The annual D.C. Summit that took place March 15-18 had a very successful conclusion. This year MCTC sent student advocates Enol Clermont, Clay Bradbury, Nate Krantz and myself as their chosen delegates to the conference. Over sixty students from two-year colleges across the state of Minnesota made the trip to D.C. for legislative training on how to lobby congressional representatives and to test their skills on “mock legislators” who gave advice on how to best present the Minnesota State College Student Association (MSCSA) in front of lawmakers. Many students were able to connect the issues being advocated for at a personal level. They shared very powerful and moving stories that were easily relatable to MSCSA’s federal agenda and further strengthened the case to make college more affordable for prospective students across the state. The student delegates met with the offices of Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, who are Minnesota’s congressional senators. In their offices we were advocating for the expansion of the federal Pell grant program and legislation that would reduce the cost of textbooks for students as well as expanding the use of open educational resources. This could potentially save students thousands of dollars a year considering two-year students spend an average of $1,270 a year on books and supplies alone. The general mood was pretty optimistic leaving the congressional meetings as our senators saw the importance of advocating for these issues since Minnesota has the fourth highest student loan debt in the country. The MSCSA also met with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators both of which also advocate on issues related to higher education. The work of the MSCSA at the federal level could be perceived as work on behalf of all students across the United States as many organizations from other states similar to the MSCSA have parallel interests. The effects of the congressional visit will be felt all across the country as the students of Minnesota aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit should the efforts of Minnesota students be successful.
Student advocate Clermont said, “I was grateful to be at the MSCSA conference. The trip was a great learning experience.”
All in all that’s just what the D.C. Summit was. A great and successful learning experience in which through our representatives, the students successfully had their voices heard.