Big Ten Legislative CaucusPosted: April 8, 2010
Alright guys, as much fun as it is to watch Brandon and I squabble like old married folk (which is truly a choice experience) this post will not be about our disagreements on issues.
This post is an outline of what I want to accomplish next year on Council. This is clearly not everything I want to do, but I decided to write about what I am most passionate about and about what I have done the most to realize. Of course, I plan on continuing my work on campus safety (Lights on Langdon), transportation (Yahara Station/High Speed Rail, Regional Transit Authority), transparancy (I’m still blogging…), and positive internal reform, however my one primary goal upon which I push myself is something else entirely and is related to my work as Legislative Affairs Chair.
Among other issues, the primary focus of my next term on Council will focus on the creation of an institutionalized Big Ten legislative platform. This platform will result with an increased presence of students at the national level where students have typically had a difficult time asserting themselves. Organizations such as the United States Student Association certainly exist, however the Big Ten represents the largest consortium of research institutions in the country with a total enrollment of over 460,000 students. The unique nature of the Big Ten schools and their extensive research and graduate networks creates different needs than can be addressed at the level of larger national student groups.
The Big Ten schools need each other; this much is clear. With eleven universities spread over a relatively small area of the country, we can realistically meet at least several times a year to discuss common goals, strategies, and events to move our own students forward. A common legislative platform would allow us to create a machine allowing students to have a louder and more assertive voice when addressing their legislators.
This Big Ten Legislative Caucus would meet before the academic year begins, near the end of August and a collective course of action would be planned here. We would set goals and deadlines for meeting with our own legislators and coordinate simultaneous rallies across all our campuses to create a loud media event to further our collective goals. This rally, occurring in October or November would place public pressure on legislators in addition to the private pressure that we have been applying consistently. Another simultaneous rally would follow in the Spring semester, and the year would culminate with another Big Ten Legislative Caucus to either make the final push for the desired change (as when Big Ten students traveled to Washington this year to press for Student Loan Reform) or to simply recap the year and look forward.
The first steps to making this a reality have been made. Other Big Ten schools such as Penn State are very open to the idea of a common legislative platform and our preliminary talks have centered on creating this within the existing framework of the Association of Big Ten Students, which Wisconsin has not historically attended and which I intend to change. I am also in the process of drafting official proposals to send to SGA leaders across the Big Ten and garner enough support to actually make this a reality in 2010-2011.