Student Body Presidents Rally on Capitol Hill

June 11, 2019
Story by Jordan Baker

Students leaders representing 6.1M students collectively call for higher education policy reform as members of the new Student Policy Alliance. The Student Policy Alliance is a coalition of statewide student associations and similar student-led, student-elected organizations.

In our new blog post, we premiere the new coalition and share what student body presidents had to say about higher education reforms. 

More than 100 student body presidents rallied in front of the United States Capitol on Monday, June 10, to demand congressional action on the Higher Education Act (HEA) reauthorization. The students, attending the 8th Annual Presidential Leadership Summit, also announced the formation of a national coalition of statewide and conference-based student associations called the Student Policy Alliance.

Representing more than 6.1 million college students, the Student Policy Alliance proposed a federal policy platform that calls for solutions that meet the scale of challenges facing today’s students. Their platform calls for action to address serious and growing equity gaps and financial challenges along with the persistence of sexual violence, racial discrimination, and mental illness.

“While negotiations over the Higher Education Act reauthorization have stagnated, the barriers to student success continue to grow. Students are concerned that policymakers will kick the can down the road on a range of crises facing today’s students,” said Ernest Ezeugo, NCLC Policy Director. “The student leaders are making it clear that student voice must and will be a critical part of future reforms,” he said.

Student body presidents from around the country are demanding that Congress ensures that the design and implementation of policy reforms are truly student-centered through a core set student policy principles.

“As a resident assistant and student leader, I’ve been the first responder for students skipping meals they can’t afford, walking next to their perpetrators of sexual assault on the way to class, contemplating suicide, dropping out of college, and in some cases, losing their lives to hazing. While Congress reads about the statistics impacting students, I live them,” said Hira Mustafa, 2018-19 student body president at the University of Iowa. “Congress cannot create a policy for students, without students,” she added.

The Student Policy Alliance platform builds on a student-developed letter about HEA priorities sent to Congress in March of this year, outlining a range of student-centered policy goals that improve college affordability, equity, and student’s rights.

“Right now there’s a college affordability crisis raging across America, and black students are feeling it more and more every day,” said Allison Gilmore, 2019-20 student body president at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. “I want to urge Congress to reauthorize the Higher Education Act,” said Gilmore.

The Student Policy Alliance represent more than 400 public institutions, including major flagship institutions, regional campus, minority-serving institutions, and community colleges. The student rally, letter, and coalition were a collaborative effort among more than a dozen statewide student associations and similar multi-campus SGA coalitions. The coalition plans to continue pushing student-centered policies both statewide and nationwide.

If you’re a student leader interested in becoming a part of the Student Policy Alliance, let us know by emailing!

© 2019 National Campus Leadership Council

© 2019 National Campus Leadership Council

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