Rally offers students chance to be heard

University students can discuss several bills with legislators as part of Lobby Day.

by Jim Hammerand

What are you doing today?

State lawmakers would like students to make some time this afternoon to head to Lobby Day at the Capitol to advocate for the University.

Plus, there will be Quiznos.

University Lobby Day organizers expect about 350 University supporters – including students, staff and faculty members and alumni – to attend today’s rally and a Quiznos dinner with legislators at the Capitol as they consider several bills important to the University.

The day for students and supporters of the University to be heard by state lawmakers is sponsored by the University Legislative Network, the Minnesota Student Association, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and student groups from other University campuses.

Buses will take students to the state Capitol in St. Paul from behind Coffman Union and the St. Paul Student Center starting at 12:30 p.m. Brett Anderson, Student Legislative Coalition legislative coordinator, said buses would run throughout the day between campus and the Capitol until the event ends around 5:30 p.m.

University Legislative Network Grassroots Manager Amy Reasoner said students will meet lawmakers who represent the University as well as legislators from their hometown districts.

Reasoner said she was looking forward to “great statewide representation” of the University system. In addition to Twin Cities students, students from the University’s Duluth, Crookston and Morris campuses will travel to the Capitol.

State Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina; Sen. Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar; and a University student will speak at a rally in the Capitol Rotunda before breaking to meet with legislators. Students will continue to meet with lawmakers at a dinner reception in the Capitol’s Great Hall.

Michel planned to thank University supporters for fighting for University issues at today’s rally.

“It makes a real difference when people come to the Capitol and meet face to face with legislators, and I think that given all the things that are happening in the Legislature this week and next week, it’ll be important to see a lot of maroon and gold up here,” said Michel, a University Law School graduate.

The University’s 2006 capital bonding request is in front of the Legislature. The University is asking for about $206 million from the state to fund one-time maintenance of existing buildings and the construction of several new ones, including a medical biosciences building and a Carlson School of Management addition.

Legislators also are considering an on-campus stadium bill that would split the cost 50/50 between the University and the state.

MSA Vice President Colin Schwensohn said today will be his second time attending Lobby Day.

“Quite often people forget about students because we don’t vote, because we don’t go and contact our representatives and senators. We really need to voice our concerns, and when it comes to encouraging financial support of the University, I think it’s a huge deal,” Schwensohn said.