The ASUC Senate and the Office of the External Affairs Vice President introduced amendments to the ASUC bylaws Wednesday in an effort to increase senators’ participation in local, state and national lobbying.
A new bylaw, entitled “Article XVII ASUC Senator External Lobbying,” will mandate that all ASUC senators undergo student lobbying training as part of their preterm training program that occurs before each senate class takes office.
SQUELCH! Senator Emily Truax, a co-author of the bill, said the bylaw change will take effect next year if the bill passes. This year’s ASUC senators would receive lobbying training during a senate meeting through a special order.
According to the bill, lobby visits “give students the opportunity to engage directly with elected representatives to discuss important issues with education.”
Proponents of the bill hope senators involved in lobbying activities will include members of their constituencies, which would increase students’ opportunities to meet government officials and discuss important issues such as financial aid and education reform. They also hope to expand the capabilities of student lobbying beyond what the ASUC Lobby Corps can currently manage.
“(The ASUC Senate) is a legislative body that passes so many symbolic resolutions,” said Tanay Kothari, a state legislative liaison for the EAVP who co-authored the bill. “I’m really hoping that senators will embrace this opportunity.”
After receiving training, senators will be strongly encouraged to lobby at least one official on the local, state or national level by the end of their terms.
“I think that the student body can become more aware of the bills in the legislature that might affect them,” said External Affairs Vice President Safeena Mecklai in an email. “It might also make the senators more effective advocates in their roles, because lobbying is a skill that translates to becoming a better advocate for student issues in any situation.”
Each senator is also asked to bring at least one constituent from his or her community to the lobby visit so students with diverse perspectives can influence elected officials.
“I think it will really raise political engagement within different communities,” Truax said.
According to Truax, lobby visits to local government offices will be planned by the end of the semester, and a trip to the capital is scheduled for the spring.
The bill — SB 31 — will be discussed during Monday’s constitutional and procedural review senate subcommittee meeting. If approved, it will go before the senate for consideration Wednesday.