By Marcus Whitman, Staff Writer
Photo by Marcus Whitman, The Towerlight
Towson University and Towson University Northeastern campus students, staff, faculty and administrators went to Annapolis Wednesday to speak with members of the Maryland state legislators about key pieces of legislation during Tiger Pride Day.
Some of the legislation addressed by participants throughout the day included the Student Debt Relief Act, More Opportunities for Marylanders Act and the Clean Indoor Air Act among others.
These bills were highlighted as important matters concerning not just the students at Towson University, but all Marylanders.
According to the Maryland government website, the Student Debt Relief Act will be enacted in 2019 and will allow Marylanders to deduct 100 percent of the interest paid on their student loans from their state income tax.
The More Opportunities for Marylanders Act of 2019 is set to extend a 10-year tax credit for each new job that will be in a Maryland Opportunity Zone, according to the website.
According to the Maryland Department of Health, the Clean Indoor Air Act was enacted 10 years ago and ensures that nearly all indoor workplaces and public spaces, bars and restaurants included, were smoke-free.
Student Government Association (SGA) Director of Communications Beza Tenna said the SGA begins planning and brainstorming ideas for Tiger Pride Day early in the semester.
“Then, we have registration open for people who want to attend,” Tenna said. “Then, after that, we have training sessions for [attendees] to prepare them for the day. And, of course, we promote everything on our social media to increase awareness.”
She also said that this year’s Tiger Pride Day had a better turnout when compared to last year’s Tiger Pride Day.
“It has grown each year, and we’re able to reach more people,” Tenna said. “We touch on more bills affecting TU students and Marylanders as a whole.”
Zach Runge, a senior majoring in communications and political science, said he went to Tiger Pride Day this year because one of his classes requires him to attend a certain number of events, and this fit into his schedule. He also wanted to discuss some of the bills with Maryland legislators.
“I think the Clean Indoor Act and The Student Debt Relief Act are pretty important” Runge said.
Towson University President Kim Schatzel was pleased with the turnout from members of the TU community and its supporters for Tiger Pride Day.
“I am so proud of [attendees] and I am really proud of all the SGA leaders who organized it, and 20th anniversary and it was a special day, and they did an excellent job,” Schatzel said.
Jennifer Potter ,the department chair for communications studies, and other faculty in the communications department got students involved by encouraging their classes to attend the event.
“I think it allows students to see government in action, getting to listen to hearings, having an opportunity to meet with delegates and senators to discuss important issues and having an opportunity to just be in the environment are all really important things for students to see,” Potter said. “Learning how to advocate for something is certainly key for our students, but I think the most important thing students learn is just what government looks like, what a regular day looks like.”
Junior Spencer Vanderbeek, a communications major, said that although the day went well, it was also slightly disappointing.
“All the senators and delegates were in meetings, but all the staff that were there were very nice” Vanderbeek said.
Corey Bailey, Towson’s director of student activities, said that many of the students who attend could go on to enact change on campus in their own way, even if they aren’t part of the SGA.
“The opportunity for students to go and have this kind of experience can really shape their particular career paths or help them identify different areas they are passionate about,” Bailey said.