Friday, September 28, 2007

Student Government President Has Big Plans for His Term

By Courtney Westlake

Every meeting, before President Bob Skorczewski calls for new and old business, he asks the members of the UIS Student Government Association and meeting attendees to stand and honor their country by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

He realizes, as most involved in politics do, that the political system wouldn’t be where it is today without the basic principles the nation was founded on.

Skorczewski, who is originally from Nashville, Ill., first became interested in politics in high school, and after serving his first term for the Senate-at-Large, Skorczewski said he began to find that politics and government contained many more “niches that needed to be filled” than he originally thought.

Skorczewski then ran for vice president his junior year and served as Sergeant-at-Arms his senior year. Now, as a graduate student in political studies, he has stepped up into the role of president.

“When you study politics you learn about agenda setting; the president has a lot ability to influence what gets discussed,” he said. “It also allows me to be in a position to talk to other student government presidents around the state about legislative issues we want to work together on.”

The student government association is made up of 16 main positions, 14 of those being voting positions. There are also 20 committees, subcommittees and councils.

Skorczewski said his decision to attend UIS rested largely on the excellent “public affairs package,” and the opportunity to get to know his professors and mentors on a more personal level.

“It really helps, with the small class sizes; I didn’t realize how great it would be until I got here,” he said. “I think I know the faculty here better than my teachers in high school.”

As president of the student body, Skorczewski said he has many plans for not only the government and the students, but for the university as a whole.

“This year already, we are talking with the Springfield Mass Transit District to try to get more bus service to UIS,” he said. “In a campus setting committee, we’re working on revising the UIS academic integrity code, and in the Student Government Association, we’re working on a student Bill of Rights.”

And in working with other student government presidents this term, Skorczweski hopes that a coalition called the Illinois Students Coalition will be formed that will be able to lobby the state and federal governments as a voice for students, which he believes is a part of the population that is often overlooked.

When he’s not governing the student body or attending classes, Skorczewski serves as a research assistant for the Center for State Policy and Leadership, locating and researching grants and implementing forums for the center.

Through each of his roles, Skorczewski is hoping to get students at UIS more involved in the center and politics in general.

“We’re always looking for ways that people can get involved,” he said. “We have a number of committees; even if you don’t want to serve on the actual board, you can serve on a committee. And a personal goal is to try to get people involved in government on any level. Raise your hand and let us know what you think.”