ASUU Takes State Legislators to Game

ASUU is putting on its politically savvy game face for the Ute football game in Provo Saturday.

Months before the state Legislature meets to appropriate state funds, leaders from the Associated Students of the University of Utah have planned a pre-game barbecue to build stronger relationships with state lawmakers. They hope the fruits of these relationships will be more money for the U and higher education when the legislative session begins next year.

The state’s tax revenue short-fall has already taken millions away from higher education this year, and student leaders across the state fear Utah may be in for a large tuition increase next year. These leaders also fear that other programs like libraries will see a large cut in funding.

“Education should be one of the state’s main priorities. It is essential we clearly show the state that education is imperative to the well-being of our community,” said ASUU President Ben Lowe.

So student leaders from the U as well as leaders from other schools will sit with state legislators, pointing out the needs of higher education while the two teams struggle on the field.

But when the legislative session starts, a different struggle will begin, a struggle for state funding.

Every agency in the state will be looking for state monies.

Because of the state’s slowing economy and tax revenue shortfall, this year is especially lean, which means a lot of state entities fighting over a limited number of state funds.

The Utah Student Association received 120 tickets to the game. Sixty legislators are expected to attend the event. The remaining tickets will be used by student leaders from across the state. Fifteen students from the U will attend the game and barbecue, including ASUU president, vice president and cabinet members.

“This is a great opportunity to personally present student issues to our state representatives,” Lowe said.

With power to distribute state funds, legislators must know the needs of students to improve the quality of the state’s education system, Lowe said.

Lowe believes getting students to meet with legislators can really make a difference because the U has such a high voter turnout.

Vice President for University Relations Fred Esplin agrees that events like this one help students gain recognition.

“It’s very important for ASUU to raise awareness. As students, they play a large roll in our relations with the state and also help in bringing in more money for the U,” Esplin said.

Members of the ASUU Government Relations Board have been looking at biographical information of many state legislators. ASUU Government Relations Board Director Kelly Ann Booth said the research will help certain students relate to certain legislators.

“This is a great chance for student leaders to interact with legislators about tuition, financial aid and the budget,” she said.

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