Phillips talks reforms for Eastern

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

Republican representative Reggie Phillips discussed the negative light Eastern was put under last year as a result of the budget crisis during his office hours Monday night.

Phillips said the enrollment statistics that came out in the papers did not look good and said negative publicity created that situation.

“We cried wolf so loud that the total focus was on us,” Phillips said, regarding the FundEIU and other rallies that filled the campus last year.

Phillips argued that FundEIU should have included other Illinois public universities such as Western and Chicago State.

However, according to articles from February and April of last semester in The Daily Eastern News, FundEIU had a couple rallies with other public universities regarding the lack of budget.

These rallies include the rally organized by Chicago State in Springfield on Feb. 17 and Eastern’s chapter of the University Professionals of Illinois organized the rally in Chicago in April.

“I’ve said this time and time again and I told the president ‘I don’t know how you can get a handle on this but (FundEIU) needs to have a collective group all working toward (the lack of budget), not one group. So I think the focus became us and I think that is what dropped us down a little bit more than the other (universities),” Phillips said.

Phillips said the perception FundEIU made about Eastern was if the university did not receive any funds then it would close and as a result that perception became a reality for incoming students.

“We were going to fund EIU and we are going to fund EIU and higher education in 2017,” Phillips said. “I do not want to go down the same rabbit hole we just went through.”

However, Phillips said he does not believe it will take years to overcome the struggles Eastern went through and the next step is to market the university and focus on reforms.

“We need to bring marketing gurus here and we need to get the money, that’s what we need or private donations to put a fund together for marketing,” Phillips said. “If you’re not on I-57 with Eastern Illinois University lining the side of the road then we need to be, we need to bring (students) in here because this is a great place to get a great education.”

Phillips said Eastern is easy to watch over because of the current administration and new leadership, referring to Eastern President David Glassman.

“I believe that this new leadership they’ve got the right people put together and I think (Glassman) is going to do his very best to try to grow Eastern,” Phillips said.

Phillips said this “budget mess” created a lot of problems for everybody, but Eastern has pulled through and now everyone needs to focus on reforms.

“If we don’t get some reforms then the state of Illinois is going to continue down the path we’ve been on,” Phillips said. “ Many more people are coming onto the realization that we have to have a reform.”

Phillips said universities are economic drivers and reforms include changing K-12 education to make sure more students who graduate high school are college ready.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or achaynes@eiu