Students lobby at Capitol for increased U funding

Megan Boldt

About 500 students from all four University campuses lobbied at the Capitol on Wednesday in an effort to increase state funding for the University.
The movement to get students to the Capitol was organized by the Student Legislative Coalition, a nonpartisan group that organizes student involvement on the four campuses by lobbying for University needs from the government.
“The response from students has been overwhelming,” Meggan Ellingboe, student director of government relations for the coalition. “We are excited to have a large number of students directly participating in their government and advocating for their funding needs.”
To get more Twin Cities students to the Capitol, the coalition had 11 volunteers encourage students to contact their hometown legislators and lobby Wednesday, said Hillary Walters, a SLC member.
“We asked them to do this by either meeting with their representatives or sending them letters,” she said.
Unfortunately, the Twin Cities was still poorly represented. SLC member Jed Ipsen said he was disappointed by the low turnout of local campus students.
“I thought we would see more art students at the Capitol,” Ipsen said.
Gov. Jesse Ventura did not recommend any of the $22 million the University requested to build a new art building. Students and faculty members have since protested his recommendations.
Students lobbing for the Twin Cities campus will probably see the art building as the biggest priority this semester, Ipsen added.
In general, Ventura recommended funding only $54 million of the $134.3 million University officials requested.
The governor’s proposal is not the final word. Legislators will make their own recommendations and vote on a suggested budget in April.
Some students are concerned that Ventura did not fund any projects on the other three University campuses, Crookston, Duluth and Morris.
Eddie Kalombo, a Duluth student, said meetings between Duluth students and Duluth-area legislators have been productive.
“The legislators were very impressed by the student involvement,” Kalombo said. “Basically, they’ve been our biggest supporters yet.”
Megan Boldt covers state government and welcomes comments at [email protected]