Members of the Weber State University Student Association represented Wildcats at Higher Education Day up on Capitol Hill on Friday morning.
WSU President Charles Wight said the university is all about students, and that’s why he and other WSU affiliates were at the capitol.
“Having students representing the university directly to our legislatures is a really great thing,” Wight said. “It provides that personal connection that reminds our state government exactly why they are funding higher education today. It’s a huge benefit for students.”
Wight said he was there to “cement the relationship” between legislatures and to thank them for support given thus far. He also said state funding for WSU’s new science building is looking positive this year, noting the Infrastructure and General Government Committee ranked the project second in the state.
“We enjoyed very good support this year . . . not just Weber State, but higher education, too, has been getting a lot of support from higher education appropriations committee and all throughout leadership in the legislature,” Wight said. “So I feel really good about higher education’s chances at legislature.”
According to Wight, the Utah Board of Regents is requesting a number of items, but the three major issues are as follows: a 3 percent salary increase; funding for acute equity that would be shared by five of Utah’s eight institutions, WSU included; and distinctive mission funding that would be shared by all eight institutions.
Wight said WSU’s specific distinctive mission funding would go toward expansion of capacity and high-value programs on campus.
“Some money to boost up our financial aid office, so we are making sure we can really serve students well as they apply for and receive financial aid,” Wight said.
Students had two main goals in speaking to Ogden’s representatives. The first is continuing funding for the new science building. The second goal was pushing for what is referred to as “acute equity funding,” which, according to student body president David Wilson, would raise the percentage the state pays of students’ tuition if passed, making the two amounts equal.
Wilson also spoke to Rep. Brad Wilson about WSU and got insight on how much money legislature committees have to offer this year. Rep. Wilson gave the students his insight on how much legislature has to offer and its general consensus.
“There’s so many students, first of all, which is great to see,” he said, noting the energy at the capitol was contagious. “But it’s great to see all these people who have been students, been in our spot, and then 20 years later, here they are making the big choices for the state of Utah.”
India Nielsen, student senator for the WSU College of Arts & Humanities, said different student senators are paying specific attention to certain bills that may affect their students.
“The Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service is looking at a few different bills . . . I’m sure Brad Mortensen is looking at a lot (of bills),” Nielsen said.
Brad Mortensen, vice president for WSU University Advancement, traveled to Salt Lake City with WSUSA and spoke with Rep. Brad Dee, the house majority leader. Mortensen said they discussed funding for the science building, “which is a high priority for us and for legislature.”
Mortensen said that, although legislature is still waiting for the final revenue estimates to know how much money it will have to appropriate, there will be funding for the new science building as well as operating budget increases.