Springfield, Chicago student trustees respond to Urbana admissions issues

The student trustees for the Springfield and Chicago campuses had a different perspective on Friday morning’s Chicago Tribune report of admissions controversy on the Urbana campus.

Craig McFarland, student trustee from the Springfield campus said he was initially very troubled to see the Tribune’s report, but does not want to make any conclusions until there is further investigation. Elias Pittos, student trustee from the Chicago campus said he does not think the University of Illinois is the only school to deal with this issue, but that it is a problem.

The Tribune article reports that certain applicants in “Category 1” were given higher priority for admission, even when their qualifications were not in line with University standards. Often these candidates had close relationships with state politicians or University trustees. The article also reports that some of these students were admitted after pressure from members of the Board of Trustees and other high ranking University officials.

McFarland and Pittos said they had no knowledge of the admissions processes mentioned in the article, nor have they heard of any similar actions on their campuses.

“We’re in such a different situation in Springfield,” McFarland said. “We’re looking for students to come here. We don’t have open enrollment per say, but our standards for enrollment are different than the Urbana campus.”

He added that since the Springfield campus is newer and smaller, he has not seen the need for an appeals process to admissions.

“I don’t think the University of Illinois is the only place to do this,” Pittos said. “In order for these officials to think this is okay, it must be pretty commonplace.”

Pittos said that since the admissions standards vary between the Chicago and Urbana campuses, he has not seen this happen.

“I don’t think it’s fair for students compared to those who don’t have a chance to have contact with a University official,” Pittos said. “But this is something we need to change and fix.”

Neither trustee has yet been contacted by any other Board members about what action will be taken next.