Three local aldermen joined Inside Government, a non-partisan student organization, in a meeting Monday to provide information on local government to Loyola students.
According to the City of Chicago website, the city of Chicago is divided into fifty legislative districts or wards which are represented by aldermen. Each alderman is elected by their constituency to serve a four-year term. The website states these fifty alderman form the Chicago City Council to perform tasks relating to government and affairs.
Aldermen Leslie Hairston of the 5th ward, Harry Osterman of the 48th ward and Joseph Moore of the 49th ward met with students on the fourth floor of the Information Commons.
About two dozen students attended, according to Phil Hale, Vice President for government affairs and civic engagement at Loyola.
“This particular event with the aldermen is designed to put just a human face on government so that the students understand that there really are good people working in government and that it is a very viable and important way to be a person for others by working in government,” Hale said.
Inside Government Vice President Emily Prust, 22-year-old senior, led the session by asking the aldermen questions which they took turns answering. Prust asked questions about topics such as the life experiences which led them to pursue government and what their day-to-day jobs entail.
Moore said “we wear three hats,” referring to their three main responsibilities as aldermen: legislative jobs, executive jobs, and tasks with little relation to government, such as neighborhood disputes and rental issues.
Osterman said being in his position means he makes a difference in his community every day. Hairston echoed this message, adding “there is nothing more fulfilling than doing something bigger than yourself.”
Osterman spoke specifically to The Phoenix about engagement with the Loyola community.
“I always enjoy talking to Loyola students. Loyola students have interned in my office, Loyola students are part of my community so from me representing a portion of Loyola south of Devon [Avenue], it’s important for me to kind of hear what’s on people minds,” he said.
After the meeting, Hairston was asked by a smaller group of students specifically about the struggles of being a woman in government. She encouraged students to stay true to themselves despite challenges they might face along the way.
“You will be discriminated against, you will not be chosen, but don’t let that deter you,” Hairston said. “Because you’re not doing it to be a star, right? You’re doing it because you’re passionate.”
Grisel Medina, a 22-year-old senior who said she joined Inside Government this semester, said she enjoyed hearing a female politician’s perspective during the panel.
“I think in general, I was a little hesitant to come here because I felt that my ward wasn’t necessarily represented,” Medina, a political science major, said. “But being here definitely changed my mind, especially having a woman on the panel. Alderman Hairston is so inspiring and it’s really nice to see not only a woman but a woman of color being able to speak on issues happening in the city we live in.”