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Northern Illinois University officials party maskless while forcing mandates on students

Faculty, administrators and alumni enjoyed maskless, school-sponsored events

Northern Illinois University leadership reminded students heading into the new year to follow state and university guidelines that require face coverings indoors.

But administrators, faculty and alumni were not as keen to follow those requirements throughout a series of December events, according to photos compiled by The College Fix.

In one instance (pictured) President Lisa Freeman went maskless while cheerleaders and band members were forced to wear masks.

The university and alumni association deleted most of the albums, videos and photos after Fix inquiries.

A January 11 email (below) from Yolanda King, the law school’s associate dean, criticized the bare faces she saw while on campus.

“I am on campus visiting the classrooms to prepare for your return in two weeks,” King wrote to students. “Unfortunately, I observed students who were not wearing masks in multiple classrooms. If you intend to take your remote classes in a classroom on campus, you must always wear a mask.”

King could have shared the same message with her colleagues at the law school’s annual holiday reception.

A Facebook post from the law school on December 10 shows faculty, administrators and other attendees enjoying a holiday luncheon without wearing masks. A student confirmed to The College Fix the luncheon occurred in the law library.

Cassandra Hill, the law school dean, is in the middle of faculty and staff. At the end of the row appears to be law school Chief of Staff Melody Mitchell and to Hill’s immediate right is Kellie Martial, the assistant dean. At the far right on the end is librarian and Assistant Professor Matthew Timko.

The Fix identified the faculty using the College of Law’s directory, though not all employees have photos.

King did not respond to requests for comment on if she attended the luncheon and the potential she violated the university and state mask mandate. Dean Hill did not respond to a request for comment either.

Administrators don’t see the value of masks while in Michigan or Chicago

Other administrators, including President Freeman, did not see a public health benefit to wearing masks while traveling for events in Michigan or partying in Chicago.

Freeman enjoyed a breakfast buffet in Detroit before NIU took on Kent State in the Mid-American Conference football championship at Ford’s Field on December 4. Despite an alumni association admonition that all events would follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines requiring masking indoors, Freeman’s bare face is visible in some photos.

She also did not wear a mask while addressing the primarily older crowd at the alumni association event, though the cheerleaders and band members did wear a mask. The video has since been removed from the Facebook page after a College Fix inquiry.

Thomas Bough, the school’s band director, did not wear a mask as he yelled into the crowd of older people to rile them up with school spirit.

Freeman, administrators and professors had a busy week of partying with the alumni association.

The university leadership enjoyed a holiday reception at the Old Post Office in Chicago on December 1 with alumni. Though the city has a mask mandate, many attendees went maskless, including a former Chicago Democratic alderman.

Below, former Alderman Bob Fioretti (center) stands to the left of Freeman. He’s a graduate of NIU’s law school and an adjunct faculty member.

Dana King, the alumni association events director, did not respond to a January 19 request for comment.

The Fix contacted Lisa Miner, chief communications strategist, and Joe King, associate director of institutional communications, to ask for comment on January 26. The College Fix attached the photos seen in this article and asked for comment and if any of the university personnel would be punished for violating mask mandates.

One law school student, required to take online classes, said the mask situation is part of a broader problem of the university not serving its students: “[T]his time the administration…has gone too far.”

The student decried the quality of online learning he and his peers have experienced at NIU thus far, citing a general lack of preparedness and professionalism by both students and professors when classes are online, and valuable time wasted on arguments over people not turning their cameras on and general technical issues.

This isn’t what we’re paying for,” the student said.

MORE: University chancellor violates school mask mandate

IMAGES: NIU Alumni Association/Flickr; NIU College of Law/Facebook

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Daniel Nuccio holds master's degrees in both psychology and biology. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in biology at Northern Illinois University where he is studying the impact of social isolation on host-microbe interactions and learning new coding techniques to integrate into his research.