UMD students taking campus issues to the State Capitol

Over 50 students and staff from UMD will be representing the university at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul for Bulldog Lobby Day on Thursday.

At the event, students will have the opportunity to separate into small groups and meet with state representatives from their hometown to discuss issues impacting them on campus.

“This is UMD’s greatest chance to tell our elected officials what it’s like at UMD, how we’re doing and what we need from the state,” said Mike Purtell, UMD Student Association Vice President of External Affairs.

Student Association is hosting the event, and have two primary issues on the agenda: the support of a tuition freeze and funding for the construction of the CAMS (Chemistry and Advanced Materials Science) Building.

The tuition at UMD is expected to rise roughly 5 percent over the next two years due to rising costs from inflation, resulting in students paying hundreds of dollars more each year. UMD student representatives will be asking the state to invest in the University of Minnesota to keep tuition levels the same.

In addition to a tuition freeze, students will be bringing up the funding disparity in Minnesota’s university system.

UMD currently receives the second lowest amount of funding per student out of all public institutions in the state. The University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus receives $10,000 from the state per student compared to UMD’s $4,000. The current state average is $7,000.

“We’re definitely one of the most left behind public institutions in the state for higher education,” Purtell said.

The CAMS Building has been a topic of discussion for several years, and Student Association hopes to gain more ground on it again this year.

UMD’s current chemistry building was built in 1948, and according to University of Minnesota’s 2017 Capital Request, is unable to support the technology, equipment and flexible spaces needed for today’s education and research. In 2014, the legislature invested $1.5 million in the predesign and design of the new CAMS building. The legislature is now being asked to contribute $28.3 million out of the estimated $42.4 million total project cost.

Smaller projects that will also be discussed at the State Capitol include sustainability on campus and funding for structural repairs to Glensheen Mansion.

The lobby day for all University of Minnesota campuses is held on March 1 of this year, but UMD is the only campus in the University of Minnesota system that holds their own lobby day. Purtell and UMD Student Association plan to keep it that way.

“We have our own lobby day because it’s unbelievably important that we get our advocacy out there and bring up these issues, because they don’t get brought up enough throughout the state without it,” Purtell said.

Purtell said that the purpose of the lobbying day is to let elected officials know that UMD matters.

“Democracy is decided by those who show up,” Purtell said. “This is us showing up.”

Originally published with the UMD Statesman on Feb. 14:

http://www.theumdstatesman.com/news/2017/2/14/umd-students-taking-campus-issues-to-the-state-capitol?rq=Kevin%20Ott