May student government, the DI continue for many years

As historian of student government, it’s my responsibility to gather all primary sources and documents detailing the past student governments and associations here on campus. The most common sources I use are not previous governing documents, nor legislation, but newspaper articles, particularly The Daily Illini.

The truth of the matter is, student government and The Daily Illini have been intertwined since the very beginning of this University. For instance, for a few years, one of the roles of the Federal Student Government (1870-1883) was to oversee the publication of The Illini, which was the Daily Illini’s precursor. Although that particular government did not last, The Illini continued on, flourishing through various head editors until the newspaper began publishing daily on this campus (hence the name, The Daily Illini).

Flash forward 50 years later, where The Daily Illini was heavily criticizing the student council systems. Back then, there was a student president for each year (freshman, sophomore, etc.), and even then the student media criticized the entire system. The Daily Illini labeled them as “the politicians,” and called for change. This eventually led to the development of the Student Senate (1934-1969). For most of those years The Daily Illini even had ex-officio representation in that student government. I recall specifically former Student Senate President Elbert Herron being a former writer of The Daily Illini. Look him up in the Student Life and Culture Archival Program if you want more information on him.

Following 1969, The Daily Illini continued its coverage on what is now known as the Student Power Era. This era, instead of having student governments, consisted of student associations such as the Graduate Student Association, the Undergraduate Student Association, and later the Senate Student Association. The common theme throughout this period was the newspaper’s and students’ desire for a more efficient student government. They both got their wish with the creation of the Student Government Association in 1980.

However, relations between The Daily Illini and Student Government soured in 2003. The newspaper was quick and wise in pointing out the corruption hidden in the Illinois Student Government. Eventually, this led to the creation of the Illinois Student Senate, a student government composed of 54 independent (not slated) elected students, and many committee members and staff. If you wish to learn more, the Illinois Student Senate hosts weekly meetings Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the Illini Union Pine Lounge.

Throughout the history of this campus, both student government and The Daily Illini had a symbiotic relationship. I realize that the newspaper is going through difficult times right now, but it’s within my hope that this relationship lasts for another 140 years and beyond.

Shao Guo,

vice president-internal and historian of the Illinois Student Senate