November 19, 2008
By Pete Nickeas
Public Affairs Reporter
Photo by David Clary
The proposed Governmental Affairs Committee of the SGA would lobby at the State Capitol
UIS' Student Government Association last Sunday unanimously passed a resolution creating a Governmental Affairs Committee with the authority to lobby all levels of government on behalf of the student population.
The committee, lead by Sen. Matthew Van Vossen, plans on lobbying different levels of government about issues affecting higher education.
“The committee will not lobby on behalf of any singular group of students, but will lobby on behalf of the entire student body. When legislation is introduced that will affect students, I will give a summary on how the legislation will affect students at our SGA meetings,” Van Vossen said, “and I will be relaying heavily on students' response as far as whether or not to lobby in favor of the legislation.”
Van Vossen said the committee doesn't plan on spending money to lobby but said that “[the committee] might request funds from ICCB if we were to have a UIS lobby day or something there of, where we would invite all students to come down to the Capitol to show unity on a specific issue.”
Committee members also won't be registering as lobbyists, he said.
“I see no reason why it would be necessary,” Van Vossen said. “The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right of people 'to petition the government' and the Illinois Constitution reserves the right for Illinois citizens to 'make known their opinions to their representatives'.”
Student Trustee Craig McFarland, Vice President Brandon Guiliano, Sen. Kalpesh Patel, and Sargeant-at-Arms Latrice Nettles have all expressed interest in being a part of this voluntary committee.
Also interested, according to Van Vossen, is Ryan Melchin, a sophomore at UIS who's helped Van Vossen lobby state senators and representatives in the past.
“There are some requirements to being on the committee,” Van Vossen said. “All committee members must show a degree of professionalism and respect when it comes to lobbying on behalf of the student body. Also they must remember that they are there to lobby the views of the students and not their own.”
Van Vossen, who expects to graduate in 2011, isn't worried about committee member turnover or continuity, he said.
“I can't speak for any of the other perspective members of the committee. However, whether or not continuity becomes a problem, I will always be on the lookout for people who are interested,” Van Vossen said. “As one class leaves, another class will always arrive, so I'm not too concerned about being able to find dedicated individuals.”