Mock legislature has some pull on state decisions

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    By Rachael Wilson

    Proposing, debating, and lobbying for higher education issues has become a beneficial pass time for some BYU students.

    The Board of Regents, the Utah Council of Student Body Presidents and the Utah Intercollegiate Assembly met at Snow College this weekend to discuss issues pertinent to higher education.

    Jess Dalton, student body president of the University of Utah and the president of the Utah Student Association, said the purpose of the conference was to identify key focus points and key issues for the upcoming year.

    And, that they did.

    The issues of diversity, tuition, on line advising, service and voter awareness were all addressed.

    Of these five issues, BYU was recognized as directly influencing two of them.

    The issues of on line advising and voter awareness were a result of the cooperative efforts of last year’s BYU UIA delegation.

    UIA is a mock legislature comprised of college students from across the state who debate higher education issues. The issues that pass both bodies of Congress are then passed onto the UCSP to help set the agenda of higher education issues for the upcoming year.

    Janeal Thornock, 20, a senior majoring in Public Relations from Brigham City, Box Elder County, and this year’s UIA delegate chair for BYU, said she is optimistic about the potential these issues have on influencing higher education.

    “I see a lot of potential for this body to take great steps in lobbying for the student voice to be heard on these issues,” Thornock said.

    This desire for the student voice to be heard directly motivated the voter awareness resolution.

    The resolution states that each institution of higher education will distribute voter registration forms to all the newly incoming students through the school’s registration material.

    “The motivation for the voter awareness resolution came from the desire to do something about the low voter turn out amongst college age students. We need to make our voices heard. Our vote counts,” Thornock said.

    On line advising proved to be another issue of importance for the BYU delegation.

    “We want incoming freshman and transfer students to have an easier transition. We don’t want them to have to waste their time or their money with unnecessary classes,” said Shelly Ball, 22, a senior from upstate New York in political science.

    This web site will allow all universities in the state to be linked in order to clarify the schools’ curricula as well as their policy on transfer credits.

    Diversity, tuition and service were other issues discussed at the conference.

    “We are here to realize that some things we thought were impossible, are actually possible,” said Rich Nelsen, student body president of Westminster College.

    Now that the agenda has been set the lobbying effort will begin. UIA student lobbyist and BYU student, James Mainord, 22, a junior majoring in economics from Price, Carbon County, will lead this effort with the help of an appointed lobbying committee.

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