Opinion | Illinois Student Government struggles to reach students

Jernie+Saunders%2C+a+junior+in+LAS%2C+talks+about+how+the+Illinois+Student+Government+should+reach+out+to+the+student+body+more.+

Sydney Laput

Jernie Saunders, a junior in LAS, talks about how the Illinois Student Government should reach out to the student body more.

By Nathaniel Langley, Opinions Editor

The Illinois Student Government is designed to be the opportunity for student representation within the University administration. A place where elected students speak for our interests, the ISG is crucial to protecting and assisting students — if governed properly. Unfortunately, its work is obscure to the student conscience. Lacking profound public outreach and advocacy, the ISG has been prevented from faithfully representing the student body.

Little’s known or shared about our government’s ventures. The news page hasn’t been updated since 2019, its last tweet is from fall 2020 and, despite an active Instagram, the ISG hasn’t had any extensive undertakings within its latest terms.

After asking several students for their thoughts on ISG, many were unaware of its existence or services. The following opinions, therefore, reflect recent attitudes toward the ISG and seek to provide paths for where our government can improve.

Orla Willman, senior in AHS

“I honestly don’t know much about the student government.”

Willman acknowledged how COVID-19 may have affected this but added the ISG’s Instagram can be more helpful.

“It might be due to the fact that because of COVID I wasn’t on campus last semester. But I have seen the Instagram account — I think that there is —, and I would be interested in learning more about it.”

Yiheng Liu, junior in LAS

“I think student government can be helpful,” Liu, who believes more connections can help ISG’s dilemmas, said.

“Unfortunately, I’m not in direct contact with the student government because I’m not quite seeing posters or emails from the student government. I believe if this organization wants to help more students I think they should make something more public (like posters, emails) that reflect the needs of students.”

Jasmine Rayner, freshman in DGS

“Having more available parking spaces to students,” is Rayner’s proposal to the ISG.

“I drive — I’m off campus —, and some days I’ll get here 20 minutes early for class and be 10-15 minutes late because I’m spending 30 to 40 minutes just looking for a space anywhere.

“It’s crazy because you can’t just park anywhere because you get hit with a bunch of tickets (and my parents were really mad about that first semester). So maybe more available parking spaces for students.”

Rayner also stated how additional parking spaces may help alleviate a growing campus, “It’s a huge campus, with a lot of kids… I feel like it can get kinda cramped.”

Killian Egan, junior in LAS

Egan explained the potential for ISG to help exchange students and advocate for increased integration.

“I’m an Irish exchange student here for this semester only … I’m in chemical engineering and it’s not part of the engineering school, and I know the engineering school does a lot more to integrate the international students than the liberal arts school does. I think that if they could do more for students outside of engineering it would be very good.”

Egan added how this engineering and liberal arts difference impacts the exchange experience.

“I know what the engineering students are getting from the integration courses — they’re loving it, and they’re meeting a lot of new people. I’d like if there was something like that for the liberal arts school as well.”

Jernie Saunders, junior in LAS

“Honestly I would say I don’t know much about what the student government has been doing. I think if there was a way to kinda reach more of the student body with updates on what they’re doing or things they need help with from the student body, I would be more likely to get involved and be more informed about it.”

Saunders, like many students, wished they knew more about our government to hold an improved opinion, “I just feel like I haven’t heard much about it.”

Aryan Moon, freshman in Engineering

Moon, however, knew of the ISG and appreciated their work for Illini.

“I think the student government does a pretty good job incorporating everyone.” 

As for where the ISG can improve, Moon saw potential with engaging and fostering a closer community.

“I think one thing they could do better is having more events. For now, the way people meet is through RSOs or classes. I think more events like a homecoming event or something would be great in the future.”

The ISG states its mission as advancing “the collective interest and safeguarding the rights of the students.” Although this is noble, it currently does not live to its full potential. Our time at the University is limited, therefore it’s imperative we leave the University in a superior position than we found it — the first place to accomplish this is by possessing effective student representation.

A student government should serve students. Likewise, more must be done to build an exceptional, affordable and engaging university whether with an engaged ISG or promoting it yourself.

Nathaniel is a junior in LAS.

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