Western Courier

SGA plans to take Springfield

Nicholas Ebelhack, assistant news editor

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 Student Government Association (SGA) discussed plans for next Tuesday’s Student Advocacy Day on Tuesday and answered questions about the event.

 Student Advocacy Day is for students from various universities across the state of Illinois to talk to their hometown representatives about funding for higher education. SGA President Wil Gradle laid out the foundation for what they will be attempting to accomplish in Springfield.

 “The plan for Student Advocacy Day is to meet up at Western Hall at about 7:30 a.m. We are going to go to Springfield and set up our base camp at University of Illinois Springfield,” Gradle said. “We are going to meet with all of the other institutions and from there we are going to do a quick advocacy 101. From there we will start pulling legislators off of the floor and start talking to them until about 2:30 p.m.”

 Speaker of the Senate Jacob Tomlinson said that the goal of Student Advocacy Day is to encourage Illinois officials to pass legislation regarding higher education on the students’ behalf.

 “The whole point of Student Advocacy Day is not to lobby the legislators in the town that have universities,” Tomlinson said, “but to go back to their home town legislators and talk to them about passing legislation on the student’s behalf.”

 Tomlinson followed by stating why it is important for students to talk to their representatives from their hometown.

 “That way, the legislators that maybe don’t have a public university, community college or private university in their district can understand the severity and the importance of a higher education appropriation,” Tomlinson said.

 In his report, Gradle said that Western currently has the second-most number of students to Springfield for Student Advocacy Day. He said that because of this Western would be able to voice their concerns clearly.

 “I think Western is going to have a huge impact in part because we are going to be out there in numbers,” Gradle said. “The only school that has more numbers than us is University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign simply because they are a much bigger school than us.”

 For students that are weary about talking to their representative, Gradle said that they have planned to teach students about how to interact with government officials.

 “So this is actually my first time too, so it is a very exciting process,” Gradle said. “Our government liason is putting together an advocacy 101 that we are going to talk about a few times before actually going out to pull legislators.”

 SGA Chief of Staff Brenna Smith said that she believes the students who attend Student Advocacy Day will have a lot of influence on the senators.

“So students will actually be able to talk to their representatives, which I think will be very powerful and very impactful because it is  the constituents are coming to them,” Smith said. “The people that they represent are coming to their offices to hear what the students think that they should be voting for.”

Senator-at-Large Calen Edgar expressed the importance of students attendance at the event. Edgar said students have the ability to aid Western in receiving funding.

“It’s absolutely critical that everyone, whether it’s legislators in Springfield or members of the state at large, understand that academia is something that is going to suffer if something isn’t done,” Edgar said. “Western is in the process of having to make cuts and we are not the worst off. The issue is though that we have never gone this long without an appropriation, and if this continues we are going to lose students next spring due to a lack of funds.”

He followed this by saying that the university is at risk of losing students because they will not be able to support students who receive MAP grants like it did this semester.

“This semester the university decided to float the costs of the MAP grants for the students at their expense,” Edgar said, “but the university does not have the funds to do that again. If MAP grants aren’t funded, we are going to lose students.”

In addition to the discussion regarding Student Advocacy Day, Gradle presented Student Member to the Board of Trustees Michael Quigley’s report. He spoke on behalf of Quigley regarding the planned demolition of four houses purchased by the university.

“I know at the Board meeting they bought four houses that weren’t the most attractive aesthetically,” Gradle said. “The Board of Trustee was a bit hesitant about it, but as Quigley said they believed it was the best decision looking towards better days.”

SGA also unanimously voted to show support for the physics department after being ranked 2 in the nation for institutions that offer a master’s degree in physics as their highest degree. It also passed legislation that would allow no more than $1,500 to be spent on Student Advocacy Day for transportation and food costs by a vote of 24-0-1.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
SGA plans to take Springfield