Semester-long community forum to focus on the State of the State


Wenyuan Chen

The University YMCA holds lectures every Friday featuring a speaker. Jennifer Walling, the executive director of IL Environmental Council, gave a talk about the Politics of Climate Change on September 16, 2016.

By Sabrina Yan, Staff Writer

The University YMCA will focus on the “State of the State” this semester as part of its weekly Friday Forum. They choose this topic because of the many issues faced by the state legislature and the residents of Illinois.

The first forum will be held this week and all the lectures in the series are on Fridays at noon at the YMCA located at 1001 S. Wright St.

The “State of the State” series is a long-running tradition that works to provide a discussion space for the University community and strives to raise awareness about national and international trends and events.

The forums serve as a way for faculty and students to learn from each other, said Kasey Umland, the YMCA associate director.

“With so many challenges facing our great State of Illinois, especially the impass (sic) in our state government, this Friday Forum Lecture Series will shed light on root causes and potential solutions,” YMCA said on its website.

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Following such a divisive presidential election, the forum wants to provide a different perspective on how things such as the budget, social services and the economy in the state are changing.

“In Champaign, there are folks who are being told by their healthcare providers that they will only let them come up to a certain number of times,” Umland said. “Because the state is so far behind on paying people’s health care bills they cannot afford to let people keep coming anymore.”

Besides the budget, the state has other issues that are gaining more attention, including immigration.

“We want to talk about how can we be welcoming and how can we avoid issues in some other states including hostile environment to newcomers,” Umland said.

By picking several speakers in professional fields such as the state’s Department of Social Services and the Department of Education, the forum wants to help people think about the causes of these issues and how Illinois can move forward as a strong and stable state.

“The forum provides a safe place and opportunity to learn, so you hear about things like, ‘There’s no budget and that’s bad’,” Umland said. “So I think it’s a safe space for everybody to learn. It’s also a great place to ask questions to experts who may know.”

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