Kristin Velez, Bellevue College’s current serving legislative director of the Office of Student Legislative Affairs, was appointed president of the Washington Community and Technical College Student Association on May 4. WACTCSA is an organization that includes all 34 community and technical colleges in Washington state, working in similarity to the Council of Union and Student Programs. While CUSP is a primarily advisor and administration oriented program, WACTCSA looks to give voice to the students as opposed to the advisors. Supported by the state board of community and technical colleges, WACTCSA differs from the Washington Student Association in that it gives a voice to the two-year institutions.
“If you look at the legislation then most of the bills that actually go through are focused on four-year [institutions],” said Velez. “Through my time in the legislator, the question that I was constantly asked was ‘where are the community and technical college students?’ because Bellevue College is the only community and technical college with constant representation in Olympia.”
Velez’s hope is that WACTCSA will become an identity to represent the community and technical colleges in Olympia, and that “[they’ll] no longer seen as just a factory line on the way to four years.”
Even before her appointment as President, Velez was already active with the WACTCSA council, otherwise known as the general assembly. Starting out as an executive member, Velez was one of a group of students whom decided it be a priority to draft a constitution for the organization. Velez took this opportunity to not only draft a constitution, but draft set of bylaws for the organization. At the meeting where these were adopted, Velez was also appointed president.
Velez says she is the best person for the job, which is a completely volunteer-based position, because of her previous involvement, networking and relentless passion for advocacy.
“The biggest things that I value are diversity, thinking outside the box, trying not to allow normalization to dictate thought processes or actions, and to realize what’s actually in front of you as opposed to how people want you to think,” said Velez.
She also cites past dissolvement of WACTCSA because of disorganization and lack of leadership, and that with it’s resurfacing, her skills as a leader are what’s needed to move forward and give the organization life. “They have a vision and they know what they want,” said Velez. “They just need someone to really pull it forward and make it a reality.”
Velez will hold her position for one year.