Kat Riddler, Managing Editor

Student leaders have a number of opportunities on and off campus to advocate on behalf of their fellow students. One of those opportunities brought several students to Jefferson City.

On February 13, student leaders from the University of Missouri-St. Louis travelled to Jefferson City to speak to legislators as part of Student Leader Lobby Day. The event is an opportunity for student leaders to join the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) in Jefferson City to voice their concerns to their state legislators and to learn more about the work ASUM is doing on behalf of the students every week at the state capitol.

ASUM is the student voice in state government. All four University of Missouri System campuses join forces each year to put together a team of student lobbyists to advocate on behalf of all 70,000+ students in the system. President of the UMSL chapter of ASUM Jordan Lucas, graduate, economics, said, “At the campus level, we work to activate students for political causes by facilitating voter registration and voting and by streamlining communication between students and their elected leaders.”

Daniel Ryerson, senior, pre-engineering, first became acquainted with ASUM at their Lunch with a Legislator event in the fall. Ryerson is part of UMSL’s Student Government Association as a Senator and Parliamentarian. He was excited to hear about the Jefferson City trip. He said, “I believe that ASUM provides a vital service for students in promoting, educating, and lobbying student interests at the various levels of government. As a student, it was a wonderful experience and an honor to be able to travel to Jefferson City and meet with our state legislators. I found the experience to be humbling and I’m eager to see how our efforts might come to fruition.”

Some UMSL students attended the event because they were worried about Governor Greitens’ budget proposal that would give deep cuts to higher education for the second year in a row. State Representative Tracy McCreery (D-88) met with the UMSL delegation of students. She said, “The governor’s budget proposal is just that, a proposal. Governors have the constitutional responsibility to submit a budget; it is now the legislature’s turn to put pen to paper and write, then pass a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 19.”

McCreery spoke to students that ASUM arraged to travel to Jefferson City.

Representative McCreery noted that Missouri must pass a balanced budget. She continued, “Budgets reflect our priorities as a state, and I am confident my colleagues will pass a budget that reflects how we value higher education. These cuts could affect Missouri’s ability to compete.”

McCreery said, “I think that the governor’s proposed state budget that calls for significant cuts to higher education is short sighted and our business community agrees. Our institutions of higher ed are responsible for developing the workforce of tomorrow; the state should be helping to develop and grow high-quality programs that build a skilled and educated workforce.”

McCreery encouraged every student to get to know their elected officials. Students can easily look up their legislator at senate.mo.gov and click the Legislator Lookup button. She encouraged students to reach out to their representatives about supporting education. She said, “Students—and their loved ones—should reach out with a simple message: We value the University of Missouri and we urge you not to balance the budget on the backs of students… Be sincere, share your story. Elected officials appreciate hearing from voters in their districts.”

Messages can be sent by phone, email, social media, letters, and setting up meetings with their elected officials.

ASUM will be hosting another visit to the capitol on March 6. ASUM will be providing transportation, breakfast, and lunch. Students will have the chance to meet legislators face-to-face and attend the legislative session and engage with ASUM’s legislative team that advocates for the student platform. The bus would leave around 8:30 a.m. and return to campus around 5:30 p.m. If interested, email Jordan at jmlwz4@umsl.edu.

SGA Representatives from UMSL. Photo by Dianne Burns.