Frequently Asked Questions

What is the NEIU Neighbors Coalition?
The NEIU Neighbors Coalition is a volunteer group of private citizens who stand together in favor of the sanctity of private property rights.  We stand opposed to any agents of government that attempt to forcibly seize the private property of one group of citizens and re-distribute it in order to financially benefit another set of private business interests.  We believe that any such behavior is a violent and immoral act, and should be recognized as such by any United States citizen.

What the heck is going on over there at Northeastern Illinois University?
Actually it’s quite simple.  NEIU has, for more than 40 years existed as a 67 acre university campus catering to nearly 12,000 commuter students surrounded by a quiet residential neighborhood and adjacent to a small, five block business corridor along Bryn Mawr Avenue.
This year, the university administration has suddenly decided, without any dialog with their residential and commercial neighbors, that it wants to prop up its sagging enrollment numbers by launching an initiative that would construct new student housing complexes for approximately 800 students in hopes of attracting a residential population of students to supplement its current commuter student enrollment.

So what’s wrong with student housing?
In principle, nothing at all.  If the plan’s intent was to only build residences on property currently owned by the university, we doubt you would be reading any of this.  Unfortunately much of the housing won’t be built on currently held NEIU property.

Where else could the University build student housing?
What has gone horribly wrong here is that the largest part of the NEIU plan is that they have chosen to act as an agent of the government in order to be able to invoke the right of eminent domain and forcibly evict the owners of all the business property at the westernmost end of the Bryn Mawr business corridor.

After that, the land would be turned over to a private real estate developer who would take control of the property and with the help of investment bankers, develop twin 5 story buildings with mixed retail and residential space.
The private developers and investment bankers would bear full financial responsibility for the demolition of the old properties, the construction of the new buildings, and management of all residential and commercial tenants in the newly created complex.  The developers and investment bankers would be rewarded with all the financial profits resulting from the development and management of the new “University Campus”.

NEIU’s General Council, Melissa Reardon Henry, has come out on television and said that they are negotiating in good faith with the current land owners to try and resolve this.  Is that true?
No it is not true at all.  The first financial offer made to the property owners was in the form of a letter from NEIU’s outside legal counsel.  That letter also contained the threat of NEIU invoking eminent domain and seizing their property by force should the current owners choose not to sell.

There can never be a good faith negotiation when NEIU proposes to get the owners to come to the table at the barrel of a gun.  How could any reasonable person believe that this is negotiating in good faith?  In fact, this process has now become a poorly disguised act of slow-motion armed robbery, and you should recognize it as such.

Melissa Reardon Henry also stated in the same television interview:  “Part of our role as a steward of place as a public institution is to enhance the community where we live.” That sounds quite reasonable doesn’t  it?
Of course that sounds reasonable.  That is the whole point of rhetoric.  Sounding reasonable doesn’t make it true.

In fact, according to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the concept of “Public Engagement” is such an important part of the role of being “stewards of place”  that they created an entire publication “Stepping Forward as Stewards of Place” detailing the primary idea of “Public Engagement” including the following definition:

“The publicly engaged institution is fully committed to direct, two-way interaction with communities and other external constituencies through the development, exchange, and application of knowledge, information, and expertise for mutual benefit.”
As you can see, there are no references to the use of guns in the AASCU definition of public engagement, nor are there any such references in the entire publication.

If Ms. Reardon Henry wants to invoke the idea of “stewards of place” she should at least be aware of what the AASCU believes that should entail.  Now you do too!

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