Politicians and student activists stress importance of dialogue between University and government

Student groups host campus events where lawmakers address the ASU community

Each week, organizations at ASU such as USG, College Republicans and Young Democrats foster a relationship with city and state leaders by having them come to ASU to speak to students. By doing this lawmakers are able to meet face-to-face with a key demographic in their city and hear their concerns.

Undergraduate Student Government Tempe invited Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and Vice-Mayor Robin Arredondo-Savage to speak in the Memorial Union last week. This week, College Republicans invited Arizona state Sen. Kate Brophy McGee (R-LD28) to speak while the Young Democrats invited Tempe City Council Member David Schapira to meet with students.

Students involved in the meetings say bridging the connection between their peers and lawmakers is imperative to influencing public policy. Even though youth still have problems turning out to vote, millennials are engaged and active in non-electoral politics at high rates. 

A 2015 UCLA study estimates that almost 97 percent of incoming college freshmen witnessed or potentially participated in activism while they were in high school. 

USG Tempe Senator John Gimenez, a sophomore studying political science, said USG and ASU in general has great connections with both Tempe and the Capitol, and that it's important to keep these relationships.

"A part of a good relationship (with politicians) is maintaining USG's stance on being nonpartisan and also maintaining open lines of communication," Gimenez said. 

Both Mitchell and Arredondo-Savage said the relationship between the city and ASU is essential and symbiotic. Having a constant dialogue helps foster this student-government partnership, they said.

"ASU is Tempe and Tempe is ASU so it really behooves everybody to have a solid relationship and it's really improving a lot," Arredondo-Savage said.

Mitchell said because ASU has a large student body that uses a lot of the amenities Tempe offers, the city collaborates with students to make improvements.

"The impact that ASU has is just — we need to work together but we also want to," Mitchell said. "Arizona State is literally a city within a city and then you have the other city which is the city of Tempe, so it's important that we communicate. 

Brittany Benedict, president of USG Tempe, said it's important that student leaders reach out to public figures in their community. 

"My Vice President of Policy Kelsey Wilson and I have made it a point to reach out to political leaders," Benedict said. "With session starting this spring, we will be down at the Capitol, mainly for ASU day at the Capitol but to have these conversations and build this rapport as early as we can."

Benedict, a marketing and business senior, said bringing state and city leaders to campus helps students ask questions about initiatives and bills that actually affect them.

"It puts a face to the name, and it lets students know who is making these decisions ... and students are able to ask questions," Benedict said.

Reach the reporter at cmgiulia@asu.edu or follow @tinamaria_4 on Twitter.

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