Mississippi State University’s Student Association traveled to Jackson, Mississippi Feb. 4 to participate in Cowbells to the Capitol, an event held once a year for MSU’s SA and MSU students who are interested in government.
Twenty-four MSU students were in attendance where they were able to speak with Mississippi government officials, most of which were MSU and MSU SA alumni themselves.
Will Baugh, a junior agricultural leadership major, senator for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Environmental and Sustainability chairman, said Cowbells to the Capitol is an opportunity for students to express their concerns about things pertaining to MSU. Baugh also said they were able to hear from legislators about what the state is doing to try to better universities in Mississippi.
Baugh said there were discussions about “brain drain” in Mississippi and about the state raising out-of-state tuition.
“We have this thing called the ‘brain drain’ here in Mississippi where people will come in-state and out-of-state to Mississippi schools, and then leave the state all together because there are better jobs, better industries, better opportunities for students somewhere else,” Baugh said.
Katie Kronk, a junior marketing major and Executive Council director of marketing, said she found this topic to be interesting as well since she is an out-of-state student from Tennessee. Kronk said they asked legislators what they could offer students to make them more willing to stay in the state of Mississippi.
“They said if students come and get involved in government, that could definitely change things around here (Mississippi), and if we continue doing what we’re doing now and use a voice for someone who doesn’t have one then we can make positive changes in Mississippi,” Kronk said.
Tyler Dickerson, sophomore international business major and Senate chairman of the Sub-Committee on Appropriations, said they had the opportunity to discuss scholarships with Mississippi Representative Mac Huddleston.
Until recently, in-state Mississippi students could receive multiple grants from the state. For instance, if a student was eligible for the Mississippi Tuition Assistance Grant and Imminent Scholar, he or she could receive both; however, a law was passed recently which stated a student can receive only one grant.
Dickerson said they discussed the possibility of students who are in need of the ability to stack grants. They suggested letting students stack the two smaller grants which would be worth more money combined instead of making them take the one larger grant.
Kronk said all of the officials emphasized the importance of voting and familiarizing oneself with the candidates. They discussed the issues of influenced by things in the media or things friends and family say.
“Something we all take to heart is actually doing your research, and it was cool to see that a lot of those people were encouraging us to do that too and not just vote for a certain party,” Kronk said.
Kronk said it was fun to envision their SA members one day being able to work for the state’s government.
“It was cool to meet people that did our job go and further this to Mississippi-actual-state,” Kronk said.
The students also talked about how much it meant to them that these government officials took the time to sit down and talk to them. They found it refreshing to see government officials concerned with everything the students had to say to them.
“A lot of times, we view government officials or legislators or congressmen or senators as these people way-off that don’t really care. They get voted in and disappear, but these people did really care, and I took that to heart,” Dickerson said.
All of the SA members expressed their excitement for continuing to lead the students of MSU after experiencing Cowbells to the Capitol.
“We were all pretty fired up and inspired to keep leading and advocating for the student body,” Kronk said.
Baugh said he learned what a huge role MSU plays in the state of Mississippi after talking to several of the government officials.
“It was really eye-opening to see how Mississippi State plays a big role in our state with research, out-of-state students, experiment stations all over the state and just about anything else,” Baugh said. “It was nice to understand that we are pretty much the gem of Mississippi when it comes to Mississippi State.”