COLUMN: The impact staff and professors have on Eastern

Rob Le Cates

Luke Taylor is a senior journalism major and can be reached at 581-2912 or [email protected].

Luke Taylor, Senior Reporter

As an ambassador to prospective future students here at Eastern, I spend a fair amount of time talking about the reasons to attend this university.

There are a lot of things I could talk about- the resources we have despite being a smaller university, the community formed between students or even some of the cool things I have learned in my classes.

I never start with any of those things, though. Instead, when I am trying to convince a new student they should check out the programs here at Eastern, I talk about the people.

I have had a professor go out of his way to bring me camera equipment when I was having issues filming for class. Another accompanied me on adventures late at night so I could write stories I was interested in. I have had many professors take time out of their day to help me understand subject matter when I did not get in class.

My academic advisor puts in more work than anyone else I know to make sure that I and many other students get the exact classes we need to graduate and actually get to study subjects we care about.

I could also talk about many employees here who are not professors. A building service worker who gave me cleaning supplies “just in case” and helped me out when I had a terrible nosebleed. Dining employees gave me and other students who stayed on campus during the pandemic a pantry’s worth of snacks so we could eat them before they expired.

Many clerical workers have helped me out as I have gone through a legal name change. Grounds and maintenance employees always give me a smile and a “good morning” on my way to class; it is a small moment but I always appreciate it.

I could go on about the incredible people who helped students on Taylor Hall Council, in EIU PRIDE or as service assistants.

All of these people and many more who I have never even met go above and beyond their roles here on campus to support me and other students. They never ask anything of us and they always do it with a smile.

Before I was a student ambassador, I was a staffer at the News. I remember covering negotiations between the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local #981 and our university.

I remember having many of the same feelings then as I do now as EIU-UPI negotiated: these are the people who make my university what it is. Why are they facing such a struggle to get the pay they deserve?

When I think about being proud to be a Panther, it is those people who make me able to say that.

I do not have the power to personally change the decisions being made by Eastern’s administration and all I can do is wish the best to the members of EIU-UPI.

My message is to other students: if you have had even a fraction of the experience I have with the employees here on campus, turn out. Show your support for the union.

We pay for our experiences here. Let the administration know what we want.

Luke Taylor is a senior journalism major. They can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].