A group of senators from the Student Government Association at Oklahoma State shuttled down to the Capitol to engage in conversations about the needs of higher education institutions with legislators Tuesday.
Students from other accredited institutions, including Langston University, University of Oklahoma and Rose State College, convened as well to discuss issues they found personally important.
Among the group from OSU was Senior Noah Mead, the public affairs committee chairperson, who was largely in charge of coordinating the trip.
He and other members of SGA, including student body president Kaitlyn Kirksey, met on Sunday to talk about the initiatives they wanted to lobby in support of. Food insecurity, diversity and mental health were just some of the issues considered for strong lobbying efforts.
Ultimately, the group narrowed its sights to House Bill 2261, Senate Bill 152 and House Bill 1319. In order, these bills deal with teacher pay and benefits, student fees, and in-state status for military dependents.
Mead spoke about House Bill 2261, a law to create the Teacher Incentive Program. It was designed to keep future teachers in the state of Oklahoma rather than seeing an exodus of education students following graduation.
The bill allocates funds for scholarships to be awarded to students pursuing a degree in education if they commit to teaching in a school district in Oklahoma for four years post degree.
“Even with the pay raise, they were wanting to see more things done for teachers,” Mead said.
He was referring to the $1,200 salary increase teachers received following strike efforts two years ago at the capitol.
Mead explained that while they didn’t get a substantial amount of time with the legislators, he believes the talks they were able to have went well, and he is hopeful they offered valuable insight.
“I actually haven’t slept for weeks,” he said while cracking a smile. “But the experience was very much worth it.”
Mead was thrown into the leadership role based on his record as a senator; he is one the most senior member of the SGA having served since his sophomore year. As he wrapped up his time in undergraduate studies, the opportunity to head this committee arose, and he said yes.
While the job of Public Affairs Committee chairperson isn’t 100 percent clear, Mead appeared to be well qualified for the job, having served on a similar committee for the Off Campus Student Association, the organization that elected him to SGA.
In the future, he plans to get more involved with the local government and see what his committee has the ability to do.