The Daily Illini

Student trustee candidates Frye, Reinberg debate campus issues

By Megan Jones

Candidates running for student trustee met on Thursday night to debate several campus topics. The election will be held through an online ballot Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Lucas Frye, junior in ACES, serves as the president of the ACES Council and a member of Student Alumni Ambassadors. Nick Reinberg, junior in LAS, serves as a member of the Illinois Student Senate and sits on the subcommittees for Student Debt Awareness as well as the cultural, international and minority Student Affairs.

LGBT-Friendly Initiatives

Reinberg said he does not think it is fair that students unsure of their gender identity should be forced into gender roles. 

“I’d like to see the University be ranked number one on issues of LGBT-friendliness,” Reinberg said. “I strongly support gender neutral dormitories on campus and until we have such options, students should be able to opt out of living in dorms.”

Reinberg believes the University can learn a lot from the Chicago campus, which was named one of the nation’s top 25 campuses for LGBT students.

Reinberg hopes to take the 100 single-stalled bathrooms on campus, turning them into gender-neutral bathrooms to better achieve inclusiveness.

Frye said it’s a difficult promise to keep in a one-year span.

“Certainly the LGBT community has resources and a unified effort to make sure that they have a voice on campus,” Frye said. “Those are the things that I want to focus on: that any group on campus has a unified structure, so if they ever have a cause… they can come up with an actual solution and a way to obtain it.”

Frye wants students to be able to provide a table of steps in making solutions and be able to push their own initiatives.

Addition of Gender Confirmation Surgery

Frye believes that anyone on campus would have a different perspective based on their values and backgrounds.

“It’s not for me or anyone to judge what an individual’s medical needs are,” Frye said. “However, I think the board needs to have reservations as far as this actual effort.”

Frye said the current plan does not include optical, dental or prescription drug benefits. He fears that this sets a precedent for future situations and how they evaluate whose medical needs are the most important.

If trustee, he would vote against the addition, as he believes more time, research and a student referendum is needed.

Reinberg said that students can opt out of the student health insurance plan and he would vote “yes” to the addition of the surgery.  

Tuition Hikes

“That’s something we cannot necessarily change,” Frye said. “We can’t tomorrow say we are going to lower tuition.”

Frye wants to increase the value of students’ education by compiling a calendar that lists all events on campus, such as speakers and community service events, so students can take advantage of even more opportunities.

“This is a shared vision that the cabinet leaders could work on… it’s attainable and would be one of my biggest priorities as student trustee,” Frye said.  

Reinberg believes that while they cannot decrease tuition, the student trustee can stop tuition bumps and vote “no.”

Frye believes that a 1.7 percent increase is not a bad raise and he promotes students to go to Springfield and lobby legislators to lower tuition.

Reinberg said he would lobby the state to pay the University back its debt.

Campus Safety

Reinberg hopes to raise the University’s campus safety and expand the Safe Rides program. He added that the snow and ice on campus this winter was unacceptable for the students.

Frye hopes the University will look further into a disaster awareness plan in light of the shooting at Purdue. He hopes to add this plan into every course syllabus.

“If nothing else, having that in the syllabus gets faculty members to think about the current procedures and implement them… so it’s fresh in everyone’s mind,” Frye said.

Unionization

Frye believes that unionization would keep student tuition stable; however, he believes that this will take away “some of our most prestigious faculty” and make it harder for the University to hire new faculty, which could hurt student’s education.

Reinberg said if campus faculty does unionize, he hopes they will not strike. However, if they were to go on strike, he would try to meet with the Union heads.

Massive Open Online Courses

Frye believes that online education is one way to supplement education at the University.

“Specifically within general education, many students are just trying to check that box and get that category out of the way,” Frye said. “Online classes could be a very unique solution as far as being able to take some of our general education classes over the summer and make sure that students can get out of here in four years or three years.”

Reinberg also is in favor of online classes; however, he does not feel they can replace the knowledge and experience students learn from standard classes.

Balancing in-state and out-of-state students

“Some of the best conversations that you can have in the classroom are with people from around the world,” Frye said.

Reinberg agreed that international students play an important role and perspective in the University; however, he believes that the University needs to broaden recruitment within the state and nation first.

Chief Illiniwek

Reinberg believes that the University should reopen the issue and go to different tribes within Illinois and ask to adopt their chief.

Frye agreed and said that many do not understand why the Chief was taken away and that he has always been a big fan.

Megan can be reached at [email protected] and @meganash_jones.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the debate took place Wednesday night. The debate took place Thursday night. The Daily Illini regrets the error.

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