Illinois Student Senate

Illinois Student Senate is the representative body for the students at the University of Illinois. This blog allows members to discuss a variety of aspects about their lives, including but not limited to their involvement in ISS. ANY OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THAT OF ILLINOIS STUDENT SENATE AS A WHOLE.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A note to new senators

I hope you enjoy the ISS blog. Brian Pierce had the idea of starting it last year and he’s hoping this year it will really take off.

You’ll also notice our blog links to several other local blogs, the two I visit most regularly are Illini Pundit and The Next Frontier. Illini Pundit is a conservative blog with several commentators with considerable expertise on local issues. The New Frontier is updated regularly by Kiyoshi Martinez and Vincent Lee, Kiyoshi is a past Editor in Chief of the Daily Illini, Vincent is a former ISS Communications Director, former DI Opinions Editor, and the current Daily Illini Editor in Chief.

This semester Billy Joe Mills, Brian Pierce and I all had the opportunity to write for the DI. We started blogs to post our columns and add occasionally other content. From time to time Brian and Billy write on campus issues. Here is a column by Brian, our former Academic Affairs Committee Chair, on instructor evaluations. Also, here is a column by Billy Joe focusing on “self segregation."

As a guest columnist, I was required to mostly write on campus/ student issues. If you read any of my columns, please read Saving Illinois. You might find some of my other columns somewhat helpful if you're interested in: textbook prices, the need for a police review board, student discipline reform, the strategic plan, the "crisis of courage," or a general review the Student Senate's progress from last term.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Solving the Lincoln Hall problem

The current capital budget for the U of I includes $51 million for the renovation of Lincoln Hall. It is very unlikely the republican party will allow these funds to make it into the final budget. Meanwhile, our administration is pushing through a $250/ semester fee to get a handle on our current $800 million backlog on deferred maintenance.

Renovating old buildings is significantly more expensive than building a new, state of the art, building. Some estimates suggest we could replace Lincoln Hall for 1/4 the cost of renovation. Sadly, Lincoln Hall is historically protected, and renovation is our only option.

I'm forced to ask myself, W.W.M.D.D.. What would Mayor Daley do if he were our Chancellor? Instead of pissing away $35 million dollars, Chancellor Herman should secretly find the funds to have someone drive a bulldozer through Lincoln Hall. The next day have a press conference talking about how horrible the damage is and how tragic it is that we'll have to tear the hall down. Pull off all the awesome historical panels from the outside and remove the "lucky” President Lincoln statue (judging by the employment prospects of LAS students I'm not sure the statue is worth salvaging). Give the professors time to clean out their offices, and burn the rest of Lincoln Hall to the ground. Burn it to the ground. To the ground. Sorry, I got a little too into that.

Sadly, although some say Chancellor Herman is a "badass," he's no Mayor Daley, so we'll either never renovate Lincoln Hall or we will waste over 30 million dollars, dollars that are likely to come almost entirely from student fees.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Unofficial St. Patricks Day Resolution

Billy Joe Mills and I discussed making 2 amendments to the current USPD proposal. The first is supported by both the chair of ed pol and the chair of the committee on conduct governance. The second they generally seemed to agree with us on, and the chair of CCG might vote for it (the chair of ed pol is not a voting senator).

No matter how you feel about the resolution, I urge you to at least vote for these amendments, b/c they substantially improve the resolution.

Other members of ISS might also offer resolutions to narrow the scope of the broader resolution. (Hassen & Ruzic)

I'd like to debate the issue on our blog instead of clogging each others email inboxes, so have at it.

Motion A

Motion to amend Professor Roszkowski’s Resolution to Eliminate Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day to include the following at the end of the original resolution:

Be it further resolved, the Chancellor shall establish a commission including students, faculty and staff to make recommendations to the Chancellor to advance the aforementioned goals. Such steps shall particularly focus on eliminating academic disturbances and promoting campus safety by taking appropriate measures consistent with all existing laws, regulations and the Student Code, including Section 3-603(b)(4).

Motion B

Motion to amend Professor Roszkowski’s Resolution to Eliminate Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day to include the following at the end of the original/ or the amended resolution:

Be it further resolved, to the extent he is able to do so, the Chancellor should ensure that the University Police Department continues current law enforcement practices for underage drinking, instead of processing underage drinking in a manner requiring students to lose their drivers license. Students ordinarily do not lose their drivers license for underage drinking and they should not lose their drivers licenses just because they are caught drinking underage on a particular day.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Unofficial St Patricks Day Resolution

From yesterday's News Gazette:

"Business administration Professor Mark Roszkowski has filed a resolution with the campus Senate calling for the UI to take action to end Unofficial St. Patrick's Day. The resolution, to be voted on Monday, says the event promotes binge drinking and disruptive behavior, reduces class attendance, disrupts classes and "seriously undermines the educational mission of the university."

In an e-mail, Roszkowski listed specific suggestions he plans to discuss with Herman:

– formally requesting that campus-area bar owners not promote the event.

– requesting that faculty schedule exams or mandatory activities on the day of the event.

– asking the Champaign mayor use his emergency powers as liquor commissioner to prevent bars from opening early on class days, restrict the operating hours of any bar refusing to honor the request to not promote the event and prohibit keg sales within a few days of the event."

Professor Mark Roszkowski is fairly extreme on drinking issues, he is allowed to Chair the Committee on Conduct Governance (CCG) where he pushes this agenda. If he wants to schedule mandatory events during "unofficial" so be it, but he shouldn't be making these "requests" of other faculty members. He should have more respect for the autonomy of his peers.

If he wants to craft a new sanction making disrupting a class after drinking a special offense, perhaps that is reasonable. He could advocate making classroom disruption an aggravating factor when kids are drinking underage, or even being drunk an aggravating factor for classroom disruption. Instead he uses classroom disruption as a pretense for his paternalism. He thinks as a university professor he has a mandate to dictate what kind of promotions bars can and cannot have.

Professor Roszkowski tries to continually tweak the student code in ways to make things worse for students. I sit on the CCG, but do to class conflicts I'm often unable to attend, so I cant give every example of these actions, but here is one I found particularly disturbing. I remember a recent meeting where he suggested shortening the span of time a student has to file a capricious grading complaint. I believe it is now 6 weeks after the start of the next semester, he called that unconscionably long. His change was shot down. If a instructor is guilty of capricious grading and the student is able to prove it a full year later they should be entitled to relief.

The University might well need to do something about unofficial, that doesn't mean we should do just anything.

Even more troubling is the following from yesterdays NG:

"The university also is looking at student suggestions, which said fines, the loss of a driver's license or community service would be effective deterrents to certain behavior.

Of the nearly 100 citations issued at Unofficial St. Patrick's Day, almost half went to UI students. Acting Dean of Students Ruth McCauley sent letters to those students, stating future violations of liquor laws will result in charges under state statutes rather than city ordinances.

What that means, Riley said, is they will pay a larger fine and risk losing their drivers' licenses if they are under age 21. Of the 49 UI students issued citations, 31 were underage drinkers. Copies of the letter also were sent to the parents of students under age 21."

The state law that underage drinkers (even if they aren’t driving) can lose their license b/c of a drinking ticket is an example of MADD run amuck over the better judgment of the state legislature. It is so counter-intuitive, no one thinks that underage drinking alone will cost them their drivers license. It also seems like the underage drinkers who pay the drinking ticket do not have their ticket forwarded to the Sec of State to have the license revocation take place, but those who fight the drinking ticket (good luck) and lose, have their licenses taken away.

The city is already exploiting students by lowering the bar age so they can raise substantial drinking ticket revenue - 290 in Champaign. Enforcement is so sparse that students will still roll the dice and drink underage, it's too much of a part of our campus culture to presume that will change overnight. Taking students drivers licenses wont solve anything.

Did you notice Ruth McCauley also said students parents are being notified? Presumably if students are over 18 but under 21 they should be treated as adults. I could understand parental notification for students who aren't yet 18. Students were under the impression that parental notification was only used in extreme cases. I'm under the impression parental contact after underage drinking IS NOT the norm. It's likely this is being arbitrarily applied just so they can look tough on unofficial.

originally posted on my personal blog
also there is a thread on this issue at Illini Pundit

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Ride the ISS/VIP Voter Vans!

Do You Need a Ride to Vote?

Ride the Voter Van!

The Illinois primary election is on Tuesday, March 21 when many students will be away on Spring Break. Illinois now allows voters to vote early from February 27 - March 16.

-Illinois Student Senate and Volunteer Illini Projects will offer FREE Rides to the Champaign County Clerk's office on March 13, 14, and 15. The Champaign County Clerk's office is located at 1776 E. Washington, Urbana, IL.

-The Voter Vans will depart from the front of the Illini Union at 12:10PM, 1:10PM, 2:10PM, 3:10PM, and 4:10PM on those dates.

-Voters may show up at the Union, but are asked to RSVP here!

Instructions: Please comment below with your netid and the day and time that you'd like to ride the voter van. (If you don't want an e-mail reminder, please put NO E-Mail next to your netid)

If you don't want to RSVP on the blog, please e-mail Jen Walling at with the day and time you'd like to go vote!

Also, if you'd like to vote at some other time or can give rides to the county clerk's office, please comment below!

***Remember to bring acceptable forms of identification***

Acceptable forms of identification

-An absentee/early applicant's identity must be verified by presentation of an IL driver's license, IL ID card, or another government issued ID containing the applicant's photograph.

-If the person is a first time voter required to show ID, the acceptable forms of ID include: a current and valid photo ID, a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or othergovernment document that shows name and address.

-A voter registration card is not acceptable identification.

Please see for more info on the primary election, including viewing your ballot and checking your voter registration.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Voter Registration Committee Update!

Hi Everyone,

I'm posting this because Josh told me to.

Gail Schnitzer and I had a meeting with County Clerk Mark Shelden to discuss various student voting issues. We thought it went really well!

First, we're going to work with him to send out the usual primary election mass mail and we'll include in this mass mail our efforts to take students to vote early.

Second, we can do a deputy registrar class on campus in April. I'll let folks know when we work the details out, but it'd be great to have deputy registrars available at move in during the fall and at other events to make voting simpler for students.

Third, Mark Shelden agreed to try to look into getting locked boxes for voter registration forms in the dorms if we can get him permission to do so from housing.

Fourth, he gave us info on how we can get money from HAVA to support student non-partisan poll assistants. Apparently there are students in Peoria utilizing this money right now.

Lastly, he agreed to look into getting the technology ready for an early voting terminal for campus, but can't promise that he'll be able to do it in November or for this election.

Also, if anyone is interested in helping with our effort to take people to vote early, please come to our next meeting on Wed. March 1 at 9 in the ISS office. We will be taking people to the polls in the VIP vans on March 13, 14, and 15.

And, don't forget to vote! The primary election is March 21 (during Spring Break). If you're not registered or registered at the wrong address, you can still register up until March 7 if you go to the County Clerk's office. You'll have to vote when you register though.
You can vote early from Feb. 27 - March 16!
The County Clerk's office is at 1776 E. Washington in Urbana.
Visit for more info on what ID to bring.

-Jen Walling
Graduate College
Co-Chair ISS Student Voter Registration Committee

Monday, February 20, 2006

State of the Student Senate

My last column was on the state of the Student Senate, I posted the column on my personal blog. I think we've done a great job together this year. Thanks for all your hard work! The post is here.