MSA member lobbies for students across Big Ten

Sophomore Nick Wilson serves nearly 450,000 students as the legislative affairs director of an advocacy group.

Haley Hansen

When Nick Wilson arrived at the University of Minnesota last fall, he joined the Minnesota Student Association’s freshman internship program because he wanted to have a role in campus government.

Now, just over a year later, the mass communication and political science sophomore is working to advocate for nearly 450,000 students across the country.

Since late summer, Wilson has served as the legislative affairs director for the Association of Big Ten Students, an advocacy group that works across the conference to lobby for student issues. He is one of four executive board members for the organization.

“I’ve always had an interest in government,” Wilson said. “I know that if it’s done effectively, great things can happen for people.”

He also works with the Minnesota Student Legislative Coalition, a University system-wide legislative advocacy group, and serves on the legislative staff for the Minnesota Student Association.

MSA President Joelle Stangler said Wilson’s position with the association helps ensure the group is informed on any changes at the federal level that will affect students.

She said having someone pay attention to national policy changes is important so there’s consistency within MSA’s advocacy efforts.

“He is probably the most well-informed person on policy that I’ve ever met,” Stangler said. “He loves it. He lives and breathes it.”

Similar to MSA, Wilson said the Big Ten group will likely focus its efforts this year on issues across higher education like college affordability and sexual assault prevention and awareness.

Wilson was a co-author of MSA’s sexual assault prevention and awareness resolution, which the assembly approved last week at its forum.

He said the group, which meets three times a year, will formally approve its platform in January during its winter conference at Northwestern University. Getting students together from different schools helps find themes in issues across campuses nationwide, Wilson said.

Wilson will be organizing the group’s “Big Ten on the Hill” summit this spring, an event in which each university in the conference sends students to Washington, D.C., to meet with federal officials to lobby their platform.

Wilson said representing students from numerous universities helps to garner attention from government officials.

“When you go to Washington, there needs to be a direct pull from something to get them to listen to you,” he said.

MSA’s government relations director, Ryan Olson, said Wilson has a good understanding of what’s important for students, and he’s knowledgeable about government.

“He’s really trying to take and work the leaders in the association to take it to the next level,” Olson said.

After he finishes his undergraduate degree, Wilson said he’d like to go to law school and eventually become a judge so he can continue making change.

“[Government is] something I believe in, and I think if people work towards it, it really helps the population,” he said.