Student trustee candidates seek to bridge gap between students and UI board


Photo Courtesy of University of Illinois

Student Trustee candidate Mariama Mwilambwe poses for a professional headshot outside of the Illini Union. Mwiliambwe is one of several students running for the position.

By Willie Cui, Assistant Daytime Editor

As the campus election season comes to a close, this year’s candidates for student trustee all hope to address the lack of communication between University students and the UI System’s board of trustees.
The student trustee serves as the main point of contact between the board and the student body and is responsible for hearing student concerns then communicating them with the board.
“The key to a student trustee is making sure we listen to the voice of students,” said Alexis Perezchica, student trustee candidate and junior in LAS.
Still, the student trustee candidates believe there is some form of disconnect between the board of trustees and the student body which they hope to bridge.
Adrian Wong, student trustee candidate and graduate student, seeks to establish better two-way communication between the board and different University campus groups.
To do this, Wong hopes to work together with different stakeholders on campus and hold “town halls” in order to form a more cohesive plan to present to the board.
“Right now, I see a lot of organizations and a lot of micro and macro communities not talking with each other enough,” Wong said. “So they’re not able to build the amount of momentum and synergy that would be required to make effective change.”
In addition to representing student interests, Wong also wants to give University faculty and staff a voice on the board and represent their interests.
Mariama Mwilambwe, student trustee candidate and sophomore in LAS, noted the importance of having students affected by the board’s policies “at the table,” when making decisions.
“The most important part is that the students being discussed are there, they’re at the table, and they’re having those conversations that are about them,” Mwilambwe said.
Perezchica, who is the current Illinois Student Government student body president, said that she will continue to work with students on furthering the initiatives she started under ISG, noting that she has done the same in ISG for the past three years.
“If I am elected trustee, I know that I will be able to create change and work with other students because I’ve done it before,” Perezchica said. “Students don’t have to worry if I will be working on those goals because I have, and what I haven’t been able to accomplish, I have set a strong foundation for.”
Justin Huff, student trustee candidate and junior in ACES, believes that most students do not know much about the student trustee despite it being “one of the most important (student) government offices on campus.”
Mwilambwe agrees with this, noting that “a lot of students are not aware of the student trustee position.”
“They aren’t aware of the things that the board of trustees might be able to accomplish for them,” Mwilambwe said.
Huff, who served as student trustee for Kaskaskia College before transferring to the University, said that he found holding “student forums” helpful at Kaskaskia College and will hold similar forums if elected a student trustee.
“I think that (student forums) helped the board get a perspective of what students want, and it also helped me to share with students what the board expected of students and what they wanted for students to help them succeed,” Huff said.

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