ISA Pres. works for stronger SAs

By Nancy Broten

“The university system has no intention of rolling back tuition in the spring with or without a tax increase. We need to do it for them,” Illinois Student Association President David Starrett said to NIU Student Association senators Sunday.

Starrett visited NIU this weekend in an effort to create a stronger state student association able to have more influence on the state legislative process.

The effort was prompted by Gov. James Thompson’s $53 million budget cuts to higher education which resulted in statewide tuition increases from 18 to 31 percent.

Starrett said the ISA needs to gain more influence in the General Assembly since only legislators can prompt the university system to call a tuition rollback.

Although the General Assembly held a special veto session Oct. 20-22, no progress was made on bills that would send students financial relief from the tuition increases.

The ISA has been influential with the legislature in forming a collective bargaining system in which students receive third party rights. It also has been influential in forming a joint committee on which students study financial aid funding.

Starrett said the university system, its lobbyists and some faculty members are influential in the state legislative system in regards to higher education funding.

“Students are not influential. We think that needs to be changed. (The ISA) thought that needed to be changed 10 years ago,” he said.

Starrett met with SA officials Saturday to discuss creating a more unified relationship among individual student governments—paricularly through funding—in order to be more influential in the legislative process.

“We need more campuses to fund us the way the University of Illinois has funded us. I think it’s time for an organization as strong as this one (the SA) to fund us,” Starrett said.

One fundraising method discussed was the “one dollar per student per year” referendum.

Funds from the referendum, if passed, would be used to fund an ISA state office and a full-time staff. Attempts began in January to start using a state office, but funds to run the office will last only two more years, Starrett said.

Without a staff and an office near Springfield, “we are not going to be able to do the job everybody agrees we need to do,” he said.

Starrett said it is difficult to tell what supplemental funds might result from student participation in the Oct. 21 Day of Action because the legislative process is slow.

e said, “Students have been out of circulation for more than 10 years.” The Day of Action had brought to the State Capitol more students and letters from students than legislators had ever seen there before, he said.

“You can’t bring 800 people into the capitol without having some effects on the legislators,” Starrett said.

Starrett said he met with higher education lobbyists about the possibility of a tuition rollback, but the lobbyists told Starrett he was being unrealistic in hoping for such an action.

owever, Starrett said there will “absolutely” be another Day of Action. The ISA is starting to discuss plans for another Day of Action in Springfield for spring as well as continued letter-writing campaigns.