Gov. J.B. Pritzker arrived on campus on July 30 to sign a bill that guarantees both SIUE and SIUC a student trustee vote.
Pritzker spoke at length about the importance of the bill at the signing.
“Student voices matter,” Pritzker said. “That’s why this bill was so important: student voices matter. That, at its core, is why we are amplifying the student voice on the board of trustees.”
The bill, written by Rep. Katie Stuart, will go into effect immediately, according to Pritzker. This allows both SIUE student trustee Mackenzie Rogers and SIUC student trustee Brione Lockett to vote on upcoming issues.
Before the signing of this bill, there was no guarantee of which student trustee had the vote each year. Traditionally, ithe vote would switch between campuses each year, at the discretion of the governor.
Despite who received the vote each year, the student trustees from each campus have been known to communicate in the past on issues. Stuart acknowledges this but also mentions an issue that had the potential to exist under the former process.
“My understanding is that in the past our student trustees always had very good working professional relationships, but there is not always the guarantee that there is not going to be animosity between the two,” said Stuart
Despite the bill creating separate votes and and eliminating this potential issue, Lockett intends to continue communication with Rogers.
“[Former student trustee Molly Smith] and I talked so much on how I should vote and things like that, and I don’t think that would change,” Lockett said. “If we see an issue on either campus, I think we will have no problem having that conversation.”
Bills like this have been proposed in the past, but this is the first time one has successfully gone into effect.
“I think it was the same concept in the past; I think it’s just a different legislative body, different elected folks from across the state and a different governor who is in support of it,” Stuart said.
While Pritzker was in support of this change, Stuart still faced opposition from other universities and colleagues.
“There were a few legislators who represent other universities, and those universities were not supportive of the same idea,” Stuart said. “Our president and board of trustees were in support of this concept, but some of the other legislators, their universities are not interested in making this change. So I did get some pushback there.”
Opposition also arose from the representative for Carbondale, Terri Bryant, in the beginning.
“Representative Terri Bryant, who represents Carbondale, was originally in opposition to the bill,” Stuart said. “Which she and I had a lot of discussions and talked about the importance of having student voices be heard. And she came around and changed her mind, and was a supporter of the bill.”
Opposition aside, the bill is now in effect, and future SIUE and SIUC student trustees are guaranteed their own votes and places at the table.