by Junelly Gonzalez

On Tuesday, April 12th, 25 Benedictine students traveled to Springfield, Ill. to deliver letters to Governor Bruce Rauner, lobby their legislators, and have private meetings with Kelly Burke and John Cullerton. Burke is the Chairwoman of the Higher Education and Cullerton is the Committee President of the Illinois Senate, and both are important players in Illinois politics. Although students were denied the opportunity to meet with Gov. Rauner, they were still able to deliver letters to him outlining the frustration and disappointment they felt.

“Benedictine students came down to Springfield to deliver over 1,000 letters with student’s signatures to Gov. Rauner to show support for reinstating funding for the MAP Grant. Pressures were put on the Democrats as well with our lobbying efforts. Both parties need to stop pointing fingers and get stuff done for the students and the people of Illinois” said junior student and candidate for the Secretary of Student Senate Juan Garcia.

Aside from their letter campaign efforts, students were afforded the opportunity to lobby over 10 legislators in order to influence Illinois Representatives and Senators to fund MAP Grants for all students in the state. Students went through a crash course in lobbying, a process that some individuals get paid thousands of dollars to do exactly what students had to do.

“Overall, the trip was an amazing experience. I had the chance to lobby to state legislators on what their opinions were on the MAP Grant and how they could find a solution to the issue. These conversations gave me a new perspective of the situation as a whole. I know I have been to springfield before, but this trip was different than any other. Talking to state legislators about the issues involving the MAP grant gave me the chance to really have my voice be heard and try to make a difference for students” said sophomore Jessica Buettner.

There were mixed feelings regarding the lobbying students did with their state Representatives and Senators. Some students felt a sense of accomplishment from their lobbying efforts.

“It felt good to play a part in trying to break the gridlock and partisan divide in Springfield” stated sophomore Kellen McCullum.

Some students felt discouraged from their lobbying efforts due to the content of the politician’s comments.

“I had some great talks with my state Representative. I also had some talks with legislators who were either short or very partisan. Overall, I felt BenU did an amazing job and had a blast. A lot of other colleges were there too for MAP Grants so it was empowering” said sophomore Samantha Seggerson.