At the beginning of every calendar year, students from across South Dakota congregate at the state capitol in Pierre to advocate for higher education. This event, known as SHED, (Students for Higher Education Day), provides South Dakota college students with an excellent opportunity to gain experience in promoting higher education at the state political level. The Student Federation, a representative body for all South Dakota Board of Regents schools, organizes student efforts at SHED. Student Federation consists of members of the various student government bodies across the SDBOR schools.
At Northern State University, this organization is the Student Association, and this year, the NSU Student Association will be sending two representatives to SHED, including Vice President Vice President Brooke Nelson and Student Senator Brooke Thielbar Student Federation members have the opportunity to learn more about how the legislative session works at a state level. These members will have the opportunity to practice lobbying, which means they will be advocating for issues that are important to college students across the SDBOR system. Additionally, members are given the opportunity to have dinner with legislators who will be in attendance at the session. Student Federation Executive Director, Robert McLean, a junior at South Dakota State University, described the benefit of attending SHED, saying, “We go over possible bills that will be coming across the legislature, and we also try to facilitate dialogue among the universities, gaining knowledge for our individual student government bodies.” Student Federation chooses certain legislation to focus on every year during SHED. NSU’s Student Association Vice President, Brooke Nelson, recalls sitting in on sessions about the unisex bathroom bill during the 2016 SHED. This year, SDSU’s McLean expects Student Federation to give special attention to the “conceal and carry on campus” bill. In South Dakota, a traditionally pro-Second Amendment state, this is a hot-button issue that affects university students. McLean elaborated on his role after SHED is complete. He explained that he is the lobbying official for the Student Federation board. In other words, it is his job to be in Pierre this semester to continually lobby for and/or against bills that Student Federation cares about. Also connected to his role in SHED, McLean has the role of being the communicator between Student Federation and the Board of Regents as to what the Federation is doing throughout the course of the year. If you have any issues that you think Student Federation should focus on, or legislation you believe affects Northern State University, contact your Student Association representative, President Klatt, or Vice President Nelson with your input. Both NSU’s Student Association and Student Federation are your voice in higher education.
Annika van Oosbree
Featured image courtesy of South Dakota Board of Regents.