Chicago State University rally held one day after layoff notices sent

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CSU officials said that layoffs are coming if they don't receive their state funding. Illinois has not had a budget in eight months. (WLS)

A rally was held Sunday at Chicago State University to urge state lawmakers to take action so that public universities can receive their funding.

The rally, which was attended by former Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, comes one day after CSU sent notices to all of its 900 employees that layoffs would happen if the South Side university doesn't receive its state funding.

The rally also follows Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a proposal that would have provided $397 million to the Monetary Award Program (MAP), saying that the state doesn't have the money. Meanwhile students are scrambling to figure out how they will pay for college. Also this week, CSU's 4,500 students learned spring break was cancelled to shorten the semester.

Angry members of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus also joined students and others for the rally, vowing to override the governor's action.

"We will never allow Gov. Rauner, or others, to take this great university from Chicago State University," said Sen. Monique Davis, D-Chicago.

"It's a crisis for our students. Our universities are struggling, our community colleges are struggling," said State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Westchester.

CSU has been operating without money from the state since July 1.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic legislative leaders have been at odds ever since.

State Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, whose district includes CSU, said the governor doesn't care about education.

"Where are your priorities Gov. Rauner? Where are your priorities?" Jones asked.

The school's accreditation is also at risk because about a third of its budget comes from the state.

CSU has been using emergency measures and reserves as the university community vows to stay open.

"The word commencement means beginning so we are going to be celebrating the beginning of the new Chicago State University, this crisis notwithstanding, we're going to be here," CSU President Thomas Calhoun told the crowd.

Saturday evening, a Gov. Rauner spokesperson responded to the protests at CSU in a statement saying: "The Governor continues to urge the legislature to pass Representative Dunkin's bipartisan legislation to save Chicago State without forcing a massive tax increase on Illinois families."
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