On February 22, nearly 30 Lock Haven University students and several administrators participated in the annual Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Advocacy Day event at the state Capitol in Harrisburg. This year’s theme was “Prepared4PA.”
Student representatives, along with faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters from all 14 PASSHE schools, visited the offices of all 253 state legislators to share their personal stories and to advocate for the importance of a quality and affordable education, and funding within the state system.
“The students really valued the visits with staff in legislative offices,” said Stanley Berard, political science professor at LHU, who accompanied the group in Harrisburg. “They were also quite impressed by the Capitol building. For many it was their first visit. I am sure they all intend to return there, and they will use what they’ve seen and experienced on future visits.”
The entire group gathered in the main rotunda to kick off the state system’s annual advocacy efforts following the system’s separate appearances before the state House and Senate appropriations committees. During those appearances, Karen M. Whitney, interim chancellor; Laurie A. Carter, Shippensburg University president; and Brian Swatt, Indiana University of Pennsylvania Student Government Association president; discussed the system’s annual appropriations request.
LHU political science freshman, Courtney Devens, said the visit to the Capitol was an eye-opening and educational experience for her. “Attending the Senate appropriations committee hearing taught me about how negotiations work in government in a real world setting,” she added. “It was important that the students from the state system were advocating at the Capitol because the state appropriations directly affect each of us financially. It also affects the environment at our universities. Overall, I enjoyed the opportunity and plan to use the connections I made at the Capitol to further my experiential learning in the future.”
Dr. Donna Wilson, provost and executive vice president at LHU, also was in attendance during the visit. “I was very pleased to sit with the students, who were from political science classes, in the appropriation hearing where they experienced up close the debate, disagreement, sharing of information, and robust exchange of ideas that goes into decision making in democratic processes, over an issue directly relevant to them,” Wilson said. “It was an opportunity to advocate for the state system, and also to get a sense of the complex reality in which public higher education is situated.”
Trevor Dietz, LHU junior, majoring in secondary education, social studies, said being able to attend the event was a great opportunity to advocate for LHU and the necessity of the state system. “By visiting the offices of our state legislators, we were able to share our personal accounts of the many benefits provided to us from our experiences in public higher education,” Dietz added. “I believe this event was a great success and I look forward to any future opportunities to advocate further for Lock Haven University!”
Serving more than 100,000 degree-seeking students, the state system is the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Lock Haven University is part of the system and has seen continuous reductions in funding from the state.
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Lock Haven University is a member of Pennsylvania’s State System, the largest provider of higher education in the Commonwealth. Its 14 universities offer more than 2,300 degree and certificate programs in more than 530 academic areas of study. Nearly 520,000 system alumni live and work in Pennsylvania.
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