The Office of Student Legislative Affairs is an organization at Bellevue College whose mission and goal is to make students politically active point of view. “We just want students to be civically engaged, and think more about their votes,” said Brandon Lueken, program coordinator for Student Programs.
At this time of the year, OSLA has been trying to get students to vote for years, however, hardly anyone is voting.
“Statistically, the average age of a voter in Washington state, in a non-presidential election year is 62 and that doesn’t consist of mostly students. We are not represented as students,” said Shawn Jafri, organizing director of OSLA.
Last year, OSLA came up with the “get out the vote” campaign. The difference with this campaign is that this time volunteers from OSLA are personally calling and reminding the registered voters to vote. They make sure that voters know basic information such as the fact that their ballots have arrived in the mail and the deadline for sending them in. The number of registered voters increased drastically compared to last year. “Last year 80 percent of the registered voters voted,” said Jafri. “By having the presidential election last year, a lot of hype and excitement was going on, so there were more votes last year than this year, but this year we were able to get about 400 new registered voters. And hopefully by the end of the campaign, if we could still get 80 percent of the voters to vote, that would be better than other institutions,” said Jafri.
Voting is very important for students because they can get a lot out of voting. “By voting, students get to voice their opinion. Students last year cared about gay marriage rights and they all filled up gay marriage in their ballot. This sort of thing allows students to participate in our government…the government is of the people and it serves the people,” said Lueken. Not only can the students voice their opinion out there, but they can also make a difference. Jafri said, “For the past couple decades, tuition has gone up for schools in Washington state, but last year we were able to stop the tuition increase. This happened because the students stood up, took a stand and made their voices be heard.”