University students traveled to Springfield for Crisis Advocacy Day

By Christin Watkins

The students visited the state capital in hopes of making legislators aware of the negative impact the state’s proposed 31.5 percent cut on higher education would have.

The lobby day, formally known as “Crisis Advocacy Day,” focused on advocating to student’s home district legislators about the importance of higher education and the effect losing MAP Grants has on students.

More than 60 University students made the trip, according to a press release from the Illinois Student Senate, ISS.

Approximately 130,000 Illinois students are at risk of losing MAP grants and more than 916,000 students are potentially affected by higher education cuts, according to ISS.

The state’s budget was supposed to be finalized by July 1, causing universities to scramble without a finalized budget.

State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-51, said he’s aware of the repercussions students are facing. Higher education budget cuts are an important issue, but it isn’t something that can be solved right away, he said.

“These court orders have prioritized everyone ahead of (higher education),” he said. “To some extent, for good reason.”

State Rep. Carol Ammons, D-103, said she fully supports higher education funding and believes students are key to making changes happen. She said students have a responsibility to call on legislators to place focus on creating a budget. The governor’s lack of support places representatives in a difficult position, Ammons said.

“We’re in a political climate where you have this tyrannical governor who’s putting his thumb on all of these (representatives),” she said. “They have to stand for the people and not for the governor.”

ISS Vice President-External Matt Hill said the students’ goal is to stress that higher education is an investment in the state.

“College education provides people for the capacity and the ability to get a job that is going to contribute to Illinois’s economy,” he said. “That’s something we really want to push, that this isn’t just sending kids to school, this is something that is really impacting the lives of people and impacting the quality of our state, improving the quality of our state.”

Student Body President Mitch Dickey said the “Cuts Mean Us” campaign started near the time Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed the cuts.

“I wouldn’t say that Tuesday’s going to be the end, because for the most part it’s just going to start the push of pressure,” Dickey said. “But we’ve got enough people from different districts that we’re going to be meeting — all but 15 state reps and three state senators — and we’re just going to be putting on a mass pressure on every single one of them.”

Adam Kaz contributed to this report.

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