Several Polk State College students recently traveled to Tallahassee, where they met with lawmakers and voiced their opinions on a number of legislative issues.
Each year, the Florida College System Student Government Association has its state conference in Tallahassee. Student representatives from the 28 Florida College System institutions meet with legislators and stage an outdoor rally, bringing attention to the organization’s stance on that year’s selected issues.
This year, Polk State College was represented at the Feb. 1-2 event by several of its Student Government Association officers, including: Winter Haven SGA President Wally Minto; Winter Haven SGA Secretary Casmore Shaw; Lakeland SGA Vice President Brittany Irvine; and Lakeland SGA Secretary Jessica James.
SGA members Joshua Austin, MacKenzie LeFort and Leah Lobban also attended.
Students from Polk State met with Rep. Denise Grimsley, Rep. Seth McKeel, Rep. Kelli Stargel and Sen. Paula Dockery. They also visited with staff in Sen. JD Alexander’s office.
Carlos Parra, coordinator of student activities and leadership on the Winter Haven campus, said the trip gave the Polk State students the chance to speak their minds with top decision-makers: “More than anything, the trip is a chance for our students to see the legislative process firsthand.”
The trip was Minto’s first visit to Tallahassee. He said one of the highlights was that the group got a few brief, unexpected moments to speak with Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll while touring Gov. Rick Scott’s office.
“It was a very busy place,” said Minto. “We only got about 45 seconds.”
This year’s FCSSGA issues and stances included:
- Support of legislation that would enable college campuses to be early voting locations.
- Support of legislation that would increase access for student voting by allowing for same-day voter registration, and increasing the number of early-voting days.
- Support of legislation that would create a Scholars Program in the state, aimed at reducing the number of students who withdraw from high school before graduation, decreasing drug and alcohol use and increasing the number of low-income students who pursue higher education.
- Support of legislation that would grant in-state tuition to veterans who are attending higher education institutions.
- Support of legislation that would provide for the allocation of dollars to the state’s Major Gift Matching Funds Program, and support of any legislation that would reinstate the program. The FSCSGA argues that if the state once again offers matching funds for major gifts to educational institutions, donations and scholarships would increase.