Trustee forum gets hung up on Chief

Paul Schmitt reacts to an answer from Rob Main during the trustee debate at the Illini Union, Thursday. Student Body President Justin Randall moderated. Ned Mulka

Paul Schmitt reacts to an answer from Rob Main during the trustee debate at the Illini Union, Thursday. Student Body President Justin Randall moderated. Ned Mulka

By Michael Logli

Chief Illiniwek may be considered dead to some, but he was alive and well as a heated topic of discussion at the second student trustee debate, sponsored by PRIDE, a Registered Student Organization that supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Many of the questions focused on the trustees’ opinions about the Chief and whether the candidates would try to reinstate the Chief at the University if elected.

Paul Schmitt, junior in LAS and former Illini Media employee, was questioned about his relations to Students for Chief Illiniwek and how his role as former president of the organization may divide the student body and influence his time as a trustee. Schmitt said he believed that the Chief issue was not nearly as important as other issues that are affecting the student body.

“I’m not going to apologize for being pro-Chief because quite frankly, I don’t believe I should have to,” Schmitt said. “But I don’t think I should waste my capital on that issue.”

John Unrug, junior in Business, said that if the issue was important enough to the student body, he would try to bring it back, but it would be something he would want to avoid doing if possible. Unrug also defended Schmitt, whom he felt was being unfairly attacked because of his relations to the Chief issue through Students for Chief Illiniwek.

“Paul is one of the most dedicated people about Chief Illiniwek and I really respect that,” Unrug said. “I would really appreciate you guys not drilling him about it.”

It is unclear whether Unrug will be removed from next week’s ballot. He said he is meeting with the dean’s office tomorrow to discuss the issue of his academic eligibility. Bryan Thompson, senior in LAS and political chair of PRIDE, said he allowed Unrug to speak at the debate because he had already been invited several days earlier.

Rob Main, junior in Business, said that he wanted to focus on the other issues he has planned for the student body that were more important than the Chief. Main was also asked to respond to a criticism about his stance on the Chief after Schmitt said Main told graduate students that he was pro-Chief.

“I am not pro-Chief,” Main said. “I consider pro-Chief as someone who wants to bring the Chief back, and I do not want to do that.”