White visits campus

By Winyan Soo Hoo

Illinois’ Secretary of State Jesse White led a round table discussion with State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-Champaign) Tuesday afternoon at the Illini Union.

Arthur Scales, the president of Greater Beta chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., said he contacted White, who was also a fraternity brother, to visit the University to make sure students were aware of how important the coming election is. Scales said that although his University fraternity brothers are mostly Democratic in their political standing, they do not wish to impose their political views to students through White’s visit.

“(We) want to put out a message that students need to get out and vote and stand up for what they believe in,” said Scales, senior in LAS.

White was elected as Illinois’ Secretary of State in 1998 and re-elected in 2002. White discussed his accomplishments while in office, which included helping to make tougher drunk driving laws and, as State Librarian, creating more literacy programs.

White said he also strongly believes in the National Voter Registration Act, known as the “motor voter” act. The act provides public assistance and services to make a more accessible voter registration process. The act includes the simultaneous application for a motor vehicle driver’s license and voter registration for state and federal elections. White said nearly 65 percent of voters are registered to vote through the Secretary of State’s office.

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White applauded students’ enthusiasm and those who registered to vote. He said that people who vote “make a difference” and are concerned about society. Although many students have registered, White asked students not to forget to vote on Election Day. White said his daughter actually forgot to vote for him for secretary of state because she was too busy encouraging other people to vote and passing out White’s flyers.

“Don’t let the (election) day pass you by,” White said. “The society will be a better place by your involvement. If you don’t vote, you lose your rights. The streets you walk on … the medicine you consume, the water you drink, all those things and more have political implications. Everything that you are involved in is brought about through an election process.”

White also endorsed his office’s Organ Donor Program and said he believed that by being an organ donor, every individual can “improve the quality of life” of another. White said he became a stronger advocate of the program after his sister benefited from an organ donation.

Marques Johnson, junior in LAS, said he was inspired by White’s story of a gang member who became an organ donor and gave life to six people and helped three others through his donation.

White said that, as sad as it sounds, the gang member was a better person in death than in life because of the lives he saved as an organ donor.

“I’m not an organ donor, but now I will be,” Johnson said. “I like White’s mission to help the community – help all the people you can; you can’t go wrong with that.”

White emphasized the importance of education for youth.

“It is important for us, as parents, students, community members to set a good example for young people and to encourage them,” White said.

Jakobsson echoed White’s recognition of the importance of education.

“As a mother and a former teacher, I believe that there’s no better investment for our future than in education,” Jakobsson said. “If we don’t educate our children, we will be in trouble.”

Jakobsson, an alumna of the University, said at the meeting that she was against budget cuts for education.

“Proposed cuts (to the University) will not sit well with me,” she said. “I will make sure my colleagues are aware that education is something I firmly believe in.”

Jakobsson also said she was disappointed with the University’s decreased enrollment of African Americans.