Message to Sen. Dillard: You First

State Sen. Kirk Dillard proposed legislation yesterday calling for the entire University of Illinois Board of Trustees to resign over the unfolding admissions scandal under review by the Mikva Commission.

As I contended on June 30, calls for university resignations only address a symptom of the disease afflicting admissions at U. of I. (and perhaps other Illinois state universities) rather than its cause.

The admissions scandal at U. of I. does not begin with the trustees and it will certainly not end with their ouster in favor of new gubernatorial appointees.

Sen. Dillard’s contention that the “buck stops” with them is simply dead wrong. In fact, primary responsibility should be placed on the politicians in Springfield who set up this fixed admissions system for the very purpose of being able to influence it. Sen. Dillard should know this, considering he sought to use his position to influence the admission of seven applicants to the U. of I., as the Chicago Tribune reported today.

Now that all of this has come to light, Springfield politicians, both Republicans and Democrats, are attempting to foist responsibility onto admissions officers and university trustees whose only error was to go-along-to-get-along under political pressure from those very same politicians.

This is typical Springfield scapegoating, intended to divert attention from the real source of the scandal and protect the status quo in which influence-peddling comes with a legislative seat. We must understand that the U. of I. admissions scandal, like so much that is wrong with Illinois government, is not a personnel problem. It is a system problem and it requires system change.

I am the only gubernatorial candidate, Republican or Democrat, to propose a system change idea to remedy the admissions process at U. of I. Under my proposal, children of the politically-connected play by the same rules as every other taxpaying family in Illinois who desire to see their children attend our quality state universities. I explained my system change idea, entitled “Merit-Based Opportunity,” at a June 30 press conference which you can view here:

Admission should be based on what students know, not who they know.

We should be putting pressure on the political insiders who applied the pressure, not on those who succumbed to it so that they could keep their jobs, keep state funding flowing to U. of I., and stay in the good graces of the politically connected.

Let the politicians who set up the fixed system and who asked for special favors resign first, then we can talk about the Board of Trustees.

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