Making student voices heard

ASUM advocates for students’ needs and creates more active citizens.

By Jesse Berlin

A sign notifying passers by of voter pickup by ASUM
ASUM partners with the Missouri Students Association (MSA) to provide Mizzou students free transportation to their nearest polling place on election day. Courtesy photo.

Thirty to forty students from across the four UM System campuses, including 16 from Mizzou, registered to travel to Jefferson City on April 27 to meet with state lawmakers and learn how their elected officials are working on behalf of college students. The goal is to bring positive change back to their campuses.

Sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM), Student Advocacy Day provides a way for participants to meet their state legislators face-to-face and be represented in the legislative process.

“If students have had a particular issue while they’ve been at Mizzou, we encourage them to approach lawmakers and discuss ways that those lawmakers and people in power are dealing with it,” said senior Brendan Spicer, president of the MU chapter of ASUM. “By getting those face-to-face interactions, we encourage their participation in the political process, not only now but in the future.”

Since 1975, ASUM has been a top student-led non-partisan lobbying group, currently representing more than 76,000 students in the UM System. ASUM has a year-round team of eight legislative interns and three intern advisors.

“The legislative interns are students who genuinely care about their campus, care about the community and want to make sure people know that their voices matter,” said junior Lorelai Clubb, the director of communications of the MU chapter of ASUM.

ASUM develops a platform of issues to lobby for through annual survey data gathered from all UM System campuses, Spicer said. The current platform includes mental health care, voting rights, STEM grants and access to basic needs.

ASUM members watch President Biden's State of Union address.
Mizzou students gathered to watch the State of the Union address. Courtesy photo.

ASUM promotes civic engagement and registers students to vote — National Voter Registration Day in September is their biggest public outreach event. ASUM volunteers also provide transportation to off-campus polling sites.

Spicer, a political science major, discovered ASUM at a tabling event his freshman year. “I really liked the idea that there was an organization on campus dedicated to getting students involved in the political process,” he said.

Spicer enjoys helping people become involved in the political process. It’s a rewarding feeling, he says, to show a first-time voter how easy the process can be.

“Seeing that look on their face of, ‘Oh my god, I did it!’ really speaks to me,” Spicer said.

Spicer said students interested in ASUM should follow the organization on social media, approach them at a tabling event, or come to a monthly meeting to learn more. Volunteer opportunities include the election engagement team, which helps new voters navigate the voting process.

“We are the future generation of voters,” said Clubb, adding that some people think their vote does not matter. “Whether you’re voting in a presidential election or a midterm election or a local election, every vote matters.”