University funding cuts hinder Illinites, number of events offered

By April Dahlquist

Although funding for the Illinites program was cut by more than half, the program committee is still hoping to present the same caliber of events.

The budget for Illinites came from two sources, the Illini Union Board and the Student Fee Advisory Committee. Illinites received the bulk of their money from the advisory committee, however, the committee unanimously voted to remove their funding. The money is now being redirected towards McKinley Health Center.

“How do you explain to a parent that their student has to pay for their prescriptions, but they can go to Illinites for free,” former Student Body President Justin Randall said. “The general opinion of the committee was that the University should subsidize things like prescription costs than entertainment.”

In consequence, Illinites cut back their number of events per semester from seven to four. Fatima Chishti, director of Illinites and senior in LAS, decided to have fewer events but try to maintain the quality.

“The misconception is that the program is destroyed, and that is not the case,” Chishti said.

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The goal of Illinites is to provide an alternative to alcohol-related activities by providing free entertainment for students in a alcohol-free atmosphere.

“It really says something when the budget when something like this gets cut,” Illinites committee member Christine Berka said.

Randall, however, claims Illinites was not achieving this goal, as only an estimated one of 12 students who came to Illinites would be out drinking if they were not there. Meaning, of the students who attend, most are non-drinkers.

“Illinites is an all out gross overspending of money, for little tangible benefit,” Randall said.

Regardless, the Illinites committee is in the works of planning programs for this upcoming year with the money they receive from the Illini Union Board.

“We’re not by any means falling apart,” said Illinites committee member Mara Dahlgren. “We have a lot of loyal people who come to all the events and that’s great. We’re trying our hardest to reach everyone.”

Attendance for Illinites averages in the 600 range, which the committee views as a successful turnout. This year, however, the committee is hoping for even greater attendance since there are fewer events. The committee will spend more time advertising and marketing their programs.

The programs the committee is choosing to plan for this year are the ones which have been most successful in past years. On Sept. 12, Illinites plans to host the comedy group Second City.

“People better watch out for Illinites,” Chishti said. “We are not dead. We are still very much alive.”