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  • Joint Statement on Noose in Allen Hall

    Dear Illinois Community,  

    This past Saturday night, a noose was found hanging inside of an elevator in a University of Illinois residence hall (Allen Hall). We are referring to the incident as it is, blatantly racist and continuation of the tradition of white supremacy and racism at this University. Acts of hate and intolerance like this one, are unacceptable and shall not be taken lightly. We condemn this incident to the highest degree and stands with all students in seeing an extensive and open investigation by the University. 

    Acts such as this and those who commit it have absolutely no place at this University and anywhere for that matter. These acts move us backwards and are unfortunately becoming the norm in today’s America. We stand in solidarity with Black Students for Revolution and Black United Front and their demands: 

    The immediate expulsion of student(s) responsible for a period of at least 2 years. The regular public reporting of all racist incidents that are reported to administration and housing. A review of policies related to the discipline of perpetrators of racial hatred, made in conjunction with affected student communities.

    If you have been affected by an act of hate or intolerance you can submit an anonymous report at oiir.illinois.edu/help-stop-hate. If you would like to talk to someone further about this incident, you can reach out to the Counseling Center at (217)-333-3704. 

    In Solidarity, 

    Connor Josellis – Student Body President 

    Jack Langen – Student Body Vice President 

    Black Students for Revolution 

    Black United Front 

    Alissa Xiao – Speaker of the Senate  

    Susan Zhou – Speaker Pro Tempore 

    Marissa Finley – Director of the Senate 

    Trayshawn Mitchell – Student Trustee  

    Ali Mirza – Chief of Staff 

  • Senate Response to Allegations Regarding Former Professor Joseph Petry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

     In light of the recent allegations of harassment against former economics professor Joseph Petry at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, the Senate of the Illinois Student Government fully condemns the actions of the accused harasser. We stand in solidarity with survivors of harassment and sexual assault and support every survivor who has bravely come forward to tell their story.

       Before any consequences could be given for these actions, the former professor was permitted to retire, and under University policy, further investigation of the allegations is not permitted because of his retirement. As such, his actions have gone unpunished and the voices of those who have spoken up have been silenced. This is far from the first instance in which a previously esteemed professor at the University of Illinois has betrayed the trust of the student body, and if University administration continues its practice of sweeping allegations of sexual assault under the rug, this will foster a highly problematic culture and atmosphere where students do not feel their voice is being heard.

       The Illinois Student Government and the student body will not accept the lack of responsiveness or processes to mediate these issues of campus and national importance. These instances of harassment are unacceptable, and action must be taken to ensure similar cases do not occur again. We urge the University to re-examine its policy in regards to sexual harassment in order to close the loopholes that have allowed such actions to go unpunished. Serious steps need to be taken on the part of Chancellor Robert Jones and Senior Associate Chancellor for Human Resources Elyne Cole to ensure similar cases do not happen again.

       Signed,

    Alissa Xiao - Speaker of the Senate

    Marissa Finley - Director of the Senate

    Susan Zhou - Speaker Pro-Tempore

  • ISG Response to Texas State University

    To the Student Government of Texas State,

        We, the undersigned members of the Illinois Student Government at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offer our thanks and support for your recently passed Faculty and Student Saftey Resolution "calling for the immediate removal and barring of Turning Point USA from Texas State University and suggesting protecting minority and marginalized populations from their negative campus influence."

        Turning Point USA has a long history of harassment on campuses around the country. Specifically at the University of Illinois, they have publicly distributed the personal information of undocumented students as well as professors, built a wall on our main quad as part of a racist statement against Hispanic and Latinx individuals, and most recently held a "Hate speech is Free speech" event the same day as the Christchurch Mosque shooting.

        Turning Point USA's coordinated attempts to influence campus elections through outside funding represents an existential threat to the fundamental tenets of student government. We applaud your organization for recognizing the threat that Turning Point USA's national actions pose to the very idea of students having a say in how their schools are governed, and we hope that student governments around the nation take action to keep their elections free, fair, and undisturbed by outside actors.

        Like your organization, we are gravely concerned about Turning Point USA's Professor Watchlist. We believe that free speech is an important and inalienable right, afforded to all those who call the United States home. Turning Point USA's Professor Watchlist, a directory of professors deemed to be insufficiently right-wing, is a chilling example of Turning Point USA's opposition to the most fundementally American value of free speech. We believe that students and professors alike, especially those from minority and marginalized populations, are entitled to their opinions, and we must all stand against McCarthy-esque attempts to harass those who dare to have their voices heard.

        We would like to extend our thanks for your actions in leading the effort in protecting our fellow students.

    Sincerely,

    Walter Lindwall, Student Body President

    Vikram Sardana, Student Body Vice President

    Susan Zhou, Chief of Staff

  • ISG Teaching Excellence Awards 2019

    The Illinois Student Government's Teaching Excellence Awards is a completely student run effort to recognize and thank excellent instructors at the University of Illinois. Any instructor may be nominated, from TA to Full Professor and everything in between. We sincerely appreciate your nomination. Winners will be contacted after the nomination period ends. Click here to access the nomination application. The deadline to submit nominations is April 14th.

    Walter Lindwall, Student Body President

    Alice Zheng, Student Body Vice President

  • ISG Response to Racial Harassment at the University of Illinois

    In light of the lawsuit filed Monday regarding allegations of racial harassment of black employees by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, the members of the Illinois Student Government fully condemn the actions of the accused harassers. We stand in solidarity with the plaintiffs and all Black employees in the University system.

     

                Plaintiffs stated that “racial harassment is U of I’s ‘standard operating procedure,’ and Black employees were subject to threats of racial violence including “nooses, swastikas, KKK garb, racist graffiti, and Confederate flags.” In addition, U of I staff are alleged to have “frequently use[d] racial slurs and offensive stereotypes, calling black employees the n-word...and using other offensive racial language.” Such allegations are especially heinous in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has worked tirelessly to campaign against the institutional violence and systemic racism that lurks within the foundations of our government, judicial system, and higher-education institutions.

     

    The aforementioned instances of racism both overt and covert are symptomatic of the systematic racism that permeates our society and campus. With Black History Month on the horizon, we must prioritize and celebrate the revolutionaries, abolitionists, and activists that shaped our nation, the vibrant history, and culture of the black community, and take action to combat institutional racism at all levels. The fact that this lawsuit even exists indicates an extensive, structural problem in University of Illinois policies which must be addressed by the administration immediately.

     

    We urge the University to re-examine its non-discrimination policy in order to close the loopholes that have allowed such actions to go unpunished. This is one of several claims that campus policies obstruct justice by setting “too high a bar to constitute a violation”. In the recent sexual harassment case regarding former University professor Jay Kesan, this exact phrasing was used by the University as justification for the lack of disciplinary action taken against the professor. The Illinois Student Government and the student body will not accept the absence of responsiveness or processes to mediate these issues of campus and national priority.

     

    Additionally, we urge the University to conduct an internal investigation of the Office for Access and Equity (formerly the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access) and the department responsible for investigating claims of discrimination for its failure to respond appropriately to such allegations. What has emerged after these repeated cases is a pattern of negligence whose responsibility lies within University Leadership. Serious steps need to be taken on the part of Chancellor Robert Jones, Office of Access and Equity Director Heidi Johnson, as well as Senior Associate Chancellor for Human Resources Elyne Cole. These recurring instances of harassment, discrimination, and intolerance are atrocious, and action must be taken to ensure similar cases do not occur again.

    Walter Lindwall, Student Body President

    Alice Zheng, Student Body Vice President

  • ISG Response to Title IX Guidelines

    We, the members of the Illinois Student Government Executive at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are writing in response to the US Federal Government Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX guidelines. As advocates for the student body, we are gravely concerned with the impact such proposed new guidelines will have on the students we represent.

    The proposed changes will make schools less safe. The reporting process can be very stressful for survivors of sexual violence and can take an emotional toll on these individuals. These proposed changes will make it harder for survivors to receive the assistance and justice they deserve. The primary purpose of sexual misconduct legislation such as Title IX is to protect students. While it is commendable that “the total monetary cost savings of these regulations over ten years would be in the range of $286.4 million to $367.7 million,” it seems that with these new guidelines the Department of Education is looking more towards ways to save money rather than to help students. These changes will also allow institutions across the country to turn a blind eye towards pervasive sexual violence on college campuses, freeing them of any accountability while restricting the rights of students, especially survivors.

     

    In particular, the below-proposed guidelines are the cause of our greatest concern:

    1. Section 106.44(A), which proposes a definition of sexual harassment to mean “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity.” The words “severe” “pervasive” and “objectively offensive” are undefined, subjective terms which are easily susceptible to exploitation as loopholes.
    2. Section 106.44(B) which limits response to a formal complaint to “allegations of conduct within its education program or activity.” This severely limits the ability of survivors to receive support for reporting instances of sexual misconduct that occur outside of these grounds, such as off-campus or online.
    3. Section 106.45(b)(4)(i) which permits schools to raise the evidence standard to  “clear and convincing” rather than “preponderance of evidence.” The clear and convincing evidence standard sets a higher threshold than the preponderance of evidence standard, which will make it more difficult for survivors to receive justice.
    4. Section 106.45(B)(3) which permits live cross-examination at a hearing, conducted by the party’s advisor of choice. Although it is important to provide opportunities to challenge the credibility of a complainant, live cross-examination may unnecessarily re-traumatize a survivor. Additionally, the “advisor of choice” is a very broad category that can encompass a wide range of eligible people. Finding a suitable advocate, such as an attorney is an expensive undertaking, and those who cannot afford to do so will be at a disadvantage.

     

    The most marginalized members of our campuses are LGBTQ individuals, women of color, and students with disabilities, who experience much higher rates of sexual violence than the one in five women statistic that is frequently reported which is in and of itself alarming. Should the proposed guidelines be enacted, these members of our community will be disproportionately harmed. In an era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, these proposed Title IX guidelines will undo much of the hard work that has gone into supporting survivors of sexual assault.

     

    Walter Lindwall, Student Body President

    Alice Zheng, Student Body Vice President

  • ISG Statement on Law Professor Jay Keesan

    In light of the recent finding that University of Illinois law professor Jay Kesan violated the university’s code of conduct and policies prohibiting sexual assault, we, the undersigned executive members of the Illinois Student Government, fully condemn the actions of Mr. Kesan.  We stand in solidarity with survivors. In an investigation conducted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Access which began in 2015, three survivors in addition to 38 witnesses have come forth to speak about their experiences interacting with Mr. Kesan. However, the report failed to conclude that Mr. Kesan’s actions constitute sexual harassment or sexual misconduct in light of the University’s high standards of action. Finally, the report recommended additional training and information provided to all faculty and staff on reporting sexual misconduct, as well as individual sexual harassment training and professional coaching for Mr. Kesan himself. The report will be filed on his permanent record.

     We express our disappointment at this lack of definitive disciplinary actions on the part of the University. The #MeToo movement has provided survivors of sexual assault and harassment with a platform to share their stories and break down cycles of abuse. The fact that the investigative report fell short of concluding Mr. Kesan’s actions as constituting sexual harassment or misconduct is frustrating. Retaining Mr. Kesan in his capacity as a tenured professor of law is a grave insult to anyone who has ever experienced sexual harassment or assault. We firmly support the Student Bar Association’s call for Mr. Kesan’s voluntary resignation from his position as a professor of law, and also we request that he be placed on a leave of absence effective immediately.  

    To anybody who is a survivor of sexual assault or harassment: We believe you. You are not alone. The University provides many resources for survivors. On-campus, the Women’s Resources Center, located at 616 E Green Street, Suite 202 is staffed with two confidential advocates. Off-campus, confidential advocates are available at Courage Connection (877) 384-4390 as well as the Rape Advocacy, Counseling, & Education Services (RACES) Hotline (877) 236-3727. In addition, confidential support can be found at the Counseling Center (217) 333-3704 as well as McKinley Health Center (217) 333-2705.

                We urge the University to take a more firm stance against perpetrators of sexual assault. If anyone in the campus community has any concerns, please reach out to us, and we welcome all concerned members of our campus community to attend our general meetings on Wednesday at 7:00 PM in the Illini Union Pine Lounge.

    Walter Lindwall, Student Body President

    Alice Zheng, Student Body Vice President

  • ISG Statement on Suburban Express

    Dear Illinois students,

    On December 2nd, Suburban Express sent out a racist and bigoted message to the public insulting our Chinese, Asian, and Asian American community at the University of Illinois. Suburban Express has a long history and extensive reputation of exploiting and publicly shaming those who provide negative feedback. That reputation is unfortunately upheld at other institutions where they profit from students there as well.

    The Illinois Student Government condemns the recent statement from Suburban Express, as well as their history of mistreating our students, staff, and faculty. We further recognize the educational value that all students bring to this University. Our international students comprise some of the brightest in the world, and their contributions to our campus community are part of what makes this University so great. Additionally, we refute the implication that all Asian students are international students.

    Suburban Express insinuates that Illinois taxpayers bear a disproportionate burden when it comes to the University, however in-State students pay thousands of dollars less than our international students. International students disproportionately pay more in obtaining an education from this great State, and the lack of consideration for their sacrifices and contribution is disheartening at best, and malicious at worst.

    We would also like to take the opportunity to applaud Student Affairs for the statement they issued, which denounced their racist and bigoted statements, and encouraged “any potential future customers of this transport company to carefully investigate its record and customer concerns before using its services.”

    We have received several concerns brought up by members of the campus community, and we will continue to do everything in our power to address them. We will continue to coordinate with the administration and other campus leaders to solidify the most effective response. The Illinois Student Government will refrain from using Suburban Express’ services and call on all University RSOs to do the same.

    Here is what you can do to help. Call Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office at 1-877-581-3692, or visit http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/rights/civilrights.html if you would like to report the ad, or if you feel that you have been a victim of discrimination. We encourage all members of our campus community to make socially conscious decisions and purchases. Get involved on our ISG Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and or on a campus committee centered around culture and social justice here: https://studentaffairs.illinois.edu/collaborations/campus-committees-and-boards. Visit https://oiir.illinois.edu/ for more information on programming related to diversity and inclusion efforts at the University of Illinois.

    We will not tolerate the deliberate targeting and mistreatment of our international students.

    Raneem Shamseldin
    ISG President

    Joey Domanski
    ISG Vice President

  • ISG Statement on Homecoming Parade

    Dear students and members of the community,

    On October 27th, the Illinois Student Government, alongside 22 other organizations, planned a walk-along protest against the continued presence of the Chief, a racist and deeply offensive portrayal of Native Americans. We have finally debriefed with countless stakeholders to provide the most accurate representation of the truth.

    The event was planned with the intention of a walk-along protest with explicit directions not to engage.The ISG prepared for the event by communicating with the University of Illinois Administration and the Police Department and assigning a police liaison for the protesters. Over the course of the event, some protesters spontaneously engaged in a blockade of the Chancellor’s car and the Honor the Chief Society. This was outside the scope of what ISG had planned for. Below are a few clarifications we would like to address:

    • The Illinois Student Government does not condone violence. Period.
    • The Chancellor made it abundantly clear to a number of student leaders that neither he nor his wife, felt unsafe by the actions of the protesters who spontaneously blockaded the car.
    • It has been confirmed by numerous administrators that protesters did not need a permit to protest and therefore did not violate Illinois State law as has been erroneously claimed.
    • There was absolutely no intention to follow or protest the Marching Illini. The timing was completely coincidental and we apologize for the disruption this led to.
    • There was an incident where a protester and a police officer had physical contact. The officer used contact first, and the UIPD decided not to press charges against the protester.
    • The Illinois Student Government did not violate anyone’s freedom of expression, as there were individuals who counter-protested. Furthermore, we welcomed everyone’s feedback during public comment last Wednesday night. Members of the public have always been invited to share their opinions during all ISG events, which was even seen at the Illini Democrats and Illini Republicans Debate, where the role of ISG in organizing protests was discussed.
    • An unauthorized user had access to our social media and unilaterally posted a live stream of the event without permission. Since then, their access has been revoked.
    • Not one member of the Illinois Student Government committed an act of violence.

    We encourage anyone who feels that they were victims of violence during the protest to report it to the University of Illinois Police Department. Since the parade, we have debriefed with the UIPD and cooperated to the fullest extent.

    We had a full room at our general assembly meeting last Wednesday, November 1st. The public commentary resulted in a critical conversation during the meeting, and helped us create a more comprehensive response. We encourage anyone with additional feedback to share it with the Student Government. The resolution “Reaffirming Commitment to New Mascot” has been sent to committee, and we anticipate that it will be back on the Senate floor next Wednesday. We invite you to attend our next meeting Wednesday, November 8th, at 7 p.m. in the Pine Lounge of the Illini Union, where we reserve an extendable 30 minute period for members of the public who wish to speak.

    In Orange and Blue,

    Raneem Shamseldin
    Student Body President

    Joey Domanski
    Student Body Vice President

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