By Michael A. Kruse
Capital West News
SALT LAKE CITY — About 30 students from Southern Utah University came to Capitol Hill Wednesday, Feb. 4, with a message to state lawmakers: “don’t forget us.”
Students and administrators drove from Cedar City to Salt Lake City to participate in the SUU “Day at the Capitol,” an some state universities or colleges send students to the Capitol and present ideas or participate in advocacy. This was the first such event in recent memory for SUU.
Donna Law, the director of government relations at SUU, said that her predecessor had probably just never thought participating. Law said her background in marketing and advertising helped her see this was great opportunity to promote the school.
Law said it gives students a opportunity to see how the state government works and meet with lawmakers. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert also stopped by. Students also got the chance to talk learn about “green notes” and “blue notes,” an old-fashioned communication system where constituents send in messages to lawmakers while the lawmakers are working on the House or Senate floor. Students sent notes in to talk with their representatives.
“SUU made a good showing today, now the state needs to step their game up,” said Steven Hurd, an exercise science major.
Hurd expressed concern about the lack of funds SUU gets and that SUU often gets forgotten. Even though other schools have more students, Hurd still feel likes SUU is not getting the funding it needs. Thomas Yvarra, a political science major, said it’s hard to shake the stigma that SUU is only a performing arts school.
“We have a wide variety of majors and a lot of students in those majors,” Yvarra said. He said the SUU science and engineering department is one of the school’s largest.
Scott Wyatt, president of SUU, said that last year 100 percent of the university’s pre-med students were accepted into medical school.
“What other university can claim that?” Wyatt asked. He showed numbers showing SUU’s graduation rate at almost 10 points above the national average and students graduate with less debt. Wyatt said it was showing lawmakers how “cool” SUU is.
SUU students presented information about the university’s EDGE program. The program, a graduation requirement at the school, forces students to create and perform a service project outside of the university.
“Most employers want to see that you’ve something outside of the school,” said Todd Peterson, the EDGE program director. “This gives them the skills employers are looking for,” Peterson said. Peterson said he wanted lawmakers to be aware of this because of many people who question the need for higher education.
“We’ve run this program for five years and it works,” Peterson said.