Former student president reminisces about U of I

By Stephanie Gomes

When Justin Randall, student body president, heard about the shooting at Northern Illinois, he reacted immediately. He called administrators to discuss safety measures, talked with the media and began planning the vigil that was held on the Quad several days later. “I felt that it was important for the campus community to come together to acknowledge the tragedy at NIU and work to overcome the grief as a community.” he said.

This is not the first tragedy Randall faced during his role as student body president. Within a few days of being elected, the Virginia Tech shooting occurred.

“During my tenure, it was rough,” he said. “I’ve dealt with conflict a lot.”

After a year in office, Randall passed the torch to the new student body president, Jaclyn O’Day, junior in LAS, in April. When asked what pieces of advice he would give her, he said, “Always make sure you are responsive to the student body.”

He said he has tried his best to accomplish this while serving on student government, and many would agree.

    Sign up for our newsletter!

    “Justin was good at seeing what students wanted,” said Renée Romano, vice chancellor of student affairs. “He was one of the finest student body presidents that I have worked with.”

    Randall’s political past helped shape his life at the University and his post-graduation plans.

    “I grew up in Washington D.C. during the Clinton years,” he said.

    He remembers going to Capitol Hill and many museums as a kid.

    “I’ve always had an interest in politics,” he said.

    In high school, Randall served on the Naperville Planning Commission and was involved in student government.

    “It was a natural progression that when I came to college I stayed involved in those same things,” he said.

    He said he chose the University of Illinois because he really enjoyed the atmosphere of campus and had always wanted to attend a Big Ten school.

    “I came down to U of I, and it felt right,” he said. “It had everything I was looking for in an institution.”

    During his freshmen year, Randall joined student government, and after years of hard work, became student body president in April of 2007. Randall said his role required him to work about 35 hours a week. One of his main duties was to be the official voice of the students.

    A typical day would involve meetings with administrators and serving on many campus committees. He was also a member of the Champaign Liquor Commission.

    “I like working for students and making sure their voices are heard,” he said.

    Katie Dunne, former vice-president of student government, said Randall was very dedicated to his job.

    “He had a really good working relationship with administrators,” she said. “He was the person to go to if you needed help navigating the bureaucracy of U of I.”

    Randall’s next step after graduation is attending law school at the University of Iowa, a natural fit for the politically driven student who is graduating with degrees in both political science and speech communication.

    “It’s going to be a little different as a Hawkeye versus an Illini,” he said. “But I will always be an Illini.”

    He said after law school, he’ll probably pursue litigation work at a large firm in Chicago.

    “I’m never seeing sun light again,” he said, laughing.

    Randall said the most memorable moment during the past year was traveling to California for the Rose Bowl where he sat on the 50-yard line in the chancellor’s box.

    He added that he is going to miss many things about being student president, such as having a voice in decisions on campus.

    His farewell message to fellow students: “Go Illini. It’s been fun.”