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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

IUSA traveled to DC to meet with Congress members

The IU Student Association traveled to Washington, D.C., on Monday and Tuesday to lobby congressmen and talk to representatives about policies such as the Higher Education Act.

Members of the IUSA executive branch attended the Big Ten on the Hill Conference, the last of this year’s Association of Big Ten Schools conferences.

This conference gave IUSA the opportunity to share student voice with leaders at the federal level, IUSA President Anne Tinder said.

“IUSA’s job on a day-to-day basis is to advocate on behalf of the students to the University administration, but Tuesday was really our chance to advocate on behalf of the student voice to our federal legislators,” 
Tinder said.

The first two days of the conference consisted of panel discussions with different people and departments in Washington, D.C., including the deputy campaign manger of the It’s On Us campaign and employees in the Department of Education.

The second day was dedicated to meeting with Indiana congress members. In each of their offices, the IUSA delegates talked to a staff member who focuses on education policy.

The main objective of these meetings was letting congress members know, as students, IUSA members are in favor of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, 
Tinder said.

Although the act won’t be reinstated until next term, it is important it’s amended before it’s reinstated, said Dan Niersbach, IUSA deputy treasurer and intern program director.

Students need to be in the conversation regarding these changes because they affect them more than anything, said Patrick Lockhart, IUSA director of state and legislative affairs.

“It’s essential that we take advantage of opportunities like this in order to ensure that we, too, have a seat at the table when it comes to our 
government,” Lockhart said.

Congressmen and the IUSA delegates talked about adding amendments focusing on student affordability,

\mental health and sexual violence.

Of these issues, IUSA delegates talked mainly about student affordability.

“We need to make sure all students are able to obtain higher education,” 
Niersbach said.

For the IUSA delegates who attended the conference, being in the office face-to-face with representatives was crucial to talking about these topics.

“We were given the ability to put our voices in action,” Niersbach said. “We’re in the center of national policy, and we had the opportunity to meet with people and give our insights and advice.”

IUSA Chief of Staff Sara Zaheer said if the opportunity to speak to members of Congress about student issues is there, it’s crucial to take it.

“By showing up at the Capitol, we are showing the impact that students from IU-Bloomington can have for the nation’s colleges and universities,” Zaheer said.

Being face to face with representatives in Washington, D.C., allowed the conversation to be more personal, Niersbach said.

At the end of each meeting with a congressman, IUSA delegates always asked, “What can we do as student leaders on campus?” The answer was always the same: promote the policies they discussed at the conference.

The biggest problem with higher education is not enough student voice. Niersbach urged students to write to their representatives on a piece of legislation and let them know their opinion on it.

“At the end of the day, we’re the students here on campus,” Niersbach said. “We’re affected the most.”

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