Newly-elected student trustee Jaylin McClinton talks goals, inspirations

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New student trustee Jaylin McClinton

By Charlotte Collins

Newly-elected student trustee Jaylin McClinton came to Champaign-Urbana from the south side of Chicago with hopes of occupying a leadership position. McClinton, junior in LAS, studies political science and African-American studies and hopes to work closely with the students who elected him in his upcoming term. McClinton will replace current student trustee Lucas Frye in the fall. 

The Daily Illini: Given the short term, what is your plan of action for pushing the things you want to get done? 

Jaylin McClinton: In my campaign process, I talked a lot about political engagement about doing lobby days once a month whether that means pick an issue and then going with that so maybe one month it’s immigration and actively going to lobby about that issue, one month maybe it’s about college affordability. … I know we often talked about the tuition freeze during the campaign process, but I think just examining different opportunities to make sure that students are being able to access this university, and that they’re not afraid to apply. … One thing that I’ve said during the campaign trail, which I still  think is really true, is that I didn’t need to be student trustee to do all these things. I just think that now that I have the opportunity to be in this position that it will be easier to talk to the right people about doing some of these things.  

DI: To you, what’s the biggest responsibility of a student trustee on any campus?

JM: I think it’s just having the voice of the students, and in those tough conversations, whether it’s doing a tuition hike or lowering tuition, making sure I’m encompassing everyone’s voice and coming up with a strategic plan to do that. So, for example with tuition, I am a first generation college student in a single-parent household, so I think of things one way, but then I also factor in other opinions. One of my really good friends here is a mom, and so when I’m thinking about things it’s not just about me.

DI: What are you most excited about for this job?

JM: I think it’s really just being able to interact with a larger body of students and moving an agenda forward that encompasses a lot of the campus. … The chancellor has different committees with faculty, so there’s the committee on race and ethnicity, there’s the committee on LGBT concerns and things like that. My goal is to mirror those committees from the student perspective and to really come up with initiatives and ideas that we can move forward with at the campus-wide level and at the system level. … I think another piece is working with the new president, Timothy Killeen. … One, because there are so many major issues going on but two, because we have a new president, and I’ll be able to work with him because we both are (new) at the same time, so to have that experience I think it’ll be great, because he’s definitely a good guy, and I’ve interacted with him already. 

DI: Who was one of the most inspirational figures for you in planning out your career?

JM: For a long time for me, I kind of looked up to Martin Luther King in a sense, but, in modern times, someone who I really look up to is an attorney named Bryan Stevenson. He is a very good guy, he has a non-profit organization called the Equal Justice Initiative, and the focus is on assisting people who have been incarcerated wrongfully and different things. … Also more local, I had the opportunity to work with Michael Frerichs, who is now the treasurer of Illinois, and I think working on his campaign has really helped me gain a better understanding of politics and just also service to people. 

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