Editorial: Students should speak up at SA rally


Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at a news conference in the James R. Thompson Center’s 16-story glass-paneled atrium Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015, in Chicago. Rauner announced he wants to hold a public auction to sell the Thompson Center, which houses state government offices in downtown Chicago, calling the building “ineffective” and a “very wasteful, very inefficient use of space.” He said selling the building and moving state workers elsewhere could save the state between $6 million and $12 million annually. 

Students should attend the Student Association Senate rally for Gov. Bruce Rauner’s visit to NIU on Oct. 29 to have their voices heard regarding MAP grant funding.

Monetary Assistance Program grants, which help fund education for college and university students, have not been paid to NIU by the state. Rauner, who has been stuck in a more than three-month budget impasse with the General Assembly, has already vowed to veto a bill to provide $373 million for MAP grant recipients and proposed a $29 million cut to NIU’s state allocation. The bill awaits a House vote.

More than 5,000 students who rely on MAP grants have had their accounts credited by the university for the fall semester in the approximate amount they would have received if funding was available for the grants, according to an Oct. 12 Northern Star article. NIU has taken a potential loss by covering these grants, and funding this amount of money for students in the future isn’t financially feasible.

A quarter of the student population at NIU is relying on this financial assistance. It’s imperative students let Rauner know his veto is unacceptable. The Governor and the legislature need to find a passable budget that doesn’t leave financially vulnerable students at risk.

“Just imagine a quarter of the student population here just disappearing because they could potentially not afford to be here,” said SA Senate Speaker Dillon Domke at the University Council meeting on Oct. 7. “[Oct. 4], we had our first student senate meeting, and during my report I asked everyone in the room if they’d share whether or not they had MAP grant funding. About a quarter of the room raised their hand. And then I asked, ‘Well who knows someone who receives the MAP grant?’ And almost every single hand in the room went up.”

Tickets to attend the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation’s Annual Dinner and State of the County event at which Rauner will be speaking cost $150 each and can be ordered online at dcedc.org/events; however, for the students who can’t afford $150, the rally offers an opportunity to speak out.

Rauner is gambling with students’ ability to receive a higher education. If students attend this rally and make their concerns heard, the SA will be able to relay those concerns and take advantage of the shared governance process to best fulfill the students’ needs.