USUAA students advocate for university in Juneau

The USUAA Advocacy Team is traveling to Juneau on the weekend of Feb. 10 to meet with Alaska legislators and voice concerns of the UAA student body on various issues.

“We are sending down a group of student representatives picked from applicants who applied during the first few weeks of the school year, they are meeting with other representatives from different parts of the UA system by the Coalition of Student Leaders – and are basically going through a fast-track meeting schedule with pretty much every representative we could get an answer from, from our belligerent phone calls,” Sam Erickson, UAA Union of Students president, said.

Although Erickson will not be joining the Advocacy Team in Juneau, eight students will have the opportunity to be a face for UAA — three members of USUAA and five as students-at-large, picked through the application process.

The students going to Juneau include Johanna Richter, Joey Sweet, Demry Mebane, Alex Jorgensen, Nathan Burns, Geser Bat-Erdene, Lyndea Kelleher and Kellen Fisch.

The Advocacy Team will fly to the state capital in an effort to make a change for the University of Alaska on behalf of all students, faculty and staff.

The student lead of this year’s advocacy trip is USUAA’s Government Relations officer, Joey Sweet. Sweet is the project manager and planned the timeline for the trip, the criteria for participants, advertising and budget.

Sweet helped construct the trip into two parts. The first portion will consist of a conference with other delegates from other UA schools. This event will consist of networking, practicing for later meetings and hearing from guest speakers.

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The trip will later involve a meeting with legislators to advocate for issues impacting the university. Student delegates will be assigned their own state senators, representative and legislators to most effectively spread their message.

“The purpose of the trip is to advocate for the university. This means raising awareness of exactly how bad the budget cuts have been for our school. We’re losing faculty, student confidence in the institution has plummeted and a myriad of other problems all owed to the decline in state support for our school,” Sweet said.

Budget cuts will be an important topic of conversation in Juneau, as it remains one of the most substantial issues that affect and concern students.

Demry Mebane, UAA’s student ombudsman, is well known at the Anchorage campus for keeping fellow students informed on the processes happening in the student government.

Mebane will be an asset to the group in Juneau, while he has aided the advocacy team in gathering information that will complement the team’s ability to speak for the student body.

“The trip to Juneau will be an opportunity for the advocacy team to connect with different UA students, and to advocate on behalf of the thousands of students we represent to our Alaskan legislators,” Mebane said.

USUAA members will discuss the results of the advocacy trip at the following weekly General Assembly meeting which is open to all students and the general public.