Direct government interaction now a reality for students

Feb. 16, 2015

Evan Musick
emusick@uccs.edu

UCCS Lobbies provides a new means for students and others to interact with politicians face to face.

Mathew Driftmier, vice chief justice of the Student Government Association, explained in an email that Lobbies is a program that takes students and community members to different levels of government, as well as meeting directly with political leaders.

“It allows people the opportunity to build some experience getting in front of those in the government who run the institutions around us, as well as building relationships with them,” he said.

Lobbies is the result of a campaign promise made by Driftmier and Courtney Eldred, SGA justice, in the spring 2014 SGA election for president and vice president, an election the two lost.

Driftmier mentioned the importance of Lobbies and the role it plays in getting students politically involved and representing UCCS at the various levels of government.

“To have an active and engaged citizenry, you need to make sure you provide outlets for the citizenry to get involved. UCCS Lobbies also makes sure that those in the government are hearing the voice of UCCS without that voice being diluted by having us lumped in with other groups or institutions,” he said.

“Everyone here deserves to be heard.”

Students, staff, faculty, alumni and even community members who care about UCCS are welcome to take part in the Lobbies’ trips.

Lobbies conducted its inaugural trip last fall by taking participants to meet with Colorado Springs City Council. Driftmier explained the format of the meeting.

“Think of it as more of an open forum to discuss issues that face UCCS and those who live, learn and work there every day. There is a lot of low-pressure back-and-forth between those on the trip and those we came to meet with. This helps to ensure that people of all levels of experience can come and participate.”

Driftmier believes that so far Lobbies has been a success, and has received positive feedback from those who have been involved.

Colorado Springs City Council president Keith King agreed with Driftmier’s assessment.

“I was very impressed with the UCCS students who came to talk to City Council. We were able to share some important facts about the new form of city government here in Colorado Springs. I also appreciate their knowledge of the city government and the issues we were dealing with,” King explained in an email.

But the arrangement of the program is still evolving.

“We are constantly working on the structure and form of the trips so that it will run as smoothly as possible and give the most beneficial experience possible to everyone who joins us on the trips,” Driftmier said.

The next Lobbies’ event is in March with a trip to the Colorado General Assembly. More information will be posted on SGA’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UCCSSGA.

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