule.

With recent budget concerns, many athletic issues have taken a back burner to curriculum challenges. According to the Road Map to 2015, five varsity athletic teams were to be added, including fast-pitch softball, the PEIF membership added to tuition and proactive measures to counter the formation of the Big Ten hockey conference will have to wait.

“A lot of things we should deal with today we’re going to have to postpone. We we’re on track to do some important things and we have to push them back,” Wong said.

ASNMU President Courtney Russell asked for an update on a busy February for the Northern Community. Wong was able to respond with reports of praise for the handling of the shooter threat and what NMU is doing to improve on any future situations, reports of a suspect arrested in connection with the threat and how great the technology is on campus.

“The text message alert system has won national acclaim and what you see on your laptops is an app written by a student here,” Wong said. All of Wong’s opening statements dealt with the budget. Stressing the permanent 6.77 percent cut to the budget, NMU could take up to 12 years to recover.  Aware of the location of the talk, Wong used a baseball analogy to describe the situation politically, saying that the budget is “in the middle innings.”

“This is a fairly systemic issue,” Wong said. “The governor is getting his closer ready to have things done by June 1.”

The usual questions of moving to just one kind of computers and the possibility of a smoking ban were asked. Although nothing new was said about the smoking ban, a possible three-year lease with higher quality T-series Lenovos or WiMax-capable MacBook Pros. According to Wong, the proposed lease change would have no effect on tuition changes.

“We think in cost savings, this change will be substantial if students are willing to get a better machine and move onto a longer lease,” he said.