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ON THE BUS: Ellen S. Smith, above, assistant vice president and director of federal relations, welcomes students to the road trip. Some, like Tony Casteneda, CC’99, below, are asleep while rolling down I-95. Record Photos by Virgil Renzulli.

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 VOL. 23, NO. 19APRIL 3, 1998 

Keeping the Pressure On: Lobby Day 1998

Students Meet with Senators, Reps.

IN WASHINGTON: Trip organizer Kristen Koch, a SIPA student and federal relations graduate research assistant in Columbia’s Office of Public Affairs, leads student lobbyists to Congressional offices.

The message was the same at virtually every federal legislative office that Columbia’s student lobbyists visited: higher education is a priority; we support the Higher Education Reauthorization Act and the annual appropriations for student aid.

  But with the expressions of support came a warning: the political system responds to pressure. Lobbying visits such as this are important as are letters to Congress, which are not only read but counted.

  Among the legislators who told the student lobbyists to keep the pressure on were Sen. Judd Gregg (R–N.H.), a 1969 graduate of Columbia College; Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D–N.Y.); Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.), and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–N.Y.), who is also a 1969 graduate of the College.

Above, INSIDE THE OFFICES: Rep. Major Owens (D–N.Y.), center, speaks to Columbia and Cornell students in his office. Below, WITH THE SENATOR: Sen. Judd Gregg, CC‘69, of New Hampshire met with several student lobbyists on Capitol Hill.

  “The reception we received this trip was much more favorable than the one we received four years ago, when there was mixed support in Congress for student aid funding,” said Assistant Vice President Ellen S. Smith, director of federal relations, who led the trip. “Much of the credit for the change in legislators’ attitudes belongs to students from Columbia and other institutions who have been making the trip to Washington to support student aid legislation.”

  Two dozen Columbia and Barnard students, joined by their peers at Cornell, traveled to the nation’s capital Mar. 25 to participate in the annual Columbia and Cornell Student Lobby Day. They met with senators and representatives or members of their staffs, pleading the case for student aid.

  The federal student financial aid programs that will be voted on this year in authorization and appropriations bills include the Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Perkins Loans and the Federal Work-Study Program. The authorization bill also includes the amount of in-school interest exemption for Stafford Federal Family Education Loans.

  In addition to Smith, accompanying the students were Executive Director for Student Financial Services Kate Wilson and Associate Vice President for Public Affairs Virgil Renzulli.

  The trip was organized by Kristen Koch (SIPA ‘99), who is a federal relations graduate research assistant for Columbia.

A Passage to Washington—Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D.–N.Y.) speaks to students on the Capitol steps following a day-long lobbying trip for student aid. On Mar. 25, two dozen Columbia and Barnard students, joined by their peers from Cornell, traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual Columbia and Cornell Student Lobby Day.