Q & A with Student Trustee Collin Schumock

Collin+Schumock%2C+UIUC+student+trustee.

Jeremy Hu

Collin Schumock, UIUC student trustee.

By Angelica LaVito , Staff Writer

Meet Collin Schumock, UIUC student trustee

Major: Economics and political science with a minor in applied statistics

Hometown: Geneva, Illinois

Future plans: Schumock is in the process of applying to PhD programs and hopes to become a professor in political economy.

Free time activities: “I mean to be honest, the trustee thing is about 20+ hours a week on average, so it’s a lot. But, I guess just being able to spend time with my friends or my girlfriend. Just taking a break and being able to breathe for a little while.”

Fun fact: Schumock shaves with a straight razor. “I’m not really sure why to be totally honest. I always end up cutting myself.”

Editor’s note: Schumock’s responses have been edited for length and clarity.

The Daily Illini: Why did you run for student trustee?

Collin Schumock: My junior year, I was involved in student senate. I was the chairman for the committee on academic affairs. And I had actually ran for a senate position the spring of my sophomore year and lost. I still wanted to be involved and I was one of the few committee members returning, and I really liked the committee, and we had potential to do some really important stuff.

So my senior year — it sounds cheesy, or goofy or whatever — I really love this place. I care about it a lot, so I wanted to do something my senior year that I could leave this place better than I found it.

I wanted to make change, I guess just make sure the University was heading in the right direction. Sometimes that’s not changing something. Sometimes that’s looking at what we’re doing and saying this is working very well, let’s continue to do this.

DI: What are your priorities as student trustee?

CS: My platform was challenge, connect, climb. It was challenging the status quo on mental health and on sexual assault. I’ve been involved a little bit with It’s On Us, but there needs to be more work done on that.

Connecting was about connecting students, so the roundtable working on engagement is filling that connect piece. I also wanted to try and connect disciplines so we can have more disciplinary programs. I haven’t been able to do much on that front. Climb was climbing in terms of rankings, in terms of diversity, basically being a better University.

The thing that I’ve learned is you campaign on issues and you get into the role and you realize it might be a lot harder to do some of the stuff you wanted to do than you thought. It also takes a lot longer than you thought.

Those are things that are still very important to me and I still want to try to achieve a change on those fronts. It’s just hard because some of them don’t come up at the board really. They’re not board issues or they’re not board topics, and so when I have the board responsibilities, that’s what I was elected to do and by law that’s what I have to do.

It’s hard to balance doing the board responsibilities, doing all my classwork and also doing this other stuff I want to do. But I’m trying, and I’ve succeeded in some fronts and I’m lagging in others, I’ll admit that.

DI: What concerns have you heard from students and how are you working to fix those?

CS: I’d say the biggest concern I’ve heard personally is with diversity and inclusion. To be honest, I haven’t heard a lot of concerns because not a lot of people express their concerns to me, which I wish we could get more people to express their concerns.

I think the campus culture surrounding race is something we need to improve on, and I’ve been meeting with Jason Nwosu to develop a program that will hopefully address those. It won’t change it completely or even maybe in a huge way, but if it’s makes a couple people’s experiences on campus a little more comfortable, then I think it’s worth it.

I think probably one of the saddest experiences I’ve had at UIUC is last year I went to a roundtable with a few African American student groups and the chancellor. We were doing icebreakers and you stood up if you felt like the answer to the question was yes. And one of the questions was, ‘Have you ever felt unwelcome or unwanted on campus?’ Probably somewhere between half or two thirds of the room stood up.

I don’t want to sound cheesy, but it broke my heart. It made me really sad and disappointed that many students on campus would feel like they don’t belong here when I love this place. I feel like it’s home to me, so that really impacted me and made me a lot more aware to the problems.

DI: What are the biggest challenges facing the University and how can the Board of Trustees help overcome them?

CS: From a high level perspective, it’s the budget. It’s funding. The level of funding we’ve received this year and last year, especially last year, it’s unsustainable for our university to continue down that path.

Basically, if it were to continue like that, the way I see it there are only three options: increase enrollment drastically, and that’s going to dilute your student to professor ratios, and it’s going to dilute your quality of education because there’s going to be less resources for each student. Increase out of state and international students as a percent because they pay twice as much as in state students, or increase tuition, and nobody wants that. Or just cut, cut a lot of stuff.

I don’t think any of those three options are very savory if you’re an Illinois resident.

What can the Board do? Things like IPAC, which was presented by President Killeen. The Board expressed our unanimous support for it, and now what can the Board do? We can lobby for it, we can push for it to get passed, we can continue to pressure our legislators, saying, ‘hey, this is really important.’ In my role, I can also get students to support it and get students to lobby for it. That’s what the board can do at this point. We can’t force the state to pay us.

From a student perspective, I guess the biggest thing I see still is the issue of inclusion. What can the board do there? The board can continue to increase enrollments of diverse groups and try and support recruitment efforts of historically underrepresented populations and support scholarships and grants for those students. The board can’t change the campus culture — that’s something that has to happen among students.

DI: What has been the most memorable part of your term thus far?

CS: I would say helping choose the chancellor because Chancellor Robert Jones will be here at least five years — that’s how long a chancellor’s term is — but maybe more. And so he’s going to be having an impact on this campus even longer than I or any other student.

I’m excited about this IPAC. I think that’s a big opportunity for our university.

So I look at the student trustee as being almost two roles. You’re on the Board of Trustees, and that’s your real responsibility, your real duty.

Then, you’re the student trustee, so there’s also the student side. I’ve been trying to work with student senate to stay in touch and know what’s going on. I set up a roundtable of RSO leaders, college counsel leaders, the student alumni association, and we meet once a month to talk about student issues, stuff that’s going on on campus and how RSOs can work together.

I have office hours four days a week, Monday through Thursday from 10 to 10:50 a.m in 225 Illini Union, MC-384. I want people to come tell me what they care about.

I think accessibility is really important in my role because I’m alone. I’m an island. I have an intern who helps me, but other than that, there’s nobody else in this office. I go to student senate meetings so I can hear what’s going on, I have office hours so people can come talk to me and tell me what their issues are and I have an RSO roundtable.

I’m trying to be accessible, I’m trying to be able to have people come and talk to me so that I know what issues are important and what we can try and fix together.

DI: Is there anything you want to say to the student body?

CS: Come to my office hours and talk to me.

As we approach finals, if you find yourself getting too stressed out, don’t be afraid to use the campus mental health resources.

Good luck on finals and I hope you have a good winter break.

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