Would-be UI student trustee plans to try again

URBANA — A candidate for University of Illinois student trustee whose name was pulled off the ballot over his residency status plans to run in next year's election.

And he has vowed to continue to fight the university over his ability to qualify as a candidate.

UI graduate student Carey Ash filed a complaint in Champaign County Circuit Court in early March to prevent the university from holding the election after campus officials said he could not run because was not considered an Illinois resident. The election went on, Ash waged a write-in campaign, and he came in fourth place.

On Thursday, Ash appeared before Champaign County Circuit Court Judge Mike Jones to seek permission to file an amended complaint. Ash maintains he is a legal resident of Urbana and has been for years. He's essentially asking the court to review and reverse the UI's decision.

The university, represented by William Brinkmann with Thomas, Mamer and Haughey of Champaign, has 21 days to respond.

The 26-year-old Ash, who is originally from Louisiana, is a graduate student studying law and educational policy. He has served on the Urbana Plan Commission and has lived in Urbana for five years.

Student trustees are elected annually to UI board. There are three total, one from each UI campus, with one of them holding a vote. According to state statute, to be a student trustee, he or she must be a full-time student during his or her time on the board, maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale and be a resident of the state.

Dean of Students Ken Ballom informed Ash on Feb. 25 he did not meet eligibility requirements and was not considered a resident, therefore not eligible to run.

The student code outlines additional regulations regarding meeting Illinois residency, including the statement that "a person who is an Illinois resident for tax or voting purposes, for example, is not necessarily a resident for University of Illinois tuition and admission purposes."

To qualify for in-state tuition, students have to maintain residency in Illinois for at least one calendar year before applying or starting classes for the term in question.

Ash insists he fulfilled residency requirements under state law and said administrators improperly applied criteria used to determine residency.

"I've voted since 2010. You have to be resident of the city and state in order to do that," Ash said.

The election went on in early March and Ash waged a write-in campaign. Junior Mike Cunningham won with 2,345 votes and Ash finished in fourth place with 940 votes.

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