Root Out Clout At U of I: Quinn

Appoints commission

Gov. Pat Quinn appointed a panel this morning to look into the University of Illinois' admissions practices in the wake of revelations that lobbyists and legislators wielded a clout list that moved underqualified candidates ahead of those more deserving of spots in the state's largest public university.

It's still not clear what, if anything, will happen to university officials whose broken moral compasses allowed the situation to fester for so long.

The panel, led by retired federal judge Abner Mikva, will report back to Quinn in 60 days.

The governor's office says the university is expected to cooperate, but the Tribune, which broke the story, hasn't been so lucky thus far.

"The University of Illinois has refused a request by the Chicago Tribune for test scores and grade-point averages of applicants who appeared on its admissions clout lists, saying the release would violate privacy rights even if the students are not named," the paper reported this morning. "On Monday, U. of I. President B. Joseph White rejected the appeal, ruling that releasing test scores of unnamed students would still warrant an invasion of privacy."

It's not clear how the privacy of students could be invaded if students names aren't disclosed.

Earlier this week on Chicago Tonight, White complained about the "assertions, not facts" made by the Tribune's editorial page; he was particularly peeved that the paper called the school Rezko U. White also denied initially trying to downplay the Trib's story, though he clearly did.

"There's no secret clout list," White told the Daily Illini at the outset. "The Tribune invented the term 'secret clout list.'"

And yet, a secret clout list - labeled Category I - did exist.

Some state legislators are calling for hearings on what they are calling Cloutgate.

"The number one thing we need to do is find out how extensive this is," said East Moline Democrat Mike Boland, who is the chair of the state House's Higher Education Committee. "It's a great injustice to those students who were passed over or rejected because of some lesser-qualified candidate who just happened to have a political sponsor."

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us