Pols Pushed U. of Illinois Into Taking Students

'Clout list' just amounts to 'blackmail:' critics
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted May 30, 2009 4:32 PM CDT
The University of Illinois.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – Prominent state lawmakers have been pressuring administrators at the University of Illinois to accept favored applicants or risk facing their wrath, the Chicago Tribune reports. Analyzing 1,800 documents, the paper found that subpar applicants on a “clout list” gained admission over the objections of admissions officers after school lobbyists passed along veiled threats from legislators.

One lawmaker said administrators “have always been brutally honest” in responding to his requests, but critics say the dealings—which include pressure from former Gov. Rod Blagojevich—disenfranchise worthy students. “It’s completely inappropriate,” said one official. A colleague called it a “constituent service,” but added, “It doesn't mean you should be participating in a form of blackmail."