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