University students advocate for higher education in Springfield


Brian Bauer

Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on May 15, 2016.

By Daily Illini Staff Report

Over 200 University of Illinois students are expected to meet on March 29 with state legislators for the University of Illinois Student Day at the Capitol in Springfield to encourage funding for both the University of Illinois and higher education systems.

Students from all three University of Illinois campuses, Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield, will attend this event coordinated by Illinois Connection, the legislative advocacy network of the University of Illinois Alumni Association.

“We hope to elevate the message about the importance of higher education, specifically the value of the University of Illinois to the state. By bringing hundreds of concerned students to the Capitol, we hope to get lawmakers’ attention about the detrimental effects of higher education cuts,” said Courtney Grussing, Director of Board Operations at the University of Illinois Alumni Association, in an email.  

Grussing expects half of the students meeting in Springfield to be from the Urbana-Champaign campus.

In addition to students, President Timothy Killeen, Executive Vice President Barbara Wilson, Executive Director of Governmental Relations Lindsay Anderson and University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan Koch plan on attending the event.

At the meeting, the House Higher Education Committee will discuss the Investment, Performance and Accountability Commitment. This is a proposed five-year agreement by the University of Illinois’ System that focuses on receiving appropriate financial support from the state and establishing a long-term budget planning process.

Under the proposed Investment, Performance and Accountability Commitment, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign would be specifically required to admit a minimum number of 14,000 freshman or transfer Illinois residents as undergraduates.

“Our students’ futures are on the line. They are being impacted firsthand by the budget shortfall,” said Grussing. “The quality of education is diminished, fewer services and resources are available and students and their families are worried about how they will pay for college.”

Grussing believes that advocacy efforts are needed now more than ever due to the state’s lack of a budget and uncertain future.

Each student has a unique story to tell about how the University of Illinois has positively influenced his/her life,” Grussing said. “By bringing students from the University of Illinois System together, we are showing the collective impact that the University has on current and future students.”

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