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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Staffer of the Month: Katie Dunne

The Senate Staff Program has helped to reveal a number of fresh faces to ISS who have not ceased to impress with their dedication and eagerness to be involved. A number of staffers are more active even than some elected senators. As a result, Ariel Avila and I felt like there should be some recognition of those staffers who have gone above and beyond and really demonstrated their commitment to doing more than writing another line on their resumes. We came up with the Staffer of the Month Award, which will be recognized here and on the main ISS website.

The award for the month of November goes to Katie Dunne, who has been working with co-President Josh Rohrscheib. Even during my interview with her during the application process, I could tell immediately that she stood out. She has been not only one of the most hard-working members of the staff program but of the senate as a whole.

Regardless of whether you agreed or disagreed with the Coke contract resolution, Katie prepared invaluable research presenatations on the subject literally overnight. During the floor debate at one of her first meetings, she faced several challenging questions and handled herself assertively and with poise. For a new person to come in and jump right into the heat of debate seemingly without hesitation was incredible.

Though she has not often received the credit she deserves, she engineered the creation of a report on racial profiling by leading a team of staffers to investigate the several police forces on campus. The report ultimately led to a banner headline on the front page of the Daily Illini, a rare feat for ISS.

She continues to put forth effort into a number of projects and will assuredly be getting the same results she has so consistently been achieving since the beginning of her time here with us. We congratulate and thank her for her commitment.

Brian Pierce
Senate Staff Program Coordinator

Friday, November 25, 2005

Senator Danavi immortalized in Wikipedia

While surfing the internet, I came across the Wikipedia entry for the Daily Illini (whether or not the DI deserves a Wikipedia entry is another question). It's a rather comprehensive entry with a section dealing with the Israel-Palestine entry dealing with quotes, misquotes, columnists, hatemail, etc (read the Wiki entry for more details), but as I scrolled down, there was Senator Vartan Danavi's name mentioned. Since anybody can edit a Wikipedia entry, I don't know who could come up with the idea of mentioning Mr. Danavi. Who would love and respect Mr. Danavi so much to go out of his way to create a section dealing the entire Champaign-Urbana Israel-Palestine proxy war, making sure that Joseph Danavi would be mentioned?

Nonetheless, ISS's very own Joe Danavi is forever imortalized in the electronic scrolls of history. Be proud for your Senate colleague. Because I'm sure he is.

Derek Chan
Graduate Student
former ISS Senator - LAS Life Sciences

Thursday, November 24, 2005

The ISS beat: Happy Thanksgiving

The Illinois Student Senate is out of session just as tensions between the Rohrschieb-Ruzic administration and the rest of the ISS reached a boiling point. The administration has come under heat in recent weeks for undermining established ISS processes and by-laws.

The conflict grew as Chief of Staff Ariel Avila, long time Rohrschieb-Ruzic crony, threatened the entire Senate with delinquency for not turning in Senate reports. The move would essentially shut down the ISS.

Shadow cabinet president and Appointments Chair William Joseph Mills retorted, “my committee doesn’t do anything. How can I write a report on a committee that doesn’t do anything? That would be one short report”.

Despite threats of a government shutdown, hopes are high for a compromise. Senator Laura Engle, who has gained support in recent weeks from her colleagues said, “we will get through this because we need to get through this. The students deserve an effective government”.

Rohrshieb agreed, “we are closer and closer to reaching closure,” he said.

In a gesture of good faith, even Senator-in-Exile Adam Blahnik had kind words for the administration, saying of Rohrschieb, “no other student has done such a duty for many years”.

In other news, the Honorable Senator Joseph Vartan Danavi has repeatedly denied reports that he is in fact IlliniPundit’s Vartanitron. Sources close to Danavi say the allegations have taken their toll on the once proud Assyrian Senator. As of yet, no member of the ISS has come forward as the phantom blogger.

Hassen Al-Shawaf
Graduate Student

Note: Please take the above article lightly. The above article is approximately 30% truth and 70% comedy.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Predatory Promotions

Have any of you noticed the MBNA tents outside of memorial stadium or the booths in the Assembly Hall where MBNA gives out free t-shirts, towels, blankets, etc, in exchange for your filling out a credit card application? I use to kind of giggle to myself when I walked by these, because they reminded me of my old roommate. He had the worst credit in history, so bad that when i went with him to buy a car the salesman laughed at him. This guy use to fill out all of these things and collect the free t-shirts and other gifts, saying he was impervious because he is "Bad Credit Man" so he gets the free stuff, but there's no chance they'll actually approve him for any of the cards. These credit card sign ups worked out ok for him, but I think they are pretty bad for most of the normal students on campus.

MBNA is a sponsor of Illinois Athletics, and I'm assuming part of the deal is that they are given access to our students through these tents and booths at athletic events. I think it is inappropriate for the university to contract away access to the student body, especially to an industry as predatory as credit card companies.

Apart from MBNA, I think other RSO's do credit card fundraisers where they give out promotional items in exchange for people completing credit card applications, and then the credit card company gives the RSO some money for each completed application. I think this practice should also stop.

I think the Alumni Association might also have a credit card deal where they try to get current students to sing up for a U of I Alumni Association credit card, where the alumni association gets some money from the card, but much less than the parasite credit card company takes from students. If this is going on, it's particularly troubling because the Alumni Association has access to data like our email addresses, campus addresses, and permanent addresses.

I've asked Allan Niemerg to do a little preliminary research on these issues and get back to us. If you're interested in giving him a hand drop him a line at:

Personally, I think college students are particularly vulnerable targets for credit card companies, we are learning to budget for ourselves for the first time, we have limited incomes, several big expenses like textbooks that we can get lots of "reward points" for from various companies. I would like these any university sanctioned promotions on campus of any credit card companies to end, and RSO fundraisers with credit card companies to be banned from campus.

Please post your thoughts on this issue.

Yours affectionately,


Thursday, November 17, 2005

The ISS beat

The hookah industry won a huge victory yesterday as the ISS supported exemptions from the clean air act. The exemptions, pushed by Senator's Hassen Al-Shawaf, Laura Engle, and Joseph Vartan Danavi, gave the hookah industry leverage with the Champaign City Council. While the Illinois Student Senate recognized the need for clean restaurant and bar environments, it also recognized the needs of the blossoming CU hookah bar industry.

The move came one week after the same coalition blocked moves of Co-President Rohrscheib to appropriate Union funds on Illinois Student Senate light-up bounce balls. The coalition attacked Rohrscheib's ultra-left wing tax and spend programs.

Rohrscheib later commented, "but I want my bouncy balls."

The coalition, dubbed the "dynamic trio," called the no vote as "a win for the students."

Rohrscheib has come under political pressure in recent weeks for pushing his leftist authoritarian agenda. A recent report, published by members of ISS's shadow cabinet, called the environment surrounding Rohrschieb's constitutional amendment package as "highly suspicious."

Rohrschieb has hinted at resignation although most ISS members do not take him seriously. "He says he wants to resign every other week," Senator Danavi said.

Hassen Al-Shawaf
Graduate Student

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Confronting the Unavoidable, Amending the Unamendable

In response to Billy Joe (who just called me Mr. Rohrscheib for the first time in his life) and the rest of his cadre of revolutionaries, I submit that some of the provisions in question should be removed from the Engagement Amendment. In fact, I wanted to remove them from the amendment at this evenings Student Senate meeting. I will explain and defend my position on each point, and then conclude by discussing what options I believe we have for moving forward.

As a point of clarification, when Billy cut and pasted text into his post, the underlining and strike through edits were removed. Each provision is explained here to avoid further confusion. you can also check out

Article V, Section 1, E

This is currently: “All referenda will be binding on the Student Senate. The Student Senate will not abridge the rights of referenda.” The amended version would read: “The Student Senate will not abridge the rights of referenda.

For a referendum question to be binding upon the Student Senate, 15% of the student body votes on that question and there is at least a 10% margin of victory.” There are typically two positions on this provision, either 1) that ISS should never take a position on a question that is decided by a student referenda, or 2) that ISS is elected to speak for students and should not be bound by past referenda. This provision was an effort at a compromise, the theory being that ISS should be bound by a referenda voted on by a lot of students when they voted overwhelmingly one way or the other, and that perhaps we should not be bound if a referenda was either voted on by a small portion of the student body or that we should not be bound if the student body was closely divided on a question.

I think it is bad policy for the Constitution to bind the Senate from taking an action that Senators believe would be of interest to their constituents, the current language would bind ISS even to referenda that are several years old. The obvious rebuttal to that argument is that ISS can just put up a new referendum; if the provision reducing the burden on ISS to put up a referendum is included in the amendment then making past referenda results binding seems much more reasonable. If we amend the constitution in a way that requires ISS to get 2000 signatures to pose a new referendum question, I think we should remove the binding language altogether and trust the judgment of future senators treat referenda results with the appropriate deference.

Article III, part F:

This is a new section that would require referendum questions to be asked separate from student elections. This would obviously reduce voter turnout to some extent, I do not contest that point. Much of Billy’s objection to this provision relies on it being passed alongside the section discussed above. He seemed to believe that requiring a 15% voter turnout for referenda to be binding on the Senate would mean any referendum not voted on by 15% of the student body would be void. This is simply not true. Referenda questions are asked for typically three reasons. 1) Amending the structure of Student Government; 2) Imposing new student fees or renewing old student fees; and 3) gauging public opinion on a particular question. The amended provision on making a referenda binding on the Student Senate would not void any of these types of referenda, it would only effect whether ISS could also address the issue.

However, one section Billy didn’t mention could void one type of referendum question if the voter turnout is too low. One provision Billy didn’t discuss Under the proposed amendment, is Article V, Section 1, Part B(2) – under this provision creating a new student fee would require that 5% of the student body vote on the question for a fee to be assessed. This was included because in 1998 the student government fee of 1$ per semester was reinstated narrowly by a vote that only 1464 students voted on, but all 40,000 students had to pay the fee. It is my understanding that this referenda was poorly advertised by the student election commission, which was then controlled by student government, partially to help student government get the fee passed. We thought there should be some minimum amount of students that would have to vote to approve a fee for it to be assessed to the entire student body.

The main reason I wanted to amend the constitution initially is that currently it is way too hard for students to put a referendum question to the student body. The provision to separate referenda from elections was included because if we make it easier to ask referendum questions, there is an increased potential for students to ask referenda questions solely to influence the election of the Student Trustee. Any number of questions could be asked just to drive certain constituencies to the polls, but ultimately asking certain questions, such as the question about the chief, will give some candidates such an advantage in the election that other candidates simply will not have a fair chance to be elected. I think this undermines the election process and cheapens the power of referendum questions.

Billy’s argument that when voting on big issues, voters should be able to simultaneously elect a representative of their choice is unconvincing. Nothing about separating these questions prevents voters from being able to vote both for the candidate of their choice and then separately for a big issue in a referendum, all it does is remove any particular candidates from using referenda questions to get an unfair advantage over their opponents in what would otherwise be a fair electoral process.

If Billy’s objection to this portion is based only on concerns related to voter turnout, he should consider that in Fall of 1999 over 7,000 students voted in a referenda when no student election was on the ballot, and in Fall of 1997, again in a question separated from student elections, 4600 students voted. In Spring 2003 when there were student government elections on the same ballot, 6147 students voted. If the referendum questions are matters students are interested in, and the questions are publicized, I don’t think the decrease in turnout caused by separating referenda from student government elections will decrease the turnout enough to call the results into serious question.

Article VI:

The Amendment would add a new provision making Article V (on Referenda) and VI (on Amending the ISS Constitution) unamendable. This is an embarassingly stupid idea, I now deeply regret writing this into the constitution and I look forward to removing it as soon as possible. Our original thinking was that we wanted it to be easy to amend the constitution but difficult to amend it to strike the entire constitution and replace it with a new one. There are better ways to achieve this goal. I apologize for this shoddy, and yes, hasty draftsmanship.

Procedural Concerns:

I can't deny that we rushed through the Amendment. I assure you this wasn't part of any strategy to pass it and sneak anything by our members. The Amendment was send out over the ISS email list well in advance of the meeting and members were given a copy at the previous weeks meeting. The only reason it was pushed through at the end of the meeting is that I wanted to be able to start collecting signatures and I didn't think we could start petitioning until the refereda questions were passed by Senate. In the future I will make every effort to ensure that the discussion of any constitutional changes are brought up as the first item for action so we can discuss the issue while as many senators as possible are present for discussion.

Moving Forward:

Billy says we need half of the Senate to revisit the issue. I'm pretty sure revisiting an old question would require a 2/3 vote, either way, I'm confident getting that 2/3 vote will not be a problem. At the beginning of the next meeting I would like Ariel to appoint the new parlimentarian to make sure we get the process right.

One thing is perfectly clear, we absolutely should not take the question to the student body as it is currently drafted. There is the added complication that we have collected signatures already with the amendment included in the petition. I think the SEC is likely to let us make some minor changes, so long as we aren't changing anything that was in the explanation of the question. I should point out the provision seperating elections from referenda questions is in the explanation we have been circulating with the petitions.

It seems to me that currently we have the following options:

1) Pull the amendment entirely. This would mean revisiting it and voting it down. I'd rather not use this option because several elements of the amendment are good policy. This would not effect the other 3 referenda questions, but the SEC would not be able to ask the amendment question if it is not supported by 2/3 of ISS without 7% of student body signing a petition. We would turn in the 5% for the other 3 questions, and the SEC would then ask those, but not the engagement amendment because we wouldn't meet the 7% requirement.

2) Simply remove the language making the document unamendable by a 2/3 vote, and change Article V, Section 1, E to whatever the majority of ISS is comfortable with. Then we could ask the SEC to accept the changes because these arent included in the general explanation given to students.

3) Dan Nugent's suggestion of essentially doing #2 but also adding a provision to make it easier for us to amend the constitution more substantially in the spring when we have more time to have a convention and sort all the details out. Personally, I think this is the best policy decision, and I think it would be fun to write a new constitution together.

We will set aside time at the beginning of our next meeting to sort this out. Just a heads up, revisiting a past question does not require anything coming up for information. We will set aside time for it to come up, and if no one else does, I will make a motion to revisit the previous question, because it is absolutely imperative that at a minimum we remove the language making article V and VI unamendable. I appologize for all of the added confusion I've caused. We really should have had a more open dialogue throughout the drafting process and I will make sure we do a better job of this in the future.

I hope you all have an excellent Thanksgiving break.

Much love,


P.S. Billy Joe, I'm still your huckleberry

Senatorial Haste

Mr. Rohrscheib (co-president) recently proposed multiple undemocratic reforms to the campus referenda process:

1) Article III, part F: Referendum questions must be asked separate from student elections, with the lone exception of referendum questions about the renewal of student government fees.

2) Article V, part E: All referenda will be binding on the Student Senate. The Student Senate will not abridge the rights of referenda. For a referendum question to be binding upon the Student Senate, 15% of the student body votes on that question and there is at least a 10% margin of victory.

3) Article VI, part B: Article V. on Referenda and Article VI. on Amending the Constitution, may not be amended.

To begin, there is a logical inconsistency with the amendments listed above. The changes mandate that referenda cannot be up for a vote on a general election ballot while also requiring that 15% (~6000 students) of the student body vote on the referenda. Furthermore, it establishes a 10% (~600 vote difference) margin of victory to make referenda binding, whereas no margin had previously been required. These two principles are intensely at odds with each other.

By requiring that referenda be asked separately from the elections we can assure a much reduced voter turnout. So, not only are we guaranteeing a lower voter turnout, but we are simultaneously requiring a larger voter turnout to make referenda binding. This combination of forces against referenda will ensure that nearly all are void. To further these forces, the 10% margin of victory (a standard that most federal and state referenda and officials could not meet) allows the Student Senate to reject the collective advice and opinion of over 6000 students.

Most Student Senators would not even be able to meet these requirements. Each one of these requirements is inherently contrary to basic and universal democratic theory. I am familiar with many of the world’s constitutions, but I cannot think of any that require a specific percentage of their population to vote or that require supermajorities to pass referenda. These principles simply strip the process of its democratic core.

To compound the issue, a sexy little provision was slipped into Article VI. It states that Article V (coincidentally containing the rules for referenda) and the amendments currently at issue, cannot ever be amended. Apparently Mr. Rohrscheib believes that his amendments to Article V were written thoroughly pristine and perfect, never in need of future revision or inquiry.

Furthermore, the environment surrounding the passing of these amendments is highly suspicious. These amendments were raised and voted on at the tail-end of a lengthy meeting while barely maintaining quorum. Senators limited discussion and voted in favor of the issue as an expedient way of leaving the lengthy meeting, rather than as legitimate support for it. The amendments were explained hastily and unclearly (This has also occurred when adults are designing constitutions, specifically in Iraq and Japan). Most Senators don’t understand what was at issue, especially the last provision making the changes unamendable. The good news is that at the next meeting the issue can be made an item for action and then a ½ vote of the Senate is sufficient to revisit the amendments.

This issue arises partially from one silly issue: The Chief. It is arguable that had the Chief referendum question not been on the ballot two years ago, Mr. Rohrscheib would have beaten Matt Diller and won his seat as Student Trustee. It seems that he wishes to guarantee that the Chief never again holds sway over a Student Trustee election by separating referenda from the general elections. However, if an issue is of sufficient importance (the Chief) to an electorate then those voters ought to be able to simultaneously elect a representative of their views; big issues ought not be isolated from the election of representatives.

This is not an indictment of Joshua, he will soon reveal many of his new thoughts and comprimes on the matter. However, these issues deserve more attention than a hasty, late-night approval. We hope that at the very least ISS can revisit the amendments, so that Senators are fully aware of their potential impact. A Constitutional Convention early next semester is necessary to comprehensively resolve the numerous and complex questions.


Billy Joe Mills
Honorable Joseph Vartan Danavi
Hassen Al-Shawaf
Tony Marsico
Daniel J. Nugent

DI Editorial

I forgot to rant about the DI editorial sometime weeks ago, but here it is. Its only a little one.

DI Editorial Board,

I think you cleverly played out your little piece in the DI a few weeks ago. You chose the questions that we asked during the City Council and answered them. However, you conveniently did not debate or refute our points that effectively followed or in my case preceded. These points were the ones that eventually swayed the City Council...not our questions. Politically that was smart and keen, but it wasn't very honest. In fairness, you had an agenda to pursue and our stance was conflicting. So you tried to take us out with emotional tactics like this one:
We look forward to Danavi leading the call for a speed limit reduction after the next member of the campus community is hit by a speeding car.
It did hurt to read the editorial and I did not expect the Daily Illini to fall in the footsteps of political hackery, snip out logical points, and forget the fact that we were representing our constituents and your readers; the students.

If you are willing to play hardball, at least give yourselves the dignity to debate and confront the main points not the questions that were raised at the meeting.

I look forward to tomorrow's DI,

The Most Honorable

P.S. Honestly, I do not believe Kiyoshi was involved in this one. It was probably one of those beginner DI writers that mess up people's quotes.

Student Questions on Instructor Evaluations

Billy Joe Mills and I met with the higher-ups in the Measurement & Evaluations department of the Center for Teaching Excellence to talk about the proposed new student core questions for the ICES evaluations of instructors. The meeting went surprisingly well. My concern was that we were going to have to face the choice of having to remove the question regarding political bias by instructors due to hostility on the part of the faculty, who would choose not to use the student questions at all on their evaluations because they didn't like the question.

Instead, we were met with an overwhelmingly positive reception and the only changes that were suggested were ways not to water down or remove questions but improve them. There were only a few wording changes suggested, all of which I think are better for the student body than our original proposal. The current proposal for the new student questions, which will start appearing on Spring 2006's instructor evaluations, is the following (all of which are ranked on a 1 to 5 scale from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree"):
  1. The required texts and other materials were effectively utilized in the course.
  2. The instructor was respectful of differing beliefs on race, religion, or politics.
  3. Grading procedures for the course were fair.
  4. The workload for the course was appropriate for the credit received.
  5. The instructor was accessible to students.
  6. The instructor explained material clearly.
We will also be receiving access to the results of the two global questions:
  1. Rate the overall effectiveness of the instructor.
  2. Rate the overall quality of the course.
Student questions 2 and 4 are the only ones with significant wording changes. Surprisingly, the workload question aroused more controversy among faculty than the political question (the original wording of the workload question being "The workload for course was light/heavy."). The faculty didn't want students selecting classes motivated by their laziness, but by whether the workload was fair given the level of the course, which I think is fair.

The Measurement & Evaluation guys we spoke to assured us that faculty would not refuse to use the student questions because of the political question (or any other question, for that matter). Faculty instead agreed that political bias was a legitimate concern among the student body and we have every right to address it. The wording change that did occur (originally it had read "The instructor imposed a political ideology in class") only served to make the question more easily understandable to students and poses the question in a more positive tone so that it fits in better with the other questions.

I'm more than happy with the way the administration and faculty have received this effort. I can't think of a single significant issue that students would be concerned with that isn't in some way addressed in these questions. Of course, these final word changes will need to be approved by the Academic Affairs committee and any discussion on the matter is welcome either here on the blog, at ISS meetings, or at Academic Affairs meetings.

--Brian Pierce

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Smoke Up Johnnie!

What is the issue/problem?
Smoking in bars.

Where am I coming from?
Social smoker limit of 5 cigarettes a year with New Years Day being an all-you-can-smoke free day.

What's your flavor?
Parliament Lights of course. (tried them in Banja Luka, Bosnia)

What's the opinion?
Personally I think that as long as big tobacco continues to lace their smoky treats with arsenic and use cancer inducing chemicals during cultivation, that they should be banned from all public bars (indoors only) and still be allowed in beer gardens etc.

Why are Bar owners Fools for not wanting this ban too?
Let's face it, IF smoking is banned indoors people who otherwise fill the awkward silence with the puff of a smoke house treat might instead be enticed into buying another drink instead. Last time I checked, most bars made more money off drinks than 'mokes. If bars/clubs would like sales to go up and minimize future cancer based lawsuits while doing nothing at all, they should ban indoor smoking.

Hookah bars.

Psychic Senator

ISS Press

ISS is getting some good press today. We're mentioned in three separate stories in the DI today, two on the front page, one the top story. Keep up the good work.


TAM Merger Open Thread

In the effort to make clear that the only thing ISS deals with is not a 5 mph change in the speed limit, I would like to bring up the issue of the proposed merger of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics with the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. Academic Affairs intends to issue a report on the topic to the senate at the first meeting after Thanksgiving break. We'll have a recommendation and a resolution either supporting or opposing the merger. At this point, I know very little about it except that it's a controversial move, though in the coming week I will obviously be learning more. I'm sure there are people out there who have an opinion on this now, however, and I just wanted to create an open thread to discuss the topic. Who knows, something you say might end up in our final report. Discuss away!

Brian Pierce
Chair, Academic Affairs

Saturday, November 12, 2005


Check out the News-Gazette, especially UI Trustee Shah's and Herman's comments:

Here is a little glimpse:

Shah was outraged that a pedestrian hit by an MTD bus in March had been ticketed for failure to yield, and he said he was concerned that pedestrians were being ticketed since Ms. Channick's death, but he hadn't heard enough about enforcement against drivers.
"The major responsibility for safety lies with drivers," Shah said.

UI Police Chief O.J. Clark said several hundred warnings have been issued to both drivers and pedestrians in the last few weeks, and police will soon begin handing out tickets instead of warnings.

Chancellor Richard Herman said while changes on campus streets a few years ago decreased the number of vehicles in the central part of campus, there is still too much traffic there.

"The basic issue is vehicles, without a doubt," he said. "While there are educational issues we can address with students, frankly we need to take steps to reduce the number of turns (by buses), decrease the number of buses, and we are undergoing an effort to remove bus traffic from the center of campus to the extent we can."

The UI also wants to decrease the number of buses.

"Students are going to have to decide how much inconvenience they'll bear to be safe," he [Herman] said, adding that reducing the bus service too much might just encourage more students to drive on campus.

Call it what you want, but how come the students weren't asked for their input and take. This is typical mommy and daddy service from the U of I administration. We can make our own decisions and offer way better suggestions, just ask us!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Time for Healing

A shameful chapter in ISS history was written last night. But while many in the senate (read: Josh and me) were deeply pained by the rejection of funds for ISS bottle openers and bouncy balls (possibly--nay, probably--the worst two decisions ISS has ever made), we must all join together and blaze a new path ahead in the better interests of the student body. It is a time to move on, a time for healing.

And so, because all we have now for promotional gear is cups (cups?!?!), we should all put our heads together and come to a consensus on what (in the name of all that is holy) we are permitted to spend money on to promote this representative body. Here's a few constructive ideas for things that the senate might--just might--appropriate funds for:
  1. free copies of the Daily Illini
  2. that candy that's just a bunch of different colored dots of sugar stuck to a piece of paper
  3. ISS post-it notes
  4. better yet, just random scraps of paper we have lying around
  5. individual sticks of gum with the words "ISS wants you to bite me" written on the wrapper
Sorry, sorry, it's a time for healing. In all seriousness, Sen. Amanda Palazzo pointed out this website as a suggestion for something we actually could use as promotional gear (if you're too lazy to click on the link, it's custom-printed flip flops). I think this is an excellent idea. Even though it may be a little pricey, students would wear these things all the time and every time they do they'd see ISS. Just think of it as spending the money we would have (should have) spent on bottle openers and bouncy balls and spending it instead on these flip flops. I think everybody who voted against the bouncy balls should post a comment to this post offering a better suggestion. Amanda, despite her completely wrong choice last night, has shown a good faith effort to do so. The rest of you, get going!

--Brian Pierce

Picture of the Day

Perhaps we should give out these little critters as promotional gear, each with the letters "ISS" shaved out of their fur.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

20 MPH, One of the Worst Ideas Ever

After reviewing the facts, it becomes clear that a 20 MPH speed limit would have a negative influence on the campus community. While there is theoretical evidence to suggest a lower speed limit would increase campus safety, empirical evidence suggests that a 20 MPH speed limit would not increase campus safety. Not long ago, campus speed limits were reduced from 30mph to 25mph. Since implementation, we have found no evidence to suggest a decrease in speed related accidents. This fact is more relevant considering the student population has increased. Instead, the speed limit reduction would stifle traffic on campus, a fact University officials have acknowledged. The costs of speed limit reduction do not justify the potential benefits.

I would advocate for more substantive changes. Since most campus pedestrian accidents occur near intersections, we should improve intersection safety. The DI simply missed the entire argument provided by ISS members. Quotes from the meeting were taken completely out of context. In the future, I urge the DI to have an open mind and take part in more responsible journalism.

Hassen Al-Shawaf, Student Senator
Graduate Student
Department of Accountancy

Monday, November 07, 2005

Student Life Committe MINUTES

Minutes: This meeting covered a variety of different topics. After a brief welcome and the approval of the minutes, Kevin Schaffer and Hassen Al-Shawaf were unanimously voted in to be full members of the Student Life Committee.

The first order of business, the Gotta Gripe Survey, was briefly talked about and Joe announced that it must be completed by next week.
The second order of old business was the various subcommittee reports:
Campus lighting and safety is dealing with the problem of poorly lit signs on campus. Another idea was suggested of having "Blue light safe houses" around campus. This is where various, background checked places will volunteer to act as a safe house to pedestrians in need at night. A blue light would be on the outside of each safe house for easy recognition.
The second committee presented was the Condom Crawl committee. Most items of business have already been dealt with, but one main object left is a quote for the shirts. Rafid suggested, "We drink to we bust".
An idea of an environmental subcommittee was suggested that would deal with energy conservation issues, but the idea was not discussed fully.
Another idea of a 24 hour McKinley committee was suggested. This would deal with either keeping McKinley open on Sundays, or finding a way to keep Plan B pills available on those days. It was mentioned that whoever headed the committee would have to deal with Adam Bolonic (sp?) so it was then decided that it should be an total committee topic. There is a possibility that Joe will bring in a representative from McKinley next meeting for discussion.

The MTVU subcommittee was mentioned briefly. Apparently it is not marketing very well in other schools, so not a lot of outside information has been found. The debate around plasma TV's came up again. It would be a T.V for the office and it could display power points. Downsides: It can only play MTVU channel and might bring in unwanted people.
The discussion then turned back towards the Condom Crawl. Linnea stated that she is excited that she is on the Condom Crawl subcommittee. Two times for the crawl were mentioned: sometime after thanksgiving or sometime in February. Also the possibility of holding the crawl on Valentines day. Subcommittee Chair Lisa will get in contact with the bars to discuss the details of the crawl, including the issue of people under 21 getting into one\r\nparticular bar. Ruzic is currently holding onto the 5000 +/- 1 condoms. Someone mentioned that he'll use all of them and Blake responded, "Yeah right"; and Rafid said, "What, he'll masturbate in them?"; An email needs to be sent to everyone to see if they want to attend the condom crawl. A vote was taken and 9 out of the 9 people present at the committee wanted to attend the Condom Crawl. It was suggested that some would feel uncomfortable getting condoms from strangers, but it was also said that a uniform T-shirt would solve this.\r\nPossible t-shirt colors suggested were white, blue, light green, and "flamingo pink" by none other than Blake;. Other crazy ideas of having designer bags and passing out diaphragms were also brought up. A preliminary list of the bar route was formed. It was suggested as White Horse, Stations, Gullies, Legends, Murphy's, Brothers, Firehaus, Clyborne's,C.O's, and Kams. Advertisement for this event was suggested to be printed inthe Booze News. Someone must contact Laura Engle to do so.
The committee tabled the issue of resident halls interest\r\nsurvey to next week due to the unavailability of the survey.
The next order of business was parking ticket appeals. No\r\none currently seems to appeal any parking tickets. Seems to be people are not aware that they can appeal. It was suggested to print the phone number to\r\nappeal at the bottom of each parking ticket to increase awareness. Also, students do not seem to be aware of the campus AAA style service. The committee agreed\r\nthat this should also be publicized.",1] ); //-->T.V for the office and it could display power points. Downsides: It can only play MTVU channel and might bring in unwanted people.

The discussion then turned back towards the Condom Crawl. Linnea stated that she is excited that she is on the Condom Crawl subcommittee. Two times for the crawl were mentioned: sometime after thanksgiving or sometime in February. Also the possibility of holding the crawl on Valentines day. Subcommittee Chair Lisa will get in contact with the bars to discuss the details of the crawl, including the issue of people under 21 getting into one particular bar. Ruzic is currently holding onto the 5000 +/- 1 condoms. Someone mentioned that he'll use all of them and Blake responded, "Yeah right" and Rafid said, "What, he'll masturbate in them?" An email needs to be sent to everyone to see if they want to attend the condom crawl. A vote was taken and 9 out of the 9 people present at the committee wanted to attend the Condom Crawl. It was suggested that some would feel uncomfortable getting condoms from strangers, but it was also said that a uniform T-shirt would solve this. Possible t-shirt colors suggested were white, blue, light green, and "flamingo pink". Other crazy ideas of having designer bags and passing out diaphragms were also brought up. A preliminary list of the bar route was formed. It was suggested as White Horse, Stations, Gullies, Legends, Murphy's, Brothers, Firehaus, Clyborn's, C.O's, and Kams. Advertisement for this event was suggested to be printed in the Booze News. Someone must contact Laura Engle to do so.
The committee tabled the issue of resident halls interest survey to next week due to the unavailability of the survey.
The next order of business was parking ticket appeals. No one currently seems to appeal any parking tickets. Seems to be people are not aware that they can appeal. It was suggested to print the phone number to appeal at the bottom of each parking ticket to increase awareness. Also, students do not seem to be aware of the campus AAA style service. The committee agreed that this should also be publicized.
As an ending note, Joe stated that he will be making a speech at the main meeting next week about the role of the student senate. Joe wants to pass an amendment stating that in the event of a controversial issue within the student body, a winning vote, on any level, should not be open to discussion and further voting by the student senate. Last meeting it was voted that if there is less than a 10% spread between votes, the senate is allowed to\r\ndiscuss the topic.
Last, the issue of splitting the ballet for referendum questions\r\nand voting in senators was brought up. Currently, the senate wants to split the ballet worried that the referendum questions can be used to bias votes. It was agreed that having both issues on the same ballet is fair because this is how voting is done in the U.S.

The meeting was then adjourned.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

ISS Adventure Squad

There are only a few people in this world who can explain what it feels like to try to wash egg yolk out of one's hair. After Halloween night this past Monday, two more names can be added to that list: Josh Rohrscheib and me, Brian Pierce.

Josh and I had preoccupied ourselves in the ISS office until about 2:00 AM. The company of some senate colleagues, including Joe Danavi, Amanda Palazzo, and Hassen Al-Shawaf, had engaged us well into the night. But all good things must come to an end, and so Josh and I decided to walk home. As we walked south on the Quad past Noyes, we encountered three young men wearing Scream masks (incidentally, dressing up as the guy from Scream for Halloween is like wearing a popped collar: anybody who does it has the same moral standing as a convicted sex offender). They passed by us without incident and Josh and I went on our merry way...right up until the attempt on our lives.

Well, okay, it may or may not have been an assassination attempt. I'm not entirely convinced it wasn't. In any case, the three Scream guys suddenly turned around and started pelting us with eggs. More than anything, it was bizarre. The strangest thing was how long it went on. They took the time to throw maybe 8 or 1o eggs, over a period of time of may 15-20 seconds. It was odd that we chose to simply stand there and continue letting them throw eggs at us, and yet we were immobilized. It's not every day that kids throw eggs at you in the middle of the Quad, at least as long as you're not editor-in-chief of the Orange and Blue Observer.

Then they ran off, leaving Josh and I dripping with egg goo, staring at each other in bewilderment. As we continued walking home, Josh asked--I kid you not--"Do you think they did that because you're gay and they thought we were together?" I told him I was pretty sure that was the most ridiculous thing I'd heard all day, and asked if he honestly thought those kids were carrying around eggs with them on the off chance that they might see a couple queers they could victimize. "Hey, I don't know what it's like to be persecuted, okay?" he said defensively.

As we walked down the street, a police car happened to be driving by. Josh flagged it down and let the officer know there were some hooligans on the prowl (presumably searching for more gay men to throw eggs at), and then the officer asked that if they were caught, did we want them prosecuted. It was clear he wanted us to say no. Josh's reply: "To the fullest extent of the law." Then the officer turned to me and asked, "Would you also want to press charges?" I hesitated. "Maybe," I said. Josh immediately interjected, "Stop it, yes, you do!" I was bullied into saying yes.

Finally we arrived at our respective places of residence, where I washed the egg out of my hair and went to bed. The police never ended up catching the guys, which means they're still out their somewhere, lurking the shadows, waiting for the next innocent civilian to prey upon. I tell this story as a cautionary tale, and urge you all to excercise heightened awareness in this time of uncertainty and peril. You never know when the next egg will strike.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Speed Limit Sticks

The Daily Illini is reporting today that the Champaign City Council unanimously voted to keep the speed limit on campus at 25 miles per hour. This is an enormously surprising turn of events given that before the meeting there had been only 2 solid "no" votes on the recommendation to lower the speed limit to 20 and several supposedly solid "yes" votes. ISS had encouraged senators to attend the city council meeting to speak out against lowering the speed limit, but without much hope of success. That can sometimes seem to be a common pattern in the student senate. We often times urge the university or community to do pursue a policy that will help the student body without high expectations that anybody will listen.

This proves that pattern wrong.

Thanks to several members of ISS (including co-President Ryan Ruzic, Sens. Joe Danavi and Sophie Doroba, and Governmental Affairs Committee chair Justin Cajindos), the city council was convinced that pursuing a lowered speed limit would do nothing to increase safety and would neglect more concrete, effective pedestrian safety measures like eliminating right turns at red lights and implementing countdown signals at crosswalks.

The good intentions of university officials in this case could not be outweighed by the thoughtful, nuanced position taken by student senators speaking at the city council meeting. ISS, and in turn the student body as a whole, won a significant battle last night and surpassed the expecation that students are too lazy to participate in policy changes on campus. The student voice was heard, and what's most encouraging is that others listened.