U Legislative Network hosts student lobbying day

The group will lobby for full funding for the University’s budget and bonding bill.

Marketing junior Shannon Peloquin said she works as a research assistant, a gallery assistant and an intern, all while being a full-time student.

But it still doesn’t pay for her tuition, she said.

“I’m serious, and I’m working hard to make it happen, but it’s still difficult,” she said.

To change the situation for herself and all University students, Peloquin said, she joined the University Legislative Network. The organization is a coalition of students, faculty members, staff members and alumni who work to make sure University requests are met at the state level.

The group writes letters to legislators, holds call nights to gain support from the University community and educates students about key issues at the University.

Today, the organization is hosting Maroon and Gold Day, during which students will meet with legislators to express concerns.

Currently, the group is most concerned about getting full funding from the state for the University’s two-year budget and the bonding bill, which includes construction and renovation projects on campus, said Mike Dean, the network’s grassroots coordinator.

The group also works to prolong the success of research at the University, he said.

In less than two years, membership to the grassroots organization has grown from 3,000 to 15,000 people, particularly because of the growing concern about decreased support to higher education, Dean said.

More than 3,000 students from all the University campuses are involved in the group, he said.

Although their efforts are noticeable, Dean said, the organization still needs more students to voice their opinions to their legislators.

“We rely on students to get the word out,” Dean said. “What happens at the Legislature really has a tremendous impact on the University and its future.”

For marketing student Josh Beddow, joining the group was his way of ensuring University students have the best education possible, he said.

“The value of my degree, quality of education and the technology I have access to are all impacted by this funding request,” he said.

Beddow said students should contact legislators about the importance of funding the University.

Future group activities include Collegiate Days at the Capitol, during which students, faculty and staff members of specific University colleges will again have the chance to address similar concerns. The Legislative Network will also host more call nights throughout the semester.

Today’s event is expected to draw in approximately 400 students, staff, faculty and community members, Dean said.

Buses for the event will depart at 12:30 p.m. from Coffman Union and the St. Paul Student Center.