Students head to Springfield for Day at the Capitol

on Wednesday, March 2, 2016.

on Wednesday, March 2, 2016.

UIC students will travel to Springfield March 29 to advocate for a state budget with increased funding for higher education.

University of Illinois Student Day at the Capitol gives students from all three campuses — UIC, Urbana-Champaign and Springfield — the opportunity to speak face-to-face with state legislators about the importance of passing legislation that has a strong commitment to universities.

“I personally feel like without the opportunity to have access to higher education, we can’t really advance in life,” said Marvin Slaughter, a student organizer of the event. “Nowadays, having a bachelor’s degree is the equivalent to having a high school diploma.”

The budget crisis, which has been at the forefront of Illinois politics for years, directly affects UIC students. MAP grants and financial aid could be on the line if legislation remains stymied.

“We are all tomorrow’s doctors, engineers, accountants, nurses and so on,” student organizer Yasmin Rassouli said. “But without funding to higher education, it not only makes it more difficult for us to become those things, it makes it pretty much impossible for many.”

Students who attend will take a bus — which is provided by the university — to Springfield in the morning, then meet for brunch to discuss the major talking points to use with state representatives. Afterward, the lobbying begins. Students will break into individual sessions with elected officials.

“It’s great when [state representatives] get letters and read stories,” Rassouli said. “But at that point, our stories are just ideas to them. It’s when we walk into their offices, look them in the eyes and tell them our stories — tell them exactly how what they are doing right now is affecting us personally — that resonates so much more.”

Students interested in the event can register until March 22.

Event leaders are expecting about 100 participants.

“This is a students’ issue,” Slaughter said. “If you look around, and you look at the amount of diversity, which is something UIC is known for, without MAP grants, without financial aid, that diversity would be nonexistent.

“A lot of the students who make your experience here at UIC, they wouldn’t be here without funding. So that’s my pitch to students.”