"I stated my case and shared my story" is how one of the student participants summarized meeting with legislators as part of WAICU Students’ Day. On March 29, students and supporters of students gathered in Madison for the 2017 WAICU Students’ Day. The students were there in support of a cause, "…working together for educational opportunity."
Specifically, the students urged support for the Wisconsin Grant, the principal state financial aid program for qualified Wisconsin students. After years of flat funding, Governor Walker has proposed a 5 percent biennial increase for the Wisconsin Grants. The same percentage increase is recommended for students in all sectors: University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Technical College System, and the private, nonprofit sector.
During WAICU Students’ Day, students from across Wisconsin learned about the state budget process and heard from speakers who shared their experience attending a WAICU-member college and receiving the Wisconsin Grant. Mr. Rich Zipperer, a graduate of St. Norbert College and Chief of Staff to Governor Walker, and Rep. Beth Meyers, a Northland College alumna and Wisconsin Grant recipient urged the students to speak up and to get the most out of the quality education they are receiving. Students also enjoyed a demonstration on an effective advocacy visit; a former legislator played one of the parts.
WAICU made appointments for all of the attendees to meet with their state representative and senator to describe the role student aid – and the Wisconsin Grant, in particular – has played in their college career. Over 65 legislative offices were visited – several offices received more than one student visit at a time.
One student participant noted their representative was "genuine and answered questions directly. He promised a vote for Wisconsin Grants!" Another participant stated that their senator was "very responsive" and glad to "put a face to a cause." These students are living demonstrations of Wisconsin’s commitment to a bright future. Their stories made a difference because they are true.
I am proud of all the students and their supporters who participated in Students’ Day to advocate for an increase in the Wisconsin Grants. These are Wisconsin students working hard at jobs and on their education. When they graduate they will make a difference for their families and for Wisconsin’s future. More information about the Wisconsin Grants campaign can be found on our website: www.wisconsin-grants.org.
The students stood up to be counted in support of Wisconsin Grants! I know readers of the Independent are also reaching out to elected officials in support of the Wisconsin Grants. You are welcome to use the "Contact your Legislator" tool on the website https://wisconsin-grants.org/legislatorcontact/. Take the lead to ensure that all qualified students, regardless of their financial situation, can pursue their college and career goals.