Biss, Pawar join NEIU rally protesting public budget cuts to Illinois universities


Daily file photo by Maytham Al-Zayer

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) speaks at a town hall in January. Biss on Tuesday joined protesters at Northeastern Illinois University in demanding an end to the state’s historic budget impasse.

Sophie Mann, Digital Development and Recruitment Editor

Northeastern Illinois University did not have class on Tuesday as a result of furloughs stemming from state budget shortfalls.

The furloughs, which are also scheduled for Wednesday and May 1, come amid a roughly 20-month long budget stalemate that has crippled the state and slashed funding for numerous programs.

Students and faculty held protests on Tuesday, demanding an end to the historic budget impasse. The closures affected roughly 10,000 students who attend NEIU, as well as nearly 1,100 University employees. Chicago State University also had to make drastic faculty cuts.

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) and Ald. Ameya Pawar of Chicago (47th) attended the protests, standing in solidarity with the students and faculty against Gov. Bruce Rauner. Both Biss and Pawar announced gubernatorial bids earlier this year.

The two politicians criticized Rauner’s failure to financially support marginalized students, especially those who were the first in their family to attend college. Biss said there are many marginalized students at NEIU, and a lack of resources and funds to support them.

“We’re standing here at Northeastern, which is closed,” Biss told WGN-TV. “We’re standing here at a school that serves children of immigrants, low income students, first generation students, people who are having their first shot at a college education.”

Pawar noted that many students who attend NEIU have one or more jobs and support families or attend school at night.

With the size of Chicago’s economy, Pawar said, it’s the government’s inability to tax fairly and fund institutions that is causing the closures, not a lack of money. He said withholding resources is “immoral.”

“The people who support (the students) in their endeavors are the faculty and staff,” Pawar said at the rally. “They make sure that the students … are supported by the professors. And the idea that we would then say that the professors somehow make too much … is an abomination.”

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