The Slippery Rock Student Government Association President Logan Steigerwalt appeared before the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations hearing on Feb. 23 in Harrisburg and discussed the need for more money to be spent on state schools.
Steigerwalt went before the Pennyslvania Senate to serve as a student advocate for all state schools and show why more money should be spent on these schools. Steigerwalt said the goal was to serve as a student voice and give input on why state school funding is important. Steigerwalt said the amount of money that is given to state schools now would put a large deficit on the state system budget.
“Right now they’re giving us around $415,000,000,” Steigerwalt said. “That’s about a $61,000,000 deficit on what the state system office is proposing. Being the PASSHE school president as well as a potential Board of Governor, is why I was chosen to go before them.”
The chance to go before the Pa. Senate and represent all PASSHE schools was a tremendous honor, Steigerwalt said. Steigerwalt said the senators and representatives treated him as an adult, and not as just some student of a PASSHE school.
“When I was first asked, they put it in a way as, ‘would you like to represent 105,000 students,’ and that’s hard to turn down,” Steigerwalt said. “They took my opinions into high account and asked me personalized questions. Every time I spoke, they were all very receptive. It was an awesome experience to do this.”
Steigerwalt said there were several things that state schools can offer for these students compared to larger schools. At Penn State or Pitt, students have lecture halls with 300-400 student at a single time, while state schools allow students to connect with professors on a more personal level in smaller classrooms. Steigerwalt said the experience that students are able to get in smaller classroom settings with their professors is a great advantage.
“I talked about the experiences I’ve had and how they’ve helped me apply to grad schools,” Steigerwalt said. “I wouldn’t be where I am right now without these experiences, even if I went to a more accredited school.”
Steigerwalt mentioned how pleased he was with the feedback from both the senate and house, as well as the student body on campus. Steigerwalt said that once the questions directed towards Frank Brogan, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, were done, the senators began the talk on funding for state schools.
“A couple of senators mentioned that these schools really do need the funding,” Steigerwalt said. “With the help and support of the commonwealth, that more students would be able to access these schools. In turn, this will add more bachelor degrees in Pennsylvania, higher income and the ability to give back. Student feedback was great too, people were very appreciative of this. I brought up some of the concerns and questions that students wanted mentioned as well.”
Steigerwalt mentioned how incredible the experience was, but also how intimidating it was at first. Steigerwalt said this wasn’t like the SGA meetings he’s used to, but was a tremendous opportunity to represent all of the state schools. Steigerwalt said that the intimidation factor was tough at first, but once the meeting moved along, his groove was found.
“Going there it was very intimidating. They sit up higher, and you have a specified amount of time you can talk,” Steigerwalt said. “It’s something I’ll definitely look back on and be glad that I did. It’s something I’ll be able to talk about at interviews, job offerings and at grad school. It’s an experience you don’t normally get, and it goes back to state schools giving me these opportunities.”