By Grant Riggs, Editor-in-Chief
On Wednesday, February 8, a group of McKendree students attended a rally at the Capitol building in Springfield, Ill. in support of higher education and the MAP grant. The grant, which does not require repayment and is given to Illinois residents who attend approved Illinois colleges, has provided numerous students the opportunity to attend college.
The trip included individual meetings with Illinois State Senators and Representatives, as well as the actual rally, which was held by The Illinois Coalition to Invest in Higher Education. The rally was led by Dave Tretter, president of The Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges and Universities, and included Western Illinois University President Dr. Jack Thomas as one of its speakers.
Dave Tretter speaks at the rally last Wednesday in Springfield, IL. Photo credit: Grant Riggs
“These trips to Springfield provide a wonderful opportunity for our students to experience democracy in action,” said Dr. Ann Collins, one of the groups’ leaders. “They did a great job of sharing their stories with our state legislators and stressing why supporting higher education is good for our state.”
In an individual meeting with four McKendree students, Illinois Senator Kyle McCarter, a resident of Lebanon, Ill., pointed to Illinois professors as a possible reason for the MAP grant’s lack of funding. “[T]here has been less opportunity for students, fewer credit hours paid for than could have been,” McCarter said. “One of the reasons the cost of higher education has gone up is because of higher salaries and higher pensions.” Conversely, the lack of a state budget was not among the reasons given by McCarter to explain the lack of funding. However, McCarter has been a big supporter of a budget over the past eight years and has submitted more budgets than anyone in the Senate during that time.
In regards to the overall trip, McKendree sophomore Matt Hendricks said, “I decided to attend the rally because I wanted to see public policy in the raw. What I saw was politicians who do not care.”
A similar rally was held last April outside of the Capitol building.
*Note of Clarification: Matt Hendricks was not among the four students who met with Sen. McCarter.