"Buy into WIU" movement taking place in Macomb

    Layoffs expected at WIU due to state budget issues (file photo).

    We are less than 48 hours away from alleged cuts to Western Illinois University’s curriculum and staff.

    The university announced in a November Board of Trustees meeting, cuts would be put on hold until Illinois Governor JB Pritzker delivered his budget address.

    Governor JB Pritzker announced last week in his proposed budget address that he would like to increase funding for public colleges and University’s by 5 percent.

    KHQA’s Lynsey Whitaker traveled to the Western Illinois University's campus Wednesday to get details on a last-minute movement to "Buy into WIU".

    There is a last-minute push and a petition leading in to Friday’s proposed cuts.

    The movement is being spearheaded by the UPI Local 4100 chapter along with students and alumni.

    Leaders of the movement are calling it a grassroots movement dedicated to protecting and growing WIU.

    “We are suffering tremendously and we need emergency appropriations to stem the tide of budget cuts and layoff that are coming," said Associate Professor and Union Member Casey Lafrance

    With budget cuts on the way to Western Illinois University, administration officials have been tight lipped on what the future holds.

    “It is a really good community and they treat you like family,” said student Jada Ferguson.

    Just in her second semester at WIU, Ferguson is a freshmen nursing student and has already seen a round of cuts first hand.

    “For example, my English teacher last semester got cut and she just didn’t know what to do next, she never thought it would be her because she’s been here so long,” Ferguson said.

    A local movement is calling on Illinois Governor JB Pritzker to invest an additional $6 million into the university.

    “We are asking for primarily emergency funding and then long term consideration for funding that will help us get back on our feet and be the institution we can be,” said Lafrance.

    They are also asking for the governor to appoint a new board of trustees.

    A statement from the University Wednesday states:

    “We are hopeful for the future of public higher education based on Gov. Pritzker's recent budget address in which he proposed a 5 percent increase for public universities. We look forward to working with Gov. Pritzker and the General Assembly to increase funding for Western Illinois University and Illinois public higher education.”

    But for some students, they say Friday’s proposed cuts will determine if WIU will remain their choice for the future.

    “Now that the teachers are going to get cut too,it might definitely affect the campus, the learning, how much attendance the teachers get,” said student Melissa Joseph.
    “We train people to go out and jump start the economy in our region and in our state," Lafrance said. Is your job by chance potentially on the chopping block? "I think everyone's is, there is no sacred cows.”

    A rally to support the “Buy into WIU” movement will take place Thursday from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. in Macomb.

    As far as Friday’s proposed cuts, the University will not hold a press conference on the matter. KHQA is expecting a statement from the administration.

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