Seven voices are louder than one: University Day in Salem

Gov. Kate Brown poses with all seven Oregon university mascots

Nearly 300 students, faculty and alumni from Oregon’s seven public universities descended on Salem Thursday to thank lawmakers for their past support and to urge them to continue investing in higher education.

Thursday’s University Day marks the first time the seven universities have coordinated their lobbying efforts on a single day.

“In the spirit of collaboration and coordination, we wanted to hold a joint advocacy day for all seven universities to come into the building and talk to legislators about our united agenda,” said Libby Batlan, the UO’s senior director for state relations.

“Lawmakers like to see us work together. From a policy standpoint and a leverage standpoint, seven voices are louder than one.”

A total of 267 advocates from the seven universities — the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Western Oregon University, Southern Oregon University, Eastern Oregon University and the Oregon Institute of Technology — turned up in Salem for Thursday’s event.

In addition to one-on-one meetings with lawmakers, the day also included fun. Each of the universities’ mascots were at the capitol, posing for photos and meeting legislators.

One of the UO’s acapella groups, Mind the Gap, opened the morning session of the House with a stirring rendition of  “Sweet Caroline.”