Meet the Spring 2006 Opinions Columnists

Tom Amenta is a sophmore in international studies. He spent five years as a member of the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. With his extensive military background, he will be focusing primarily on military and foreign policy topics. Tom was the morning drive disc jockey at WPGU 107.1 under the name Ranger. His life motto is “Better a smart ass than a dumb ass,” and he attempts to live up to this creed. When not writing his column or driving around in his sports car, you can find him in the gym or on the quad making fun of people.

John Bambenek is a research programmer at the Coordinated Science Laboratory, a non-degree seeking graduate student at the University of Illinois, andÿa masters student in theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University in physics and astronomy. John is also a blogger contributing to several top blogging sites as well as his own (Part-Time Pundit at http://jcb.pentex-net.com). John joined the DI this fall as a result of the many letters to the editor he has sent the DI during the years. He figured he might as well get paid for giving his opinions.

Ben Griffiths is a tea-sipping exchange student from Great Britain. Educated as a choirboy at Westminster Cathedral, Ben no longer speaks Latin and is now slowly picking up the subtleties of American English. Ben’s choirboy skills helped him in his brief spell in a British pop boyband. He confesses that the imaginatively-named “Fourplay” never did break America. His pathetic lies to American females that his band is “huge in Europe” – and that he has come to the cornfields of Illinois to escape the pressures of fame – are entirely transparent. He hopes that readers will appreciate his foreign, distanced perspective on events. In all this, he will try to keep his Redcoat blazer locked firmly in the closet.

Se Young Lee, a junior in communications, can most often be found assaulting his liver and lungs at a local bar when he is not busy testing the bond of camaraderie with his roommates during a Halo 2 LAN game. He likes to find time to read snobby magazines like “The Economist” and “The New Yorker”, but it is becoming harder because of undue social pressures to act like a reasonable and responsible human being with jobs. While Lee has stepped into the dark side by becoming the director of communications for the Illinois Student Senate, true menace looms on the horizon in the form of the LSAT. He plans on preparing for the exam by drinking a lot of scotch while reading the Old Testament and talking smack about Roger B. Taney.

Josh Rohrscheib will appear as a weekly guest columnist. He is a third year law student in his seventh year at Illinois. This semester he is serving as the president of the Illinois Student Senate (ISS). As ISS president, Josh is committed to empowering students to take a greater role in the shared governance of our university. His columns will be edgy, aggressive, and on topics that impact the student body. He is interested in “Boston Legal”, “The West Wing”, old movies, anything starring Robin Williams, William Shatner or John Wayne. Josh also enjoys biographies, bouncy balls, poker and chess. Josh dreams of being a professional speech writer and campaign manager. After living one-tenth of his life in Champaign-Urbana, he is looking forward to sharing what he has learned about the campus and community with the readers of the Daily Illini.

Billy Joe Mills describes himself as a “moderate secular conservative.” He repeats and claims as his own wisdom anything said by Sen. John McCain or Prof. Ira Carmen. Since he is a moderate, he is simultaneously disliked by the left and misunderstood by the right. He sees Emerson as our greatest author, U2 and Bruce Springsteen as our greatest musicians. Although he is a member of the College Republicans, the majority of his friends are liberal. He views his column as little more than a cheap alternative to eHarmony.com, since he figures a lot more gals will notice him this semester. Billy is an unrelenting activist against the liberal domination of academia, as he believes it poisons the marketplace of ideas on campus. Finally, he encourages you to e-mail him in either disgust or delight in reaction to his columns ([email protected]).

Eric Naing enjoys candlelit dinners, long walks on the beach and tired jokes. He is a card-carrying member of the ACLU, the liberal media, the big gay conspiracy, any number of hippie protest groups and the Democratic and Communist parties. His hobbies include subverting the American way of life, undermining traditional Christian values, giving aid and comfort to “the enemy,” cheating on his wife, frivolous lawsuits, nudity and explicit sex in public, taking copious amounts of illicit drugs, secretly wishing Saddam Hussein was still in power and trying to eliminate the words “Merry Christmas” from public discourse. He enjoys hanging out with Barbara Streisand, Michael Moore and Ted Kennedy and having Sunday tea with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He is personally funded by George Soros and Moveon.org. He also enjoys growing his hair out, playing loud music and loitering on the yards of the elderly. He hopes you all enjoy reading his columns this year.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (from Chicago) lived an innocent blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl named Renee Thessing. Growing up, she flourished in her small town of 500 people, however, she always knew there was a vast world to explore. Her first exploration began in a high school with more students than the population of her hometown. Freeburg Community High School -The Mighty Midgets – commenced the tradition of attending schools with offensive mascots. After the small pond of high school, Renee dove into a bigger one (still within her state). After 3 semesters of the flat, constrictive cornfields, Renee headed for the mountains of New Zealand. She returned to Illinois with a new perspective on life, qualifying her to assume the renowned position of a Daily Illini columnist. In her columns, Renee will contemplate the meaning of life, The Booze News and her exit from the University. As the university experience continues to cultivate her delusional liberal state, she looks forward to living happily ever after.

Brian Pierce is a pre-law junior majoring in political science. Over the course of the past semester he was highly active in the Illinois Student Senate (ISS) as the appointed chairman of the Academic Affairs Committee. He now looks forward to engaging the readership of the Daily Illini. With a steady but impassioned hand he intends to analyze today’s issues of greatest importance including the ACLU’s war on Casimir Pulaski Day (they will stop at nothing). His dream for the future is to be a real life counterpart to one of the characters on NBC’s “The West Wing.” He hails from the town of McHenry, about an hour and a half northwest of Chicago, where Illinois skirts dangerously close to being Wisconsin, and the residents are all pretty thankful they ended up on the side they did.

John Ostrowski is a junior majoring in journalism at the University. His hometown, Morton Grove, is a small suburb of Chicago and was the first municipality in the nation to ban handguns. This fact may be cited to explain part of the makeup of Ostrowski’s political philosophy, though it would be a mistake to give it too much credit.The 2000 election brought out the conservative principles passed down from his parents, which were strengthened in the 2004 election, which coincided with his rising interest and participation in his religion, Catholicism. After briefly writing traditional news stories and the technology column for the Daily Illini, he accepted the position of opinions columnist.

Matt Simmons is a senior here at the University, majoring in sociology and political science. Most of his views come from a center-left perspective; however, he has recently gained a new appreciation for some conservative values. In other words, he is sort of a maverick who will break ranks from the Democratic Party if he believes they are wrong. That being said, he strongly believes in helping the helpless, maintaining an open honest government and protecting civil liberties. He really enjoys thoughtful feedback to his columns, and he keeps an open mind. With the exception of issues pertaining to homosexual rights and the Chief, he is willing to change his opinion on any issue if the evidence calls for it.

Jeff Myczek is a junior majoring in modern European history and German and is making his first appearance this spring as an opinions columnist at the Daily Illini. Jeff is a loyal Chicago White Sox and Bears fan, a licensed scuba diver and an avid skier. Hailing from the south suburbs of Chicago, his political views are influenced by the unique pro-labor tendencies and social conservatism of the Southside. He has interned with the re-election campaign of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert and has appeared on the ballot himself during the 2003 Orland Park village elections. Having studied abroad, Myczek maintains an internationalist outlook tempered by a rigid commitment to the advancement of the pro-American cause. On campus, Jeff has served two years as a member of the Interfraternity Council Judicial Board and is very active in leadership positions within his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon.

Brian Mellen hails from the land of rain, Cobain and Mocha Frappuccinos in Seattle, Wash. An anomaly of sorts, he’s been to the original Starbucks but aghast, doesn’t drink coffee. This self-prescribed moderate has been told he could make a good Supreme Court justice one day if he can make it through the confirmation process without tipping his hat on any issues. Instead, he’s chosen a career path that’s held in just as high esteem as law, journalism – and if that doesn’t work out, plumbing. He looks forward to stirring up discussion this semester on important issues and/or just flat out ticking you off. He who is about to write, salutes you.