Students lobby Oregon Legislature on behalf of peers; Lane students join other colleges in Salem

Lane students went to the Salem Capitol Building to lobby the state legislature on Feb. 11. They talked about student tuition and affordability, financial aid protection, student loan tax benefits and other student relevant issues and bills.

The lobby day was organized by the Oregon Student Association. More than 50 students representing several colleges went to the capital, including approximately 15 students from Lane. The Lane lobbyists were a blend of members of student government and students at large.

“The day went well for the most part. This wasn’t my first time lobbying. It was a mix of people who were new and not new at lobbying,” Sara Shepherd, Associated Students of Lane Community College State Affairs Director, wrote in an email.

Shepherd and OSA Lane Campus Organizer Brittany MacPherson provided training to the prospective lobbyists Feb. 10.

ASLCC Sustainability Coordinator Michael Weed wrote in an email that the students were split into 10 teams, with five to seven students representing different campuses. Each team had an OSA staff member to coordinate them and answer questions.

Each group was assigned four to five politicians to speak with.

If the legislators themselves were not available, they had members of their staff speak with the lobbying students.

“My group only met with one of our five reps, Rep. John Huffman,” Weed wrote. “His responses were on par with most of the staffers we talked with as well. That they want to help reinvest in higher (education), but weren’t sure how much money there would be to work with.”

Several members of ASLCC felt that the conversations were positive overall, and said they believe the legislators were receptive.

“When we shared our personal stories and they were able to put a face to the issues we were lobbying for, it really made an impact,” ASLCC Senator Malisa Ratthasing wrote in an email. “I feel like the more students we get involved in the work that we, ASLCC, advocate for, the more empowered we feel.”