Protesters recite chants at First Amendment Plaza outside the Communication building, Oct. 1. (Photo by Brian Burke)

Students for an Equitable and Transparent NAU (SETNAU) is a new organization composed of undergraduate students to amplify the voices of student concerns on campus such as transparency of NAU administration, an itemized list of student fees and discontinuation of campus extension.

Sophomore Tyler Best, a member of SETNAU, said the organization started around the beginning of September with undergraduate students and has since grown through outreach, petitions and rallies.

"We felt NAU has been making very questionable decisions on COVID-19, overpopulation and the direction of NAU," Best said. "We felt our voices hadn't been heard and the best way to do that was to create our own organization and lobby for our voices."

Outreach with various organizations such as graduate student communities and the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), to name a few, was one goal Best said has helped grow the coalition and make it more noticeable. SETNAU is in the process of reaching out to ASNAU to aid in the vision of making student voices heard and holding NAU liable for its actions.

Within the past month, SETNAU has contributed to organizing various rallies to voice concerns about the safety of the student body amid COVID-19. The "Die-In" protest on Sept. 18 was in conjunction with the University Union of Northern Arizona American Federation of Teachers (UUNAAFT) in which graduate teaching assistants gathered at the north quad to exemplify concerns of in-person teaching. 

Most recently, a rally on Oct. 1 at the north quad demonstrated cross-campus solidarity with United Campus Workers of Arizona (UCW), a union based at UA in response to the Arizona Board of Regents not convening at NAU for its scheduled meeting. 

"The Arizona Board of Regents was supposed to meet at NAU that day but deemed NAU to be unsafe," Best said. "We found this to be highly hypocritical so we marched at the same time."

SETNAU's website provides a detailed vision of what it is requesting from NAU administration and includes an "NAU Community Voices" section where students can anonymously express their concerns about NAU. Topics vary from COVID-19 policies, graduate teaching assistant modality, COVID-19 isolation dorms and President Rita Cheng. Best said this forum intends to show how many voices are not heard by NAU administration. 

On his own time, second-year graduate student and SETNAU member Mark Graebner looked into the transparency and safety policies of NAU regarding COVID-19, including running a personal protection equipment (PPE) drive and creating a COVID-19 dashboard. Graebner said about a week after his fundraising began, he received concerns from NAU regarding the fundraising's initiative. 

During that time, Graebner spoke to a member of SETNAU and said the organization's platform provided the diversity needed for transparency, compassion and learning. Graebner said he joined because he wanted allies looking for transparency.

Individuals interested are welcomed to join SETNAU to share their perspectives by visiting its website. Those who want to share their voice but are unable to join are also welcomed, Best said. Some student workers have expressed concerns, Best explained, but did not join in fear of losing their job by association. He said SETNAU is for anyone who has concerns about NAU, as everyone has a role to play.

"I think it's really important that if we're going to change something with NAU and if we can make our voices heard and show that there is a need for compassion and leadership it is so important that the undergraduate students have a voice in that since they are the bulk of the university," Graebner said.