A SIU Carbondale student has started a petition drive to remove Governor Bruce Rauner as one of the keynote speakers for the university's graduation ceremony next month.
The petition created on 'change.org' is circulating through social media. SIUC student Emily Neal created the petition. As of Monday afternoon nearly 2,000 people had signed the petition - including a number of SIU students, faculty, and alumni. One individual signing the petition said it's "not fair to the graduates whose accomplishments are being celebrated." Another expressed similar frustration saying that having Governor Rauner speak at graduation is a "slap in the face to the student body."
SIU-Carbondale spokesperson Rae Goldsmith say the university realized some people would oppose Rauner's commencement visit, but she says it's always an honor to have the sitting governor speak at graduation. Goldsmith says SIU President Randy Dunn extended the invitation to the Governor in January before Rauner announced his proposed budget cuts for higher education. She says that makes the Governor's visit even more important to show him the positive and powerful outcome of the state's investment in higher education.
Goldsmith says the university hopes those opposing Rauner's appearance will be respectful of the ceremony and not cause any disruptions. She says SIU-C will prepare for any possible unrest. Governor Rauner is scheduled to speak on May 16th at the 1:30 p.m. commencement ceremony for students in the College of Business and the College of Education and Human Services.