CHICAGO (CBS) — Two weeks after they shut down part of the Dan Ryan Expressway to protest the possible closing of their school amid the state budget impasse, students from Chicago State University took their protest to the governor’s office downtown.
Chicago State University has said it will run out of money on March 1, and be forced to shut down, if Gov. Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers do not pass a state budget, and provide funding for the school and other public universities in Illinois.
“We have just recently declared financial crisis, so we have no idea what’s next. Teachers could be laid off, programs could be cut. Really, this is a real deal at this point. It’s really getting really critical, and really making the students nervous and anxious as far as what’s going to happen,” CSU student Paris Griffin said.
Angry students, alumni, and faculty filled the plaza outside the Thompson Center in the loop on Monday, to urge the governor and the Illinois General Assembly to come up with a budget.
“Do your damn job. We’re tired of the political chess. We need them to do their damn job and sign a budget,” said Charles Preston, a CSU senior majoring in African American Studies.
Preston said his education, along with thousands of others’, is at stake. If Chicago State University were to close next month, seniors might not be able to graduate in the spring.
“Students don’t know, and that’s the most scariest thing that you don’t know whether or not that you will graduate at the end of the year. That is frightening,” he said.
Preston said not many schools in Chicago offer an African American Studies major, and he has a lot of credits that won’t transfer to other colleges, so if CSU closes, he doesn’t know where else he would go to finish his academic career.
He also said he’s also worried about his mother, who works for Chicago State, and could be laid off in a budget doomsday scenario.
“I don’t know what it takes. I’ve seen mayors close 50 schools. I’ve seen mayors close half the city’s mental health clinics. I’ve seen Rauner put people out of work,” he said.
Approximately 4,000 students are currently enrolled at CSU. Students and alumni also plan to protest in Springfield when the governor presents his annual budget address later this month.