Jan. 13th marked the beginning of Olympia’s annual legislative session. With its commencement, the Office of Student Legislation Association held its first of five workshops on the 17th, entitled “Student Legislative Affairs 101,” designed as an introduction to student involvement in politics and legislation. These workshops are in preparation for trips to Olympia for the Community College Lobby Day on Feb. 7 and Washington Student Association Lobby Day on the 14th where BC students will join with other colleges across the state.
Bellevue College is unique as it offers bachelors degrees, but is still classified as a community college. As such, its legislative agenda covers not only the immediate needs of its own students, including a push for funding to preserve bus service through the school, but also aligns with the WSA of the four year universities as well as WACTCSA.
In Olympia, the OSLA will be addressing the cost of schooling and materials, including lobbying for funding to explore making textbooks open source and for assistance in transitional counseling for students moving on to universities.
Additionally, the Dream Act, meant to allow undocumented students access to financial aid, is an important aspect of WSA and WACTCSA’s agenda. Though it passed the House its first day, the act has been held up in the Higher Education Committee by its chair, state senator Barbara Bailey. OSLA’s Facebook page offers a link to WSA’s website which provides a template for sending letters to the appropriate district representatives, as well as Barbara Bailey herself and Rodney Tom, the house majority leader.
To legally employ the money for political ends requires that the desires of BC’s student body be represented. Joy Huong, OSLA’s Community Coordinator stated that “catering to the needs of students is difficult, but we try to be as open and receptive as possible.” It is for this reason the OSLA holds regular surveys, through BC’s student email and in person around campus. They also are responsible for the volunteers encouraging students to register to vote in the fall.
On Jan. 31, the second workshop discussing student debt will take place in C225 in relation to the broader United States Student Association’s goal of reducing tuition cost as well as interest rates for student loans. On Feb. 10 another workshop will be held in C211 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. to fully outline the student legislative agenda, and the following day is “WSA lobby day poster making” from 2:30 to 4:30.
Tentatively, the deadline to sign up for the Community College Rally Day is Monday the 3rd, those interested should contact student programs to get involved, and attend workshops.