CARBONDALE — Brione Lockett has a daunting job ahead of him.
Lockett, the incoming Southern Illinois Carbondale student trustee, joins SIU’s board during a time of turmoil and divisiveness.
Recently, the board was split on whether to oust the university system president after documents showed he worked closely with SIU Edwardsville to boost a reallocation proposal.
“It’s intimidating, yes,” Lockett said. “For me to say no would be a complete lie. It’s intimidating because of the situation we’re in, but it’s less intimidating because my vote isn’t just supposed to be my own biased vote. It’s supposed to be the vote of the students.”
Voting privileges for student trustees traditionally alternate between Carbondale and Edwardsville each year. Former SIUE Student Trustee Luke Jansen held the vote last year, so it should be Carbondale’s turn — but technically, the governor can grant the privilege to whomever he wants.
Lockett said the voting trustee for the 2018-19 academic year hasn’t yet been appointed, although the student trustees’ one-year terms began July 1.
If Lockett is granted the vote, he doesn’t plan to go his own way on decisions. He said he’s eager to remain in conversation with his peers in order to responsibly represent the student body.
A “boots-on-the-ground-type approach as well as social media” will help him get a read on how students feel about different issues, Lockett said. He recently joined Facebook for his campaign and plans to continue using the platform to communicate with students.
Lockett, 26, hails from Arlington Heights, a northwest suburb of Chicago. He’s lived in Carbondale for eight years. As an undergraduate at SIUC, he double-majored in history and Africana studies, and he’s currently pursuing a Ph.D. in health education. He works as a graduate assistant for the Africana Studies department.
He serves as the president of the Black Graduate Student Association, treasurer for Graduate Assistants United and president of health care honorary organization Eta Sigma Gamma.
Lockett said he chose to run for student trustee because he was dissatisfied with the limited administrative authority he had in those roles.
“Being here for 8 years, I’ve been a part of so much, but very little has been done,” Lockett said.
He said he also ran in order to advocate for the Africana Studies major, which was flagged for elimination in July 2017. (Last October, SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno announced he would defer the decision on the program’s fate for a year.)
Asked about the FOIA documents released last week pertaining to Dunn, Lockett said he wanted to refrain from commenting until he’d read all 1,900 pages.
“But it doesn’t look too good,” he said.
Regarding the campus restructuring plan spearheaded by Montemagno, Lockett said he was a “big fan” of recently introduced faculty-led proposals for colleges.
“I’m game for any reorg as long as it has a comprehensive retention and recruitment plan, and the people that are most impacted have a seat at the table, meaning the students. Because ultimately, that’s why everyone is here. We’re here for the students,” Lockett said.
Lockett said he was disappointed that the July 12 meeting was canceled due to a lack of a quorum.
“I was elected in April … and now I have to wait a couple more months to get my feet wet, so to speak,” Lockett said.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 13 in Edwardsville.