OU students traveled to the state capitol Tuesday, where they met with several state legislators to advocate for increased higher education funding.
Taylor Broadbent, a letters and classics freshman and chair of the OU Student Government Association’s external affairs committee, said 30 students made up the delegation representing OU for Higher Education day, an annual event promoted by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
Students present included several SGA executive members, including Student Government Association Vice President Dalton Gau.
“(The students) talked to legislators about the issues the Board of Regents gave us,” Broadbent said, “as well as their own personal experiences in higher education.”
The state regents have requested an overall budget of $927.1 million for fiscal year 2021, according to the state regents’ website, a total increase of $125 million from the previous fiscal year.
The increased budget will cover state STEM workforce development initiatives, concurrent enrollment programs for high school students and a 3.5 percent increase in faculty salaries, among other objectives listed on the website.
Groups of OU students were split to meet with several legislators, Broadbent said, including Speaker of the House Charles McCall, R-22, and Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-24.
McCall was “very, very open” to meeting with the students, Broadbent said, and offered to return to OU and continue to answer questions as the current legislative session continues. Broadbent added that she felt the meetings were effective in influencing the legislature’s decision.
“I think they were generally fruitful meetings,” Broadbent said. “Once they put a face to the numbers, it immediately becomes a more real experience for them, and they’re more willing to think about how they vote.”