present petition signed by 4,936 to state legislative
The snowy Utah Capitol received student lobbyists Wednesday.
The group received a welcome but no promises. /
Photo by Jackson Olsen
By Jackson Olsen
February 27, 2009 | The Utah State University Student
Lobbyists continued their diplomatic assault on the
Legislature on Wednesday as they gained the audience
of both the president of the Senate and the speaker
of the House and presented each with a copy of a campus-wide
petition opposing further budget cuts to the university.
The group, consisting of 11 students from the departments
of political science and journalism, met with President
Michael G. Waddoups (R-West Jordan), and Speaker David
Clark (R-St. George) and laid out the concerns of students.
Accompanying them was a petition that had been in circulation
since the beginning of the spring semester containing
In a letter delivered to these legislative leaders,
the USU lobbyists said:
"Our message is not one of anger or of bitterness.
Rather it is one of concern and optimism. We do not
seek immunity from the economic challenges our state
faces; we simply ask that we be treated fairly. We ask
that the state lawmakers be prudent and thoughtful as
they execute the difficult balancing act that must occur
to stabilize our state economy."
The campaign against higher education budget cuts
began back in September, Chris Neil, a member of the
USU student lobbyists said. The group had lecturers
and guest speakers come and help prepare them to lobby
their state legislators. The news of higher education
budget cuts emerged around the same time, and according
to Neil, that's when things started to happen.
"It didn't take long for us to take action on the
issue," Neil said. We began mobilizing and organizing
ourselves almost immediately once we heard about the
4 percent cut."
The USU Student Lobbyists, in conjunction with the
Government Relations Council, have been responsible
for several events and efforts to reduce budget cuts
to the university. According to Neil, over a thousand
letters have been written by students to their state
representatives and senators. Neil added that hundreds
of letters to the editor have been published in every
major newspaper in the state.
"It just goes to show that students really care about
this issue," Neil said. "We're not as apathetic as people
think. The state legislature needs to realize that,
and realize that we're not just going to sit by while
these budget cuts cut into our future.
It was this same organization that organized two notable
rallies one at Utah State University featuring speeches
from Professor Pat Lambert from the department of anthropology
and USU President Stan Albrecht, and the other on the
steps of the Utah Capitol featuring remarks from six
state lawmakers and Scott Wyatt, former state representative
and current president of Snow College.
The success or failure of the efforts of the USU Student
Lobbyists and other like-minded groups will shortly
be determined as the legislative session heads into
its last two weeks. State lawmakers are scrambling to
pass a balanced budget and are less than optimistic
that higher education will be spared from large scale