Trustee candidates debate future duties

The Illinois Student Senate hosted a debate for the four student trustee candidates Tuesday evening in the Illini Union Pine Lounge.

The candidates, Owais Ahmed, Daniel Soso, Dan Weber and David Wall, presented information about themselves and their plans if elected.

All four stressed the importance of being the student body’s voice among administrators.

“I feel like the most important duty of the student trustee is to bring the concerns of students to the attention of the University,” Soso said. “The types of concerns that cannot be discovered through research and statistics but the type of concerns that only a student of the University would ever notice.”

Wall said the student trustee needs to be able to work with administrators on an equal level in order to represent the student body.

“You don’t want a candidate in there who cannot communicate the needs of the students,” he said. “Basically, you’re looking for someone who will serve you to the best of their abilities.”

Weber said he will represent students by speaking with registered student organizations on campus and listening to their concerns.

“As student trustee I would perform a linkage to the students and the Board of Trustees,” he added.

In addition to voicing the students’ concerns, Ahmed presented the importance of an active student trustee.

“I’m going to defend your rights; I’m going to fight for the students,” he said.

Ahmed also suggested a modern day version of fireside chats such as online videos to get students involved.

The candidates offered their plans to aid the University in the current financial situation as well.

Soso and Wall both touched on alumni donations as a solution.

Wall said although the next trustee should continue to lobby for state funds, the University should not rely on them.

“We need to be self-sufficient,” Wall said.

He added that if elected, he plans to propose a student-led letter drive to reach out to alumni for small donations.

Both Weber and Ahmed proposed other ways to conserve funds.

“I think using more money towards sustainability projects will go a long way towards cutting our energy bill,” Weber said.

Ahmed said the University should look toward the research park for funding.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, any money that we save in the long run I think is beneficial,” Ahmed said.

Asked what they would do first if taking office tomorrow, Ahmed, Soso and Weber each said that they would establish a cabinet at the beginning of their term.

“The student senators, while they are representatives of the students, of the people of this campus…I think you would be hard-pressed to find one of them that wasn’t someone that didn’t occasionally watch CNN or Fox News,” Soso said. “There’s a specific type of person that goes after a political office, and they’re not as in touch with the people that sit and watch ESPN every single day.”

Wall proposed a campus-wide survey instead because he said the Illinois Student Senate adequately represents the different student viewpoints.

The election for the next student trustee will be held on March 2 and 3.