Seniors at Chicago State University now have their degrees after surviving a tumultuous year. The university was scheduled to close Friday because of the 10-month long state budget impasse. There was some funding this week but the university remains on the brink.
That was obvious at this week’s graduation. The event was not a solemn ceremony. Instead, it was a political rally for students capping a very political school year. Illinois Public Radio’s Tony Arnold reports.
Before the graduation ceremony - students in black robes and green sashes were running around backstage - finding the right place to line up. Eric Giddens was in the hall with his nursing school classmates.
ARNOLD: You got a job lined up?
GIDDENS: Well yeah. I had clinicals and some of the clinical sites, they told me I could come back afterwards and try so hopefully I’ll get in.
Giddens says he’s graduating in spite of everything else going on. Chicago State didn’t get any state money for 10 months because of the impasse at the Statehouse. Neither did any other Illinois public university. But Chicago State was the closest to closing. Administrators even canceled Spring Break - and moved up graduation just to make sure it’d have the money for seniors like Giddens to finish the semester.
GIDDENS: When we were going through school, everything got rushed up, all the deadlines got pushed up and it was like really stressful. But now that it’s over with, I’m just happy that we made it. And I feel for the classes that come after us because they’re gonna have it a lot harder than we did but hopefully everything gets resolved.