Senate votes to educate students on budget issues

Stephanie Markham, Editor-in-Chief

The Student Senate voted Wednesday to commit its members to educating the student body on the effects of Illinois’ budget issues.

The resolution calls for senators to use social media and physical outreach to inform students of Eastern’s struggles while faced with the lack of allocations from the state.

Senator JaLisa Smith said if the senate goes forward with the goal of educating students on important matters, then members need to take the task seriously.

She said she thought a lot more students could have been present during the rallies for higher education in Springfield on Wednesday.

“We really need to be serious about it, and we need to break down what’s going on,” Smith said. “Because people are just there to chant and yell, not really realizing the real reasons we’re there.”

Steven Simpson, the student vice president for academic affairs, also urged members to take what they were pledging to do seriously.

He said they should talk to as many people as possible, both on and off campus, about what is going on with the state budget.

“If we ourselves can’t give (information) out to the student body, then how can we expect others to pass on the word?” he said.

Maralea Negron, the student speaker of the senate, said with all the rumors going around about the future of the university, people are always looking for someone who is informed.

“I don’t think you realize how much people actually look for people who are in the know,” Negron said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten text messages asking my personal opinion on if the school is closing because I’m a senator and I’m involved in student government.”

She said everyone in student government has the responsibility of being educated on state issues, and after watching Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget address on Wednesday, she believes this to be especially true.

“He did not mention one thing about higher education,” Negron said. “So if we’re the student leaders on campus, then we need to act like student leaders and we need to be student leaders and we need to be educated like student leaders.”

The senate also voted to give $700 to the University Board Cultural Arts Committee for its upcoming sushi event.

Simpson said the University Board asked for the money to spend on additional food because the event was popular last year and members would like to serve more students this time around.

Simpson said someone who went to the event last year told him the UB ran out of food within the first 15 minutes.

“I’ve never been to the event; I don’t like sushi, but UB has a lot of events that they put on for the student body,” Simpson said. “So if this is a big hit, I think it should be a tradition that keeps going on.”

Smith said she was concerned that UB members would continue to ask for money whether or not it was available if the senate approved all of their requests.

“We just gave them money for Pantherstock; I understand that was one event, but still it stands out in my mind,” Smith said.

Courtney Sage, the student vice president for student affairs, said because of the recent student fee increase, more funds are available that were not budgeted, and they are and open for student organizations to seek out.

She said the senate’s budget as of Feb. 9 is $8,708.41.

In other business, Sage said petition packets for the upcoming student government elections will be open on Feb. 22 and due March 2.

Sage said senators need 50 signatures, and executive members need 100. Elections will be open March 23 – 24, and unofficial results will be announced during the April 6 senate meeting.

Simpson said the deadline to sign up for the next Prowlin’ event, Piñata with the Prez, is Feb. 29, and the event will be in March.

Beth Gillespie, interim director of civic engagement and volunteerism, asked the senate to help with Panther Service Day on April 23 by providing funding for T-shirts and helping to identify site leaders.

Gillespie said more than 200 students have participated in Panther Service Day in the past, and they go to about 20 different off-site locations to volunteer.

She said she would like her office to work more closely and have meetings with the senate in the future.


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