Students come out in force for higher education

University of Illinois Students march on the Illinois State Capitol

All too often, the student voice is left out of the debate over higher education policy. On March 29, 150 students from all three University of Illinois System campuses converged on the State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., to proclaim in no uncertain terms that they deserve a seat at the table as legislators negotiate over the future of the state budget and the future of public higher education in Illinois.

Mistrust and failed negotiations have led to almost two years without a full state budget. Public universities and colleges have felt the strain most acutely as no court orders or guaranteed funds are provided for their expenses.

Led by the University of Illinois Student Advocacy Coalition, attendees coalesced around a simple message: enough is enough. Students described losing faculty mentors and campus jobs. Monetary Award Program recipients voiced their concern that state aid might never return, and that their younger siblings and friends might not be able to attend college as a consequence.

State legislators took note. After the students visited, nine legislators signed onto the University of Illinois Investment, Performance, and Accountability Commitment, a visionary proposal tying state aid for the University of Illinois System to concrete metrics for success.

U of I students deserve credit for their great work, but the conversation has only just begun. The state legislature remains deadlocked about its fiscal future, even after two years of unnecessary hardship caused by disagreement at the highest levels of state government.

Please take the time to reach out to your legislators and join our students in the fight to save higher education! Click here to tell our legislators enough is enough!