By Heather Jurva of The Kaimin
The man loves a good home brew. More importantly, he loves Montana and University of Montana students.
Asa Hohmen, a business management and political science student and president of Zoo City Zymurgists, will be representing student interests through ASUM in Helena this legislative session. ASUM hires a lobbyist every session, and this year was no exception.
Hohman previously attended the Missoula College, which was then known as the College of Technology. A new Missoula College building on the South Campus site is one major reason he decided to apply for the job.
“If not for the Missoula College, I wouldn’t be the student or leader I am, or have the future I do today,” Hohman said.
The Missoula College will be a major priority for UM this legislative session, and Hohman will represent the interests of students in that regard. He believes strongly in the strength of both transfer and two-year programs on that campus, and he is committed to representing students both there and at the mountain campus.
In addition to the Missoula College building, Hohman will also be lobbying for increased faculty pay across the Montana University System.
“There is no reciprocity for the people that make those programs the best,” Hohman said. “It makes it harder and harder to draw in those high-quality individuals.”
Hohman will likely be responsible for other issues as well, but only two have been officially recognized by ASUM so far.
Earlier talks of hiring two lobbyists — one for UM and one for MSU, along with their respective affiliate campuses — through the Montana Associated Students organization fell through, leaving institutions in charge of their own hiring. But Bryn Hagfors said having a lobbyist specific to UM will be an even better way to meet the University’s specific needs.
“The outcome of this is going to serve the University of Montana even better,” Hagfors said.
Although Hohman will work as an independent agent representing the student body through ASUM, he will coordinate with the University’s lobbyist Bill Johnston wherever possible, he said.
The lobbyist’s wages are incorporated into the budget, Hagfors said. And in his opinion, the ASUM lobbyist isn’t compensated nearly enough for what they do. Fortunately, the money isn’t Hohman’s main motivation.
“He’s there for all the right reasons,” Hagfors said. “He’s a real champion of issues.”
“The bottom line is, I love Missoula, I love Montana and I love the entire university system,” Hohman said.