USUAA and Alaska state legislators persevered through a handsome ice storm to sit down for lunch Friday afternoon in the Student Union Den. All but two guests were able to attend the event, which was cut short by campus closures.
The Legislative Luncheons offer a chance for face-to-face conversations between local politicians and USUAA student government.
While students engaged with state legislators, others attempted to leave the Den with heaping plates of food only to be turned back by director of UAA Student Life and Leadership Annie Route.
Alaska state Senator Kevin Meyer gave a brief PowerPoint presentation at the beginning of the luncheon about state budgets and declining oil production, expressing continued support for contentious new oil tax structures.
At one table USUAA Senator Alberto Padilla and state Representative Shelley Hughes carried on a lively dialogue about immigration reform. Padilla is a U.S. citizen who has several relatives from Mexico directly affected by the stalled national efforts.
State Senator Berta Gardner enjoyed the chance to talk with students. She says she visits every school in her district as well as nine different community councils on a regular basis.
“When I go to schools I tell students it is important to ask for what you want, even if you may not get it,” Gardner said.
Representative Andy Josephson sat down with the USUAA government relations director and several others to discuss student tuition and other state issues.
“I was impressed by the students, and I’m not just saying that. They seem to know a lot about the issues affecting the state,” Josephson said.
Representative Les Gara showed up for the open forum scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. to find out the party was ending, but he was still able to briefly mingle and pose for a group photo.