New VPs set tone for semester

By Samantha Jones Toal

Laura Saldivar and Jill Whitmanch, Illinois Student Senate vice presidents – external and internal respectively – took their new positions Dec. 9 when former vice presidents Matt Hill and Sarah Hochman unexpectedly resigned to accept internship positions in Washington D.C.CH

Saldivar was previously the public relations chair and Whitman served as an executive assistant under Hochman.

“It’s gone pretty smoothly, but there’s definitely been some hectic spots,” Whitman said. “You’re doing a lot of things for the first time, so you have to figure out all the little details.”

While Saldivar and Whitman said they’ve received a lot of support from fellow senators and have various resources at their disposal, Whitman said the biggest problem was the “abrupt transition.” Typically, vice presidents of student senate serve a full year term instead of one semester.

“It’s been a great experience, a lot of meetings definitely, but it’s been a great transition,” Saldivar said.

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    She said the transition is still so new that sometimes she has to remind herself of her position.

    “I keep forgetting, I’m like ‘wait,’” Saldivar said.

    While Saldivar and Whitman said they’re still settling into their roles and building upon the foundation built from Hill and Hochman, they have their own plans for the upcoming months.

    “My biggest thing I want to do is outreach (to more students and student organizations on campus),” Saldivar said. “We want to make sure that those key stakeholders have a voice.”

    Whitman said she hopes to increase student engagement as well within Illinois Student Senate itself.

    “First, I want to get more students involved in more campus committees,” she said. “It’s so important for them to have a hand in how things are running.”

    Whitman said there are unfilled seats on campus committees along with senator vacancies.

    Saldivar is also setting goals for later in the semester and is planning two debates in March that would discuss immigration and gun control.

    In April, the student senate will host an International Week, celebrating international students.

    In adjusting to their roles, Whitman and Saldivar said they still consult the former VPs, who were recently granted vice presidents emeritus status which Whitman called an “honorary title.”

    “If I ever have a question, I either go to Mitch (Dickey), or go to my assistants, or go to Sarah (Hochman),” Whitman said.

    Student Senate president, Mitch Dickey, SAID

    how do you think they’re settling into their roles?

    biggest difference between them and former vps?

    how are senators adjusting to the leadership change?

    how are you adjusting to the change?


    “I think we’re just excited,” Whitman said. “We already hit the ground running I’d say and we’re ready to keep going and see where the semester takes us.”

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