2016-10 From the President: Opportunities to Influence

Opportunities to Influence

As we all well know, this year is an election year! Every newspaper, every television news program, and every coffee shop in America is talking about the election—and all that election attention is focused on one race, the race for President of the United States; however, there are many other electoral races in our state. 

All 201 Minnesota House and Senate members and all eight U.S. Representatives to Congress are up for re-election. Even though these positions are not receiving much media attention, they are very important to the future of our country, our state, and our University.

It is this importance to our University of Minnesota that makes it ever so important that we pay close attention to the candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and our own state legislature. On a national level these are the people who fund the research granting agencies, set the amount for student loans, and pass a number of policy issues that impact how research is done. On the state level these are the people who grant funds for new buildings and renovating existing buildings and provide about 18 percent of the University’s budget. 

Before you cast your vote for these offices, inquire how they will support higher education and specify how their support of higher education will impact the University of Minnesota. With each election many of these people win their seats by the narrowest of margins, so not only your vote but also your voice can make a difference. Many of these candidates will be door knocking and holding get-to-know-the-candidate events. This is a good time to voice your concerns and your priorities. Send their campaign a note about what issues are important to you. Having been a state-elected official many years ago, I know that legislators do pay attention to constituent contacts regarding specific issues.

So do let these candidates know your priorities, especially  at this time when they are asking for your vote.

This is the first year that we in Minnesota can vote early without any excuse. I know I plan to vote early so that I will not need to stand in long lines on election day. If you too are interested in voting early, check with your city or county to confirm the location.

Donna Peterson, UMRA President