By Melissa Prentice
Arizona Daily Wildcat
University of Arizona students are invited to travel to Arizona State University this weekend, not to help continue the long-time athletic rivalry but to help form a unified lobbying voice for students across the state.
The Arizona Students' Association, a state-wide student lobbying organization, will hold its first annual General Assembly Saturday at the ASU West campus.
The purpose of the assembly is to allow students from across the state to communicate with the people who are lobbying for them, and express what they think are the most important issues facing students. Another goal is to help educate students about state-wide issues that affect education, said Ben Driggs, local ASA director.
"This is for students. We want students to know about what we are doing and to have a voice in it," he said.
T.J. Trujillo, Associated Students president, said this is the students' opportunity to decide what issues will be focused on this year.
"From now on, the General Assembly will set what are the priorities for ASA," he said. "Students are going to dictate the agenda for the dealing with the (Arizona Board of) Regents and the state legislature."
Topics discussed during the conference will include setting tuition, financial aid and campus environment issues.
Students from the state's six main and branch campuses are invited to attend, and ASUA members are encouraging students to participate.
"We want to maintain the tradition of UA students being the most politically active in the state," Driggs said.
Senate Chairman Brad Milligan said having more student input will give legitimacy to ASA's lobbying issues.
"ASA will have a broader lobbying base if we include more educated students who really care about the issues," he said. "A lot of legislators don't realize the benefits of higher education, and we will need as many students as possible to know about the issues to help convince them."
In past years, ASA has held a state-wide leadership conference, but decided this year to hold a general assembly instead to increase student participation and input, Driggs said. Many student lobbying organizations around the country hold similar assemblies to get a student perspective for their lobbying efforts, he said.
ASU West was chosen to host the conference because of its central location and inexpensive facilities, Driggs said.
Buses will leave from behind the ASUA Bookstore at 8 a.m., Driggs said. Interested students should sign up in the ASUA offices. Both the conference and bus ride are free, he said.
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