A guide to 2023’s ISG presidential candidates

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Brigida Dockus

President and vice president candidates for Illinois Student Government speak at the town hall event on Tuesday.

By Park Mitchell, Staff Writer

Today and tomorrow the Illinois Student Government is holding its presidential election. With many students on campus unaware of what Illinois Student Government is or what the election might mean, here is a brief guide on ISG and what each presidential candidate is running on. 

ISG is a University-recognized entity that works as a middle man between students and administration. If a student has a problem with the University, ISG can potentially be an avenue to fix it. 

In recent years, the effectiveness of ISG has been called into question. This, and several other issues, have become the hot button topics of this year’ s election. 

This year there are three president/vice president tickets on the ballot: Abigail McGuire/Alex Koscielski, Elizabeth LeBeau/Jayden Forté and Sam Ruggerio/Richard Liu. The candidates’ policies range for maintaining what has been built to completely remaking ISG as a whole.

The first ticket is current Vice President of ISG Elizabeth LeBeau and current ISG Communications Director Jayden Forté. The main points of their platform are mental health resources, Title IX improvements and student teacher pay.

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    Mental Health Resources

    During a town hall this past Tuesday, LeBeau mentioned her vigor to build up mental health resources on the University’s campus and some of the past work she has done to try and improve resources. “I, as Vice President, organized the ISG Springfield Day where we went to Springfield and lobbied for better budget for mental health resources in the entire University of Illinois system,” LeBeau said.

    LeBeau never stated whether these efforts were successful. Throughout the rest of her messaging, it was unclear what specific steps she will be taking towards improving mental resources.

    Title IX Improvements

    Another major point of the LeBeau/Forté ticket is Title IX. LeBeau specifically expressed her problems with Title IX in the past. “I personally have experiences with Title IX that are incredibly traumatic,” LeBeau stated during the town hall. The main push of the ticket is to help grow staff and increase trauma training for workers in the Title IX office.

    Student Teacher Pay

    Throughout Lebeau’s talk during the town hall, it was clear that student teacher pay was a main issue for her campaign. “Student teachers are paying to work full time,” LeBeau stated. How exactly LeBeau/Forté are trying to solve this issue is unclear with the information they have currently stated. 

    Drawbacks

    Recently, during LeBeau/Forté’s run as vice president and communication director, they lost access to the ISG Instagram account. This has caused even less communication from the student government. 

    The second ticket is Abigail McGuire and Alex Koscielski and the youngest of the bunch here, with McGuire being a sophomore and Koscielski a freshman. They are running on a platform of campus safety, mental and physical health resources and student outreach.

    Campus Safety

    “The first one that needs to be tackled is the sexual assault issue on this campus,” McGuire responded when asked what the first problem she would address as ISG president would be. According to McGuire/Koscielski’s candidate profile, their plan to try and tackle this issue is by increasing “safe walks and rides along with continuing to push for the development of an app that will go hand-in-hand with the blue light system.” 

    Mental and Physical Health Resources

    McGuire/Koscielski also heavily highlight mental and physical health resources throughout their campaign with specific examples. One of the examples of increasing physical health is McGuire/Koscielski’s goal to expand ARC and CRCE hours. 

    McGuire/Koscielski also hammered home the need for contraceptives in vending machines and abortion pills for students. “We also put contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, in vending machines and then make an abortion pill available to all students,” McGuire stated in the recent town hall. For mental health, the focus would be on putting more money into services and decreasing wait times. 

    Student Outreach

    In recent years ISG has had an image problem as many of the student body are unaware of their existence. Their Twitter hasn’t been used since 2020, and, recently, ISG lost access to its Instagram page. This lack of social outreach is a main point of concern for the McGuire/Koscielski ticket. 

    “We get so much information from the University, but yet nobody knows what ISG does,” McGuire stated. McGuire/Koscielski’s way of fixing this problem is to increase website information and student emails.

    Drawbacks

    Inexperience is something McGuire/Koscielski will have to navigate as neither of them have the connections of the former staff. “We’re gonna have to work to build those relationships,” McGuire stated.

    The third ticket is Sam Ruggerio/Richard Liu, who are both currently in the Grainger College of Engineering. They are running on a platform of restructuring ISG, potential stipend removal or reduction and more transparency from ISG. Unlike the other two candidates, Ruggerio/Liu don’t have many clear policies in terms of student help.

    Restructuring ISG

    Ruggerio/Li’s goal is to remove the government title that is associated with ISG and make it more of a student help group. “I hope to move ISG towards a problem-solving organization rather than a faux government that operates within the campus,” Ruggerio stated during the town hall. For Ruggerio/Li, a lot of the inefficiencies with ISG have come because of its government structure.

    Stipend Removal or Reduction

    If you were to read Ruggerio/Li’s recent Reddit Ask Me Anything, it was clear that the ticket wanted to remove the stipend entirely. “If we are elected, we will work to abolish this stipend,” Ruggerio/Li stated in their recent AMA. 

    But during the town hall a different message seemed to be stated. “Being committed to ISG to do the job of helping the student body in some sense should justify some pay, but I think it’s disingenuous to have that pay be given to members who are efficient at campaigning,” Ruggerio stated during the town hall.

    ISG’s president is paid $16,000 a year for their work, but Ruggerio argues that because only roughly 3% of the student population votes, pay should be distributed by merit. 

    Transparency

    Ruggerio/Li expressed many problems with how the government is run and its transparency in doing so. “Reviewing the past minutes and votes of the student government shows that very little is accomplished on a weekly basis, and less than half of the senators show up to votes,” Ruggerio/Li stated during the AMA.

    Ruggerio/Li believe that the restricted government will help alleviate these transparency problems.

    Drawbacks

    Ruggerio/Li’s focus on issues outside of ISG reform are not as developed as their competitors, but Ruggerio has reason for that. “I come into this from the outside in, and it’s going to take me a non trivial amount of time to understand where people are coming from, where I can reach out to people,” Ruggerio stated.

    McGuire/Koscielski, LeBeau/Jayden Forté and Ruggerio/Liu all contain potential positives and negatives for voters. This article is not the only source for gaining information on each of the candidates. 

    This is a link to each of the candidates’ profiles:

    CANDIDATE PROFILES

    This is a link to Ruggerio/Liu’s Reddit AMA:

    Ruggerio/Liu’s Reddit AMA

    WHERE TO VOTE

    If you are interested in voting in the election, use the link below:

    2023 Student Elections 

     

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