Students will turn into lobbyists today, March 19, when Temple Student Government, in conjunction with the Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs, treks to Harrisburg to meet with state representatives about the university’s appropriation.
Owls on the Hill Day, part of Cherry and White Week hosted by the university, is an attempt to show lawmakers the importance of the institution and its funding to the commonwealth by having students share their own experiences.
“Students have the most bearing on this, they are the ones most affected by flat funding,” Andrew McGinley, manager for public affairs and policy for the university said, adding “many representatives do not know that they have our students in their districts.”
While this is the third year that TSG will be hosting the event, this year it took a new approach toward sending students to the capitol. Through the Owl Advocate Academy, which was set up this spring, students met with Ken Lawrence, senior vice president for government, community and public affairs, McGinley and other professional lobbyists for the university to be trained in how to approach representatives and their staffs.
McGinley, who worked closely with TSG and the student representatives, said his office’s goal was to direct students in how to talk to state representatives using a more personalized approach by telling their own stories rather than giving the traditional list of facts about the university. His office also informed students on what kind of relationship the university already has with the representatives they will be meeting.
TSG Student Body President David Lopez said that he hopes 100 to 150 students will show up for the event, and that 268 have already registered online. Lopez said that last year, around 70 students showed up out of a registration of 158.
To increase turnout, Lopez and TSG reached out to students at the Ambler Campus, as well as recent alumni.
While in the capitol, students will be split into groups of 10 to 15 and will go around the capitol offices meeting representatives and their staffs. The 45 students who go through the Owl Academy act as group leaders for the trip.
Under Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposed 2013-14 fiscal year budget, Temple will receive flat funding from last year’s $139.9 million from the commonwealth.
Lopez said that flat funding for the university is neither good nor bad, noting that in past years, Corbett proposed steep cuts in Temple’s funding.
“We are not content with flat funding,” Lopez said. “We need to make sure we are getting at least that, and letting representatives know that Temple always needs funding.”
Cherry and White Week already started with “Research Day” yesterday, March 18, during which representatives from the university spoke about topics directly related to university conducted research. Temple Made Day will be held tomorrow, March 20, and will focus on the university’s arts, athletics and activities.
Owls on the Hill Day has grown in size during the past two years, and has become a significant part of Cherry and White Week, Colin Saltry, former TSG student body president and current graduate student at Beasley School of Law, said.
Saltry said the first incarnation of the event consisted of only 20 to 30 participants.
“We were really going by the seat of our pants the first time around,” Saltry said.
Still, Saltry and Lopez said the event grew in just its second year when it became part of Cherry and White Week.
Saltry said he looks forward to attending this year along with fellow Temple students.
“It will be fun to put the Cherry and White shirt back on and shake some hands and kiss some babies up in Harrisburg,” Saltry said.
John Moritz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU