Daily Egyptian

Fed-up students demand action from lawmakers

By Cory Ray, @coryray_DE

Students are taking to social media to press state legislators into passing a budget during what has become the longest period Illinois has gone without one.

On Monday, SIU students started the “I Need a Budget Because” campaign, a rallying call where students show why they believe lawmakers need to pass a budget. On its Facebook page, which has garnered more than 700 likes, students post pictures with signs that read, “I Need a Budget Because…” and fill in the rest with personal testimonies. Students have also started a hashtag with the phrase.

“I need a budget because I believe everyone should have access to an affordable higher education,” said Claire Dawson, a freshman from Versailles, Ky., majoring in international studies. “Without a budget, we’re losing MAP grants, scholarships and programs are being cut. Education that is already hard to obtain — that is already expensive — is becoming more expensive and less obtainable for people who can’t afford it.”

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Many users said they want their younger siblings to have access to an education — a hope they believe may not manifest with a spending bill. Others stressed the importance of higher education for this generation and the country’s future. 

State universities and colleges have not received appropriations since since July 1 because Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democratic Legislature have not been able to agree to a state budget.

Alaina Boudreau, a sophomore from Bourbonnais studying rehab services, said the campaign began when Holly Hurlburt, a history professor, sent chancellor’s scholars an email urging them to rally at Rauner’s fiscal year 2017 budget address. Because many students had class but still wanted to voice their concerns, they decided to use social media.

“It’s a good way because our generation is the generation of social media,” said Emily Buice, a freshman from Tallassee, Ala., majoring in communication studies and history. “Having access to a large group of people all at once makes you feel like your voice is being heard.” 

Boudreau said she never expected the page to become so popular.

“It was a huge surprise. … I think students are really starting to understand that they will be impacted,” she said. 

This effort joins a number of other college-wide drives in Illinois, including Eastern Illinois University’s #FundEIU campaign and the statewide #MAPmatters. 

Dawson hopes the campaign will reach more people across campus. She said she doesn’t plan to stop the campaign until a budget is established. 

Buice said the impasse has gone too far, and now students are beginning to suffer because of inaction. Buice and other organizers of the campaign as well as the SIU Faculty Association are organizing a “call blizzard” to Rauner on Thursday from various buildings on campus.

“I need a budget because my education should not be jeopardized by politics,” Buice said. “The amount of ridiculousness that has gone into this should not be affecting the quality of my education — it should not be affecting the quality of education for student for students all across Illinois.”

Cory Ray can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3325.

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