Action team to lobby in Springfield for students’ interests

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

Members of student government and other students will be heading to the state capitol Wednesday to lobby for Eastern. 

They are all a part of a group called the Student Action Team, and Zac Cohen, the executive vice president of student government and who organized this year’s team, said there are 19 students that will be going to Springfield. 

He said rather than just focusing their efforts on Eastern in general, they are going to focus on lobbying for students’ interests based on responses received from a survey.

Cohen said before spring break he sent out an email asking students to identify which of three issues (financial issues, academic issues or capital issues) they would want the Student Action Team to focus more on. The email also gave students the option to fill in which issues they wanted to address. 

Over 200 students were surveyed. 

Of the 200, 58 percent of students said they want the team to focus on financial issues like funding, 30 percent wanted the team to focus on capital developments such as new buildings and 13 percent said academic issues like STEM Research funding. 

“I was really excited,” Cohen said, regarding the number of surveys received. “It was a lot more than I expected.” 

Cohen compiled the data received from the surveys into a packet that each person lobbying will have so they can make their own questions based on the data. 

The Student Action Team will arrive in Springfield at 9:30 a.m. and stay until 3 p.m.

Cohen said the goal in the morning is to meet with key legislators such as Dale Righter and Chris Miller, the senator and representative (respectively) for the 15th District. 

In the afternoon, the students will then meet with the representatives from their home districts. 

“I wanted to focus on people reaching out to their home district representatives because if they’re meeting with someone from their home district, then (the representative) is going to be more receptive toward the students, and it’s a way for us to branch out more,” Cohen said. “(Miller and Righter) already lobby for Eastern’s interests, so if we can try to get more representatives from all across the state it would help (in Eastern’s favor).”

Cohen said this gives students an opportunity for students to voice their opinion and to make an “impact” in Springfield.

“Hopefully … they can see that they do have an impact when they talk to (legislators),” Cohen said.

He also said the purpose is to show legislators what is going on in the state from a student’s perspective and be able to convince legislators that Eastern is a priority. 

“A lot of the legislators get so caught up in Springfield and what’s going on … I feel like students aren’t the number one source of feedback, and this is another opportunity for legislators to hear what’s going on from the perspective of students,” Cohen said. 

He said visiting legislators in Springfield is important for any citizen, but if people want to be vocal they do not have to go to Springfield to voice their concerns. They can also call or write a letter to their legislator. 

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].