Student Action Team seeking students to lobby in Springfield

Luis Martinez, Administration Editor

With the uncertainty of Eastern’s state funding, the Student Action Team pulls together leaders from around campus to lobby the legislature in Springfield on behalf of the university’s interest.

Catie Witt, executive vice president for student senate, said the group seeks any type of student to join.

“EIU has a head lobbyist, but it’s nice when we get students to go because (the legislators) look at those people as voters,” Witt said. “We might actually have larger impact if we have students go from all around Illinois, especially hitting those legislators that don’t have a university in their district.”

During Wednesday’s Student Senate meeting, Witt proposed a resolution to gain the funds needed for the trip to Springfield.

“For the Student Action Team, we need money for lunch when we’re in Springfield and paper to print and send to our legislators if we wanted to do petitions,” Witt said. “We need money to travel and since we are going on behalf of EIU, we have to use their vans, so that’s where a majority of our costs would be.”

When the group travels to Springfield on April 15, one of the more pressing issues members will discuss is Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed 31.5 percent to higher education.

The Appropriations II Committee of the Illinois Senate heard budget requests Thursday for universities including Eastern, Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University.

“President (Bill) Perry went to Springfield (Thursday),” Witt said. “I actually know someone that works in the capitol, and he said he sat in on that meeting and said President Perry rocked it and basically all the other president echoed what he said.”

Witt said when group travels to Springfield, members plan on reiterating what Perry said.

“Most likely, there will be a cut no matter what, but we could have a large impact if we do press on that matter,” Witt said. “Basically, (Perry) said, ‘31.5 percent is too much to swallow in one year.’”

Witt said the goal of student action team is to come up with three ideas to discuss, one being the budget cuts.

“We try to do three ideas so then we can have a very diverse group of student lobbying about different things,” Witt said.

Other ideas the group will be lobbying for include improvements to the science building and the MAP Grant, both of which members have brought up in the past.

Witt also said she wants to train to recruit more students to come to Springfield.

“The week we get back from spring break, I am going to talk to political science, journalism, sociology and communication classes, and I’m looking at professors to see if they know any classes that are related to this issue,” Witt said. “I don’t want just want student government people doing it; I want people that aren’t even involved with student government to participate because this is important to them too.”

 

Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]