Lobby Board is a selected group of students on the Auburn University campus who work to advocate to Alabama state legislators on behalf of all Auburn students. Auburn’s Lobby Board develops relationships with elected officials to promote the Auburn student body and its needs. Throughout the year, Lobby Board plans educational events for Auburn students, participates in trips to Montgomery to advocate for issues and policies and has bi-weekly meetings to discuss important matters concerning higher education and Alabama state legislation.
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One of the primary responsibilities of Lobby Board is hosting events on Auburn’s campus to educate other students on governmental affairs in Alabama. On Oct. 16, 2012, Lobby Board hosted Capitol on the Plains: A Legislative Panel in the Student Center Ballroom. Capitol on the Plains featured a panel of state legislators who answered a series of questions that were composed prior to the event. The legislators took turns giving their thoughts and opinions on each of these topics. Capitol on the Plains ended with an open question and answer portion where students who attended could directly ask the legislators questions. Some of the legislators in attendance were Speaker of the House, Representative Mike Hubbard and Senator Phil Williams. Senator Williams is the father of Caitlin Williams, Lobby Board assistant director of political affairs.
Lobby board also organizes voter registration drives on campus during each semester. They set up a table in the Student Center or on the concourse, and students are able to get voter registration forms on campus. Students mail the completed form to their home counties to become registered voters.
In addition to planning events for the Auburn student body, Lobby Board also participates in events off campus. Perhaps one of the most important of these events is Higher Education Day. Higher Ed Day, as it is more commonly called, is a day when university students from public institutions across Alabama come together in Montgomery to lobby for higher education benefits, particularly funding. These students work alongside the Higher Education Partnership to ensure that students’ voices are heard. Lobby Board is responsible for promoting Higher Ed Day at Auburn, and they encourage students to participate and show legislators that students care and are concerned about their education. This year’s Higher Ed Day took place on Feb. 28, 2013, and included speakers, music and a BBQ lunch.
Other off-campus events that focus on informing Lobby Board are planned lobby days in Montgomery. At the most recent lobby day, Feb 21, 2013, Lobby Board members had the opportunity to hear from the Director of the Legislative Fiscal Office, Norris Green, and the Superintendent of Alabama Department of Education, Dr. Tommy Bice on current issues affecting Alabama. Lobby Board members were attended a luncheon in the RSA Plaza with several elected officials that were also Auburn alumni, such as Senator Tom Whatley and Senator Del Marsh. The day concluded with a tour of the State Archives building where members visited many old traditional exhibits, as well as a space featuring a new exhibit.
Cody Sanders is a three-year Lobby Board veteran, among his numerous other campus involvement activities. Sanders says, “Higher education is a huge issue in the state of Alabama. Being on proration like we’ve been, it’s important for us to let our legislators know that we need funding for our schools.” One of his favorite aspects of Lobby Board is being able to directly communicate with important elected officials and discuss ideas pertaining to today’s college students in Alabama. “Lobby Board gives you the chance to be educated and educate others,” Sanders explains.
Lobby Board selects new members each fall to serve for an entire academic year. There are no restrictions on class or major, but each candidate must submit an application and go through an interview process. Lobby Board is a branch of the Student Government Association, and Director of Political Affairs, Lewis McDonald, leads this year’s Lobby Board.