A committee of Associated Students of Madison heard from members of the Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly and discussed the impact the state budget will have on the University of Wisconsin campus.
Shannon Powell, Wisconsin State Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson’s Deputy Chief of Staff said if funding is taken away from state universities, it becomes more difficult for student government to make a difference.
As funding is cut, student government is impacted, giving students less of a voice in state legislature and making it difficult for student voices to be heard, Powell said to the Legislative Affairs Committee.
Powell said it is important to have student organizations working on behalf of students in the UW system. He noted there should be as many of those voices available as possible advocating student interests.
“In order to influence actual votes in legislature, groups who work on behalf of students are very important,” Powell said. “Across the state right now, the more advocates you have working on the behalf of students, the better.”
Legislative Affairs Chair Daniel Statter said ASM’s primary focus when lobbying at the state level is advocating on behalf of students rather than becoming activists.
Statter said the Legislative Affairs Committee is concentrating on researching issues that are important to UW students and then lobbying on those issues at the campus, city, state and federal levels.
“We certainly value the shared governance laws that we see,” Statter said. “Our efforts as student government are focused on advocacy.”
Legislative Affairs Vice Chair Morgan Rae said the committee is working on three different campaigns at the state level.
Rae mentioned their Responsible Action campaign, altering how student regents are chosen, and making sure certain aspects of the state budget are beneficial to UW students as an example.
The committee also discussed sending out letters and welcome packets to newly elected state senators in order to give them an idea of what student government does. These welcome packets would outline what campaigns the Legislative Affairs Committee is working on and what issues are important to UW students.