New student liaisons begin discourse with Champaign, Urbana

The Illinois Student Senate will be sending student liaisons this year to regularly attend Champaign and Urbana city council meetings.

Matt Gold, junior in LAS, and Peter Hughes, senior in Engineering, are the two student senators from the Illinois Student Senate, or ISS, elected to act as student liaisons as part of the student government’s outreach efforts to local government. The two will attend city council meetings in their respective cities.

“I’m really excited to reach out to the student government,” Gold said. “The city government often tends to be overlooked. However, if we express our issues to them, it will provide a position for us to work from.”

The ultimate goal of this endeavor is to incorporate student concerns into the consideration of the two cities’ governments, said David Pileski, student body president.

ISS and local government outreach is something Pileski said he envisioned upon starting his term. He said ISS had not attempted an outreach of this kind in recent years and thought it was a priority to ensure constant communication with our local governments this year.

He said lack of communication was hurting the general student body’s relationship with the two cities and letting important student issues “fall on the wayside.” The ultimate goal is to strengthen that relationship so that both councils more frequently consider concerns of student interest, such as housing issues.

“There are areas where students could aggressively advocate in a way that would help both sides,” Pileski said, referring to students and local government.

Both Pileski and Gold said they look forward to working closely with city officials. Gold said he has already talked to Champaign mayor Don Gerard and he’s been pleased with the response from the mayor.

“He’s very optimistic to work with the student government,” Gold said. “He’s a very friendly and understanding mayor.”

The long-term goal is to make these positions a more permanent part of the city councils. Pileski said discussions are underway with the local governments to discuss what each side would like to see from this developing relationship.

“I do not want this to be a one-year thing,” Pileski said. “I am looking forward to the experience this program will have for student and local governments.”