State legislators speak at CSOM, promote bonding bill

A group of about 20 students met with two state legislators Wednesday night to discuss funding for University projects, tuition and the importance of creating a connection between government and constituents.

Rep. Doug Stang, R-Cold Spring, and Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, spoke at the Carlson School of Management about a number of issues that concern students.

Both Pappas and Stang said it was important for students to have contact with their hometown representatives to make their feelings and opinions known.

Susie Elling, a junior who attended the event, said she was interested to hear what the legislators and other students had to say about tuition increases.

“I think it is an important event to attend, and I feel that students need to take a more active role in things that affect them so much,” she said. “They need to be educated about the way these processes can affect their lives.”

Sophomore Hannah Garry, another student in attendance, said “the importance of student involvement in such activities and learning about important decisions concerning the University” were the reasons she attended.

Pappas and Stang said because the University attracts so many people from other areas, it is really no one’s hometown.

They both encouraged audience members to establish a relationship by writing, e-mailing and calling their representative. In this way, the representatives get the opportunity to hear how certain actions affect students directly, which provides them with a unique angle.

Stang encouraged students to “make a connection with your hometown representative Ö show them how important this school is to you by relating stories of your experiences.”

Pappas said she believes college education was strongly tied to state economics.

“A well-trained work force contributes to economic vitality and this is the importance of higher education,” she said.

Pappas and Stang also spoke about how to make Lobby Day, an annual campus event for University funding, stronger.

The more students that participate in Lobby Day, the more lawmakers are inclined to listen, the legislators said.

One of the hot legislative issues students should talk to their representatives about is the capital bonding bill, the legislators said. The legislation funds critical areas of the University such as upgrading, improving and restoring buildings on campus and building new structures.

The odds that the University will receive all of its requested funding are good, Pappas said.

“The University of Minnesota’s request was much more modest than the other schools in (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities),” she said. “The chance that their requests will not get funded is far less likely than some of the other schools.”

But the legislators stressed that the size of the state budget deficit will affect how large the bonding bill will be.

The Student Legislative Action Partnership, which aims to bolster student awareness about legislative activities, sponsored the event.