Student trustee candidates to debate issues, address voters

By Matthew Richardson

The Illinois Student Senate, along with I-Vote, will host a debate for the student trustee candidates tonight at 8 p.m. in the Illini Union Pine Lounge.

The five student trustee candidates will each be allowed to give a brief personal speech to describe themselves as candidates.

Then the debate will be run by a moderator who will ask the candidates questions on issues such as tuition costs, professor retention, campus diversity, building renovation and the University’s energy policy.

The students running for the trustee position are Chime Asonye, junior in LAS; Michael Cashman, junior in LAS; Kathryn Dunne, sophomore in LAS; Paul Schmitt, sophomore in LAS; and Pradeep Singanallur, junior in LAS.

Considering the level of controversy that presently grips the campus, the trustee candidates have specific demands of both the voters and the other candidates.

“(Students) shouldn’t listen to buzzwords like ‘faculty recruitment,'” Asonye said. “They should listen to substance combined with experience.”

At least one candidate has specific feelings about what students want to hear from the candidates at the debate.

“I want to know about state funding, because we’ve seen that get cut,” Cashman said. “I want to see about academic programming, because we’ve seen that get cut.”

Most of the candidates are involved with student government, meaning no one candidate has a clear advantage over the others in experience.

“I think the other (trustee candidates) are pretty well-prepared,” Singanallur said.

Concerning the Chief Illiniwek controversy and how it should be handled at the debate tonight, the candidates’ views differ.

“I hope that it doesn’t take over the discussion,” Cashman said.

Singanallur feels the ultimate fate of Chief Illiniwek is the most significant issue that students are concerned with.

“I don’t think it’s for us in the debate not to even mention the Chief,” Singanallur said. “I hope it does take over the debate.”

“The students that are going to vote in this election are going to vote because they either want the Chief or don’t want the Chief,” he added.

Regardless of how passionate both sides of the Chief debate are, the fact remains that the new student trustee will have other things to deal with.

“We’re not that school with the mascot,” Asonye said. “We’re that school with the bright students, we’re that school with the best teachers in the nation.”