Chicago State University students march on Dan Ryan to protest state budget stalemate

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About two dozen students from Chicago State University march down Martin Luther King Drive, after earlier blocking traffic on the Dan Ryan Expressway to protest the state's budget impasse. (Credit: CBS)

By CBS Chicago

Students from Chicago State University shut down three Chicago expressways on Thursday, when they marched onto the Dan Ryan to protest the impact the state’s budget impasse has had on their school.

About two dozen CSU students marched on the northbound lanes of the Dan Ryan, prompting police to shut down the inbound lanes, creating backups on I-57 and the Bishop Ford Freeway, which merge with the Dan Ryan south of 95th Street.

The budget standoff in Illinois has left public universities without a flow of state money for more than six months, and Chicago State University has said it will run out of money in March, and be forced to shut down if the state doesn’t start providing funding.

“Once they pass that budget, we’ll be open, but until then we have to fight. In 30 days they’re going to shut us down completely,” CSU student Javante Thompson said.

Protesters chanted “pass this budget now” as they were forced off the expressway at 87th Street, where police allowed them to march back to the university. More than a dozen police cars escorted the protesters as they headed back. The same protesters also blocked the intersection of 95th and State streets after marching on the Dan Ryan.

“Basically right now we’re fighting for CSU’s survival. My voice is low, because we’ve been chanting for a while. We shut down 95th to let them know what it feels like to be shut down. They’re shutting down my school. I cannot graduate if you do that, and it’s just really inconvenient to us, and we feel like it should be different,” Thompson said.

The state’s budget impasse also has cut off the flow of money for the Monetary Awards Program, which provides state-funded financial aid to college students. That has left many students at CSU and other universities struggling to afford tuition and stay in school.

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