By Will Jones, abc7chicago.com
Thousands of Chicago State University students are being forced to change their spring break plans because of lack of state funding.
School officials confirm they are accelerating the semester and cancelling spring break, which was scheduled for March 14-19, due to the Illinois state budget impasse. Graduation has also been moved up to April 28 from May 12.
“The university is trying to finish the semester by any means necessary,” says CSU senior Charles Preston.
Preston, a senior, had his sights set on the Florida sun and the sand
“I bought a plane ticket to Miami to visit my girlfriend,” he says.
The state has had no budget since July 2015, which has deprived all public colleges and universities of their state funding. CSU’s state funding comprises 30 percent of their budget, and the school is particularly hard hit because they do not have the monetary reserves of other Illinois colleges. Their reserves are expected to run out at the end of March, possibly leaving the school’s students – who are primarily minority students – in limbo.
“Chicago State University is in a state of financial exigency which allows us to make budget, rather operating adjustments, cost reductions, in order to continue to operate,” CSU President Thomas Calhoun says.
With no end to the budget impasse in sight, Calhoun says the school is trying to come up with ways to save money for the following school year.
“We’re looking at how to be efficient in the summer. We have a number of buildings on campus that are really minimally used, we can close those,” he says.
Students and alumni have already publicly protested the budget situation in defense of their university, and the latest news has angered them further.
“I’m very angry,” says Preston. “This is the sacrifices the university has to do in effort for it to still exist.”
For students who have already made spring break plans and purchased airline tickets, the university says the school will work with students to make sure they don’t get behind on their classwork.