Student trustee candidates prep for repeat election


Jeremy Hu

ACES Illinois Student Senate Senator Tommy Justison and candidate for student trustee attends the last Illinois Student Senate meeting on April 12, 2017 before the swearing in of new officers.

By Gillian Dunlop, Assistant News Editor

After a monthlong investigation into the 2017 Student Trustee Election, a repeat election will be held from April 26 to 27.

The investigation sparked after Trayshawn Mitchell, junior in LAS, claimed that the Campus Student Election Commission unfairly kept him off the ballot.

Mitchell and the other candidates were required to submit documentation to confirm that they were students at the University. Mitchell had technical difficulties and could not submit his documentation by the deadline.

Although Mitchell informed the Commission of his technical difficulties, he said they were not communicative with him and as a result, did not put him on the ballot. Mitchell’s complaint against the Commission led Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano to investigate what had transpired during the election.

“Typically there are complaints that CSEC reviews: if one candidate complains that another candidate violated election rules,” Romano said. “The reason why I heard this one is because this one was against the CSEC itself.”

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
Thank you for subscribing!

Romano talked to all three candidates one-on-one as a way to understand what happened.

“I wanted to understand their perspective, their experience with the technology,” she said. “I (also) talked to the chair of the student election commission. I talked to the advisers. Then I looked through all of the documentation, the information sent to each candidate and what the communications were.”

The other candidates had no knowledge of what was transpiring between Mitchell and the Commission until the election.

“We were all fairly shocked when we first heard the results weren’t going to be published,” Tommy Justison, candidate and sophomore in ACES, said. “We were all questioning what reason was behind that.”

Emily Tuttle, candidate and junior in Business, who was the unofficial winner of the first student trustee election, was confused on if she actually won or not.

“It was definitely stressful, because after those results I wanted to know what was going to happen. Was I the trustee now?” she said.

Romano concluded that there was a technical issue with the dropbox used by the candidates to submit their documentation.

“The University did a very thorough job; Vice Chancellor Romano should be commended,” Justison said.

The Commission, however, is made up of students and has often been criticized by the candidates, said Romano.

“They are students too and they’re trying to do the best job they can,” Romano said. “Critics don’t realize what a responsibility it is and how hard it is.”

The candidates, who had already spent over a month campaigning for the original election, have less time than that to do a complete redo.

“If I would’ve been in the same position (as Mitchell) and if I would’ve worked as hard as he had, I would’ve equally challenged (what happened with the Commission),” Justison said. “(The redo) is difficult and it’s much more rushed this time. It’s very difficult to get people motivated again (to vote).”

All three candidates are in full campaign mode once again as they try to push their platforms onto the student body.

“I am a third generation Illini. I’ve loved this University and I want to make it grow,” Tuttle said. “My platform is engagement, excellence and pride.”

Tuttle said she wants to help end the state budget crisis as well as open up a dialogue on sexual assault on campus, however she said she is experiencing difficulties in talking with students this time around.

“People last election were very receptive about having us come in and having us speak, and it’s a little harder to get out there and get support,” she said.

Mitchell’s campaign is focused on representation, making sure that students know him as a person.

“The fact that as a minority here on campus, we feel as if we don’t have the avenues to contribute or partake in the political atmosphere of what goes on at the University at the higher level,” Mitchell said. “I want to create a relationship where people get to know who I am.”

Similar to Tuttle, Justison said he has a lot of University pride.

“I grew up in a community that was 99.97 percent white, but I made the decision when I came here that I wasn’t going to stick with the same group; I wanted to expand my horizons,” he said.

“I wanted to learn about different cultures. There’s such a yearning for that on campus, but there’s not a fostering from the University.”

Justison’s platform is to transform, unify and ignite. He plans to do that by tackling a number of issues including student tuition.

“I want to be able to dictate where that money is going and how that’s adding value to students. Education shouldn’t be exclusive to the people that can afford it,” he said.

All three candidates said they see the position as a way to help students.

“I see myself in the position as a medium for student concerns,” Justison said. “Students should have the opportunity to get a quality education.”

[email protected]