By Steve Sabin
This past November, thousands of college students around Minnesota and the United States exercised one of the greatest rights we have as citizens. We exercised our right to say who our elected leaders will be and that higher education must be a priority. I will admit that I never understood the power we have as citizens to influence the decisions our representatives make until I got involved in student government. But as I have grown and learned a lot throughout my experiences, I have realized one major concept. I realized that not only can I be a part of the process, I MUST be a part of it.
As college students, I bet many of you have thought that government officials don’t listen to you or even worse don’t care about you. However, I have seen the power of college students’ influence on many policies in several ways. For the last three years, student voices have successfully advocated for tuition caps, maintaining student loan interest rates, and funding levels for federal financial aid programs such as the Pell grant, etc.
This year, public college students are in a very unique position as both the MSCSA and MSUSA (Minnesota State University Student Association) student associations, the faculty unions, and the MnSCU (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities) system are united to increase investment in higher education.
Just as students turned out in record numbers in November to speak up, they are needed again. We as college students are at a crossroads and need to drive the change our state and country desperately needs. More than 70 percent of Minnesota’s workforce is going to need a college education by 2020, according to a recent study by Georgetown University. In order to fulfill this need, our voices are needed to encourage more investment in higher education and support for our economy.