Students and alumni advocate for the U of I during annual visit to the state capitol
Almost 200 students and alumni from all three University of Illinois campuses came to the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on April 10, 2013 to advocate for state funding, the Monetary Award Program (MAP), and other important issues.
“The goal is to have all the legislators, all 177 of them, hear from students and alumni about the importance of the U of I,” said Amy Eichhorst, vice president of the U of I Alumni Association’s Illinois Connection.
Participants were assigned lawmakers to speak with based on their home districts. This year, UIS had a record number of participants with 40 students in attendance.
UIS senior biology major Jinger Sanders is a MAP grant recipient. She realizes the importance of the state-supported assistance and wanted to make sure lawmakers did as well.
“It wouldn’t be possible for me to attend UIS if I did not receive a MAP grant, so that’s really important for future students to come,” said Sanders.
Other students, such as John Tienken, a senior UIS political science and English major, came to the capitol pushing for higher education funding in general.
“Right now the University of Illinois is being supported at a 1960’s level,” said Tienken. “That’s just not enough. We need more funding to keep higher education accessible and affordable for students from all backgrounds.”
Besides lobbying for the U of I, the day also serves as an educational experience as students learn about state government and interact with legislators.
“It’s really experiential learning. The students have an opportunity to really see they can make a difference with the legislators, so they’re not only learning about the U of I, they’re learning about citizenship and what it means to be a good citizen,” said Eichhorst.
This is the 5th year the University of Illinois Alumni Association has coordinated the day of action through their Illinois Connection Advocacy Program.