Student advocates visit Springfield for veto session

On Wednesday, Nov. 30, Illinois Connection’s Student Advocacy Program convened in Springfield, Ill., for the first of its biannual “committees of the whole.” Sixteen delegates representing each of the three University of Illinois System campuses started a full day of advocacy with a breakfast hosted by University of Illinois President Tim Killeen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson and the University of Illinois Office of Government Relations. There, they held an open and insightful discussion with 14 members of the University of Illinois Caucus about the state of higher education in Illinois.

After the breakfast, House Majority Leader Lou Lang spoke to the group individually about the situation in Springfield and how to get a start in politics. They then proceeded to debrief with the U of I leadership team, held a planning session for Illinois Connection’s upcoming #InvestInMe social media campaign and went to the Capitol to watch debate during veto session. Later, the group spoke with University of Illinois Alumni Association Board and Advocacy Committee member, Randy Witter, about lobbying and government relations, and took a capitol tour punctuated by a brief conversation with Treasurer Mike Frerichs. Students, legislators and leadership all reported an overwhelmingly positive experience and better mutual understanding at the end of the day.