By Janeece Woodson, Staff Writer
Seeking a more formal approach that works for all sides for more than 50 years, a small community of University of Missouri—St. Louis students have lobbied at the capitol in Jefferson City. These students, the officers and interns of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM), present solutions to problems that specifically affect the St. Louis campus. They are nonpartisan, and they are equally passionate and informed about issues of racism and classism, inflation of tuition, and more. On one day this March, they will focus their efforts on introducing the art of lobbying to their fellow students.
Lobby Day, which will be held on March 8 in Jefferson City, is an event that will allow any UM college student to both observe the process of lobbying and participate in voicing student concerns. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., participating students can be guided through the process by ASUM. Any student can sign up, and transportation to the capitol is free. If a student must miss class to be a part of this event, ASUM officers can provide attendance notes. The RSVP page can be found at the “ASUM at UMSL” Facebook page or on TritonSync.
“We want to see students come out to support the interns in the four platforms we are working on,” said Rachel Dougherty, senior, political science. Dougherty is one of two interns for the St. Louis campus, and has dedicated much of her academic career to lobbying for student interests. “The legislators will see our students and realize that we are the 77,000 students that care deeply about these platforms,” she said.
These platforms are based on yearly student surveys. Questionnaires are sent out to every University of Missouri student, and are then used to determine the most relevant and urgent issues for each campus. Currently, the St. Louis chapter’s platform involves landlord-tenant escrow accounts and relations in Missouri, state budget decreases involving the St. Louis campus, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program funding for students, and obtaining a vote for the student representative on the Board of Curators, the governor-appointed council that guides the UM system.
“The budget we are working on is to get $434.5 million dollars from the state in core funding. That money would go to all four campuses,” said Dougherty. “This is crucial because if we don’t get the money we are asking for, unfortunately tuition will most likely increase.”
At the beginning of the event in Jefferson City, students from all four campuses will have a chance to meet and talk about the political issues that interest them. “With a large group of students in the Representatives’ and Senators’ presence, they can see how active our system is and know how serious we are about the bills in this current legislative session,” said Dougherty. This portion of the day is when students are encouraged to meet their state representatives and share their concerns. Next, all students will be able to observe a legislative session and see the direct process of altering and passing bills. After a free lunch, students will return to UMSL via bus before 3 p.m. Overall, the day will be a brief look into what the ASUM interns do regularly. “We want to see students come out to support the interns in the four platforms we are working on,” Dougherty said.
Officers of ASUM indicated that along the way to the event, they would provide tips on approaching representatives and discussing civil issues. One such issue that has concerned ASUM for years is the lack of a student vote on the Board of Curators. “There are nine members on the board, and that includes the student,” said Dougherty. “However, the student currently only gets to voice their opinion, but not actually vote.”
ASUM encourages all participating students to voice their opinions on issues in which they would like to see change. Lobby Day is an opportunity for any student to meet their representatives face to face and discuss solutions for the University of Missouri system. Dougherty said, “There is a new adventure every day in the Capitol.”