Almost a year after MU students marched on Jefferson City to make their voices heard during the More for Less campaign, a different group of students rallied at the capitol to catch lawmakers' attention.
About 40 MU School of Engineering and Missouri Students Association students rallied at the Missouri State capitol building Monday for E-Week Advocacy Day, MSA Legislative Advocacy Officer Samantha Green said.
"The primary goal was making the engineering students' voices heard down in Jefferson City," MSA Legislative Coordinator Ben Levin said. "Politicians down there hear from lots of (political science) majors, they hear from lots of history majors, they rarely hear from students who economically give the most benefit back to the state."
The rally coincided with the 110th Engineers' Week, a celebration of MU College of Engineering history, traditions and the future of engineering.
Levin said MSA leaders were excited to hear from and interact with engineering students.
"We worked closely with the St. Pat's Steering Committee and (College of Engineering Dean James Thompson)," Levin said. "It was a real team effort. They were excited and as helpful as we could have hoped for. The dean especially was a huge ally and we are very grateful."
Students also had a more pragmatic cause for marching on Jeff City — House Joint Resolution 14, sponsored by Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones, is working its way through the House of Representatives. If passed, it would grant nearly $70 million in state capital bond funding to MU for a renovation of Lafferre Hall.
MU requested $68,419,000 from the proposal in January. Lafferre Hall Building Coordinator Marty Walker said there are two plans being considered for the potential renovation project.
"Option one would be to renovate the existing Lafferre Hall complex, add storage and three to four floors," Walker said. "The other option would be to fix (Lafferre) up, the air conditioning, electrical, and to build an external building across the street and adjacent to (Engineering Building West)."
HJR14 was discussed in a public hearing last month. Levin and MSA President Nick Droege testified in favor of the bill. The House Committee on Appropriations and Job Creation will begin deliberating HJR14 on Tuesday.
Levin said MSA was optimistic about the future outcome of HJR14, which is not currently scheduled for a vote in the House. If approved there, HJR14 must be reconciled with its sister Senate bill, SJR3, and will ultimately make it onto a Missouri ballot for voters to decide the fate of the funding.
"We're optimistic," Levin said. "It's a long process, and there are still lots of things that could go wrong. We've gotten closer to it than we have in 10 years."
If the bill is passed by voters, the construction project itself may not begin for a few years, Walker said.
Plans for the building are not expected to be complete for another year and a half.
"You have to select the architect, then the architect has to give you plans, and the plans have to be approved," Walker said.
Walker said he expects the new building to be complete in about five years.
After the success of the More for Less campaign and now E-Week Advocacy Day running smoothly on the statehouse steps, Levin said this direct style of legislative advocacy is something MSA might consider in the future.
"We think it's very effective," he said. "When the leaders of More for Less sat down we said there were kinds of things we needed MSA to continue planning. This event was in the same vein as More for Less."
Green reiterated the event was a chance to advocate for MU's engineering students and to make their needs known to Missouri legislators.
"It was a great chance to get the engineering students off the back burner and to show them they're not forgotten about," she said.