The visit will feature comments by IU President Michael McRobbie and student government organizations from several IU campuses. State legislators will meet with representing students to talk about higher education in Indiana and especially IU.
Debbie Lemon, director of Hoosiers for Higher Education, one of the oldest and largest higher education advocacy organizations in the country, said the visit would provide an opportunity for students and friends of IU to meet with state government.
“It gives people who care about higher education in Indiana, especially the students, a chance to meet face-to-face with state legislators,” Lemon said.
In the past 18 years, HHE has organized annual visits to the Statehouse, which have covered a wide range of issues related to education and let people see what kind of job the government has been doing to promote higher education.
What makes this year’s visit different is the issue of budget cuts. As state tax revenue falls, Gov. Mitch Daniels has slashed a $150 million cut in funding among seven state public universities.
Though it is one of the players that has been hit the most, IU still shows its support for the governor as McRobbie has ordered two rounds of cuts in spending among the campuses.
“At this time, especially in dealing with the budget-cut issue, it is fairly important for students, faculty and friends of IU to meet their legislators,” Lemon said. “They need to realize that the state government has done a lot to maintain the quality of higher education.”
Lemon said the state government did not make a compromise between budget cuts and quality of education, and the students should appreciate that.
IU student representatives who are scheduled to visit the Statehouse have realized the importance of building the connection as well.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to talk directly with my state legislators about why Indiana University is such a great school and why its continued successes are so important for the future of our state,” said Scott Williamson, director of government relations of the IU Student Association.
As a student governor, Williamson knew how the connection could make a difference.
“It’s important that legislators hear directly from students,” he said, “and from what I’ve heard about past years, HHE has done a great job setting up those opportunities with the Statehouse visit.”
With the current difficult budget situation, Williamson said he hopes he can get more students from Bloomington than they’ve ever seen before at the Statehouse.
Anne Hatton, a graduate assistant for HHE who has previously attended the Statehouse Visit as an undergraduate student at IU and an intern for the IU Office of Government Relations, said the state has a large role in keeping IU an outstanding university and appealing to students and faculty.
Hatton said she thought the state did a great job by encouraging dual credit among public universities.
She was referring to the policy that allows high school students to take college-level courses before enrolling as college freshmen.
“This saves students money and allows a more open schedule in their first year to take other classes,” Hatton said.
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