ASCSU lobbyist advocates for students at state capitol

Jenn Penn began her student career here at CSU as a biology major and senator for the Intra-university through the Associated Students of CSU. Years after graduating, she is still playing a vital role in student government, albeit a much different one than she might have once envisioned.

Today Penn works for ASCSU in the state capital, as a lobbyist advocating for issues that support higher education funding and work to make life easier for students. Penn loves her job, but admits that it is one she never really considered upon entering college.

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“I started college as a Biology major,” Penn said. “I never thought I would go into politics and love it so much, or be so passionate about what I do.”

Penn, who got her start in politics through professor John Straayer’s legislative intern program as well as her leadership roles within ASCSU, owns her own lobbying firm, Dome Strategies, LLC.

“I do the same thing with ASCSU as I do with all my other clients,” Penn said. “I represent them and communicate with legislators about their position on things. I am their voice on these issues.”

According to Lindon Belshe, Director of Governmental Affairs for ASCSU, Penn is an invaluable tool for student government.

“She has connections that we can’t hold,” Belshe said. “She is there every day, and knows what’s going on, and she can relay that to us and also relay information from us to legislators.”

ASCSU either creates its own legislation or supports another piece of legislation, said Belshe.

“ASCSU has a history of legislation,” Penn said. “Higher education is always going to be a priority, and it’s important that we continue to try to make it more affordable to students.”

This year, ASCSU is writing its own bill to allow for a one-day tax holiday on textbooks in order to help students with costs, as well as attempting to impact any other relevant legislation, according to Penn.

“We’ve secured a sponsor for the bill, and we will be working with him over the next legislative session,” Penn said. “We will try to do some grassroots organizing to gain support for the bill to get it passed.”

Other legislation previously sponsored by ASCSU includes legislation that would allow for a CSU student seat on the Board of Governors, as well as previous bills to increase higher education funding.

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“As a former member, I have a passion for ASCSU,” Penn said. “It’s great to be able to work with them to impact higher education, and have that connection with them.”