Students turn to lobbying

With smaller, more targeted efforts, students can make the case for University funding.

As a public research university, the University of Minnesota has funding and resources that are strongly tied to decisions from the state Legislature. In order for it to remain a world-class institution, lawmakers must understand the important role state funding plays in maintaining the University as a top school.

For about a decade, the Legislature failed to properly invest in the state’s public universities, resulting in higher tuition and fewer resources.

Last year, University President Eric Kaler worked with a more progressive state Legislature to pass a two-year in-state tuition freeze for undergraduates and increased funding for research at the University.

Though the lobbying efforts in 2013 faced an uphill battle following a Wall Street Journal article criticizing the University’s administrative spending, this year has its own challenges. Without a tuition freeze on the table, overall student enthusiasm for the funding request is down. But this year’s request, which includes funding for building renovations and maintenance, is just as necessary.

Though overall student lobbying may be down, some at the University have begun targeted lobbying, which is perhaps more effective. The Minnesota Daily reported Feb. 19 that the CFANS Policy Engagement Program is preparing to lobby for bonding bill requests for the school, including renovations for labs and construction of a new Microbial Sciences Research building. The group of students plans to target specific lawmakers that lead committees involved in agricultural and environmental policies.

Smaller, more targeted student lobbying efforts may prove to be highly effective. Ultimately, it’s the students that benefit from the funding, and it should be the students on the front lines fighting for more investments. We hope to see more groups like the CFANS policy program created to lobby on behalf of their school.