Budget or Else: How Chicago State University students are fighting to #SaveCSU
January 26, 2016 at 2:59 am
Chicago State University, a predominantly Black public college located on Chicago’s South Side, is facing a shutdown amid the state’s unresolved budget impasse. The state of Illinois has been operating without a budget since June of 2015 due to Governor Bruce Rauner and the majority Democratic legislature being at odds over the allotment of funds. Chicago State is expected to run out of funds on March 1st, unless a deal is put in place. Monday, a Democratic Senator introduced $25 million legislation that would keep the doors open.
As the reality of the university closing gets closer, students and faculty of the 150-year-old institution have been organizing to put pressure on lawmakers to end the deadlock. After speaking with students, faculty and community leaders, it’s clear that Chicago State University’s closing will contribute to the ongoing issues that already plague Chicago’s South Side.
CSU Senior & African American studies major Charles Preston, leading on campus activist efforts, recently spoke about the school’s issues at Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.’s Rainbow Push Coalition headquarters.
THIS MUST GO VIRAL: If anybody and I do mean anybody is wondering what type of students come out of Chicago State University….take a look at this video. Meet Charles Alexander Preston and hear what he has to say about #saveCSU and #BudgetOrElse Repost Repost
Posted by MaToya Mae Marsh on Saturday, January 23, 2016
We spoke with Preston about his thoughts on CSU and measures students are taking to save their school. “The state tends to look at us as a number. Closing CSU would be taking away multiple resources from the south side of Chicago.” Preston added, “Chicago State University is like a second-chance school.”
Preston organized a student protest earlier this month over Governor Rauner’s decision to withhold a state budget. “The protest on January 9th helped bring national attention to the situation at CSU.”
Since student-led protests have garnered national attention to CSU, faculty and community leaders have come out to support the #SaveCSU movement. Kwesi Harris, the Director of the African American Male Resource Center at CSU, says that the closing of CSU “will be a national and international embarrassment”. Harris adds, “It’s educational genocide, impacting and impeding young people’s aspirations to live out their dreams. This is impacting all 9 public universities in Illinois. CSU students were just the first to act.”
Author, educator and community activist Dr. Obari Cartman shared his thoughts on CSU’s importance to the community, “My experience in an independent African centered elementary school and after attending an HBCU for undergrad, I am clear that any success I have achieved with a PhD and beyond is due to having incubator spaces like CSU to go to for reprieve and recharge.”
Just like the Black Lives Matter movement, young Black millennial’s have been at the forefront of CSU’s protest. Preston says, “The more we try to save our school, the more vocal the governor is about why the budget is being withheld.”
— Lupe Fiasco (@LupeFiasco) January 21, 2016
Arts educator and executive director of Lupe Fiasco’s M.U.R.A.L nonprofit organization Ayesha Jaco spoke on the opportunities that Chicago State University provided in her studies. Jaco said, “During my undergraduate studies, Chicago State University provided me with the opportunity to attend the Black Writers Conference and sit at the feet of visionaries like Gwendolyn Brooks, Sonia Sanchez, Maya Angelou and others. Opportunities like those empowered and encouraged me to advocate as an artist and philanthropist today.”
With all spotlight shining bright on CSU, Preston says that there is a lot more noise that needs to be made around the issue. The group plans to go to Springfield, IL this Wednesday to address their concerns directly with lawmakers and continue to put pressure on the state to finally pass a budget that will save their school.
The #SaveCSU movement is less about preserving a campus and more about saving the futures of young Black men and women in Chicago’s notoriously deprived South Side.
To join the fight in saving Chicago State Unversity, there are a few ways to help.
1. Make a Donation at on the school’s website.
(Click On “Add Special Instructions” and enter #SaveCSU in the instruction box)
2. Contact Illinois legislators to demand swift and reasonable action on the passing of the budget.
3. Continue to Spread the word by using the hashtags #SaveCSU and #BudgetorElse. Like, share, and repost.