On Wednesday, February 3, 2021, the Illinois State University Student Government Association (SGA), Redbird alumni, and faculty met with government officials to lobby for higher education funding.
Although Lobby Day usually takes place in-person at the Illinois State Capitol, the global pandemic was not going to stop this annual event.
This year’s Lobby Day included student leaders advocating for higher education to remain a budget priority because state funding is essential to public universities in Illinois and its students. SGA members spoke throughout the day as the organization serves an important role in the Redbird community as the official governing body for students at ISU.
“Lobby Day is important because legislators need to hear from students about their experiences in college,” said Lauren Harris, Illinois State’s student body president. “Higher education could always use more support from the state, so hopefully legislators hearing from students firsthand can create more change.”
This year, students attended the virtual Lobby Day to speak on behalf of the student body regarding education policy and funding.
Not only is Lobby Day an important day for students, but alumni also participated. Alumni participation allows students to see the impact and connection they can continue to have after graduation. It shows them how they can truly make a difference not only for fellow Redbirds, but for the University as a whole.
“Lobby Day is a unique opportunity for students to directly connect with policy makers. These connections open up doors for our students and gives them networking opportunities that are invaluable,” Stephanie Duquenne ’04, M.S. ’15, director for ISU Alumni Engagement stated regarding the impact these lobby days make with students.
In addition, ISU affiliates were honored to speak with the new Illinois Speaker of the House, Emmanuel “Chris” Welch, who is the first African American to hold the position since the creation of the Illinois General Assembly by the first state constitution adopted in 1818.
“As I look to the large and diverse Democratic majority we have built—full of young leaders ready to continue moving our state forward, strong women and people of color, and members representing all parts of our state—I am confident Illinois remains in good hands,” said former Speaker of the House, Michael Madigan, to Politico News regarding Speaker Welch’s new position.
SGA members exemplified pride as they discussed higher education with Speaker Welch, keeping in mind throughout the conversation that they are the future of ISU and the voice of the Redbird community.
ISU has much to be proud of with its growing diverse student population and enrollment numbers, alongside student retention rate, which is of the highest in the nation. Lobby Day focused on Illinois universities receiving more funding and support for continuous student and campus success.
To show additional support beyond Lobby Day, leadership from the 12 Illinois public university Alumni Associations have signed a joint letter to the members of the Illinois General Assembly (ILGA) and Gov. J.B. Pritzker asking for support for public higher education in Illinois in the upcoming budget cycle. The Illinois State Alumni Association is now asking you, our Redbird alumni, to join them by adding your voice through this call-to-action.
The ILGA will vote on a budget this spring and Illinois students, universities, and the state’s future depend on the success of ISU because every voice matters. We need state funding to continue to provide a world-class education for our Illinois students. Please take the time to write your State of Illinois legislators today.
Take action and ask your state legislators to support Illinois State University and higher education.