At today’s Temple Student Government General Assembly meeting, TSG members discussed their involvement with the Pennsylvania Association of State-related Students, or PASS.
PASS, comprised of student representatives from the three other state-related universities, Penn State University, Lincoln University and the University of Pittsburgh, is known for organizing advocacy efforts for level or increased appropriations from the commonwealth while legislators work to balance the budget.
The association formed last year after November Pennsylvania midterm elections. Former TSG Student Body President Natalie Ramos-Castillo was a key leader of the group.
“What we originally formed around was higher-education funding, and being able to communicate the message that it’s important, to the other student governments, that we can go to Harrisburg and lobby all different legislation across the state,”TSG Student Body President Colin Saltry said.
At a recent conference in Pittsburgh, TSG Vice President of External Affairs Elliott Griffin was unanimously named the first executive director of the organization.
“Because of Temple’s role in creating PASS, we decided that the position of executive director was something that we needed to keep in North Philadelphia, moving forward,” Griffin said. Her role is to coordinate discussions between the universities.
Last year, Griffin was vice president of Temple College Democrats and this year she is the communications director for the Pennsylvania College Democrats. She has also worked with State Rep. Tony Payton Jr. (D-Phila.) and State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery).
“We decided that my experience working with legislators and communications with other organizations made me the best choice for executive director,” Griffin said.
From Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, TSG officers met with the universities’ student government presidents and executive board members to discuss “what the future of PASS will be, how we will further legitimize the organization, and how we will once again fight for funding for our state-related universities, going toward the end of the spring semester,” Griffin said.
PASS plans to hold a rally in Harrisburg in January to lobby for higher education funding. But first, in November, the association will hold a statewide “week of action” to promote voter registration among young people.
“A big reason that state officials get away with these types of cuts is that students traditionally don’t vote. So we’re going to definitely work to change that,” Saltry said.
PASS will focus on Pennsylvania House Bill 934, also known as the “Voter I.D. Bill,” which would make an amendment to the 1937 Pennsylvania Election Code, redefining the “proof of identification” requirements in order to vote in Pennsylvania. If passed out-of-state students, which Griffin calls a “transient population,” would be permitted to vote in the state in which they go to school.
The coalition will hold phone conferences every two weeks, and plans to meet in person at least once a semester, or as needed. The lead administration liaison is Ken Lawrence, senior vice president for government, community and public affairs.
Amelia Brust can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.