As students invest in higher education, they deserve a say on how their university is run. To explore this, Lobby Corps hosted a virtual event highlighting the California State University (CSU) system’s budget graduation initiative for 2025 (GI2025) on Feb. 25. Along with a discussion on the initiative, steps on how to find legislators in your area and how to draft a letter to send them were shared, so students can aid in reaching the goals of GI2025. This event allowed CSU students to work on improving graduation rates and narrow equality gaps.
Associated Students Vice President of External Affairs and Lobby Corps Board Chair Ethan Quaranta led the event, alongside fellow Lobby Corps member Nawied Amin. The two leaders announced in addition to hiring more diverse faculty, CSU advisors are currently implementing more student-aimed programs and services to fulfill GI2025.
Quaranta and Amin said it is hopeful there will be a full restoration of the $299 million that was cut from the CSU’s budget. This ensures more services are established and employees are hired. Also, certain infrastructure maintenance will be conducted if the funding is approved. The CSU also plans to be better able to anticipate and avoid budget cuts in an unprecedented time.
Amin shared the details of common informative sites at the beginning of the event to aid in writing letters to legislators: one was the search engine findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov, which can be used to find an individual’s representatives by putting in their home address into the website. The second site was www.senate.ca.gov/sites/senate.ca.gov/files/legislative%20process%20booklet.pdf, which is a step-by-step guide on the legislative process, giving examples of mock letters sent to officials.
Amin also said if a CSU student wants to prepare and gain a better understanding of the legislative process, it would be useful and wise to read through the citizen’s guide.
Amin and Quaranta said the next step after reading through the citizen’s guide is finding representatives in the area. Once found, depending on what issue a student wants to address, there are a few things to consider. Students should start with building a business relationship and being well-educated on the issue they are writing about.
Since the representative will be an issue expert, the student does not want to intimidate their representative, but provide beneficial opposing viewpoints. In hopes to persuade their stance on the issue, it is crucial for the student to make their letter personal.
Lobby Corps leaders said a student touching upon an issue they feel strongly about will better their chances of being heard by a representative. Keep in mind that it is always good to be brief, concise and to the point. Students are more likely to reach their intended audience by staying on topic with a clear path to their focused subject.
Amid the pandemic, many CSU students have been struggling. Concerning areas consist of online learning and guaranteeing support services are available. Whether it be assisting students with disabilities or those struggling with mental health during such a hard time, student words to representatives can be the kindling to spark an institutional difference.