Group pushing for free tuition at SIUC

Speakers from local chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America announce petition to make...
Speakers from local chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America announce petition to make SIUC a free-tuition school
Published: Nov. 1, 2018 at 6:58 PM CDT
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Group pushing for free tuition at SIUC

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - A new proposal from the SIUC Young Democratic Socialists of America and the Southern Illinois Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America is aiming to make tuition at the school free.

The two groups met at the Morris Library Rotunda on Thursday, Nov. 1 to announce a petition to get signatures in support of the change.

Layne Ellingsworth is a student at SIUC and treasurer of their YDSA chapter, he claims that by making SIUC free to attend it will help Carbondale by bringing more students to the school and stimulate local business.

“More jobs and more students means more money circulating in the local economy,” he said.

Sam Smucker co-chairs the Southern Illinois chapter of the DSA, and says that the enrollment problem at the school comes from tuition being too high.

He said at the announcement that the DSA groups have received a lot of criticism on the big issue with free education; how do you pay for it?

“We think that it’s really the job of politicians to take this on as a priority and then come up with ways to pay for it that does not burden the people of Illinois,” Smucker said.

The two DSA groups do make some suggestions in their proposal, such as, a tax on stock exchanges made in Chicago or a progressive income tax.

Ellingsworth commented on a time when Rauner would be out of office after the midterms when he said this, “Everyone talks about lowering taxes, but often don’t want to talk about what high taxes can do for a society if they’re used correctly."

Rae Goldsmith, the chief communications officer at the school, spoke on behalf of SIUC officials when she said the state hasn’t been giving the school a lot of money recently.

She doesn’t think eliminating tuition will solve many of SIUC’s problems because tuition is most of what keeps the lights on there.

“We’ve seen over the years that state funding has declined and that has in fact driven tuition up, again, to cover the costs of an education,” she said.

Essentially, Goldsmith said that it costs a lot of money to run a school. From the teachers, to staff, to football games, to grounds employees, homecoming celebrations, and all the other elements that come with running a school, cutting out tuition just wouldn’t work according to Goldsmith.

“Unless there’s an alternative source of revenue,” she said, “and we know it’s not coming from the state of Illinois, to make up for the tuition expenses, I don’t know how we could move forward with a free tuition economically.”

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