Members of the Student Government Association raised their hands in a lively debate at the March 29 meeting when the topic of campus housing arose. The SGA invited housing administrators and faculty to the April 2 gathering to discuss the future of residential life at UIS.
The university is looking to admit 300 new general education students next fall, which means more undergrads than ever may need a place to live, and the campus must make adjustments.
Campus Senate formed the General Education Council to oversee challenges with the new general education student body. As GEC student member Ryan Morrison explained at March’s SGA meeting, potential housing accommodations might be inadequate for these students.
Many UIS students know (especially those living in Lincoln Residence Hall or Pennyroyal Court), that current housing will be shared among new and returning students next year until another dorm can be built. Morrison said one residence hall proposed by housing administration would have the bed capacity of LRH, but little more. He said at March’s meeting that the planned building would have no common study areas, multi-purpose rooms, or dining areas for residents.
There was general discontent in the room as the group discussed current housing situations. SGA graduate member Evan Wilson said she thought it was unfair to ask current Pennyroyal occupants to move out in order to accommodate new first-year students. “Why are we admitting 300 more freshmen with no dorm to put them in?” she asked.
Most student government members experienced dorm life as CAP scholars, and say they hope all students entering the program will have the same opportunities. SGA President Samantha Drews said she remembers how easy it was to network with friends and study as a new LRH resident. She said although the dorm’s restrictive atmosphere – and access to more technology – kept them slightly apart from other areas on campus, it was this environment that gave students the Living-Learning edge.
Morrison said UIS has always had a Living-Learning environment for first-year students. He said Lincoln Residence Hall is a prime (and singular) example of this concept on campus, with its spaces for studying, advising and attending lectures built into the dorm and its halls lined with students on a common plight.
Morrison said the university promotes an enriching academic experience, and should demonstrate that when building housing for new students. He described the potential dormitory layout that he said UIS administration was considering and, in between lines of questions and comments from SGA members, introduced the Campus Senate’s proposed resolution.
UIS professor and GEC chair Janis Droegkamp brought the drafted resolution to April’s meeting, where administrators, faculty members and students shared ideas of residential life to come.
“The resolution…is to make sure any expansion of housing for the new incoming students would have a Living-Learning component. That was the original plan for the CAP Scholars Program.” She said when the General Education Working Group designed next fall’s new general curriculum they had the idea of a Living-Learning Community in mind. “We just want to make sure everyone sticks to the plan and that there will be academic space in the new housing built for undergraduates.”
The Senate-sponsored resolution focuses on student achievement through a Living-Learning atmosphere by stating not only did LRH students thrive under such conditions for five years, national studies also suggest Living-Learning Communities impact scholastic success. The resolution ends by saying that any new housing built for future UIS undergrads must have academic areas.
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Christopher Miller said at the April meeting that he thought the resolution was a good idea, and that it followed philosophical university goals. But he said the proposal could not be taken as a mandate because of budgetary reasons.
“Philosophically this resolution is right on point. When we talk about Living-Learning Communities and what they do for retention and persistence and graduation, the data is clear; it is helpful….it works. But a non-instructional facility’s development mandate is inappropriate,” said Miller.
Miller said a secondary facility being built on campus – that means housing, book stores, cafeterias, etc. – would not be supported by state funds, but by university revenue coming from “users” – that means us. He said the university could not guarantee that academic areas would be provided in new housing because student revenue may not cover the cost of building them.
Housing Director John Ringle added that UIS has not yet chosen a contractor to build the new dorm, but said housing administration has submitted an accommodation plan to the chancellor for his consideration. “We have proposed, in the executive summary, that in addition to the resident units, which would (have) about 200 beds, the housing will include management staff offices, lounges, laundries and a multi-purpose room with adjacent one to two break out or seminar classroom spaces.”
Cost, construction and next year’s student admittance/retention rates are unsure at this time. That is what GEC chair Janis Droegkamp said Campus Senate is concerned now; they want to make certain that, as Droegkamp said, upcoming students aren’t living in structures built with “concrete and speed.”
Terry Bodenhorn, representing only the CAP Scholars Honor program, agreed that a Living-Learning component should go along with any future housing plan for these students and said the next step is to figure out how to fund construction.
As for the current housing situation, with some Pennyroyal and LRH residents moving to accommodate new students, housing administrators said they are trying to work with everyone and are willing to hear concerns. Dr. Miller and John Ringle said UIS housing has never turned away a transfer student and will not in 2006. They said transfer and graduate students would not be overlooked in future housing plans at the university.
The two-hour debate may have continued at last Sunday’s meeting, if it had not been for the familiar sound of screeching tornado sirens. SGA president Samantha Drews said the group will keep this issue alive in student government through e-mail correspondence and will decide whether or not they will endorse the General Education Council’s resolution.
Housing was certainly not the only item on student government’s agenda. Vice President Robert Skorczewski reported Campus Senate voted to accept dual credit for high school students who received a “B” or above in classes taken for both high school and college credit at the March meeting.
SGA members reported on their COSGA (Conference On Student Government Associations) trip. President Drews brought the idea of “common hour” back from Texas, saying that setting one hour aside each day for group meetings and guest speakers could be a good thing for UIS.
Treasurer John Morris said he found the “deuce system” to be an interesting topic at the conference – where students pay two dollars to get a cab ride home from the bars when they show university I.D.
Also, SGA is putting its final revisions on a resolution that asks future student government members to recognize the importance of individual colleges at UIS. Although Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Harry Berman announced at a Campus Senate meeting that the colleges of Public Affairs Administration and Education and Human Services would not merge, SGA members said they want to ensure no merger will happen in the future.
Senate survey does not include students
By Emily Martin - Public Affairs Reporter
Last Tuesday, UIS faculty were asked to evaluate Chancellor Ringeisen’s performance via electronic survey; some students say they would like this opportunity as well.
The Campus Senate sent out an e-mail requesting UIS faculty to judge the following aspects of the chancellor’s performance: Campus Vision and Mission, Academic Leadership, Campus Advocacy and Fundraising and Administrative Leadership. There were 25 questions in total, about five in each category.
According to Article I, Section 5 of the University of Illinois Statutes, the chancellor is to be appointed (or reappointed) annually by the Board of Trustees upon recommendation of the president. The statute also says, “On the occasion of a reappointment, the senate may submit its advice if it so elects.”
Although faculty evaluations will not directly affect the chancellor’s reappointment, they will give more perspectives for the Board of Trustees and president to consider this summer.
Legal studies major Evelia Reza said she thinks UIS faculty should not be the only voice for the board to consider. “Students should be able to give their opinion, too. I would fill (the survey) out,” she said.
Some students say evaluating the chancellor should remain a faculty task, because many students don’t understand his job. “Most students don’t even know what he does,” said UIS student Larry Talbott, “He’s kind of like the president of a company. We know he’s there, but nobody knows what he does.”
But psychology major Katy Tish disagrees, saying, “When I first came here I was pleasantly surprised by how many students were active in the community and politics. I’m impressed by my friends who join groups on campus…and we have so many to choose from. This is a really proactive campus and I think a great deal of students would be interested in the survey.”
Pat Langley sent Tuesday’s e-mail on behalf of Campus Senate, asking faculty with the title of dean or above not to fill out the survey. All other full-time faculty were encouraged to judge the chancellor’s performance on a “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree” basis. There was also an option for those who had no judgment or were unable to answer a question. For faculty members who are new to the campus or unsure of an answer, a “no basis for judgment” response was available.
After the Senate has received and discussed the survey results they will prepare an executive summary for the president and Board of Trustees, along with additional Senate comments. The Senate, Langley wrote, is not evaluating the chancellor, “… as that is solely the responsibility of the president and board. At the same time, we believe that in order for that evaluation to be fully informed, serious and systematic input from all constituencies, but most especially the faculty, is required.”
WUIS Bureau Chief Sean Crawford awarded
By Ashley Rook - General Assignment Reporter
WUIS Statehouse Bureau Chief Sean Crawford recently won a top award at the Illinois Associated Press Broadcasters Association’s 2005 Journalism Excellence Contest. His report, “Trucking Money,” took second place in the Best Investigative Series in the Downstate Radio Division.
“It’s nice to be recognized and also to get some publicity for the station,” said Crawford. “How the state spends funds on economic development is an important topic that doesn’t get enough attention and I think the public should be better educated on state spending and know where their money goes.”
Originally broadcast on WUIS-WIPA in February 2005, “Trucking Money” investigated the distribution of state funds to companies. It examined two trucking firms, both affected by a significant rise in Illinois truck licensing fees. The first firm, after threatening to relocate to Missouri, received a grant to stay in Southern Illinois, but the other firm made no such threats and received no monetary assistance from the state.
As a veteran reporter, Crawford has a considerable amount of experience in his field. Crawford has served as WUIS-WIPA Statehouse Bureau Chief since September 2005, following stints as a Statehouse reporter for the station and reporting local news on the station’s “Morning Edition” broadcasts. He has also been a regular panelist on WUIS’ weekly program “State News in Review.” Previous to his experience at WUIS-WIPA, Crawford worked as an editor at Bailey Publishing from 1992 to 1994, which oversaw three newspapers in the Joliet area, was news director at WKBM/Joliet from 1989 to 1992 and held his first radio job at WJPF/Herrin in 1984. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from UIS.
The IAP award is one of many that Crawford has accumulated over the years for his coverage of state government and politics. He won an Associated Press award for documentary work in 2001, followed by awards for Radio Beat Reporting in 2002 and 2003 from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors. Most recently, his story on “The Elusive Third Chicagoland Airport” won another ACRE award in 2005.
“We’re all pretty excited about the award,” commented Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS general manager. “Sean is a veteran reporter and it’s always good to see a reporter recognized for good work. This award really shows our station’s commitment to investigative and in-depth reporting and that we try to go beyond the headlines and dig up the real story.”
WUIS, a service of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS, is listener-supported radio that is a member station of both National Public Radio and Public Radio International. Its mission is to provide audiences with news and cultural programming as well as statewide governmental news coverage. To listen to a webcast of “Trucking Money,” visit www.wuis.org.
New Almanac of Illinois Politics published
By Laura Camper - General Assignment Reporter
In an office in the Human Resources Building, graduate assistant Vera Leopold, who works for Illinois Issues magazine, spent two weeks calling Illinois politicians, asking them to verify information faxed to them by the Center for State Policy and Leadership. “They were faxed an information sheet and then they faxed back corrections,” says Leopold. She was recruited from her usual duties at Illinois Issues to remind the legislators to fax the corrected sheet back. Once all the information was verified, it was published in the 2006 Almanac of Illinois Politics, which was offered for sale to the public beginning in March.
According to Amy Karhliker, associate publisher at Center Publications, the almanac is “a picture of Illinois politics at one moment in time.” She says, “It gives a more holistic view of who’s who in Illinois politics.” The almanac provides background information in tables and charts that other sources don’t include.
The almanac, a joint effort of the Center for State Policy and Leadership and the Institute for Legislative Studies, presents to the public biographical information about each Illinois legislator as well as voting records, campaign fund contributors and campaign spending.
The information is gathered from a variety of sources. Voting records and campaign finances are public records. Other information is found on the legislators’ Web sites, in newspapers and by directly calling the legislators.
The first issue of the almanac, published in 1990, was an effort to provide unbiased information to the public about Illinois politicians. Although the mission remains the same, the layout has changed this year. The almanac, patterned after the Almanac of American Politics, has been restyled in an effort to make it easier to understand.
“I felt that the previous editions were hard to read. I wanted to make it more user friendly,” says Karhliker. She says her goal was to make the almanac easy enough for high school students and citizen lobbyists to use – not just career politicians. Some of the changes include eliminating information that was deemed not useful to the general public and including all necessary information on each page, eliminating the need to flip through pages to decipher charts or tables.
Each almanac includes essays about current issues in Illinois politics. This year’s issue focuses on campaign funding. In keeping with that focus Karhliker says the new edition includes tables illustrating the history of campaign funding and how it has changed in the last decades.
So far, says Karhliker, this has been a record-breaking year. They have sold more copies this March, than any other edition. Copies of the 2006 almanac are available to use in Brookens Library and past copies are available for checkout. For more information call 206-6502.