The weekend before spring break, we had the amazing opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., for the United States Student Association’s 44th National Grassroots Legislative Conference.
At the conference, we collaborated with students from public universities across the country and participated in a number of workshops where we engaged in lobbying and organizing on many important student issues that we advocated for in our nation’s capital. We then met with our state’s senators and congressional representatives to promote funding for the Pell and TRIO Grants, the Student Loan Fairness Act and immigration reform focused on granting in-state tuition for undocumented students, also known as tuition equity.
Many students at the University of Wisconsin and across the nation are struggling with increasing tuition and severe cuts in financial aid at both the federal and state levels. The co-authors of this letter, Hannah Kinsella and Kayla Van Cleave, are dealing with many of these same issues. Hannah’s Pell Grant was cut this past year when the federal government voted to decrease the family income eligibility level, while Kayla is taking on $20,000 in student debt to finance her education. At the U.S. Capitol, we were advocating not only for ourselves, but for all students in this shared struggle.
Lobbying at the U.S. Capitol was an invaluable experience, and we hope to bring more delegates from UW next year. In the short time that we spent with students from across the country, we created a powerful network of peers who are working on the same issues we face here in Wisconsin. For example, the Oregon Student Association just worked with their state legislature to pass a tuition equity bill, a measure that our statewide student association, United Council of UW Students, has also been working to implement. After this conference, we will use the relationships, tactics and lessons we’ve learned from USSA in Wisconsin and recreate those student victories here in our state.
As newly elected representatives to Student Council for the College of Letters and Science, we pledge to continue to work for the interests of our fellow students here at UW.
Hannah Kinsella (email@example.com) and Kayla Van Cleave (firstname.lastname@example.org) are members of Student Council.