WASHINGTON - This month marks the 42nd annual Grassroots Legislative Conference and National Student Lobby Day, or LegCon as it's come to be known.
The event, sponsored by the U.S. Student Association, is a three-day conference of students from around the nation coming to D.C. to, in the words of the organizers, "learn new skills in student advocacy, network, lobby federal elected representatives on student issues, demonstrate in downtown Washington, D.C., rally on Capitol Hill, and, of course, build lifelong friendships."
LegCon is a way for students to take control of their own education futures by learning organizing skills that give a voice to the average student.
The weekend event will be filled with both student and professionally led workshops focusing on issues ranging from the "federal budget process to winning a student government election to the history of the student-labor movement." The weekend is also considered a great place for young activists to meet and network with student activists from other parts of the country and make life-long contacts and friends.
Undoubtedly, the recent cuts in funding for Pell grants and hikes in tuition all over the country will be a hot topic of the event. These types of rate hikes and education cuts are the issues that led to the recent student protests in the U.K. last winter and are already sparking the same outrage with students here in America.
The students who are assembling in the U.S. capital will have their opportunity to voice their anger over these moves on the last day of the conference, known as the "National Student Lobby Day," when they will march to Capitol Hill from the conference. This march will be across the national lawn, which is to pass the Department of Education, is intended to raise awareness on the streets of D.C. It will end at the Capitol Building where the demonstrators will then visit with their elected representatives to lobby them on education issues.
USSA says that this is a great way for lawmakers to hear firsthand from the students their bills affect. It's also the best chance to combat the lobbying industry that has a grip on the democratic process by providing a working-class alternative to lobbyists from giant for-profit industries and right-wing interests that want to tear apart funding for public higher education and privatize these systems to profit from the education needs of young people.
Last year LegCon, coincided with the signing of the largest student aid bill since the GI bill. This year, the students hope to recapture the spirit of progress that brought such bills into law.
LegCon will take place March 19-22 at the L'enfant plaza in Washington DC, to find out more or to register to attend, visit the website.