Illinois still hasn’t worked out a state budget, leading state universities to pare down important student support networks. Running out of funding on December 31st University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has laid off or slashed the hours of much of the staff of its Rape Advocacy, Counseling and Education Services (RACES) center, going from a team of seven full-time employees to just one.
RACES provides support to both students and community members in the Urbana area, hosting a 24 hour support hotline and access to counseling. Even with budget cuts, the hotline remains open, and the center is optimistic about its future, but this remains a financial blow to an organization that’s doing absolutely vital work.
That RACES is not just an important resource for students but for the community as a whole–non-student use of the center has gradually increased the past few years–shows that education policy doesn’t only affect schools, and that for all the (sometimes warranted) discussion of disconnect between academia and the population as a whole, universities can play an integral community role. The biggest takeaway, though, is that the state really needs to figure its budget out, because there’s a lot on the line.