SALT LAKE CITY — Weber State University students filled the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday to tell stories of success and share their research with lawmakers.
For Capital West News
WSU participated in “Day at the Capitol.” Most state university or college leaders invite students to the Capitol to meet legislators for a day. It was the seventh year that WSU has sent students for the event.
“About 50 percent of our operating budget comes from the state, so this an opportunity to show off how great our students are,” WSU President Chuck Wight said.
Students displayed their research on panels and showed them off to lawmakers and visitors. The research covered topics as diverse as gender roles in America and Saudi Arabia, and whether obese people get hired at a lower rate.
Courtney Keeffer, a WSU senior, said she likes Weber State because of the small classes sizes, and she touted some of the school’s accomplishments. Keeffer told of Weber undergraduates’ high acceptance rate into the University of Utah Medical School.
She also noted WSU has had the “public relations student of the year” for four years running.
Keeffer said it concerns her when legislators pass laws that require the school to pay more money but don’t provide funding. Keeffer said it causes the schools to raise tuition.
Aaron Newman, the director of student involvement and leadership at WSU, said it was a great opportunity for student leaders to speak with lawmakers.
“I think we have a wonderful Legislature here, especially this year, trying to move forward with several initiatives for higher education,” Newman said.
Utah Student Association, a group of student body presidents from schools across the state, is pushing a tuition cap initiative. The resolution, backed by Sen. Steven Urquhart, R-St. George, would cap Tier 2 tuition raises at 3 percent.
Tuition is usually done in two parts. Tier 1 is funded at the state level while Tier 2 is determined by higher education institutions. The Utah Student Association is working with current college presidents to cap Tier 2.
The percentage of tuition covered by the state has decreased over the years. Newman said the idea is to get to the point where the state will never drop below covering 50 percent of the cost of higher education.
“We’re not going to be able to make it happen in one year. It’s a ongoing process,” Newman said. He said the plan is to put the cap in place over five years.
The process is complicated by the fact that some universities get more funding than others, Newman said.
Weber State student executives are scheduled to join other school student leaders in the Capitol Rotunda on Friday to push for the tuition cap.