Occurrence

Student Trustee Timperley represents student body at ACCT conference in U.S. Capitol

Jack Timperley, Editor-in-Chief

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Oakton’s Board of Trustees traveled to Washington D.C for the National Legislative Summit hosted by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Feb. 11-13.

The occasion was to provide an opportunity for community college trustees from across the nation to lobby their state and county representatives, that serve their in-district students, for the betterment of students based on several legislative priorities. Being the Student Trustee, I was in attendance to represent the student body in these meetings.

The sessions started by highlighting the ACCT’s Legislative Priorities when meeting with our representatives. These priorities include increasing Pell Grant maximum award, expanding eligibility for students to receive such funding, opportunity to facilitate second-chance Pell Grants, continued and increased support for student support services such as TRIO & Federal Work-Study, increased funding for Career and Technical Education programs, enacting the Dream Act to provide Dreamers with permanent legal status, and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

The HEA would include the opposition of federal financial penalties based on borrowing, student aid, or outcomes, and reducing debt for community college students. This act has not been reauthorized since 2008, but our state representatives are motivated to reauthorize the act as soon as possible.

“People will forget the facts but will remember the stories… nobody tells the story better than the students.”

These were the words of representatives from the ACCT and other speakers when referring to the impact that students have on our senate and congressional leaders.

Over 70 Student Trustees from across the nation were in attendance with their school boards to represent their student bodies and share the incredibly valuable stories of students, because they can really make an impact on the decisions being made in Washington D.C.

We started the day on Tuesday with representative Sean Casten, the 6th congressional Illinois representative,  where we discussed the importance of our priorities for students listed above, and I shared stories about my interactions with hard-working students who overcome tremendous obstacles and achieve great success both in and outside of the classroom. Casten’s responses were in support of our initiatives and appreciated hearing these priorities coming from the students perspective.

 

Afterwards, we attended a group session with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in the capitol, where we met alongside Illinois Community College Presidents and Trustees, including Student Trustees, in attendance. Senator Durbin shared his appreciation for the work that community colleges do, and his support for the initiatives that our campuses are administrating.

Among the topics of discussion, were concerns of student homelessness and hunger, and how to better serve those students. Oakton has a caring closet program on both campuses where students can drop off and pick up everyday items such as food, clothing, and other daily essentials for students who may benefit from them. Various campus organizations and programs also often coordinate food drives for students.

We had the opportunity to meet with representatives Brad Schneider, the 10th congressional district house representative of Illinois, and Jan Schakowsky, the 9th congressional district house representative of Illinois.

In both meetings, we discussed the importance of meeting those legislative priorities and how they impact students. We are very fortunate to have our representatives fighting alongside, and for, us in congress, and we express our gratitude towards them for hearing our stories and appreciating the great work that we do.

While in D.C, we were fortunate enough to partner with Parkland Community College and College of Lake County to host an Illinois Community College Alumni Mixer, in which we invited local alumni’s in the D.C area to network with their community college representatives and share their stories.

The alumni in attendance shared fond memories of Oakton and expressed gratitude towards their professors, advisors, and the rest of the college for giving them the opportunity to achieve great things beyond graduation.

Upon reflecting on our trip, I realize that when we were taught U.S and global history in K-12, it was mostly about learning the material to take the test and be done with it.

Therefore, I find myself having to reteach myself a lot of important U.S events and processes that are becoming more and more relevant in my adult years.

Visiting the capitol, and meeting with our representatives allowed me to witness and learn more about our U.S processes, cultivate an enhanced appreciation for our country’s history, and gain a deeper understanding about the inner-workings of decision making. These lessons are more important than ever in today’s political world, and I am honored to have experienced these lessons while representing Oakton’s student body.

If you are interested in becoming Oakton’s Student Trustee for the 2019-2020 academic year, Student Government Association (SGA) election paperwork is now available in the Office of Student Life, with elections taking place April 8-15, 2019.

Any student may, and is highly encouraged to, vote in the SGA elections at such time via an email that will be sent to the student body. The students elected to SGA positions shape the activities and programs that are paid for by YOU, the student, via the student activity fees, allows those involved to serve on committees, and grants the capacity to serve your student body in an impactful way. For more information, please visit or contact the Office of Student Life, or email [email protected].

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Student Trustee Timperley represents student body at ACCT conference in U.S. Capitol