Written by Stephanie Rodriguez. Media by Taylor Neal.
Due to the lack of state budget, Gov. Bruce Rauner proposed a budget that could potentially cut funding to higher education by more than 30 percent. The Illinois MAP grant is in jeopardy this year and many students are directly affected by this since so many rely on the MAP grant to attend college. Many schools, including Greenville College, had to provide a lot of the funding for the MAP grant during the Fall of 2015 because no state budget deal was made and several schools cannot continue to do this without facing financial repercussions.
Gov. Rauner vetoed a bill on June 25, 2015 that would allocate money to fund MAP grants through the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. Now that the education of many students is in endangerment many schools have asked students, faculty, and community members to write letters and contact the office of Gov. Rauner so the funding can continue. Member of the Factory Theatre, Resident Chaplain in Holtwick and Psychology major LaRyssa Herrington played a major role by continuously contacting the governor about the MAP grant issue and she commented that her experience is complex. She states, “I had a lot of self-doubts concerning what I should say and how I should say certain things because I knew that I wanted to be concise yet thorough. The process was certainly met with a lot of frustration, tears, and anger because of my passion and desire to not only be a voice for myself but for other students in similar situations.” Herrington sent her letter and received the Governor’s response through e-mail. She adds, “At first I was excited because I believed that I was one step closer to having my voice heard but was later disappointed to learn that it was an automated jot letter.”
On Feb. 4 Greenville College hosted “Save Illinois MAP Grant” in the Upper Union. It was an event for students to write letters to representatives of the state in order to ask for continuous funding through the MAP grant. It was a come-and-go event where students could eat snacks while writing letters, ending with over 200 letters being written that night.
History and Political Science Department Chair Dr. Richard Huston and Malvin Hubbard hosted a Q & A with Sen. Kyle McCarter on Feb. 5 in LaDue Auditorium to discuss several matters including the MAP grant. As part of his campaign for the upcoming Republican primary in March, Sen. McCarter came to GC as an effort to “meet and greet” with students, faculty, and staff.
Hubbard studies Business Management and currently is in several leadership roles with Phi Beta Lambda, Mosaic, and Great Jobs. He believes that having direct contact with state representatives can help increase the voice of students everywhere in Illinois. He comments, “Well, I currently put on the event for Kyle McCarter to come to campus, so my perspective is a little different. Sen. McCarter endorsed the MAP grant in the late vote. It’s important for students to voice their opinions because the MAP grant directly affects about 300 students here on our campus as well as others. If that funding isn’t passed through congress, students won’t be able to get that money in return, causing some students to have to forfeit their schooling for the semester or even year.”
Sen. McCarter talked about how a lot plays into the role of funding money to schools because the cost of education hasn’t been the same – it’s grown 40 percent – and the funding amount stays the same. He believes that students who work hard deserve the MAP grant and shouldn’t lose the opportunity to continue their education. According to Sen. McCarter, Illinois is at a political impasse because the state increases tax rates rather than taxpayers; if more students are offered the opportunity to stay in Illinois to work then the cost of living would lower and revenue would increase.
Dr. Huston hopes “that McCarter will return to Springfield with a clear message from his visit to Greenville that continuation of MAP is vital to helping students in Illinois gain access to higher education. As such, it’s vitally important for students to turn out in order to express their misgivings.”
Along with many other people, Herrington believes everyone involved in this issue should speak out. She proclaims “no good social movement ever succeeded by just giving up after a couple of tries. It took countless hours of hard work and dedicated members who strove to be heard and known relying on the participation of others to make things happen. Change takes time; it takes patience and a certain level of faith. Change is never an easy thing but it is a necessary and worthwhile thing.” The MAP grant issue is affecting many students and higher education schools, especially in Southern Illinois, so make sure to speak out and communicate with the offices of Gov. Rauner to let him know this is important to the future of students’ education.