Rush Holds Special Order to Shed Light on Chicago State University Budget Crisis
WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) took to the House floor to put a national spotlight on the budget crisis in Illinois undermining the existence of Chicago State University (CSU). CSU, located within the 1st Congressional District, is on the verge of closing in lieu of receiving state funding, vital to continuing its operations.
Below is the video and transcript of Rush's remarks:
Text of Rush's Floor Statement:
Mr. Speaker, I come here to the House floor today to express my deep concern and disappointment regarding the grave financial challenges facing the Chicago State University, which is located in my district on the south side of Chicago.
Mr. Speaker, due to the enormous budget crisis currently taking place in my home state of Illinois, the university has not received the State funding that is essential to maintaining its multifaceted operations. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, after 7 months of utilizing its financial reserves, Chicago State University is now in a dire position. Chicago State University must confront the real possibility of closing its doors in the immediate future.
Mr. Speaker, the impact of this pending reality is far reaching in its scope, and it would adversely affect thousands of students and hundreds of faculty and staff, many of whom reside in my district, the 1st District of Illinois. The entire Chicagoland region would be severely adversely affected by the closing of the Chicago State University. Mr. Speaker, my district is home to 4,300 students who are enrolled at Chicago State. Fifty-eight percent of these students are my constituents.
The great need for this institution is demonstrated by the fact that almost 88 percent of enrolled students receive financial aid. Of those students on financial aid, 44 percent are first-generation college students, and 54 percent of these students are low-income individuals. In fact, Mr. Speaker, Chicago State University is renowned for recruiting and graduating nontraditional minority students who, due to a variety of reasons, have been denied many of the economic, social, and educational benefits enjoyed by the greater American society.
As U.S. News and World Report notes, Chicago State University ranks first in Illinois in awarding bachelor's degrees to African-Americans in the physical sciences, health professions, and other related sciences. Additionally, the school also ranks fourth in Illinois in awarding baccalaureate degrees to Latino students in the education sector.
Mr. Speaker, closing Chicago State University, even on a temporary basis, would have a profound impact on the lives of all these students who have worked so hard to beat the odds and who desperately seek to provide a better life for themselves and for their families.
Additionally, as one of my district's largest employers, if the university were to close, it would have a devastating rippling effect on the economics of Chicago's greater south side and also in the lives of the 850 faculty and staff who are employed by Chicago State University. Undoubtedly, the school's closing would also stifle any opportunity for economic recovery in communities on Chicago's south side and in the nearby suburban area of the city of Chicago.
To help address this pending dire situation, in the coming days I will be introducing a bill in the House to provide Federal assistance to the university until this budget impasse in the State of Illinois can be resolved.
Mr. Speaker, Chicago State University is far too important to the families, to the communities that I represent, to simply leave its fate to chance or to the political gamesmanship and indifference of its governmental leaders.
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner should not allow this historically crucial, minority-serving institution of higher education that so faithfully serves the needs of African Americans and Latino American students to shut down on his watch. Legislative leaders in the State of Illinois must not allow this legendary institution to close its doors on current and future generations of upward-bound students.
Mr. Speaker, April 29 will be forever be known as the Day of Educational Infamy in my State of Illinois. It will be regarded as the day that Illinois lawmakers let the students of Chicago State University down. It will be regarded as the day that Illinois lawmakers let the citizens of the State of Illinois down.
It will be regarded as the day that Illinois lawmakers stood in the schoolhouse door to deny access to the universally acknowledged benefits of higher education to predominantly minority students who study and matriculate at the Chicago State University.
Mr. Speaker, we cannot afford to not afford to fund the Chicago State University. We must do everything in our power to address this ominous situation and provide help to this critical institution that has proven to be so vital to the needs of my constituents, to the needs of the citizens of the State of Illinois, and to our Nation as a whole.
We must act, and we must act now. Save Chicago State. Save Chicago State. Save Chicago State University.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.