Student leaders prepare for budget fight

Meetings with regents and trustees this week appear to have leaders from at least two of the main student organizations gearing up for a lobbying effort with the state legislature.

The Minnesota State University Mankato Reporter reports how Andrew Spaeth of the Minnesota State Student Association (the organization for students at four-year MnSCU institutions) wants to take a hard line on tuition -- but is still working the numbers:

"MSUSA should take a strong position on the tuition cap," Spaeth said, "but then we need to figure out what's comfortable. Is it a five percent increase? Is it a three percent increase? And how will we limit this."

Spaeth's word of advice for MSSA was that as MSUSA gears up for the legislative session it's important to have a strong voice on campus that can go to the legislature. He suggested the members join a lobby court that can help them make connections with those in the legislature and work in the interest of students on the state level.

The Minnesota Daily writes that University of Minnesota student senators will ask for more state funding. Donna Peterson, associate vice president for government and community relations for the University gave them some advice:

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It’s important for student leaders to meet with lawmakers and appeal to them on a personal level about how their college experience would be affected by more budget cuts, Peterson said.

Another useful argument, Peterson said, was to sell the investment power of the University.

“We heard this strong message during the campaigns — that investments in the state need to create jobs in the private sector,” she said.

If students sit down with legislators and explain to them what they are studying and how they plan to stay in Minnesota after graduation, they will start to see the value in higher education, she said.

I'm also trying to reach the folks at the Minnesota State College Student Association, which represents those at two-year institutions.

I'm curious to see what student leaders can accomplish.