Whether they know it or not, students at CSU have a lobbyist in Denver speaking on their behalf.
Jenn Leech, a CSU alumna, is the legislative liaison for CSU students. Leech, 26, graduated in December 1999 with a degree in political science. This is her first year working as a lobbyist for CSU students.
“By (ASCSU) having their own lobbyist at the capital, they have direct contact with me any time they need me,” Leech said.
Up until two years ago, CSU was a member of the Colorado Student Association, a coalition of student governments from different universities around the state. CSA costs approximately $25,000 annually, or about $1 per student. Leech’s legislative actions for CSU students have a price tag of only $6,500 annually.
“It saves us $18,500, which is especially good in a time of budget cuts,” said Penny Burke, director of student empowerment for ASCSU. “We felt (CSA) wasn’t very efficient or good.”
Burke got Leech’s name from Leech’s old advisor at CSU. Leech was busy representing people with developmental disabilities in Denver. However, she worked out a contract with ASCSU to be their voice at the capital as well.
“We worked out an agreement and here I am,” Leech said. “If I think there are new bills that are going to affect students in any way I bring it to their attention.”
ASCSU President David Bower said Leech is a huge help in making sure students are able to voice their concerns at the state level.
“It’s even more important now to have a strong voice and strong representation at the state capital,” Bower said. “(Leech) connects students with the state legislature and gives us ideas that we need to make sure our voices are heard.”
Some current hot topics in the legislature include the voucher system proposal, as well as the credit cap, the application of gun bills to university campuses and the use of students’ Social Security Numbers as identification, Bower said.
“By far the most relevant part to the average student is the credit cap,” Bower said. If the credit cap is approved, it will discontinue in-state tuition for students once they reach 140 credits.
“We’re fighting that one tooth and nail,” Bower said.
Leech was a member of ASCSU when she was a student and is glad to be able to help the current members.
“I definitely like what I do,” she said.