Students to lobby state lawmakers for increased higher education funding
OU students will lobby for increased funding for Oklahoma’s colleges and universities during today’s Higher Education Day activities at the state Capitol.
About 44 student delegates will participate in the annual event, which is intended to remind legislators that higher education issues affect students, faculty and staff both at OU and across the state, OU Higher Education Day coordinator Steve Sichterman said.
“We’re just trying to get up there and provide students’ stories about why higher education is so important,” Sichterman said. “We want to state the case for why ... funding should increase or at least not drop any further.”
Students have worked the past month to schedule 70 meetings with legislators during the day, and they plan to contact every member of both the House and Senate while at the Capitol, Sichterman said.
“It’s an event where we’re able to show that students are interested in the issues legislators deal with,” Sichterman said. “We plan to contact every legislator, even if it’s just through an informational packet we’ve prepared.”
In preparation for the trip, two training sessions were held to provide participants with an idea of what it’s like to speak with a legislator, Sichterman said.
The training emphasized professionalism and respect when speaking with legislators, UOSA President Hannah Morris said.
“We don’t provide a script for the talks,” Morris said. “We want students to be able to tell their stories in their own words.”
When speaking to politicians, topics of discussion could include the economic impact of universities on the state, the varying effects of major-specific scholarships and the burden placed on students by tuition costs, UOSA press secretary Joe Sangirardi said.
“For some students, if tuition were any more, they couldn’t afford to go to school,” Sangirardi said.
Morris said she believes Higher Education Day is among the most important events produced by UOSA because it allows students not involved with the organization to have interactions that affect the larger university community.
Sichterman agreed and said any time students get involved with larger issues the university benefits.
“It’s very important that students get involved when they can,” Sichterman said. “The laws that are made at the Capitol affect them.”
Chris Miller contributed to this report