Student Advocacy Day

April 3 marked Lobby Day, where stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives on behalf of the HACC Lan­caster cam­pus went out to lobby the state gov­ern­ment for an increased edu­ca­tion bud­get. The stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives, myself, Kellee Brown, and Emmanuel Jean-Philippe, were selected by War­ren Bair, the Direc­tor of Stu­dent Affairs.

The prepa­ra­tion of the event required two weeks of meet­ings with David Carl, the Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Offi­cer, and the stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Time was spent review­ing the mate­ri­als, includ­ing the cur­rent pro­posed bud­get for edu­ca­tion and the talk­ing points for the meet­ings themselves.

The Capi­tol build­ing in Har­ris­burg was full of stu­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives from com­mu­nity col­leges from across the state, and aside from a brief press con­fer­ence, the stu­dents were dis­persed through­out the offices of the var­i­ous state sen­a­tors and rep­re­sen­ta­tives. Dr “Ski” Sygiel­ski and Dr. Wash­ing­ton met with our group briefly to offer their sup­port. The rep­re­sen­ta­tives from our cam­pus in par­tic­u­lar met with State Sen­a­tors Lloyd Smucker and Mike Brubaker, as well as State Rep­re­sen­ta­tives John Bear and Gor­don Denlinger.

The meet­ings them­selves were con­struc­tive, with mean­ing­ful dia­logue from both par­ties. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gor­don Den­linger in par­tic­u­lar gave time to sit down with us and learn who we were, and our rea­sons for ask­ing for an increased bud­get. Oth­ers leg­is­la­tors were tied up with other meet­ings or were in ses­sion, and del­e­gated meet­ings with their Chief of Staff. It struck me how despite the vast num­ber of appoint­ments they held, every­one spent time to under­stand and lis­ten to us.

The edu­ca­tion fund­ing has been par­tic­u­larly restricted in the past few years, due mainly to Gov­er­nor Tom Corbett’s cam­paign promise to give no new taxes to his con­stituents. As a result, edu­ca­tional fund­ing has been slashed by as much as 30% from some uni­ver­si­ties. The HACC Lan­caster cam­pus has received no increased funds in over four years, despite see­ing a rad­i­cal increase of stu­dents in the same time frame.

Abra­ham Are­hart, Con­tribut­ing Writer

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