Community marches against impasse

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Community marches against impasse

Macomb community members march for the end of the budget standoff in Springfield.

Macomb community members march for the end of the budget standoff in Springfield.

Jessie Matias

Macomb community members march for the end of the budget standoff in Springfield.

Jessie Matias

Jessie Matias

Macomb community members march for the end of the budget standoff in Springfield.

Nicholas Ebelhack

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Macomb community members marched from Sherman Hall to Chandler Park advocating for the end of the budget standoff threatening Macomb’s economy on Thursday afternoon.

Western Illinois University’s chapter of University Professionals of Illinois’ President Bill Thompson emphasized how the march was not just for Western, but for the communityas a whole.

“It’s not just the jobs that come to an end; it’s an entire way of life. It’s the people you build relationships with, they go away and you all go your separate ways to try and fix the economic troubles that happened to you.”

Led by associate professor of English Rebekah Buchanon, the march began at 4:45 p.m. and community members gathered at Sherman Hall before making their way down Adams Street towards Chandler Park.

Police were present to escort marchers across from the school property to Adams Street, but were not there to assist people crossing Calhoun Street, causing a momentary traffic disruption.

Once at Chandler Park, community members surrounded the gazebo in the center of the park for their rally. Building services worker Debbie Klinedinst approached the microphone to discuss how the lack of funding has affected maintenance staff at Western.

“Our cuts include laying off our temps for the people who are on medical leave right now,” Klinedinst said, “making it difficult and almost impossible to do quality work for our college and our students, but we still work hard to give them the quality.”

She emphasized in her speech that Western is not the sole loser in a situation where there is no funding. If students leave Macomb, as is expected with a lack of financial support for higher education, the City of Macomb also suffers.

“It just doesn’t affect Western Illinois,” Klinedisnt said, “it also affects Macomb and our surrounding towns. It is time to come together and get something done in Springfield. Stand up and speak for the people of our town in which you live.”

Nontraditional student Dustin Perrine then took the microphone to discuss how the budget impasse has affected him as both a student and a community member.

“I see you people in the hallways and on the roads, we are all part of a community,” Perrine said. “What we will have to do as a community is get together, and we have to start this here and now.”

Perrine emphasized the economic consequences that a large emigration of students from Macomb would have on the community, referencing that a group of 10 students spend about $850 in Macomb.

“For the community, if by chance 1,000 students leave, that’s $850,000 lost per week. That’s not good.” James La Prad, an associate professor of educational studies at Western, said uniting with a common goal could solve the community’s concerns.

“I hate the fact of looking at what  WIU might be in five years, what might happen with the brain drain in the community down the line,” La Prad said. “It’s time for this community to come together in solidarity.

“I’m concerned that our solidarity might not be strong enough, but as my student Dustin said, we here can make and inform that, and we need to stand up,” La Prad said, “and this march and rally is just that, our showing that we care enough about Macomb and WIU to make a difference.”

Nancy Taylor, a community member who developed Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and now needs medical assistance, explained how the budget impasse has been affecting people in her situation.

“As a nurse forced out of work due to my MS, I know we need state representatives, senators and governors that will be advocates for the people they are supposed to represent, including the downtrodden,” Taylor said. “Hurting people already hurting is not what our state legislators should be doing.

He said that he is confident in Springfield’s abilities to pass a budget very soon, and believes that the key to getting it done is by having community members show their support.

“There are bills that are coming forward in the next couple of weeks that if they vote for them will end the nightmare that we are in,” Thompson said. “But if they don’t have the courage, they don’t feel that they can do that, then the nightmare that we are in is only going to continue.

“We need to give our leaders the courage that they need to do what is right.”

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