Monday, February 10, 2014

College students take page out of LaHood’s bipartisan playbook

The following is a portion of an op-ed written by Ed Wojcicki, associate chancellor for constituent relations at UIS. It was published in the Peoria Journal Star on February 9, 2014.

"Six college student leaders have broken free from a trap that is polarizing America. That’s not enough to eradicate a great national toxin, but it’s a start.

Three of the last five years, the presidents of two student organizations — College Democrats and College Republicans — have been roommates at the University of Illinois Springfield. In day-to-day living, they have learned valuable lessons about civil conversations and common ground.

Two are from the Peoria area. It’s as if they have absorbed the attitude of Ray LaHood, the former congressman and U.S. transportation secretary who preaches that bipartisanship is part of the rich history of central Illinois, going back to Abraham Lincoln. LaHood unsuccessfully led an effort to restore civility to Congress in the late 1990s. He carried on, but the political toxicity and hyperpartisanship in the nation’s capital and in many states have only become more odorous.

Meanwhile, at UIS the unusual living arrangement began in 2009, when Democrat Matt Van Vossen of Oak Lawn and Republican Ryan Melchin of Hoffman Estates chose to be roommates in their junior year. They had been friends since they were freshmen and that was more important than their political leanings."

Read the full op-ed on the Peoria Journal Star website