Staff from Salt Lake Community College will venture to Capitol Hill on Feb. 4 to lobby for higher education. SLCC staff will be part of a larger contingent of staff representatives from other colleges and universities whose main goal is helping higher education. This will be the sixth time at the capitol for staff members, who will focus on issues dealing with wages, raises, and anything pertaining to higher education.
Their day will consist of rallying together as members of the Utah Higher Education Staff Association (UHESA), meeting with key legislators for orientation, and lobbying for issues.
According to Butch Steffen, Co-chair of the Legislative Sub-committee for UHESA, this day at the capitol will focus on the big picture for Utah’s higher education. Some of their objectives this year will be to lobby for use of the Rainy-Day Fund, admission based funding, investing in higher education, and keeping higher education affordable for the general public. Since there are so many bills, it is not quite clear what specific pieces of legislation staff members will be lobbying for or against.
Steffen said, “This is a real grass roots approach. So it’s up to the individual what they want to do.”
After the Capitol Hill rally, it will be up to staff members to keep in contact with congressmen who represent each college’s area. This will require a lot of personal time for staff members. Staff members are required to take a vacation day as part of a standard that UHESA has set.
Deanne D. Arvizu of Staff Development says that while this can affect the amount of people that go, it sends a message to congress that the issue of higher education is important and that staff members are willing to take personal time to attend.
Due to recent cuts, going to Capitol Hill has become more difficult for staff members. All staff members at SLCC were required to take three days of vacation over the holiday break, those who didn’t have vacation time had to take un-paid leave. SLCC also saw the retirement of 61 high-ranking staff members last year and some of these positions have not been filled. This leaves the remaining staff to work with fewer resources.