ISG candidates discuss platform ahead of Wednesday election


Photo courtesy of Josh Small and Jason Gandrapu

Josh Small and Jason Gandrapu, sophomores in LAS, are candidates for the student body president and vice president of Illinois Student Government. Small and Gandrapu talk about their goals with ISG with voting opening on Wednesday.

By Shreya Rathi, Staff Writer

The Illinois Student Government election begins Wednesday, March 9, and those running for the primary positions of president and vice president are calling for large reforms and renewed University efforts to protect the interests of students.

Among the candidates are Josh Small and Jason Gandrapu, both sophomores in LAS who are jointly running for president and vice president respectively, and Garrett Forrest, sophomore in LAS, who is running for president. Both Forrest’s and Small’s campaigns are centered around student wellness.

Forrest specifically strives to address mental health and food insecurity on campus.

“Part of the problem with mental health right now is that people don’t know about things beyond the Counseling Center,” Forrest said. 

Forest also explained that since the University’s Counseling Center is the most widely known mental health resource, their services are in high demand, but the ability of the center to meet that demand is stunted.

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“We hope that by informing more people about these different resources, we can make sure they get the help they need and reduce some of the burden on the demand side for the Counseling Center; right now, there’s a huge demand for counselors, but there just aren’t enough counselors to see all of those people,” Forrest said.

Forrest is also advocating for lessening food insecurity on campus. He said that his passion for addressing campus food issues stems from his past volunteer work.

“When I started serving food pantries, I would see classmates who seemed to struggle in school come through with their parents,” Forrest said. “I started to put these correlations together. How can you expect a student to succeed when they don’t know where their next meal is coming from?”

Forrest aims to work with organizations to find ways to reduce food insecurity.

“With regards to food insecurity on campus, we want to work with a nonprofit organization called Swipe Out Hunger to pressure the University to create a system where all unused meal swipes from meal plans are collected at the end of every week, and then distributed to students who are food insecure,” Forrest said. 

Small and Gandrapu’s campaign draws attention to a disconnect between ISG and the rest of the student body. According to the duo, they seek to fundamentally rewrite the way ISG functions. 

“With regards to (ISG’s) constitution and our foundational documents, our constitution is supposed to be a bedrock, the foundation on which our house is supposed to stand,” said Gandrapu. 

Gradrapu said that he plans to revise ISG’s constitution to be more student-based.

“If our foundation doesn’t focus on students, we as a student government can’t focus on students,” Gandrapu said. “I am presently rewriting the constitution of Illinois (Student Government) because I believe that our mission needs to be much more focused on students.” 

Regarding student underrepresentation, Gandrapu pointed specifically to the lack of Greek life in campus politics. 

“Over 50% of students are involved in Greek life and some form or another, however, ISG for the longest time has decided to shun them away,” Gandrapu said. “If elected, we hope to implement the Greek life liaison who will be an expert amongst the people of the community. One of the things that we definitely intend to do is make sure that every student feels like they have a voice.”

Small is highly optimistic about ISG’s ability to enact all of the changes that the candidates want. 

“We’re more than capable of posting social events, we’re more than capable of advocating to make sure that we have funding for wellness centers,” Small said. “ISG really doesn’t have the power to force the university administration to do anything, but it has the power within the student population.”

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