Candidates for trustee focus topics on funding

By Michael Logli

Increasing state funding and alleviating budget concerns dominated the topics at the student trustee debate Monday night. Many of the impromptu questions from the audience and the preconceived questions revolved around what the trustee would do to lower tuition and make college more affordable for students while maintaining the University’s role as the flagship state university.

For John Unrug, junior in Business, the University cannot raise tuition without increasing the amount of financial aid. To do this, Unrug said he would work hard and get on people’s backs to make it happen if necessary.

“It’s a stressful thing for a person to go to school and get a job,” Unrug said. “I will get every single person (on the Board of Trustees) and put as much work as I can into it.”

Paul Schmitt, junior in LAS and former Illini Media employee, believes the key to increasing the University’s quality is to increase alumni relations and state funding.

The University is far behind other universities in terms of state funding and alumni donations and improving this will be a great help to the University, Schmitt said.

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    “(Current funding) is unacceptable because we are the flagship university and we should be the number one priority,” he said.

    Raising tuition rates would be a last resort for Rob Main, junior in Business.

    Main said that the University can increase its budget by increasing the percentage of out-of-state students on campus, as well as maintaining the population of minority and out-of-state students.

    “The University does not have the programs to go where it wants to go,” Main said. “By increasing out-of-state recruitment and retention, we can get the University’s name out there and make education more affordable.”

    The candidates also discussed the poor initial results of the Global Campus Initiative and their plans to improve the system.

    Main believes that the key to improving awareness of the program and boosting enrollment was to advertise more thoroughly and effectively, and he believes the program can one day become an effective tool for the University.

    “A U of I education should be accessible to all students,” Main said.

    Schmitt agreed that the online advertising alone was not enough. The program was innovative, but it failed to catch the attention of the students, Schmitt said.

    “We only advertised online. There was no way to tell the outside world about Global Campus,” Schmitt said.

    Unrug said that after talking to students, many were concerned that they would not get the same level of education through their online degree as they would by attending the University in person.

    “People are scared that this online degree isn’t going to be the same as a degree at U of I for four years,” Unrug said.

    The candidates were also concerned with measuring the strength and effectiveness of campus safety measures.

    Schmitt said he feels the University needs to increase the level of police enforcement on campus and shift the focus from parking tickets to personal safety.

    “We need to re-evaluate where our priorities are on campus,” Schmitt said.

    Main said the emergency text messaging system may experience problems in the future because it does not involve collaboration with cell phone companies.

    He believes the mass of text messages sent at once would overload the networks and result in no message being sent at all.

    “We need to measure the progress of our safety,” Main said.

    Unrug believed that preventing incidents like the recent Northern Illinois University shooting would be close to impossible. Instead, Unrug suggested increased availability of counseling and psychological help to prevent incidents before they begin.

    “The only thing you can do is increase counseling services,” Unrug said. “It’s basically impossible to completely prevent this from happening because you can’t know.”