UAF students represented in Juneau legislature meeting
Kaz Alvarez/Sun Star Reporter
Feb. 4, 2014
Student delegates from the University of Alaska traveled to Juneau to represent their student bodies at the 28th Alaska Legislature session.
UA representatives traveled to Juneau from the University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast, Prince William Sound Community College, Matanuska-Susitna Community College, Kenai Peninsula College, Kodiak College and Ketchikan Community College.
The student body of UAF was represented by Associated Students of UAF senators Brix Hahn, Mickey Zakurdaew and Daniel Strigle as well as ASUAF president Ayla O’Scannell, vice president Michael Mancill, ASUAF and Media Board member Chanda File. ASUAF Government Relations Director Michael Magnan organized the trip and selected the delegates.
Magnan chose the six delegates from 11 applicants. “There were some very strong candidates this year,” Magnan said. “I was looking for someone who was well collected, motivated, confident and could follow orders but could still move forward beyond the instruction.”
“This was one of the best prepared groups of student advocates I have seen during my tenure at UAF and the legislature,” Alumni Director Joe Hayes said. “UAF has a lot to be proud of, and ASUAF could not have picked a better group of students to represent the student interest in Juneau this year.”
In addition to the student delegates from each school, UA student regent Courtney Enright, traveled to Juneau on Feb. 1 as well. Enright represents the interests of all UA students on the Board of Regents.
“My role at the end was to take what student delegates decided on and advocate for it during my confirmation hearing with the House Education Committee,” Enright said. “It’s not necessarily about what I think is best but what the collective goals are.”
Voting members of the Coalition of Student Leaders discussed what three issues were the most crucial to the nearly 35,000 students within the UA system on Sunday, Feb. 2. The UAF delegation team discussed how to best represent their student body and O’Scannell advocated the collective decision as a voting member of the coalition.
By the end of Sunday, the coalition chose to advocate for the new UA engineering buildings, a new UAF power plant and high demand programs including eLearning courses and expanding academic advising.
These three issues were chosen based on the level of impact they had on students enrolled in every campus. “There could be direct effects on students in regard to the student success initiatives, the power plant, engineering building and the overall budget,” said Hayes. “Tuition could be affected, but that is generally under the purview of the UA Board of Regents.”
The seven representatives planned to fly out of Fairbanks on Friday, Jan. 31, but were delayed by extreme weather conditions in Juneau. While boarding their flight to Fairbanks, the students found out that their connecting flight to Juneau was cancelled. They were able to rebook a new flight to Juneau and arrived Saturday evening.
The UA System Governance Office organizes the luncheon to provide delegates an opportunity to meet with their legislators prior to the meeting. “It is unfortunate that we had no chance to casually meet other advocates or legislators,” Magnan said. “It did not affect our ability to represent the students though.”
The Coalition of Student Leaders, a statewide organization of student representatives from UA campuses, helped fund the trip.
The senate approved $4,300 from the ASUAF budget to help fund the travel.
“It allows us to pay back the students through representation at the legislative meetings,” Magnan said.
A follow-up trip to the Legislature session will take place in March to continue advocating for the heat and power plant. Final decisions from the Alaska House of Representatives will be released in April.
“There is no guarantee but it sounds like we will probably be funded,” O’Scannell said. “It is a question of how much.”