Student trustee Kantas prepares for end of eventful term in office

By Courtney Linehan

When Chris Kantas got access to $4 million dollars earmarked to update University buildings, he kept one thing in mind while deciding how Illinois should spend the cash.

Kantas thought the cash should to rennovating Foellinger Auditorium because it is widely used by students in every major. But not everyone agreed.

“When it came down to it, my opinion mattered most because it was the students’ money they were spending,” Kantas said. “These are the facilities students need most.”

Kantas is now weeks away from the end of his term as the Urbana-Champaign student representative to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. In a year he calls “explosive,” Kantas has seen the fall of the controversial Chief Illiniwek and the promise of long-awaited rennovations to Lincoln Hall. He’s been closely involved in the working of state-wide higher education.

A political science and history major from Oak Lawn, Kantas first came to Illinois when he was eight years old. His dad and older brother both attended the University’s flagship campus, so Kantas says it seemed natural that he would go to school here.

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Kantas began his political career at Illinois when he joined the Student Senate as an underclassman. He served on several campus committees as a sophomore and junior, and became the public relations and alumni relations chair for his fraternity.

Then, midway through his junior year, Kantas decided to aim higher.

“I thought by running for student trustee I’d be in a position to better advance the interests fo the student body,” Kantas said.

Kantas won the election in March 2006, and says he maintained the same focus as he began his term on the Board.

Kantas points to two events, the Chief’s retirement and the Lincoln Hall rennovations, as the biggest changes to happen during his term.

“Looking at events over the past year it would be difficult to not address the retirement of Chief Illiniwek, since that’s something so many student care so much about on both sides of the issue,” Kantas said. “That was a high priority in my mind, being sure to represent the best interest of the students on that issue.”

Bringing Lincoln Hall up-to-date, Kantas says, was also important because of its central location on the Quad and because so many students take class there each year.

“It was huge as far as the direct impact on student life was concerned,” Kantas said. “For a long time it’s been an eyesore.”

With one Board meeting left on his agenda, Kantas is now looking toward his days after finishing his undergraduate degree. He says he has no plans yet for the summer, but will attend law school this fall.

Kantas says one of the things he has enjoyed most as an undergrad is getting to know his professors outside the classroom. He credits a handful of favorite history and political science instructors with influencing him to go to law school, and says he’s enjoyed working with University personnel outside a classroom setting.

“You go here for four years and a lot of students may not do that,” Kantas said. “I’m glad I did.”