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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
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I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal Wiertella March 1, 2024

Several students address Board of Trustees

Trevor+Drew+%2FNW%0AMembers+of+Northern+Michigan+University%E2%80%99s+Board+of+Trustees+met+the+morning+of+Dec.+15+in+Cohodas+Hall%2C+room+602.+During+this+meeting%2C+the+board+unanimously+elected+trustee+Robert+Mahaney+as+the+Chair+of+the+Board+of+Trustees+for+the+calendar+year+2018.%0APhoto+by%3A+Trevor+Drew
Trevor Drew /NW Members of Northern Michigan University’s Board of Trustees met the morning of Dec. 15 in Cohodas Hall, room 602. During this meeting, the board unanimously elected trustee Robert Mahaney as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for the calendar year 2018. Photo by: Trevor Drew

While Columbus Day has come and gone, the controversy surrounding it remains on campus with numerous students attending the most recent Board of Trustees meeting to voice their concerns.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day, sustainability on campus and the invitation to Gov. Rick Snyder to speak at May 2018 commencement were topics brought up by 10 students who had requested to address the Board of Trustees at their meeting held the morning of Dec. 15.

Four students expressed dissatisfaction with the board’s lack of action on recognizing Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the university calendar, the day when Christopher Columbus Day is federally recognized.

Citing the new vision statement’s emphasis on “community” and “inclusion” along with Northern’s Native American Studies program, Biidaaban “Daabii” Reinhardt argued the addition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day was the next logical step.

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“For years now, the board has been on a path of neglecting the voice of the students by trying to wait us out, wait until we graduate and move on,” Reinhardt said. “However, this is not just a small movement on campus. Indigenous Peoples’ Day has been spreading across the nation for over 20 years. By you not voicing your opinion on this issue, you are guilty in NMU being left behind.”

Reiterating past comments, Trustee Rick Popp said inspiring inclusion isn’t about drowning out other perspectives.
“We recognize there are people who do celebrate Columbus Day and they feel as passionate about that as some of you feel today about what you expressed,” Popp said. “We are not a quiet board about the topic. It is important. We see no action to take. And we honor the celebrations.”

Student representatives from the Sustainability Advisory Council, senior ecology major Georgia Harrison and junior environmental science major Olivia Walcott, along with three other students approached the board regarding student engagement with sustainability on campus.

Specifically, Harrison urged trustees to support the development of a center for sustainability in May, which would include a student peer-to-peer educator program called “Eco-Reps,” designed by Harrison and Walcott to develop communication and outreach on sustainability efforts to students.

Senior double major in sociology and environmental studies Nathan Frishkorn also approached the board and presented a petition opposing Snyder’s invitation signed by approximately 400, including 116 seniors graduating in May.

In his petition which he read to the Board, Frishkorn listed the
governor’s involvement in the Flint water crisis as well as “attacks” on public education, labor and the democratic process as reasons the under signers rejected Snyder’s invitation.

“By inviting a politician, the administration of NMU has chosen to take graduation day away from the students, and to give it to the speaker,” Frishkorn read. “In our current political climate, protests by students, faculty and community members is a certainty. These protests will take the focus of commencement away from the students and move it to the commencement speaker.”

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