Jordan Phillips (A.B. ’10), a first-year graduate student in the Committee on International Relations program, has been chosen as Student Government’s candidate for the position of Graduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees. If appointed, Phillips will be the fourth person to hold the position in the past year.
The winner of the 2009-2010 graduate liaison election, fourth-year anthropology graduate student Joe Bonni was forced to resign winter quarter when he could not attend the quarterly meeting with the Trustees due to research abroad. Fourth-year history graduate student Touissaint Losier was appointed to carry out the rest of the term.
Booth School of Business student Daniel Kimerling ran unchallenged and was elected for the 2010-2011 term, but resigned this spring after receiving a job offer in San Francisco.
Phillips must receive a majority vote Tuesday from the Assembly—members of College and Graduate Council—before assuming the position. Phillips was chosen from a pool of five applicants who applied, indicating more interest from the graduate population than in recent years.
Phillips, who was on Inter-House Council as an undergraduate and worked on the gender-neutral housing initiative, said he wants to continue his involvement at the University in leadership roles. “It really sort of showed me that there is room for improvement,” he said.
At the University for only a few years, students “can kind of slip through the cracks, and our interests aren’t really represented,” he said, contrasting them with administrators, faculty, and Trustees, who may be involved for decades. “The University should put us front and center.”
Phillips said the main job of the liaison is to help move current projects along as well as to introduce new ideas, at least in a limited way. “I’m pretty humble about what my aspirations are for,” he said. “Our job is to really stick to it, to stick with projects over the long haul… not to get too distracted by everybody having their own personal agenda.”
The long time frame of changes to University policy shouldn’t be a deterrent to students, Phillips said, even if they won’t get to experience the changes themselves. “The way to engage people is to say, look, it’s not about what we can do for you, it’s about what can we do for the next guy in your seat,” he said.
Second-year and Undergraduate Liaison to the Board of Trustees Frank Alarcon expects Phillips to be approved at Tuesday’s meeting. “He is abundantly qualified. I expect the Assembly to recognize this,” he said.
Student Government (SG) searched for a candidate “with experience dealing with both students and administrators at the University of Chicago,” according to Alarcon.
“What really impressed us about Jordan was his involvement in IHC” Alarcon said. He pointed to Phillips’ involvement in the push for gender neutral housing. “He amassed a record for looking out for other students and fighting for them.”
Phillips said it was understandable that many graduate students have not traditionally jumped at the chance to be liaison to the Board of Trustees. “The problem we face is that the University of Chicago has 10,000 graduate students who represent a remarkably diverse range of experiences,” he said. “It’s very understandable why graduate students are such a disconcerted force.”