The Daily Illini

Petition promoting cancellation of Monday classes garners more than 8,000 signatures

By Megan Jones

Within three hours, more than 7,000 signatures had amassed in an online petition promoting the cancellation of Monday’s classes, citing the extremely strong wind chill and dangerous conditions to be expected.

“I was looking at my computer screen and every time I reloaded the page there were 100 new signatures,” said Matt Hill, Illinois student senator and sophomore in LAS. “It was very overwhelming, and I didn’t expect it to go viral that quickly.” 

Hill posted the petition, which currently holds more than 8,700 signatures, on Sunday at 10:46 p.m. It was sent to Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Dean of Students Kenneth Ballom and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano. 

“We have such a diverse campus in regards to what location people are from, but I cannot tell you any other time the students have joined together online for one specific cause, besides bringing back the Chief, which I do not support,” Hill said. “We are not lobbying for something controversial, but we are lobbying for safety and health of the community.”

The petition spread through Twitter and several student-run University Facebook groups after originally being posted on the Illinois Student Senate’s Facebook page. 

“At first, I thought it was a really good idea because with the cold temperatures being the way they are now, it’s a big danger for students to be exposed to these kind of conditions,” said Janjay Knowlden, freshman in FAA. “I thought closing the school for one day would be just fine; it’s not worth the safety of students.” 

Though the petition is not endorsed by the Illinois Student Senate, Student Body President Damani Bolden believes it is a great idea. 

“(Hill) saw an issue, wanted to address it and went about it in the right way,” Bolden said.

Hill began the petition after Bolden reached out to Romano and Ballom and felt that the voice of students were being ignored. 

“They didn’t listen to the student body president, and our concerns were not heard,” Hill said. “Students make up 40,000 people on the University’s campus, and we are the majority and we were ignored.” 

Hill chose an online petition as a way to lobby because it is the most “effective, constructive and formal” way to disseminate the case through social media. He said he received several positive messages from students who were glad to not see more negative social media regarding Wise. 

“I decided not to sign the petition because honestly I didn’t think it was necessary,” said Lizzie Diamond, sophomore in AHS. “The University made the decision not to cancel school, and that’s their decision. We’re all adults. If you think it’s too cold to go outside, then we can make that decision for ourselves and stay home.” 

The petition features signatures of people ranging from North Carolina to Naperville, Ill., in addition to the many University student signatures. 

“Whenever you have student advocacy regarding any issue on campus, it’s good,” Bolden said. “It shows that students are interested in what is happening on campus and that they are fully engaged.”

Megan can be reached at [email protected] and @MeganAsh_Jones. 

Leave a Comment