Student lobbyists should make
By Shannon K. Johnson
Febrary 27, 2009 | Less than one year ago, the student
lobbyists at Utah State were working to pass a tax-free
textbook initiative. Now they are working for a much
In a year of funding and budget cuts, our university
is facing the possibility of dramatic layoffs and the
potential elimination of entire programs.
But this year when the budget lines that run from
the Utah Legislature to the university are threatened,
the Aggies rallied on Capitol Hill in January and more
than 4,936 students and staff signed our petition requesting
that we not face dramatic funding cuts.
On Wednesday the Utah student lobbyists met outside
of the University Inn and drive to Salt Lake for back-to-back
meeting with the president of the Senate and speaker
of the House. During that meeting the petitions were
presented, but the lawmakers made no promises.
Unfortunately, funds are slim and plenty of valuable
programs are threatened, so the legislators are stuck
deciding whether they should raise taxes, take advantage
of the rainy-day funds or just cut funds.
For those legislators, higher education programs appear
to be easy programs to cut -- they reason that the university
can raise tuition and cut jobs to cover the loss. If
they cut higher education programs, many voters won't
be upset because students are notoriously inactive in
politics and usually don't vote.
The student lobbyists began meeting in September to
decide how to best hedge the funding cuts, and the Aggies
The student body has showed more activism against
cuts to higher education than I have seen in all four
of my years at USU.
The success of our efforts has yet to be seen; meetings
are still being held and discussions continue over what
percentage of our budget is going to be further cut.
But at least this year no one can say, "Students
did not care," and no one can say, "Students
I hope our efforts are successful enough to encourage
students to continue to be involved in the future.
But today I am proud of you, USU. Proud that you broke
the norm of political inactivism and elected an eloquent
defender of your interest.