Robb lunches with students

Students met Rep. Ed Robb at Plaza 900 to talk politics over lunch.

Rep. Ed Robb, R-Columbia, doesn't study higher education just in theory, but he also likes to find out about it first hand from those most affected: students.

On Wednesday, Robb became the most recent guest of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri's Lunch with a Legislator program, which focuses on bringing individual state legislators to campus throughout the semester.

"They have a luncheon one at a time, and it's easier to chat with the students," Robb said. "They get to hear what the legislators' views are on certain things and what their priorities are. They get a chance to talk about what's possible in the short term, in terms of increased money and increased scholarships."

Students who met Robb at Plaza 900 discussed higher education and the budget process, including estimates of how much funding would be available to students for the 2009 fiscal year, for which budget decisions are in process.

"We talked about what portion of it would be allocated to higher education," Robb said. "I don't think they cared too much about highway funding."

They also discussed the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority bill, which aims to provide low interest rates to students attending higher education institutions.

ASUM Programming and Communications Director Mark Buhrmester said the entire campus community benefits from the lunch.

"Students are helping the legislators to think about the issues, and they'll take that knowledge back to Jefferson City and be more inclined to work on those issues," Buhrmester said.

In previous years, ASUM held the lunch at the Reynolds Alumni Center. Buhrmester thought the alumni center was too formal, so last semester he changed the venue and now holds the lunches in MU dining halls.

"I wanted to make it more accessible to the students," Buhrmester said. "I took it into an environment where the students were more comfortable to ask questions."

ASUM Legislative Director Craig Stevenson said these lunches are a great way to get students and congressmen communicating.

"It's awesome to see the new faces that are interested in talking with the people who are making laws that are taking effect on campus," Stevenson said. "And it's great for them to hear from students."

ASUM sends invitations to all the local state legislators to have lunch with students on campus. Buhrmester said they plan to play host to dinners this semester, although nothing more has been finalized.

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