SGA travels to Springfield, meets Gov. Quinn

By Lauren Kelly

As a part of Student Lobby Day on April 21, presented by the Federation of Independent Colleges and Universities, four Student Government Association (SGA) senators from Columbia visited the state capital to speak with representatives.

Attending the event were SGA President Jessica Valerio, Vice President of Communications John Trierweiler, Journalism Senator Sarah Luckett and Film & Video Senator Michael Lencioni, along with Director of Student Engagement and Leadership Aldo Guzman. The group had the opportunity to meet with various senators and representatives on the trip, as well as Gov. Pat Quinn, to discuss and lobby for issues of college affordability.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to come and ask their senators and seek their support,” Valerio said. “We were very pleased with the meetings we had. They really seemed to listen to us and take our ideas to heart.”

In addition to meeting the governor, the group spoke with House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, Sen. Kwame Raoul and Rep. Tim Schmitz.

Guzman said the issues students focused on and lobbied for included transparency in textbook costs, additional funding for MAP grants and discounted fares for students on Metra rail lines.

“We ask that publishing companies disclose information on different editions [of textbooks], and differences between the editions, and disclose it in a timely manner so it would give our college an opportunity to get the best prices and the best information about books,” Valerio said.

The representatives suggested that SGA members petition to Metra directly instead of introducing legislation, which could take a long time to get through the system.

“We tried that last year and Metra wasn’t as cooperative as we thought they were,” Valerio said. “Hopefully, given the economic crisis and [that] their income has skyrocketed this year, maybe they’ll be more apt to work with us.”

Trierweiler said Currie was very supportive of the measures the group proposed and that they were “preaching to the choir.” Currie told them she would back any legislation that came through her office.

In an unscheduled meeting, the students met with Gov. Quinn in his office for about five minutes and gave him a prepared packet of statements and ideas about student affordability issues.

“I think he spent more time with us than his schedule actually allowed him to,” Valerio said. “It was fun. I got to sit in the governor’s chair. I felt very important.”

“[Quinn] was great,” Trierweiler said. “He was very pleased and happy to see us. He was excited that we had come all the way from Chicago and was excited that we were Columbia students.”

Quinn had heard of Columbia and knew its reputation in the media and communication arts.

“The governor himself said that his office was trying to get more toward the digital age and that any of our student innovators that could help should get in contact with his office,” Valerio said. “So we may take him up on that offer.”