General Assembly meeting focuses on funding for higher education

Monday’s Temple Student Government General Assembly meeting aimed to educate students on higher education funding, Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to flat-fund state and state-related universities and students’ role in advocating to legislatures.

Senior Vice President of Government, Community and Public Affairs Ken Lawrence spoke to the General Assembly and urged students to take their roles as advocates for higher education seriously.

“The best thing you can do is contact you legislatures or the Governor and let them know higher education is important to you and you support that,” Lawrence said. “If you don’t think it makes a difference to contact you legislature, it does.”

Lawrence highlighted that although Corbett proposed flat-funding for higher education in the budget, the budget is not finalized until June and advocating for funding is still important.

“This is the governor’s proposal and it is not done until it is done, so this is certainly not a sure thing and it would be a shame for people to take that for granted,” Public Affairs and Policy Manager for the Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs Andrew McGinley said. McGinley spoke on Lawrence’s behalf after the meeting.

Overall, Lawrence aimed to update students on the commonwealth budget and also raise awareness for the upcoming Owls on the Hill day, scheduled for March 19.

Immediately following Lawrence’s address, TSG Director of Government Affairs Darin Bartholomew delivered additional information about Owls on the Hill.

Owls on the Hill is a day where a large number of university students travel to Harrisburg to advocate for higher education funding, share their personal experiences related to college expenses and thank legislatures who support funding.

This year, TSG and Lawrence are sponsoring the Owl Academy, which aims to teach a small number of students about all aspects of higher education funding and state appropriations. The Owl Academy participants will then lead groups of students during Owls on the Hill.

The first information meeting for the Owl Academy is scheduled for Feb. 18, immediately following the weekly meeting.

To further raise awareness of Owls on the Hill, TSG Student Body President David Lopez and his administration announced the start of a new social media campaign.

The campaign will use the hash tag #Ourfuturematters on Twitter to tell students’ stories and how they want to use their college education to give back to Pennsylvania.

“The campaign is meant to highlight what students can do for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the city of Philadelphia or in what ways they can give back,” Lopez said.

The social media campaign, created by Communications Director Kristin Turner, was meant to be used by the four state-related schools in the Pennsylvania Association of State-Related Schools, but Lopez decided to keep the campaign only at Temple due to the uncertain future of PASS.

“We came to realize that it might be better for us to stay focused on Temple and raise awareness because our big issue right now is getting students to Harrisburg on March 19,” Lopez said.

TSG will tweet out all student stories submitted during the meeting through its Twitter account @templetsg.

Laura Detter can be reached at laura.detter@temple.edu. 

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