Student leaders ready to make changes

Jauwan Hall

New UIC student trustee Jauwan Hall. Photo: Jenny Fontaine

Student trustee Jauwan Hall and Undergraduate Student Government president Mercedez Jones have a lot in common. They both plan to go to law school, have similar goals for campus and list the urban location as their favorite part of UIC.

But they do differ in the TV shows they like to watch in their spare time.

Hall likes to keep up with ABC’s “Scandal.” “I love Olivia Pope,” said Hall, a junior in political science and the Honors College, about the female lead on “Scandal.” “There’s so much going on with her, and if you blink twice, you might miss everything.”

Jones is catching up on “Dexter” on Netflix. “I’m like every college student,” said Jones, a junior in economics. “I like my Netflix.”

But free time isn’t always easy to find. Hall and Jones have a lot planned for their tenure as student leaders.

Hall’s agenda as UIC’s student member of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees includes expanding student health insurance, increasing the number of women and people of color in faculty and administrative positions, addressing the issue of sexual assault on college campuses and advocating for more opportunities for undocumented students.

“Our university can’t use the fact that we have a diverse student body as a point to gloat about inclusion and diversity if we aren’t willing to fully support all students equally,” Hall said.

Jones plans to address textbook affordability, advising, teacher evaluations and commuter safety.

“I want to make sure every student that goes here feels safe and knows that we are doing everything in our power to make it safer,” said Jones, a general office aide in the Commuter Student Resource Center.

Mercedes Jones

Mercedez Jones, new president of Undergraduate Student Government. Photo: S.K. Vemmer

Hall and Jones have another goal in common: enhancing the college experience for commuter students. Both are commuters themselves – Jones lives in Pilsen and Hall in Englewood.

Jones would like to see more daytime events on campus. Hall wants to address on-campus housing affordability.

“When schools have a campus climate in which students are involved, it’s because students live on campus and are on campus regularly,” he said.

Still, Hall acknowledges that the commuter-based student body makes UIC unique. It’s the students who balance two jobs, a full course load and sometimes children that make UIC graduates more attractive to employers, he said.

Hall is an intern at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He’s a member of the Student Veterans Association after serving eight years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Being a student veteran is a unique experience. I have a different outlook on school and life than many of my peers,” said Hall, who attended the Warrior Scholar Project at Yale University before transferring to UIC.

Jones is starting a business with Kenneth Adams, a senior in biology, called KMC Industries, which creates improvements to firearms. They will present their business proposal Friday at UIC’s Concept2Venture — a business competition for students, faculty, staff and alumni for a chance to network and win a cash prize.

Jones has a unique perspective on UIC because of her age. She graduated from high school when she was 15. A junior, she’s only 18. Although she felt the age difference at first, she grew to own it, Jones said.

“I found a home here,” Jones said. “It’s right downtown, I’m not far from home and there’s plenty to do.”