Frustration at legislators’ inability to pass a state budget is prompting concerned members of the Eastern community to rally in the hopes of inspiring action.
Kate Klipp, a Charleston resident and 2007 Eastern graduate, is organizing the rally and said she has been coordinating with students, faculty, staff and community members to get as many involved as possible.
Klipp said the rally, scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday on the Library Quad, would consist of student speakers, music and “hopefully a lot of people wearing EIU blue.”
A group met Thursday night to plan the rally, and the following morning is when various social media sites went up declaring the “Fund EIU” movement, Klipp said.
As of press time, Fund EIU has more than 1,000 likes on Facebook, about 100 followers on Twitter and about 40 followers on Instagram.
Klipp said the non-partisan group aims to raise a positive message about Eastern while urging legislators in Springfield to pass a bill funding higher education.
“We are trying to show the state how much we care about our school and that we stand behind it and that we stand with (Eastern President David) Glassman,” she said.
Jon Blitz, president of Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois, said he was involved in the initial planning meeting for the rally and is encouraging members of his union to attend.
“We just want people there, and we want our members to get involved and show some action to indicate that this is the situation, which is very grave at this point in terms of funding for EIU, for Western, for Chicago State, for all higher education institutions in Illinois,” Blitz said.
Catie Witt, a junior political science and communication studies major, is one of the students helping to put together Friday’s rally.
Witt said her political science professor asked if she could help spread the word, and she is now reaching out to registered student organizations, resident assistants and Greek life so they can inform others of the rally.
Witt said although students do not always attend campus events, she hopes they will realize the importance of the budget issue. She said even seniors graduating soon should recognize the significance of funding Eastern’s future.
Klipp said another goal of the rally is to get the attention of other schools like Western Illinois University, Chicago State University, Northeastern Illinois University and the University of Illinois and prompt them to start their own rallies and continue with the “Fund our Future” campaign.
She said the point of having the rally on campus was to promote a sense of camaraderie between the city and Eastern.
“Eastern’s budget problem isn’t just about faculty losing their jobs,” Klipp said. “They have families, and those families live here; this town will suffer greatly without EIU, so we wanted to show that we’re in it together.”
Klipp said past appeals directly to the legislature have gone unheard.
“There was a student action day just a couple of months ago, and there were tons of students there; they even made their way into the House chambers, and they didn’t listen,” she said. “I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get them to listen; maybe we all need to start banding together at the same time.”
Other than spurring an appropriations bill or at least a roundtable discussion from the legislature, Klipp said her hopes are that students take the reigns of the movement and run with it.
“I’m hoping they’ll go to Springfield,” she said. “Who knows, maybe spend their spring break in tents outside the Capitol Building.”
Stephanie Markham can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]