Trustee candidate ineligible despite being qualified by state law

A write-in student trustee candidate said his motion to delay elections for the office was denied Monday by the Circuit Court of Champaign County because it was not filed in time.

Carey Ash, graduate student senator, is refuting University claims that he is not an Illinois resident, which is required by state law to run for the office of student trustee.

“Despite the University’s diction, I am a legal resident of the great state of Illinois,” he said. “I have been in this state for five years, and every day of those five years, I have committed myself to the service of the students.”

After review of copies of his driver’s license, tax returns, leases, vehicle registration and other documentation, Kenneth Ballom, dean of students, denied Ash’s candidacy on the basis that Ash does not qualify for the University’s standards of in-state tuition among “a combination of other criteria.”

According to section 3-903 of the student code, students must, for one year, be employed in Illinois or rely on Illinois resources for more than 50 percent of the income spent on tuition, fees and living expenses. Though Ash is a graduate assistant at the University, this employment is disqualified under the code.

The factors, however, are stated to be “not necessarily conclusive, (but) have probative value in support of a claim for resident classification.”

“There is not just one criteria it is a combination of criteria not just tuition,” Ballom said in an email. “Every applicant in question should produce information sufficient to support current residency and intent to remain in Illinois that is satisfactory. The culmination of all of the information is what is used to make a determination.”

But Ash, a member of the Urbana Plan Commission, doesn’t think his residency status should be an issue.

“The General Assembly did not intend for anyone to be discriminated against on the basis of tuition and fees,” he said. “It makes no sense (that) because I pay more, I am ineligible to serve on the board of trustees.”

Ballom said that when verifying trustee candidacies, “all of the facts presented and circumstances for each individual case” must be considered, and the burden rests “with the student to prove eligibility and demonstrate sufficiently an intent to remain in Illinois.”  

As a write-in, Ash will be competing with five other student trustee candidates: Shao Guo, vice president-internal of the Illinois Student Senate; Brian Siegel, student senator, junior in Media and former Illini Media employee; Mike Cunningham, junior in LAS; LaDarius DuPree, junior in LAS; and Ryan Gleason, junior in LAS.

“I am not giving up on this election, and I’m not giving up on the students of the University of Illinois,” Ash said.

Tyler can be reached at tadavis2@dailyillini.com.