Erik Lowe/Legislative Affairs Council
Antasia Parker/ASVP of Legislative Affairs
Student Lobby Day in Olympia:
On Monday, February 19, about 20 students from Western made the trip down to Olympia to lobby for higher education issues. These students included members of the Associated Students Board of Directors, other AS employees, members of the Legislative Affairs Council, as well as students from all over campus.
Our main goals in this visit were to inform legislators of the need to keep tuition costs low and increase student financial aid. We also discussed the need to extend the state’s commute trip reduction program to students (it will help lessen the number of single occupancy vehicles traveling to and from Western), improve funding to Western’s childcare facilities, and allow electronic voter registration, all of which affect students on and off campus. Over the course of the day, students met with around 10 legislators, all of whom were very receptive to our requests.
Currently, there are multiple bills in both the House and Senate of interest to students. These include a bill which will make textbooks more affordable, a bill that provides matching funds from the state equal to those provided by the Associated Students for the childcare center, and another that caps tuition increases at 7% annually. They all are still alive, which means that they have made it through the initial committee that reviewed them or are still of interest to a specific committee.
Over the next few weeks, the Legislative Affairs Council and the AS Board of Directors will be finalizing the Associated Students Federal Legislative Agenda. This will have less of a focus on local issues than the state agenda. Rather, it will focus on the nationwide problems of high tuition, low financial aid, and high student debt. While Washington does not have the highest tuition costs in the country, it does have the highest amounts of student debt upon graduation.
The members of the Legislative Affairs Council want to do our best to change that problem. If you would like to become involved in the LAC, or would like more information on any of the bills discussed, please inquire with AS VP of Legislative Affairs, Antasia Parker at ASVP.Legislative@wwu.edu