Opinion | What does the student government do? | Part I

More stories from Dan Kibler

The Illinois Student Government is meant to be the representative voice of students at the University of Illinois. 

It is structured much like the United States government, with the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Like our actual government, students are elected into their positions.

However, the extent to which ISG plays a role in student life on campus is a contentious subject. 

In this column, a number of students across all grade levels were interviewed and asked what they believed ISG does.

Some of these students possessed some knowledge of what ISG can do. They cited that ISG is capable of making policy that helps the student body.  

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Other students said that the most important function of ISG is its role as a liaison between the student body and administration. 

Some of the students interviewed had no idea what ISG does, both students who are new to the University and upperclassmen.

Others felt as though ISG does not do anything tangible to service the student body, and those participating in the organization are doing it for the benefit of having it on their resume.

In the eye of the student body, ISG exists on a spectrum. Some students acknowledge its capabilities while other students may not even know it exists. Some even argue that, while this is an existing organization, it exists only in name.

Many candidates in the upcoming ISG elections are hoping to redefine the role of ISG in student life. If these quotes are any indication, this referendum is much-needed.


Some of these students possessed some knowledge of what ISG can do.

“Student Government is the place where students can bring up issues happening on campus and urge the administration to fix them. This includes things like drink spiking prevention with nightcaps and architecture students having to pay $10 a diagram and asking the university to print money. This can also include dealing with bigger things like antisemitism on campus or the GEO contract negotiations. The problem is we don’t have enough power to completely combat these issues, and we may never will.”

— ISG Member, junior, LAS

“I know that there’s some form and structure to it like an actual government, and they represent the different schools and colleges on campus. However, the main thing I am familiar with is how they are in charge of discipline. I believe they hold trials for people who are on appeal for breaking various codes of conduct at the university.”

— senior, CoM

“As far as I know student government makes policy on campus for select areas, but I’m not sure what those confines are, and I’m not totally sure what the specifics of ISG’s roles are.”

— sophomore, LAS

“It’s an elected group of students who try to act as a centralized voice for the whole student body so they can make suggestions on policies to the university officials.”

— Brady Moran, senior, LAS


“They serve as a conduit between the administration of the university and the concerns of the student body. They try to make the university a better environment for the students.”

— Andrew O’Connell, senior, LAS

Other students said that the most important function of ISG is its role as a liaison between the student body and administration.

“My best guess is they use their student perspective to communicate issues with the higher-ups in university administration”

— Poorna Kumar, sophomore, AHS

“They attempt to act as a liaison between the students and the administration. However, in practice, they represent something like one percent of the school arguing about stuff that the other ninety-nine percent doesn’t care about.”

— senior, LAS

“Ideally they are supposed to represent the student body and lobby on behalf of them to the university administration. In practice, I think it’s just a vestigial organ of the University administration.”

— Miles Ralph, junior, LAS

This is the first in a two-part series of columns about student opinions regarding ISG. Part two will address interviews with students who either do not know what ISG does or feel as though ISG does not do enough. 


Dan is a senior in LAS.

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Raphael is a freshman in LAS.

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