Daily Egyptian

Trustees ask state leaders to pass budget

By Bill Lukitsch, @Bill_LukitschDE

The SIU Board of Trustees discussed a number of issues during the meeting Thursday, including state budget concerns and a revamp of the university’s sexual assault policy.

Vice-chair Donna Manering announced a resolution urging Illinois lawmakers to pass a budget and provide much-needed state appropriations to the university system. The message will be forwarded to Gov. Bruce Rauner and leaders of the Illinois General Assembly, Manering said.

SIU President Randy Dunn articulated concerns by the board regarding the inaction of public officials and addressed the possibility of going an entire fiscal year without a budget.

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“Obviously, that would be disastrous,” Dunn said.

He said the university system will “limp through” until the end of next June, but the stagnancy of the state is creating a university budget hole that will have long-term effects.

The conversation between university leaders is drifting toward the possibility the university would see state appropriations from FY 2016 and focusing more on a worst-case scenario, Dunn said.

John Charles, executive director of governmental affairs, discussed the state of bills currently in the Illinois General Assembly that would determine state appropriations for the universities and mentioned possible legislation that could increase the university’s revenue.   

Legislation to fund the Monetary Award Program — or MAP grant — passed the Illinois Senate in August and is awaiting a vote from the Illinois House of Representatives. MAP grants provide financial assistance to 125,000 low-income students statewide and about 33 percent of SIU’s undergraduate students are eligible to receive them. On average, the grants cover about 35 percent of tuition and fees at public universities in the state. 

The university system is considering alternatives that require legislative approval, such as borrowing money, liquidating unused real estate assets and selling alcohol at Saluki Stadium and SIU Arena, Charles said.

Also, the board will review the educational programs, support resources offered and current procedures and policies concerning sexual assault, Manering said during a press conference after the board meeting.

Manering said the decision to review the university policy was made during the executive board meeting Wednesday.

The announcement comes one day after members of the Consent Party, a local activism group, voiced concerns regarding the university’s mishandling of some sexual assault cases.

“We did ask after we heard some of the information … that the board take a look at sexual abuse,” Manering said.

Dunn said the board would work to provide a plan of action and determine the role of the university in handling the cases. The board plans to revisit the topic of sexual assault during the next meeting in March, Dunn said. 

Bill Lukitsch can be contacted 536-3329 or at [email protected].

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