Daily Illini Editorial Board endorses Lucas Frye for student trustee

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

Although the University boasts it’s the most diverse Big Ten school, this school is far from being as inclusive as it aspires to be.

Two University students persuaded the Board of Trustees to discuss the addition of gender confirmation surgery to the student health insurance plan, which, unlike several of the University’s peer institutions including the University of Illinois at Chicago, lags behind on inclusiveness.

This semester, the board also voted to increase tuition by a small 1.7 percent, but that’s an increase that could prevent a lower-income student from affording or attending the University.

Nearly 30 percent of the students here are non-white, but, as the January Twitter scandal fiasco regarding a potential snow day showed, we are far from accepting and understanding these racial differences. The NCAA banned the racist use of Chief Illiniwek almost a decade ago, yet a contentious debate among students and alumni about the mascot’s use continues.

Among all of this, students will be asked to vote for the next student trustee, who can help to reconcile all of this and more. After Lucas Frye, junior in ACES, and Nick Reinberg, junior in LAS, debated at the Illini Union Thursday evening, and after considering their stances on several issues important to students, The Daily Illini Editorial Board endorses Lucas Frye for student trustee. We do so, though, with only a slight reservation but knowing he’s the better choice.

As a highly involved student and campus leader, Frye’s signature campaign point is that he would like to convene leaders of registered student organizations to gauge the most important issues facing students. It’s a commendable effort, but it’s one that has been echoed by several past student trustees, too, but none of them have yet to create a forum large enough or efficient enough to live up to their initial expectations. We fear that without a concrete plan already, this is doomed to fail again.

If successful, the convention could unite a diverse campus that does a lot of talking but not much conversing.

Frye wants to increase awareness of all of the resources the University has to offer. He said that he alone cannot control if tuition goes up, but he can make sure that we get our money’s worth while we’re here.

But on a slew of other issues, Frye remains wishy-washy on his stances, opting often to answer questions with “Everyone has their own perspective,” instead of providing his perspective. Reinberg, for his part, tended to respond similarly. Hearing out others’ opinions and ideas is necessary , but it must be done in tandem with actionable objectives. 

Because the student trustee, with a possibly legally binding vote, is one of the most direct routes students have to the Board of Trustees, which sets tuition, approves changes to health care and directs other policies across the University system, we expect that he know the needs of the campus. Frye seems to understand this, and we think he will meticulously consider agenda before voting, even if we think he could take a more hardline stance in promoting inclusiveness and diversity.