It probably comes as no surprise to the people living in Illinois that the state’s budget impasse is effecting yet another group of individuals. Chicago State University on the city’s south side might be forced to shut down, after being open for close to 150 years. The university is predominantly African American, many of which are considered low income students. Since the state has been operating without a budget since summer of 2015, Chicago State is expected to run out of funds by March. Unless a budget is put into place or deal can be worked out with the university, students will have to say goodbye to their college education.
Rauner’s focus on education means nothing
Nearly 30 percent of Chicago State University’s budget comes from state funding, which is why having no budget is hitting the school hard. A majority of the students who attend CSU rely on financial aid, which they can’t receive without a budget. President and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, Shari Runner, said that the possible closure of the university reinforces how there are inequalities in schools and it shortchanges children of color. She believes that state legislators are failing administration and students. Despite these issues, Rauner still insists that the quality of education that Illinois residents receive is a top priority. His goal in running for Governor was to create economic growth and make Illinois one of the best in the nation for education. With the way things are going in the state, he doesn’t seem to be living up to his word.
Students do what they can to keep the university going
In talking with students of the university, it seems that if the university closes, it will bring more issues to Chicago’s South Side. Charles Preston is a senior as CSU and is majoring in African American studies. He also serves as the leading campus activist, and has pushed hard to keep CSU open. Preston believes that the state just looks at the students as a number, and they do not realize how closing CSU would take away a number of resources from the south side. On January 9th, Preston organized a protest, which helped to gain national attention, regarding the issues of his school closing due to the budget crisis.
Because student protests gained national attention, faculty at Chicago State have come up with a way that people can support the university through social media, by using the hashtag #SaveCSU. Kwesi Harris, the Director of the African American Male Resource Center located at Chicago State said that if CSU closes, it will be national and international embarrassment. The budget problem is effecting 9 other public universities, but CSU students are the first to speak out. #SaveCSU is more about saving the futures of the black men and women who strive for an education in some of the poorest parts of the country.
If you want to do your part to help the students of Chicago State University, as well as their community, spread the hashtag #SaveCSU or #BudgetorElse. You can also contact Illinois legislators or even make a donation to the university.