Six Iowa State GSB representatives attended the Big 12 On the Hill Conference in Washington D.C. last week.

The purpose of this trip was to advocate for higher education, including Pell grants and budget sequestration.

GSB President Jared Knight, Vice President Katie Brown, Finance Director Arjay Vander Velden, Chief of Staff Andrew Gall, ISU Ambassador Co-Director Jacob Thomas and Director of Diversity Nyajuok Deng attended the conference March 4 through March 7, 2013.

All of the Big 12 Conference schools were in attendance, with the exceptions of Texas Tech University and Kansas State University.

This conference happens every year and this year approximately 60 students attended the conference.

“Monday we were in preparation meetings with other schools talking about issues that effect everyone and how to effectively communicate them to the congressmen,” Knight said.

On March 5, all of the students split up into groups so there was at least one representative from each school in every group.

They discussed different issues that affect each of their campuses.

On March 6, the ISU students had the opportunity to have six one-on-one meetings with members of Iowa delegations specifically.

At each of these meetings there were the six ISU students, a congressman and one of their staffers.

“They were definitely responsive to what we were saying,” Brown said. “I really felt like I was making a difference."

Earlier this year some of these students attended the Big 12 Student Government Conference at the University of Oklahoma.

While there, they discussed the issues they wanted to bring up on their trip to Washington. Pell grants and the sequester were the main topics of discussion.

On March 7, the ISU group had the opportunity to explore Washington, D.C.

“We saw most of the sights,” Knight said. “The Washington Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, National Mall; [we] toured the Supreme Court and Capitol Building, went to the Air and Space Museum, the National History Museum and the National Archives."

Knight explained that this was more of a learning experience for the Congressmen than it was for the students.

“We talked to Congressmen and made our point heard,” Knight said. “This was about them learning about our issues.”

The students agreed that talking about what is important to ISU students and communicating that to members of Congress was the coolest part about the trip.

“The best part was talking to the Congressmen about student issues, and then them giving us respect back,” Vander Velden said.

The students agreed that these meetings were highly effective and appreciated the amount of direct communication they had.

“Being able to meet these people you hear about on the news, actually being concerned and wanting to know about what goes on and what issues are important to us was the best,” Brown said.

Every year, typically the same positions attend the conference, but Knight said more students are welcome to go if they are willing to pay for it. 

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