Temple Student Government representatives said their organization has made it a top priority to lobby for lower tuition by continuing and expanding the Owls on the Hill program, which enables student representatives to meet with legislators to lobby for state appropriation.
Last year, attending students met legislators in Harrisburg, Pa., to lobby for funding. The same event will take place this spring, but the proceeding process will be more informative.
Meetings will lead up to the day in March, which has not yet been determined, that will teach those attending how to effectively lobby. Attendees will be bussed out to the state capitol, where they will visit the offices of legislators and make their proposals.
These series of classes, dubbed “Owl Academy,” are taking place in order to formulate good methods when lobbying for funding. One will take place each month, and all are open to students, faculty and alumni.
“The goal is to teach people how to be good advocates for Temple when they go to Harrisburg,” Temple Student Body President Darin Bartholomew said.
During the first few meetings, participants will learn about the history of Temple, Bartholomew said. As the classes proceed, the leaders of the meeting will detail the legislative process, the relationship between Temple and the state and how students can prepare for conversations with state legislators.
The addition of Owl Academy classes isn’t the only thing that is different from last year. Meetings with legislators will be scheduled in advance, intended to avoid missing a chance to meet a legislator should they be unavailable during the time of the event. This way, Temple representatives will use their time in Harrisburg more effectively.
The extra preparation is not because last year’s lobbying was ineffective, Bartholomew said.
“Last year was a great success,” Bartholomew added. “We smashed through our attendance goals.”
Temple isn’t the only school that goes through this process. Other state-affiliated schools, such as University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, Bloomsburg, East Stroudsburg and Kutztown, have appropriated days where they lobby for their school’s funding. However, Owls on the Hill Day is uniquely for representatives of Temple.
Although there are many schools that lobby, Bartholomew said it’s not meant to be a competition.
“If we have a cut, it’s the same for everyone across the board,” he said. “If we get extra funding, it’s the same for everyone across the board.”
Bartholomew said this is a good opportunity for students who want to get politically involved.
“You can add it to your résumé,” Bartholomew said. “[People who went last year received] certificates signed by [Senior Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs] Ken Lawrence. It’s a professional development opportunity for students as well as résumé-building.”
Although Owls on the Hill Day does not directly affect state funding, Bartholomew said it is still important to show ing will detail the legislative process, the relationship between Temple and the state and how students can prepare for conversations with state legislators.
“Money is tight with every government,” he said. “If we don’t go, someone will. You have to make the effort. You have to show your impact on the Commonwealth.”
Danielle Hagerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.