Seven members of the Student Government Association joined other Big 12 schools in Washington D.C. this week to lobby regarding issues pertinent to college students.
They lobbied members of the Senate, House of Representatives and staff members primarily about Pell Grant funding and mental health issues on college campuses through the Big 12 on the Hill program.
In addition to meeting with government officials, they collaborated with student governments from six other schools in the conference.
Vice President for Operations Lauren Sharp said that of her three years attending the event, this time was the most effective.
“TCU was able to lobby about issues related to TCU,” Sharp said. “It was great being able to lobby with other officers to Texas representatives specifically.”
The group was in Washington from Sunday to Wednesday. They were originally supposed to lobby on behalf of the conference Monday but were unable to do so due to inclement weather. TCU’s SGA lobbied independently on Tuesday.
Student Body President Cody Westphal saw working with the Big 12 conference as a huge advantage.
“Lobbying as a conference is huge,” Westphal said. “It gives us more leverage to fight for common issues.”
TCU hired a lobbying firm to set up meetings on Tuesday. The firm usually lobbies on behalf of TCU. Westphal and Sharp agreed that the firm’s help was invaluable during the trip.
Government officials said it was great having actual student feedback instead of others lobbying on students’ behalf, Sharp said.
“A lot of congressmen don’t hear students’ interests, so it’s important to get across what’s important to us,” College of Communications Representative Nicolette Stanley said.
Westphal said that this trip also helped TCU gain a greater presence in the Capitol: “Part of being a big name is getting your name in D.C.”
Stanley said that after meeting with representatives from other schools, there was an agreement to try to get more students involved on campus and in the community.
Other members of SGA who travelled to Washington were Student Body Vice President of External Affairs Blake Tilley, Student Body Treasurer Zach Madel, Finance Chair Jeffrey Chatman and Speaker of the House Ryan Tiglas.