Social media contest to promote budget awareness

Loren Dickson, Entertainment Reporter

To raise broader awareness of the statewide budget impasse, Eastern’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois (UPI) is sponsoring a student social media campaign competition called “Education is a Human Right.”

The first prizewinner will be awarded $250, followed by second place with $100 and third place with $50. Prizes are sponsored by EIU-UPI, and UPI committee members will also select winners.

Students who are participating in the social media campaign contest should send their submissions to [email protected] The deadline for students to submit their submissions is Friday.

The winners of the contest will be those entrants who best advocate for publicly funded higher education as a human right and a public good.

To advocate this, students are to create a visually appealing element that can be used across many platforms, such as social media sites, posters and T-shirts.

Other rules for the contest include: an eye-catching, strong, recognizable slogan that focuses on higher education generally, not just Eastern; two or three short hash tags; one longer piece, such as a blog post or news release; and a clear call to action to attend the rally. Participants must also be Eastern students.

The “Education is a Human Right” campaign is in preparation for the “Teach Out for Illinois Higher Education” rally that will take place Thursday, April 27 at the Capitol Building in Springfield. It coincides with the theme of March’s Women’s History and Awareness Month to purposefully encourage basic human rights.

As Illinois continues to face the budget crisis, universities are being deprived of their funding, causing a trickle-down effect on students, faculty and community members statewide.

As of now, the state has only received 40% of its state appropriations, according to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

Students across Illinois are not receiving Monetary Award Program grants, programs are being eliminated and faculty and staff are facing furloughs and layoffs.

According to the Cook County College Teachers Union website, roughly 413 positions have been cut from Eastern, Governor’s State is eliminating 22 of its 62 programs and Northeastern Illinois University has introduced furlough days for 1,000 faculty and staff as well as 300 student workers.

Multiple schools, including Western Illinois University, Governor’s State, Joliet Junior College and Sauk Valley College, are raising tuition to generate income.

Tailor Kline, junior accounting major, said he was unsure about attending Eastern this year because of the budget crisis in Illinois.

“I got my associates (degree) from Lake Land and transferred to Eastern as a junior,” Kline said. “When the budget crisis became more well known, I started freaking out and questioning if I really wanted to stay in Illinois for my remaining two years.”

Like many others, Kline said he was hesitant about the future of Eastern.

“After a lot of consideration and thinking, I decided that Eastern wouldn’t close down any time soon,” he said. “I’m ultimately happy with the choice to attend Eastern, so I’m glad I didn’t decide to go out of state.”

Kline said he and a couple of others were planning to attend the rally in Springfield.

“The more awareness we can raise about this issue, the higher the chance something will be actually done about it,” he said. “I’m very hopeful that eventually the Illinois government will come to an agreement for the better of public universities and the future of our generation.”

Those interested in attending the rally in Springfield can reserve a bus seat on the UPI website. Buses will leave at 8:30 a.m. from the parking lot near Ninth Street and Grant Avenue Stations will be set up across the state to converge at the State Capitol.

Loren Dickson can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]