U.S. Senator to visit campus, speak on loan debt

Stephanie Markham, News Editor

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin will be on campus Thursday to speak about student loan debt and to assist with voter registrations.

Durbin is one of the sponsors of the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, a bill attempting to keep the interest rates down for federal subsidized student loans.

The bill would make the interest rates, at which students must pay back their loans, the same as the rates at which banks must pay back loans from the federal government, according to the bill’s summary.

Durbin is giving a press conference about student loan debt at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Arcola-Tuscola Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Ron Holmes, the secretary of Durbin’s campaign, said the U.S. Senate is debating the issue of refinancing student loans in an effort to make going to college more affordable.

“(The bill)says the same way you can refinance a car or your mortgage, you would be able to refinance your student loan,” Holmes said. “So that would then bring down the interest rate that people are paying.”

Durbin’s campaign staff will be helping at the voter registration tables outside of the Food Court in the Union from about 10 a.m. until noon.

Holmes said the senator would also stop by to help with registrations.

The EIU College Democrats host these registrations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday until Oct. 7.

Ryan Woods, the president of the EIU College Democrats, said the group has registered about 100 students so far.

Woods said that during the last presidential election, at least 3,000 people voted in the Union, whereas a little more than 100 voted there during the last midterm election.

“It doesn’t matter who we vote for, but the idea is just that we get people voting,” Woods said. “It’s important that Washington and Springfield know that we matter.”

Holmes said more than one million registered voters do not vote in Illinois during midterm elections.

“What we’ve learned, however, is that the amount of people that don’t vote are minorities; they’re young people; they’re people that are typically disengaged because there’s not a presidential race on the ballot,” he said. “However, we know there’s a lot at stake in these elections for young people across the state including this issue of college loans.”

The midterm election will be on Nov. 4.

Some items on the ballot include whether or not minimum wage should be raised to $10 per hour and elected positions such as U.S. senator, governor, attorney general, secretary of state, sheriff, county clerk and members of the county board.

Durbin is running as the Democratic candidate for U.S. senator, while Jim Oberweis is running as the Republican candidate and Sharon Hansen as the Libertarian candidate.

This is a critical election,” Holmes said. “It’s just as critical as the one before and the one that will come after it. Students on the campuses across the state will have a very important decision to make this year.”


Stephanie Markham can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].