Associated Students representatives met with 53rd District Congresswoman Susan Davis on Wednesday to discuss the recent financial cutbacks to education.
A.S. Executive Board members and Lobby Corp representatives spoke with Davis to gain a Washington perspective on the cutbacks and to share their own views.
Davis opened the meeting with the comment, “There’s somehow this belief (in Washington) that if we give students too much in the way of helping them out with student fees, it will only increase tuition in universities and colleges,” as administrators will think students have more money to give. “We know that that’s not true; there are many reasons today that costs go up.”
Davis said the “competition for the best and the brightest” is one of the main driving forces of fee increases. Universities feel pressure to constantly spend more on the most innovative technology, best-looking buildings and most qualified staff. While those investments do benefit students, “You can leave your students behind by doing that. Trying to give them the best (is good) but at the same time can make it less accessible” by adding costs.
“Accessibility is next,” A.S. Vice President of External Affairs Krista Parker told Davis. “That’s terrifying for students who have worked their whole lives to get into a college and now can’t even get into a state school.”
Davis mentioned a lack of political pressure as another reason for the decreasing federal funding. She compared the United States to countries such as South Korea, Finland and Singapore, which have noticeably increased their math skills.
“When they looked at their students and their scores globally, they determined they would have a strategic plan and would do everything possible to make certain students were succeeding at higher rates and teachers were prepared,” Davis said.
The A.S. representatives also brought up the lack of communication between students and legislators. Parker told Davis students are becoming politically active again and want to know what’s going on, but it’s difficult for them. According to Lobby Corp Chair Nicole Ganz, “Those who need the most support (are the ones who) go to night school because they work all day. They don’t have the time to meet with legislators or become socially active in campaigns.”
A.S. President Cody Barbo emphasized to Davis the importance of social media in informing students. “We really are looking at new ways to reach out to students that don’t live on campus.” When 20,000 students live off campus and aren’t involved in extra-curricular activities, “Social media is our best form of communication,” he said. He advised Davis to increase her social media activity.
After the meeting, Parker said she appreciated the time Davis took to meet with the representatives because Davis understands students, despite her limited amount of time able to devote to communicating with students.