NEIU Chicago Student Action fight for free education


Nicole F. Anderson

Photo of students from meeting

Nicole F. Anderson, News and Co-Managing Editor

Ten students attended the first NEIU chapter Chicago Student Action (CSA) of this semester to discuss the group’s visions, free higher education for all, publicly funded elections and Illinois policies on Feb. 7.

The CSA moderators, Cece Ballenger, Brianna Tong and Liam Flesher explained that their organization fights for economic, gender and racial justice on and off campus. Student Action groups are all over the city of Chicago and are connected with People’s Lobby, a grassroots organization devoted to informing communities and gaining support for public policies and candidates.

NEIU’s Student Action chapter started, with their main focus of fighting for free higher education for all and lowering debt, in Illinois in September 2017.

CSA members are fighting for free higher education for all, which would include all fees, textbooks, campus housing and other college-related costs. Several students in the meeting explained that they are the first-generation to graduate high school and attend college.

Flesher explained, “The good thing about  Student Action is that canvassing takes only three hours at the most. You can pick it up and put it down whenever. Any NEIU student can join NEIU’s student action but anyone can join People’s Lobby.”

NEIU Student Action meetings will be held every 2 to 3 weeks on Wednesdays and are always open to all students to attend.

In the past two years, People’s Lobby along with Chicago Student Action groups have helped push for minimum wage increase in Cook County, held more than 18,000 conversations to inform voters, held protests and canvassed neighborhoods raise awareness about their cause.

Chicago Student Action would like to make higher education more accessible by opening existing Illinois to undocumented folks.

Tong explained some of the ways Student Action can help push for free higher education, allowing state financial aid to be available to undocumented students with the Access Bill. Currently, people who are undocumented are unable to receive any federal student aid, this includes FAFSA, Pell Grants, Illinois MAP Grants, etc.

According to Student Action, “Federal law allows individual state legislatures to offer undocumented students eligibility for financial aid. Passage of the Student ACCESS Bill would allow 4-year public universities to offer financial aid to every student enrolled at their institution on a competitive basis. The legislation will not, however, make undocumented students eligible to apply for the MAP Grant.”

NEIU student, Miranda Green said that the meeting made her feel “hopeful.”

Tong concluded the meeting with information on next week’s campus canvas and the statement, “There is people power at universities.”