Charlie Sterrett and Jaylin McClinton face off for student trustee

Charlie Sterrett and Jaylin McClinton faced off Thursday night in a debate for student trustee held in the Illini Union. Lucas Frye, junior in ACES, will remain the current student trustee until next fall. Elections for the position will take place March 5. Paul Schmidt, former trustee and current law student, moderated the debate. The following questions are paraphrased for space.

Paul Schmidt: What is your vision for the University of Illinois?

Jaylin McClinton: “There is an awesome opportunity to do a lot more at the University. I think the system is currently broken. We have three different campuses, but it’s supposed to be one system. I think there needs to be more collaboration across the board…For example…we need to put in the extra grunt work to make sure the University has the opportunity to access education as well.”

Charlie Sterrett: “As a system I think it’s important to focus on the strengths of each campus… By drawing funds for programs that other campuses focus on, you end up hurting those programs when you look at our University as a system…In terms of the Champaign-Urbana campus specifically, I think one of the best steps we can take is to increase our political advocacy.”

PS: One specific way you would reduce spending?

CS: “If we’re going to look to where we have a little bit of extra fat, to where we can streamline the operation, I think it comes from the administrative level. Rather than professors and educators, we look toward the deans’ offices and organizations on campus that receive funding that might not necessarily need in entirety what they receive currently.”

JM: “Right now, with that announcement from Gov. Rauner, I think it sets the University up to be a private institution, and that’s not necessarily what we want. The students really are what make this University and we are the backbone. I think moving forward to handle reductions it definitely has to come from the staff… One thing I think that could be held off for a little while is housing, and not necessarily building a new residence hall every year, but maybe putting some funding into the ones that already exist.”

What are your views on the current prices for tuition at the University of Illinois?

JM: “If (tuition) continues to increase, we won’t be able to make it accessible for middle class families. I myself mentioned that I’m a first generation college student, so coming here wasn’t an easy thing… I’m happy about tuition freeze, and I think it needs to be freezed for ten years, and quite frankly I think it should be lowered. I know a lot of it relies heavily on donor funding, student fees and things like that, and I think moving forward we could really rely more on donors.”

CS: “Over 6,000 students at the University of Illinois receive MAP grants, and as of the fiscal year 2013 the University of Illinois indepently provides more financial aid for students than the MAP grants and Pell grants at the federal level, combined. I think if we’re able to get more MAP grants from the state, more Pell grants from the federal level, we’ll be able to allocate that financial aid provided for need-based students… I think it’s romantic to think that tuition would be able to freeze without effecting the quality of education and research opportunities here.”

The University of Illinois boasts the largest living alumni base in the nation, but has the second smallest alumni giving in the Big Ten. How should the University improve alumni donations?

CS: “There’s a disconnect between when graduation occurs and when they’re contacted by the Alumni Association… I’ve worked constructing websites in which we target young alumni to build donor base from an earlier state… It’s something we’re hoping in a ten year plan will create more donations and give us more room to work in terms of tuition freezes and research opportunities on campus.”

JM: “We need to give students the opportunity to actively engage with alumni… it’s not those phone calls asking for money that will make people donate money, it’s the personal connections.”

Why would the campus benefit from you specially serving as trustee?

JM: “I’ve had a wealth of experience from service opportunities, to serving on boards, to actively being engaged as a leader. I think I have the unique experience of being a first generation college student… College affordability is really important to me, it’s something I will not budge on.”

CS: “I have involvement in all corners of the University, whether it be ACES, business, engineering…I think that’s something special about me. I hear the perspectives of students from all different distinct parts of campus, and that helps me sculpt my feelings based on students reactions.”