| 03.17.2018

Lobbying for students


In the 2013 legislative session, University of Idaho student Andrew Blake stood among state representatives and senators to represent UI in the annual lawmaking and budget-setting assembly.

Blake, currently a senior studying political science, said serving as the ASUI lobbyist is one of the best experiences he has ever had.

“This position gave me the opportunity to grow and develop professionally and academically in providing real world learning experiences,” Blake said.

ASUI is currently accepting applications for the 2014 student lobbyist. The selected undergraduate student will receive internship credit, monetary compensation and experience as a political lobbyist in the 2014 legislative session.

ASUI Chief of Staff Liz Brandon said the lobbyist will represent UI students in issues that directly affect students across the state.

“This can be anything from tuition increases as a result of professor salary increases to the fact that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act does not protect members of the LGBT community,” Brandon said. “Or anything else the students feel the need to express their voices to the state government about.”

ASUI Senator Bruno Bennett served as the ASUI lobbyist in the 2012 legislative session and said he would recommend the position to any UI student interested in politics.

“I would have done it again if I could fit it into my schedule,” Bennett said. “You get to meet with legislators on a daily basis and lobby for the University of Idaho’s needs and desires. You are able to literally make a difference for the students.”

Both Bennett and Blake left their mark in the Capitol Building by making notable contributions during their time in Boise.

“It wasn’t all my doing, but the year that I was lobbyist it was the first year in five years in which we didn’t receive a higher education cut,” Bennett said. “We actually had an increase in higher education funding from the state level.”

Blake said the experience that stands out to him the most as the ASUI lobbyist is taking a stand against a bill that was not in the best interest of UI students.

“I had the opportunity to testify in the Senate Education Committee against a bill being considered which we expected to negatively impact student organization funding,” Blake said. “In addition to the University of Idaho’s General Council and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, I also spoke in front of this Senate subcommittee to speak with the senator’s about how this particular bill would be problematic for UI students.”

Brandon said the lobbyist position is considered a full-time job. The person works 40 hours a week at $10 an hour. A $1200 living stipend is given upon appointment and the lobbyist will also have an opportunity to gain internship credit.

It is also essential that applicants understand they have to be able to live in Boise for the spring semester.

Bennett said the prestigious position looks great on a resume and will provide an opportunity of a lifetime– but it’s not an easy job.

“Students should be interested if they’re willing to put in the time and effort, it’s not an easy position,” Bennett said. “Students should apply if they’re motivated, have great communication skills and they’re passionate about helping the University of Idaho. This is one of the best ways to do it.”

Amber Emery 

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