Mar 052012
 
Authors: Colleen Canty

For many students, legislation, lobbying and political advocacy are areas left to the suit-sporting professionals of student government.

On Monday, however, 35 students representing not only the Associated Students of Colorado State University, but several other areas of campus, dispelled this notion by diving into the inner workings of higher education at CSU’s Student Advocacy Day at the State Capitol.

And, according to ASCSU President Eric Berlinberg, the turnout was a significantly notable achievement for the university and higher education.

“This topic is extremely important for students to actively get engaged and involved in,” Berlinberg said. “They make a difference.”

Despite having seen the list of students attending the event prior to their early morning departure, Berlinberg said he was “absolutely blown away” at the sight of the diverse group who went all the way to Denver to understand the political process Berlinberg and other ASCSU representatives are more than familiar with.

Students and state representatives discussed the topic of higher education funding and tuition increases, a more closely followed and hotly discussed issue in recent years.

According to Chase Eckerdt, ASCSU’s director of Governmental Affairs, the mood surrounding this topic was significantly less sinister than on past advocacy days because the fiscal environment of higher education is starting to look up.

“The reality is that we will be getting funding back in the next few years,” Eckerdt said. “This is a much better fiscal outlook than what we saw last year –– today gave us a reason for positivity.”

The major goal of the event this year was to expose students to the process of higher education legislation, how it impacts students and, most importantly, how students can get involved, according to Berlinberg.

“Advocacy is only as good as the people who spend the time advocating make it,” he said. “On the way home, people were asking me for our representatives’ contact info and how they could contact CSU representatives. They were asking how the Board of Governors works and what the budgeting process is like –– they didn’t even poke at or get anywhere around that on the way down there.”

He was encouraged by the interest in political advocacy the day piqued and felt that it was a positive indication of increasing student involvement in the future.

“I spend my time working in an advocacy role day in and day out, always looking at an end result that feels distant and basically impossible,” Berlinberg said. “Today was one of those days of pride when I felt like we took a tangible step in the right direction.”

Collegian writer Colleen Canty can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Contact any member of the Board of Governors at csus_board@mail.colostate.edu or Sheila Trice Bell, Executive Secretary to the Board of Governors, at (303) 534-6290.

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