Bring your voice to the Town Hall meeting

By Daily Illini Editorial Board

A university campus may seem to be isolated from the economic situation that has overcome our country in the last few months.

But as e-mails from the administration, media reports and decisions by the Board of Trustees have shown, that perception is far from the truth.

The University of Illinois’ endowment has dropped $400 million in value since June, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report. Just last Thursday during a meeting in Chicago, trustees voted to raise the price of housing and meal plans in the next year to offset other costs of campus operations.

While Illinois students on the Chicago campus will most feel the price increase, housing rates in Champaign will rise by about 5.9 percent and student fees will also increase for the 2009-2010 year.

If that’s not bad enough, the tuition for next year has yet to be decided. We have trouble believing the final decision will be in students’ favor.

On a day-to-day basis, we don’t get much say about the budget or tuition. However, Thursday at a town hall meeting to be held at Foellinger Auditorium, we hope to have a chance to truly communicate about the campus and University budget.

In the mass e-mail inviting the campus community to the meeting, Chancellor Herman said audience members would have the opportunity to make comments, ask questions and make suggestions during the hour and a half meeting.

A panel of various administrators including Provost Linda Katehi and student leaders including Student Body President Jaclyn O’Day has been scheduled to appear as well. But if this meeting is nothing more than University officials using generalities or evading genuine questions, we’ll be hugely disappointed.

This meeting shouldn’t be a last resort solution or a living press release, but rather a way of truly listening to the student body. And if that’s the case, we should all take advantage of the opportunity.

We’d like for the University to make transparent for us most, if not all, decisions about where each and every dollar in the budget goes. We’d like to know that the University won’t be spending money on unnecessary purchases, travel, and filling nonessential vacant positions but rather that the money will be put to better uses.

Thursday, students have a chance to share ideas or concerns. If you have something to say, by all means, speak up. Now is not a time for us to be silent.

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Foellinger Auditorium. Be there and be heard.