Student Senate, UPI campaign to get state budget passed

Cassie Buchman, Administration Editor

Student Senate and the University Professionals of Illinois could both be seen outside of the Food Court in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union Tuesday encouraging people who walked by to write and send postcards to get the governor and other state representatives to pass a budget.

Illinois is entering its sixth month of not having a state budget.

The Student Senate was also telling people about their letter writing campaign; they had a table where students could pick up a template for the letter that gave examples of what to write about as well as flyers about the budget situation.

Ariannah Lambert, the university enhancement chair for Student Senate, said they handed out a template because people get nervous about writing letters.

The templates told students to make the letters personal and write to their hometown legislature to explain why passing the state budget is important to them.

The flyers also reiterated the fact that Eastern will not be closing down because of the current crisis.

Jasmine Thomas, a junior Africana studies major, said people’s faces lit up when they saw the school was not going to be closing down.

Thomas said people had been coming by and taking the information Student Senate had to learn more about what is going on.

“We had quite a lot of flyers, and now this is all that is left,” Thomas said, gesturing to the few flyers still on the table.

The flyers told students that the budget impasse is at a state level and the government has not passed a budget for higher education; the state owes students about $3.8 million for the Fall 2015 semester.

Thomas said some people do not always know they have a voice on campus and are not sure how to use their voice.

“By using this information, they can help their voice grow and get questions answered,” Thomas said.

Students who were not able to make it to the table can get letters from the student activities office and they can talk to Catie Witt, the executive vice president of the Student Senate.

At a table a couple feet away from the Senate, the University Professionals of Illinois allowed individuals to sign postcards telling legislators to fund the Monetary Award Program grant with their name and home address.

The MAP grant provides more than 100,000 Illinois students with the necessary tuition assistance to become college success stories, according to the postcard.

People were told to sign three postcards with this information on them; one will be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner, another will be sent to their own state representative and then to their state senators.

Fern Kory, an English professor, said they have done a postcard campaign before.

“It’s a way to reach to students, faculty and staff, and tell them we’re all in this together,” Kory said. “If there is not a budget, the money not being received affects students and the institution.”

The table also had buttons with “fund our future” written on them.

Nancy Crone, an academic adviser in the kinesiology and sports studies department, said the government has told students they are entitled to Monetary Award Program money and other funding, but they have not gotten it.

“The students are being told, you have x amount of money, then they don’t give it to the university, so the university has been covering the cost,” Crone said.

John Kilgore, a retired English professor, said the whole state is desperately in need of a relative business plan.

“(The community) takes part at Eastern, and depends on the institution,” Kilgore said.

Even though he is retired, Kilgore said he still thinks it is important to help get the budget passed.

“Teachers and staff never stop caring about students,” Kilgore said.

The UPI will be in the Union for the rest of the week from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]