Legislators too close to admissions
August 27, 2009
The Board of Trustees made mistakes.
However, the legislators that used their influence to pressure University employees into admissions appear to be leaving this scandal behind unscathed.
Elected officials across the state were found using their power to advance the applications of specific candidates. These are the people that also determine the financial situation of the University.
“That’s an implied pressure point,” state Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville, said.
As Gov. Pat Quinn begins the process of constructing a new board, we hope they will follow through on a statement made by Quinn: to investigate the roles of all who played in the admissions game.
It takes a special person to resist pressure from the people who control their budget, Black said, “most people will say uh-oh.”
By ignoring orders, whether they’re wrong or right, one may find him or herself on Illinois’ growing unemployment list.
While we should not applaud trustees and administrators for not being brave, we also look to a bigger problem, an issue that has lived long before and will survive long after the current administration: Why were legislators allowed so close to the University’s admissions process?
Yes, legislators and our leaders must work together. Yes, University officials lobby elected officials for more money. But it is not impossible to draw a line.
Legislators should only be allowed to discuss matters that apply to their jobs. Whether one’s neighbor gets into the University has nothing to do with whether to fund construction at Lincoln Hall.
If a state senator receives a request from a constituent involving admission to the University, the proper response is to give them the number for University admissions.
During a press conference Wednesday, Gov. Quinn appointed two new trustees. He also said he is not going to force Frances Carroll and James Montgomery to resign. Thus, he has five more seats to fill. It is possible that innocent trustees who voluntarily resigned will be reappointed.
When this board is assembled it must be mandatory that it is kept free from the lurking of politicians. As Black said, trustees should make broad decisions. They have no business monitoring admissions (not that anyone else named does have that right).
Our new board must create an atmosphere at the University where each unit is separate. Perhaps we could mirror the democratic principles set up in the Constitution.
There’s really no punishment to be faced for legislators besides the media and the voters. Thus far, the media have chosen to stick to University leaders. It’s up to the voters to decide if pressuring admissions counselors fits into the role of politicians.