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Feb. 21, 2020LA GRANDE, Ore. – Despite being the smallest university to attend Lobby Day, Eastern Oregon University had the largest number of student attendees with 28 representatives.
“Having support from our students sends a strong message about EOU,” ASEOU President Samantha Wegermann said.
Every year, students from Oregon’s public universities convene at the state capitol in Salem to advocate for higher education. Students and friends of EOU joined those from Oregon State University, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Oregon, Western Oregon University, Portland State University and Southern Oregon University to address lawmakers.
“This opportunity allows for students to meet their senators and voice their passions on why funding for higher education is important,” said Pamela Frederick, an ASEOU leader who attended University Day.
Students were divided into teams based on their voting party. Then they spoke to representatives who identified with their party. This technique aligns the values of student advocates with representatives.
“Attendees gain valuable experience in communication because we were able to persuade people to listen to our proposals by catering to a representative’s interests,” Frederick said.
Students advocated on behalf of eliminating barriers to graduate through improving facilities, services and support for underrepresented students.
Student body presidents from every university collaborated to determine which house bills were the most beneficial to all public universities.
“Each university has different needs but we were all able to find something to be united about,” Wegermann said.
Together, Oregon’s universities advocated for several initiatives impacting higher education this session.
House Bill 4055 addresses basic needs such as housing and food insecurity. The preliminary step is to evaluate the need and propose policy and funding recommendations to the 2021 Legislature.
House Bill 4160 advocates for better outcomes for a new generation of Oregon university students. Universities requested funding to create a task force that will explore better ways to support underrepresented students and first-generation students.
Senate Bill 1521 aims to maximize the impact of transfer credits. Advocates want to align classes and transfer credits to allow for seamless transitions that also reduce student debt.
The last item on the legislative agenda is state investment in modern, safe facilities. For EOU, the money would go toward the Grand Staircase leading to Inlow Hall, office spaces in the basement of Inlow and restorations in Ackerman Hall.
“Even though these bills are centered around the student experience, they affect a larger population of faculty and community members,” Wegermann said.
For more information about University Day or events like this in the future, contact University Advancement at 541-962-3740 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by PR Intern Briana Rosenkranz.
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