500 lobby at Capitol for funds

By Nancy Broten

SPRINGFIELD—A crowd of about 500 flooded the steps of the State Capitol to rally and lobby for higher education funding during Wednesday’s Day of Action.

The declared protest day was in response to the $53 million budget cut to higher education for fiscal year 1988.

The group—involved in what was called the largest rally of its kind in 10 years—included students, faculty, staff and administrators from the nine state universities.

The Day of Action also took place on campuses statewide and in Chicago. The Day of Action was the result of months of planning initiated by the Illinois Student Association.

Following a “briefing” session at the Centennial Building several blocks away, the crowd marched to the east steps of the Capitol which were designated for the 11:30 a.m. rally.

Students carried signs stating the dilemma caused by tuition increases—”Illinois, You Put Me In A Poverty State”—while University Professionals of Illinois representatives donned graduation caps and gowns to emphasize higher education’s presence at the Capitol.

Illinois Student Association President David Starrett led the rally with a chant, “What’s up?” hearing the reply, “Tuition’s up.”

UPI President Mitchell Vogel prompted enthusiastic cheers from the crowd by grading the legislators’ performance in dealing with higher education funding. He gave them an “incomplete” on their ability “to correct dismal conditions affecting our universities.”

Vogel also gave legislators a mark of “F” for their inability to realize the connection between higher education and the ecomonic and social standing of Illinois. He said legislators have created a “stumbling block” for the state by “placing the cart before the horse.”

Cheers of enthusiasm also were sparked by Robert Healey, president of both the Chicago Federation of Labor and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. He told activists, “Don’t let up. In a couple of weeks we are going to have legislators act on these bills.”

ealey said a one percent tax increase is necessary in order to fund higher education. That belief was shared by most participants at the Day of Action.

Steve Cullen, of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said, “Other states are taking their universities seriously, ours are taking us for granted,” adding Illinois is ranked 44th in per capita expenditures for higher edcuation.

Wednesday marked the second of the General Assembly’s three-day veto session, where legislators can amend and veto bills.

No progress was made on bills directed toward returning funds to higher education. Senate Bill 1525, which says any tuition monies will be allocated back to the university from which they originated, was returned to the higher education committee to be reworded.

Another bill containing supplemental funding possibilities, SB 1520, returned to the Senate floor to be read, however, no amendments concerning higher education were made.

Starrett said as far as showing concern of the situation to the legislators, the Day of Action was a success because of all the excitement caused by the rallyists and they knew what they were talking about.

e said they will have to wait to see results in the form of funding, which might not be until the spring session. “We will have to work for new revenues and a tuition roll-back.”

At least 47 NIU students spent the day at the Capitol. Student Association Sen. Anne Rapp said State Sen. Arthur Berman, D-Chicago, is “for us all the way.” Rapp said he suggested NIU students make known to DeKalb residents the importance of NIU on the community.

Berman said both Rep. John Countryman, R-DeKalb, and Sen. Patrick Welch, D-Peru, need to hear from tax-paying DeKalb residents that higher education funding is important to them.