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What is the time commitment?

The University Legislative Scholars (ULS) program runs fall, winter, and spring terms of each academic year. Previously it has been a non-credit/tuition-free course. For the 2021-22 academic year — and for future years — students may choose to enroll either for two credits per quarter or for no credit in which case the program is tuition free. We are working with majors across OSU’s Colleges to arrange for ULS credits to apply to various majors. This is an iterative process, so students are encouraged to work with the program and their academic advisors to determine if and how credits may be applied to their majors. Regardless of which option students choose, the workload will be the same.

Program meetings occur on Wednesdays at 5:00 PM. The program offers frequent “extra-credit” activities including various events on campus and in Salem. The program is offered on-line for OSU-Cascades students.

Over the course of the year, students are expected to create “independent development plans” (IDPs) that include additional activities such as shadowing policy advocates or working directly with practitioners, including legislators, legislative staff, and advocates.

Ultimately, the amount of time students put into the ULS will depend on how much they wish to get out of the program. To successfully complete each quarter, students are expected to participate in at least eight of the ten weekly sessions each quarter. They are also required to develop and implement their IDP which will guide each student’s activities over the spring and winter quarters. The amount of time spent in Salem will depend on covid restrictions, an on-going construction project at the Capitol, and the year. In odd-numbered years, the legislature is in session for 160-days, typically from late January through early June. In even-numbered years the legislature meets for 35-days, from late January through early March.

Our hope is that students will participate in all three quarters during each academic year. Each quarter provides distinct experiences and advantages. Each fall quarter will focus on preparing for the legislative session and, in odd-numbered years, the November general election. Winter and spring quarters will be devoted to the legislative session, and then merge into exploratory activities of particular interest to students. Spring quarter in even-numbered years will engage in the primary-election cycle.

Who may apply?

Undergraduate students enrolled on the OSU-Corvallis and OSU-Cascades campuses may apply to participate in the program. We prefer to serve third- and fourth-year students due to their level of experience and the writing and speaking expectations the program carries. The experiences that students gain in the ULS are most helpful the closer students are to transitioning into the job market and post-graduation.

How are students recruited for the program?

Any third- or fourth-year student may apply to participate in the program. Second-year students may apply, but acceptance will depend on capacity. The program will be limited to 50 participants. The ULS also seeks nominations from university leadership and faculty. We are particularly interested in achieving a diversity of students who have a high level of activity in campus life, can communicate with others about their experiences at OSU, and are interested in public policy as it relates to their field of study. We encourage undergraduate students form all majors to apply. A select number of students may participate for a second year and serve as peer leaders.

In short, we are looking for students who show promise for advocating for themselves and for issues that they care about. Students who participate in the program demonstrate a high potential for developing academic and professional dividends regardless of their majors or subject interests.

Is there reading associated with the program?

Of course! (What are you doing right now?) There will be plenty of opportunities to read more and delve further into issues – but it’s the student’s choice. Many of the discussion sessions are driven by information we provide ahead of time. Reading materials are brief and likely include fact sheets, legislative updates, current articles of interest, and information about specific political practitioners and bills of interest. Preparation for each 50-minute session typically requires no more than about an hour of reading. There are no textbooks to purchase.

Who else is involved?

We work closely with OSU’s Government Relations Office, the Associated Students of OSU and the Associated Students of the Cascades Campus to guide whatever university priorities might be involved in the program. Some efforts may be coordinated with other public universities and community colleges in Oregon. We also work closely with the Beaver Caucus, a volunteer association of OSU alumni and others who advocate for OSU and public higher education.

Over the course of each legislative session, OSU may also be working with a broad coalition of natural resource industry, conservation, and environmental organizations. These efforts may include the “OSU Statewides” – the OSU Extension Service, Agricultural Experiment Station, and Forest Research Laboratory. We also work with a number of research, economic development, public health, and technology transfer issues. Participants will also have the opportunity to advocate for state support for students attending Oregon’s public universities of Oregon – in particular to increase access and affordability for students across the state.

What are the opportunities for networking?

Many policy and political professionals around the state are interested in working with students. ULS participants will be have the opportunity to learn from, and work side-by-side, with university alumni, industry leaders, innovators, educators, activists, and others involved in shaping state public policies.

What are the opportunities for interning?

We will be encouraging and facilitating internships for each legislative session. During the fall quarter we hold an interactive Internship Forum specifically designed to help students explore opportunities for internships in Salem and Washington, DC. The Forum includes presentations by students who have interned both in DC and Salem; state and congressional staff who work with interns, an academic advisor, the OSU Career Development Center, and the scholarships office. Over the course of the ULS program, we offer interview and resume assistance, and we flag internship and job opportunities.

What if I have more questions?

We’d love to receive them. Please contact Jock Mills, the program’s director: jock.mills@oregonstate.edu