The recent Stop the Raid on Student Aid campaigns on campus aren’t the only ways BC can petition lawmakers to save higher education; the Office of Student Legislative Affairs (OSLA) is doing that all year round.
The OSLA’s job is to represent the students at BC on a legislative level. They take issues important to the students at BC and lobby for them in local, state, and federal governance, such as boards and committees.
Monica Mendoza, the Organizing Director, said in an email that,
“OSLA focuses on accessibility to higher education, primarily via affordability and opportunity. We advocate for tuition policy, financial aid, recruitment and retention of underrepresented students, and student rights. A cornerstone of the organization’s work includes educating students, other members of the campus, and the greater community on issues relevant to postsecondary education; developing and training student leaders; and organizing students around student issues.”
There are three positions in the OSLA; Mendoza explained them.
“We have three members of OSLA. A Director, who oversees the program, an Organizing Director (which is what I am) who organizes events and outreaches to students as well as agitating them and connecting to outside sources, and a Legislative Director, who will be the Legislative Liaison for all of Bellevue College during Legislative Session in January, actually staying down there and lobbying!”
Every year the OSLA writes a Legislative Affairs Platform for the year they are in office. This year there are four main issues being brought to the legislature: Student Trustees, tuition, financial aid, and the Grassroots Campaign.
A Student Trustee is a student representative on the Board of Trustees at community and technical colleges across the state. This is not protocol yet, though; the OSLA is working on an opportunity to pass a bill that would make this standard procedure. According to their Platform, “We are intent on reintroducing the bill to Olympia during the 2012 Legislative Session.”
Tuition is a growing concern around all colleges as it continues to rise dangerously high. “It is our aim to see that benefits are distributed equally to those who need it most,” the Platform says, “Especially those in minority groups. … It is the intention of the OSLA to support a cap on rising tuition.”
Financial aid, as is being pointed out by recent campaigns, is being cut dramatically with every budget shortfall. According to the Platform, “The middle class does not qualify for financial aid, yet the cost of school is too great for them to pay.” On this issue the OSLA is planning to look into other forms of aid, including business scholarships.
The Grassroots Campaign is a separate movement that the OSLA seeks to incorporate into BC through stronger relations with the ASG. This movement is trying to raise humanitarian and political awareness on college campuses and around the world. “The campaigning will be consistent on campus over the coming year,” according to the Platform. “Working with the ASG is key to allowing Bellevue College students a broad spectrum of ideas to beat apathy.”
Active legislative campaigning begins in January; until then, the OSLA will work on campus to bring about the changes they wish to see.