I am a member of the Legislative Certificate Program here at the University of Minnesota.
The LCP is a program that is technically under the Minnesota Student Association which is the University of Minnesota Undergraduate Student Government. I have been going to the Capitol every Monday and Wednesday to attend the Senate Higher Education Committee Meetings. So far, the meetings have been full of information regarding the condition of higher education throughout the state. It is open to the public and if anyone is interested in going with me, please contact me sometime after class or via this blog. This post, however, is not about what I do, it is about what is happening at the Capitol, how you can get involved, and why you should get involved. There are five items which students should pay attention to currently. The first item is a bill introduced by Senator Kathy Sheran of Mankato. Her bill is Senate Fill 88. This bill would, if passed, place a student as a non-voting member of the city council in towns that have either a college or university. The next is House File 210, also known as the Voter I.D. Bill. This, I am sure that a few of you have seen, is a bill that requires people to have a valid photo I.D. at the polls. This bill would provide non-expiring voter I.D. cards to everyone in the state and cost a considerable amount of money. It would also stop the vouching system but also tighten up election law. Next is the bill proposed by Senator Fischback of Payneville. This senator is the chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. Her bill, Senate File 268, would cap and freeze the tuition of students at the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State Colleges. This small bill would keep tuition down until 2013, after which tuition would be calculated according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Fourth is the Bonding Bill introduced by Governor Dayton. This bill is mainly for small projects around the state, but a considerable amount of it is for the University of Minnesota. The main project laid out in this bill is the Science and Nanotechnology Building. This building already has gone through a four million dollar planning phase and is ready to build when the proper legislation is passed. Last is the Rally to Restore Affordability. This event is happening Tuesday, November 22nd. It is a time for the students of the University of Minnesota to speak out, show our pride in our institution, and become politically involved. There are pros and cons to each item listed and I am very interested to hear what everyone has to say.
The reason why I have brought up these items is because I hope that they will inspire engagement. Government, in my opinion, is a wonderful thing to have and a great opportunity for people. Unfortunately, it does not always work for the benefit of society. Fortunately, it can work if people have a vested interest in the process. We have been reading about how the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. It is well researched that public higher education institutions give back to the community immensely and are a key to economic stability and growth. In times like the current, it seems paramount that we students express that the process that we are undertaking benefits us and everyone around. Let us not only react to the solutions that our legislators are providing, but engage them with our experience and ideas. My fellow classmates, let us give Tocqueville something to be proud of!