Junior champions cause of equal education for undocumented students

With still another year left, Benjamin Rothschild, junior in LAS, has already made his mark in student leadership. As a member of the coalition By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), Illinois Student Senate and Undergraduate-Graduate Alliance, Rothschild leads and encourages students to fight for non-discriminatory public education for undocumented students.

The Daily Illini: What message are you trying to get out to students on campus?

Benjamin Rothschild: As students, we have a lot of power on this campus. And we have a lot of power to change the way this school is run. Our organizations are looking for students that are already interested in fighting to win change on this campus. We want to get people involved by standing up to the intolerance on this campus. There’s a lot of people like that here, and it’s just a matter of fighting to win.

DI: How did you rise to your leadership position?

Rothschild: I’m gay, and I think being gay makes someone a leader because of your experiences and I really believe that everyone should be treated equally.

DI: What’s the hardest part of being a leader and advocating for fair and equal education?

Rothschild: Getting people who feel oppressed on this campus to fight. I think those type of people who have those feelings of alienation and depression can only relieve them if they stand up and fight against the administration.

DI: What was one of your most memorable moments while being a part of BAMN or other student organizations?

Rothschild: In 2009, when the graduate students went on strike and we shut down part of the campus to win tuition waivers for graduate employees. We picketed a bunch of buildings and we forced the cancellation of dozens of classes to get the University to give a fair contract to the graduate students.

DI: What are your plans for senior year/after graduation?

Rothschild: I’d like to do something that can continue to build the movement for public education.

DI: What was the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far during your time here at the University?

Rothschild: You have to be yourself and not be afraid to be yourself to be a leader.

DI: Is there something you wish you did on campus that you have not yet done?

Rothschild: I’d like to perform in a drag show on C-Street.