Online Exclusive: Student trustee candidates debate tuition, campus diversity

By Kathleen Foody

Concerns over state funding and energy issues were the source of dialogue and questioning during a debate between the five candidates for student trustee Thursday night.

The Illini Union Pine Lounge played host to the debate between Chime Asonye, junior in LAS, Mike Cashman, junior in LAS, Kathryn Dunne, sophomore in LAS, Paul Schmitt, sophomore in LAS and Pradeep Singanallur, junior in LAS.

The candidates were given six questions before the debate that covered issues including campus diversity and tuition concerns. During the next portion of the debate, the candidates answered questions submitted in writing by the gallery.

Four of the candidates said they would support the Global Campus Initiative if administrators proceed with caution and consider student and faculty opinions. Cashman said he could not support the proposal due to the high financial hit the University would take if the effort failed.

Asonye said the project’s efforts to spread opportunities is admirable but strong faculty involvement is essential to its success.

Candidates also offered their ideas to reduce financial strain on students.

Singanallur said the University must streamline its budget.

He and Dunne agreed decreasing costs for individual students is also an effective tool. Singanallur advocated a program to rent textbooks.

Schmitt said tapping into alumni donations and continued state lobbying are necessary.

The retirement of Chief Illiniwek was raised by a question an audience member submitted.

Dunne said the issue is a distraction from more important topics and should not be exploited, drawing applause from several members of the student gallery.

Schmitt said the issue is not really about the Chief, but about the marginalization of student voice on campus.

The entire debate can be viewed Monday at 7 p.m. on Channel 7 and look for more information on the trustee candidates in the Daily Illini’s coverage of the Illinois Student Senate elections on Tuesday and Wednesday.