U community already plans events, activism for spring

Chelsie Hanstad

With most students focused on finishing this semester’s classes, many might not be thinking about what is scheduled at the University next semester.

After winter break, University officials said, students can lobby the Legislature for University funding, volunteer to help children and improve the University’s appearance. These things can be done through University planned legislative briefings, YMCA events and Beautiful “U” Day.

Legislative action

Mike Dean, coordinator for the University’s Legislative Network, said his organization scheduled a legislative briefing for Jan. 22 at the McNamara alumni center.

At the briefing, students, faculty, staff and alumni will learn about the University’s capital request and how they can participate in Lobby Day and similar events.

Lobby Day is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 19, Dean said. The day will involve students from all four University campuses, as well as alumni, faculty, staff and community members. Participants will attend a teach-in on the Minneapolis campus, then rally and meet legislators at the Capitol.

“The principal focus this year is on improving learning environments for students,” said Cynthia Scott, assistant to the associate vice president for government relations.

University officials hope the events give students a chance to have their voices heard by legislators and lobby for a cause they say will improve the University.

During the next legislative session, the University will request state money to renovate a number of buildings and design a new building that would be used for Carlson School of Management undergraduates and the College of Liberal Arts. The planned renovations and construction are part of the University’s 2004 capital request.

“This year our request is a little bit unusual in that the bulk of the request really focuses on renovation and remodeling of existing buildings, as well as planning money for new buildings,” Executive Vice President and Provost Christine Maziar said.

YMCA Opportunities

Students can also get involved next semester with their local YMCA.

The University YMCA hosts the Y-Buddies program, which pairs college and elementary students to “hang out and have fun,” said Liz Phillips, a Y-Buddies coordinator. The program has several spring activities planned.

Some of the large group activities planned include a lock-in, a barbeque, bowling at Coffman Union and a camp day that includes canoeing, archery, rock climbing and other activities.

The Environmental Backpacking Program at the YMCA also has adventures planned, including a trail-building weekend and a chance to canoe in the Florida Everglades, coordinator Elvira Muniz said.

Beautiful ‘U’

One day next semester will focus on taking care of resources and beautifying the University.

Beautiful “U” Day, usually held on Earth Day, will let students paint the Washington Avenue Bridge, plant trees and pick up trash.

“Our big hope this year is that we can get even more students involved,” said Lori-Anne Williams, coordinator for Beautiful “U” Day.

The annual event began with a Facilities Management group. Later, students became interested in helping.

This year’s tentative projects include spray-painting warnings near storm drains to let people know not to throw trash into them.

The Office of Classroom Management and Beautiful “U” Day started the Beautiful Classroom Campaign to raise awareness among those who use classrooms that they are shared spaces. They posted signs in many University classrooms encouraging students to throw trash in the designated bins and keep the rooms neat, Williams said.