Letter to the Editor: Chronicle Ignores ASUU’s Lobbying Efforts

By By Bill Edwards and By Bill Edwards

By Bill Edwards


As I returned to the ASUU office on August 21 after a long day of lobbying state legislators from the higher education appropriations subcommittee, I had to take issue with a statement I found in the Chronicle. The Chronicle editorial, “Patience Is a Virtue, Silence Isn’t,” urged students to “make ASUU fight for you.” It went on to say, “[ASUU representatives] are students too, and therefore should use their position to do more than hold leadership retreats to spend our student fees.”

This uninformed swipe at ASUU sends an incorrect message to the student body. ASUU has been tireless in fighting for students on capitol hill.

Coming into the summer, the state was looking at a greater tax-revenue shortfall than it ever could have anticipated. Lawmakers needed to cut $157 million from the state budget, and higher education seemed like a popular target. Early proposals included a $56 million cut from higher education, which would have resulted in an expensive tuition surcharge for students.

From the very beginning, the ASUU Government Relations Board and I combated this issue fiercely. ASUU presented the students’ case before the legislative special session and the state House and Senate caucuses on both the Republican and Democratic sides.

We also sponsored a letter-writing campaign that got more than 80 letters to the Legislature. I went on the Doug Wright show (1160 AM) with Speaker of the House Marty Stephens and House Minority leader Ralph Becker. We also met one on one with leadership from both the higher education and executive appropriations committees, and met with the fiscal analyst, speaker of the house and senate president.

Not to take credit for the victory, but recognizing that our voice was heard, only $3 million?less than one percent of the budget?was cut. This was a victory!

Student leaders were there advocating on behalf of the students. Now that the Legislature spared us this summer, we are going to be an easy target when January comes. This will most likely be the largest single student issue my administration will face.

Students must know that they are being represented. Tuition will need to increase a small amount every year, but we as students are not willing to carry a disproportionate burden while the state falls short. The state needs to fund education to support these students so that school is affordable.

As The Chronicle correctly pointed out, students need to get involved. Both ASUU and The Chronicle serve student interests and should look for ways to work side by side to inform and mobilize the student body.

Bill EdwardsASUU President