Demonstrators continue budget push

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Students, university professionals and others gathered again near the Illinois capitol Wednesday to call for renewed funding of public colleges and universities as well as MAP Grants for students in need.

The rally, led by the Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education, was meant to pressure lawmakers and the governor to pass a budget that would fund higher education institutions they say have languished without a budget

“It’s part of demonstrating to the General Assembly that enough is enough,” said David Tretter, president of the Illinois Federation of Colleges and Universities. “There’s already damage being done to the higher education system, cutbacks, institutions that are weeks away from closing their doors.”

Jordan Markel, a student at SIU School of Medicine, said MAP Grants helped him afford a college education, and he said younger relatives fear they will not have the same opportunity.

“I have siblings, I have cousins who are younger than me, who are in high school, and they’re scared to even go to college in Illinois,” Markel said. “They’re looking outside in other states.”

Still, at least one student present had mixed feelings about public university finances. Kirk Powell, a student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale said he sees excessive administration and frivolous spending on campus.

“On one hand, I want to support higher education funding, but on the other hand, I walk the campus of SIU every day and see the ridiculous waste of money,” Powell said. “So the person in me that says I’ve got to pay taxes in the future says ‘Wow, don’t give them any more. They’ve got enough. They’re just wasting the funds they currently have.’”

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