NEWSPOEM 19 FEBRUARY 1996
Today's news was reported to me by an undergraduate journalism student who interviewed me outside the UI Undergraduate library. A large number of state politicians have been identified as granting tuition wavers to the children of people who supported their campaign financially, including students from outside their districts. These scholarships are supposed to be (financial) need and (academic) merit-based. State Representative Tim Johnson (R-Urbana) granted a tuition waver at EIU for two years to the daughter of Roger "Dee" Shonkwiler, a Republican committeeman who coordinates Johnson's 1996 reelection campaign in Douglas County. When prodded, Johnson, who is opposed to intelligence, explained that he thought the program should be canceled. The student showed me the wire releases and asked me what I thought. I thought that, due to a distrust of politicians, and a certainty that they were isolated from academia, that these scholarships should be distributed by a committee of people more connected with the universities in question. The day was sunny and she wore a green windbreaker. She thanked me and walked away across the brick tiles towards the quad. I continue to wonder how such a program originated. At some point, was somebody convinced that a politician, when allowed to give away tuition wavers, would try to improve the life of a poor and studious constituent? Is there another way to get politicians to do that? What if they were told that there was only one voter, and that person was poor and intelligent, and it was up to them to find that person and romance them and offer them opportunities which would otherwise be unaffordable? And there was no way they could determine who it actually was?
So I went to Tim Johnson's house to explain to him that soon he would be seeking me out.
And that he owed me about $ 17.45 in tips (at %15) from waiting on him last summer.
Newspoetry at Spineless Books