‘Illini Day’ to lobby for UI funding

By Paul Biasco

In the Monday, Sept. 15 edition of The Daily Illini, in an article titled “Illini Day to lobby for UI funding,” it was reported that the Illinois Student Senate will be financing buses for transportation.

The Student Senate has not yet finalized any of the finances for the event.

The Daily Illini regrets the error.

Student Trustee Paul Schmitt and other student leaders on campus are working together to organize “Illini Day,” a new student lobbying event in Springfield.

With rising tuition and a recent approval by the Board of Trustees of the highest budget in the University’s history, the University needs leaders from campus to lobby for legislation which will increase funding for the University, said Schmitt, senior in LAS.

“One has to remember that we keep getting bigger and bigger revenues, but the income is skyrocketing.” Schmitt said. “The University keeps expanding and finding new financial burdens and obligations, which haven’t always been for the students.”

Last spring the Illinois Student Senate held a similar lobbying day in Springfield called “Illinois Day,” which featured students lobbying from each of the three University of Illinois campuses in Urbana, Chicago and Springfield.

“The University’s budget is not going to move anytime soon,” said student senator Frank Calabrese, senior in LAS. “They are going to keep having a one and a half or two percent increase each year.”

Schmitt said that “Illinois Day” will take place again in the spring, but another lobbying event focusing on the Champaign-Urbana campus could help greatly.

“We don’t just want to come every spring with other lobbying groups, we want to be a constant thought on the minds of the general assembly,” Schmitt said.

Former student senator Rob Main, senior in Business who helped create the first “Illinois Day,” said that he thinks the addition of an “Illini Day” is a great idea.

“(Illinois Day) went really well, it was the first time we had ever done it. It was a good start for hopefully a new tradition of lobbying for student,” Main said. “I think it’s a great idea what (Schmitt) is doing.”

On the day of the event, University students from different organizations on campus plan on meeting with state representatives in their offices to stress the need for more University funding and the implications of the current situation, Schmitt said.

Later in the night there will be a reception where students and state representatives can talk in a more informal setting.

“Pay them a visit; sit down; say, ‘Hey look we are very serious. We need state money’,” Schmitt said. “U of I should have a larger share of the budget. The University creates jobs; it creates world class leadership and produces technology that drives the American economy.”

The new “Illini Day” is still in the works, but will most likely happen in November, Schmitt said. The only thing holding it back is questions of funding from the alumni association for food and drinks at the event. The Student Senate will be financing buses for transportation.

Schmitt said he hopes to have a very diverse group of University students at the event and has invited students from campus organizations including the student senate, Illini Pride, student alumni ambassadors and members from the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Council, but any student interested can attend.

State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-110, has agreed to do a lobbying tutorial for students that are going to the event, Schmitt said.

“The University budget is important to the campus because its one of those things that affect every aspect of student life,” Schmitt said.