Nearly 200 Towson University students enthusiastically joined faculty, staff, alums, and a bevy of elected officials for the 18th-annual Tiger Pride Day Tuesday in Annapolis.
Some came to earn extra credit in a communications studies class. Some attended because of their Student Government Association (SGA) responsibilities. Some just felt the urge to become more politically active. Regardless of their motivation, nearly 200 Towson University students enthusiastically joined faculty, staff, alums, and a bevy of elected officials for the 18th-annual Tiger Pride Day Tuesday in Annapolis.
Just after 8 a.m., three busloads of students departed from Lot 14 at Unitas Stadium for the hour-long trip to the state Capitol. Another busload made the trek from the Towson University in Northeastern Maryland (TUNE) campus in Harford County. Shortly after they arrived and disembarked, the students met briefly in the Miller Senate Office Building, then made their way to the State House just as senators and delegates were filing into the House and Senate chambers for their respective opening sessions.
Most of the TU contingent watched from the House and Senate galleries as SGA leaders—including President Taylor James, Vice President James Mileo, Treasurer Mary Crowe, Attorney General Patrick Mascio, Chief of Staff Breanna McLarty, Deputy Chief of Staff Stephanie Brown, and Legislative Affairs Director Rebecca Dessalines—were recognized by Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch.
From there, the students walked in small groups to pre-arranged meetings with legislators or their staff. By noon, all of the students and TU president Kim Schatzel were back in the Miller building for lunch and remarks from an impressive list of VIP speakers.
“We are at a very critical time in American history,” observed Senator Jim Brochin, whose legislative district includes the TU campus. “We are all going to be tested. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, make your voices heard as you have been doing.”
Delegate Steve Lafferty praised the TU students for their civic engagement.
“The turnout today is just phenomenal,” noted Lafferty, who was celebrating his birthday. “The fact that you’re down here means more than maybe you even understand right now. What we in the legislature do today will have a lasting effect on the Towson University students of tomorrow.”
Lafferty was joined at the podium by another birthday celebrant, Delegate Christian Miele, who like many legislators who attended Tuesday’s event is also a proud TU alum.
“Towson had the most profound impact on my life,” Miele said. “I was very involved in Greek life and the Greek community. That is truly what got me started in leadership. Thank you all for representing Towson University so well!”
In addition to Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Governor Hogan’s Deputy Chief of Staff Britta Vander Linden (also a Towson U grad), University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert Caret, Ph.D, also made time in his whirlwind schedule to make brief remarks.
“As chancellor, I have responsibility for 14 different institutions,” Caret pointed out. “But today, Towson University is my favorite campus, and Kim Schatzel is my favorite president!”
The day’s events and speakers clearly made a positive impact on many of the TU students who participated.
“I thought this would be a good opportunity to broaden my horizons and meet new people,” said Victoria Sgro, a senior English major. “It has been a fantastic experience.”
Sophomore Breanna Camp said the SGA’s support of sexual crimes legislation helped to motivate her to attend Tiger Pride Day for their first time.
“I saw the Tiger Pride Day table set up in the University Union, and I felt it was something I wanted to be a part of,” the family and human services major recalled. “Today has been great, though I feel like I need to be more prepared next time!”
Camp’s classmate and fellow Montgomery Blair High School graduate Rachel Ederer said the nation’s current political climate served as all the motivation she needed to attend her first Tiger Pride Day.
“With everything that is happening now in our country, we need to make a lot of changes,” Ederer said. “I feel like I want to become more of an activist.”
The huge student turnout brought a smile to the face of Schatzel, who was participating in her second Tiger Pride Day as TU president.
“There is nothing more compelling than having you all here,” Schatzel told the assembled students. “We have received such positive feedback today from all the senators and delegates we’ve talked with. I think they all recognize that Towson University is a major workforce provider for the state and a positive contributor to the state’s economy.”
As the TU students assembled for the traditional Tiger Pride Day group photo and prepared to board buses back to campus, SGA president Taylor James reflected on the previous six hours.
“I’m exhausted,” James admitted. “A lot of work goes into planning this. But I’m really proud because this was the best Tiger Pride Day so far!”
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University: TU Matters to Maryland