Student trustee candidates discuss campus topics and concerns

The Daily Illini editorial board sat down with the six student trustee candidates to further understand their views and goals for the campus.

Daily Illini: Why should we pick you as our student trustee?

Mike Cunningham: (I will be) 110 percent accessible, always open, available to students ... One of my main goals is talking to every single RSO. 

LaDarius DuPree: I am not afraid to get ... mucky with the politics. I’m not afraid to say, “No, this is not going to happen.”

Ryan Gleason: I’m looking to represent 100 percent of the students. That begins with financial stability... It’s nothing worse to see than a student get that acceptance letter ... and say, “I simply can’t afford it.”

Brian Siegel: I toe the perfect middle ground between your average student and (a student senator)...This isn’t just a resume stuffer for me.

Carey Ash: I’ve been both an undergraduate and a graduate. Now granted I have not been an undergraduate here, but I’ve been here a lifetime ... From my time in the career center ... to my time in the student senate on academic policy, educational policy and budget, everything I have done has been to better the students of this campus.

Shao Guo: I love every student who has been here at this University. I can see leadership potential in all of you ... I follow the same philosophy as our first president John Milton Gregory followed when he set the foundations for this first student government in the United States in 1870. He saw that students enter and leave as leaders.

DI: What initiatives, plans or projects do you have planned should you get this position?


BS: I created a listserv of the leaders of almost every RSO to bring their voices to me so I could have all of that with one email.

CA: I’d like to revive, I’d like to rethink and I’d like to renew the University of Illinois. As to reviving ... it’s a little bit different than a listserv. I think we’ve actually got to go out and meet the leaders of these RSOs ... so I’d like to create a round table of them and have them advise the student trustee because right now the student trustee is unbound ... As to rethinking the Twenty-first Century University, we need (to take) a stern look at general education requirements. Many of our colleagues are paying for classes that they will never use.

SG: I want to finish the history of student government up to this point ... For the present, I want to survey everybody. I want to go out there and be directly visible; if I’m elected I’ll be out on the Quad most of my days serving people ... As for the future, I want to recreate a freshmen council on this campus.

MC: One of the things I want to do is (break down fees and) costs (line by line) ... and see where we can actually cut some unnecessary costs to give to other programs at our University that are suffering ... We can reach out to our legislators as a whole and really utilize our alumni network. If we can just get our alumni who ... love Illinois and credit Illinois for their successes, I think that we can make up for some of the money that the state owes us. 

LD: Get more money to student affairs because I feel that student affairs the way it is on campus right now, it’s one of our biggest programs — all of our students are engaged in student affairs in one way or another, but there never seems to be enough money to make sure that all the programs (get done right).

RG: I want to lead us to a stable campus going into the future, starting with financial stability ... I’d like to cap in-state tuition, room, board and fees ... I’d like to lock the rate of tuition with inflation ... I’d like another 200 security cameras on campus to bring our total to over 1000.

DI: What is your plan to keep tuition increases down so that students can still have access to this University?


CA: We make sure that we create programs or we defend the programs that are in existence (like) MAP grants. We should take a strong reassessment to look at fees to see which ones are there that are burdensome to students ... However, students should have the right to petition the University to say, “I am not going to pay this fee. I cannot pay this fee.”

SG: My plan would be to emulate the strategies from the early 2000s. Back then they did a massive tuition survey every year, sometimes surveying over 10,000 students regarding how much they wanted their tuition to increase, if at all.

MC: I think one of the most important things is keeping line-by-line item cutting costs as necessary. That will cut a significant cost of expenses for every student.

LD: (I want to) get students more engaged and let them know this is where your fees are going and you need to be more participative in this process to make sure administrators are not running for your money. 

RG: I want students to get in here because they can afford it, and I want students to leave here with the least debt as possible.

BS: We need to reverse the process of (nonrefundable) student fees.

Tyler can be reached at