Student appointed as binding vote for Trustees

By Sarah Small

James Winters, the student trustee from the University’s Chicago campus, was appointed last week as the binding student vote for the Board of Trustees.

Winters said chairman of the board Lawrence Eppley contacted him Friday afternoon, and information was made public Tuesday afternoon.

Every year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich appoints one of the three student trustees to serve as an official vote along with the board members.

“It’s a huge honor,” Winters said. “I realize that it’s going to be a huge responsibility, but it’s an honor.”

Winters is from Alton, Ill., and is a senior majoring in urban and public affairs in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs.

During the 2007-08 school year, he was a member of the UIC Student Senate and was elected chairman of the Campus Facilities Committee of Undergraduate Student Government.

The appointment from Blagojevich comes nearly one-third of the way through the trustees’ term.

The student trustee given a binding vote on the board acts as a representative for the students on all three campuses. Winters said he is glad the issue has been resolved, as the decision came after a lengthy selection process.

“It’s a shame that it happened,” Winters said. “What I am glad about is the student vote has not been crucial yet.”

Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-103, who wrote a letter to Blagojevich urging him to appoint the binding vote, said she is also pleased the appointment has been made.

“I’m glad he’s finally appointed the binding vote,” Jakobsson said.

“It’s a shame that students have been without a voice for so long.”

The Illinois Student Senate passed a resolution Oct. 8 encouraging the governor to make an appointment.

“I’m glad that he made the appointment before the November meeting,” said Jaclyn O’Day, president of ISS and senior in LAS.

“I think some people were worried he was going to wait until after the election because of political reasons.”

Paul Schmitt, student trustee from the Urbana campus and senior in LAS, also said he is also pleased students have a voice on the Board.

“It was to be expected,” Schmitt said.

“Chicago has not had the vote in four years.”

He said at the beginning of the trustees’ terms they made an agreement that whichever trustee was appointed the binding vote, he would work with the trustee at the campus in question so as to vote with the campus’ interest in mind.

“Now that we are a legitimate voice on the Board, we have an influence over University policy as a team,” Schmitt said.

Winters echoed Schmitt’s sentiment, and said while he has the official vote on the Board, he intends to work with trustees from the Urbana and Springfield campuses when he is faced with issues effecting their schools.

He said he does not have the agenda for the November meeting yet, but a key concern for him is the cost of tuition at the University.

“The primary concern is the cost of University of Illinois education and the lack of state funding,” Winters said. “We need to keep costs low and not compromise the quality of education.”

He also wants to seek funding from third parties, both public and private, to keep tuition low.