On Wednesday, Feb. 1, about ten BC students participated in the 2012 Community and Technical College Student Legislative Rally hosted in Olympia at the capitol building.
Both community and technical colleges from around the state attended to protest cuts to higher education, which have resulted in the rise of tuition, textbooks, and losses of programs and classes. The emphasis of this event was to make legislators more aware of the pressing issues that face today’s college students and urge legislators to continue funding higher education.
A clear indicator of the budget cuts is evident when evaluating university tuition rates in the state of Washington and noting that it rose 20 percent since last year. The event was organized by the Office of Student Legislative Affairs (OSLA) Organizing Director Monica Mendoza. OSLA is the organization held responsible for creating rallies and updating students on legislative matters on campus.
Various state representatives made brief speeches acknowledging the students and their willingness to aid the hundreds of thousands that are suffering because of the cuts to higher education.
During the rally, two BC students, Jamel Moxey and Tanesha Tekola, spoke out about the importance of higher education and how the current increasing trend of less and less funding will lead many into a deep hole. Moxey referenced a “paradox” in which one must have a higher education in order to have a job, while one must also have a job to pay for their education. Tekola brought up that the budget cuts are a result from an even deeper issue. “The root cause of this lack of importance being placed on education is because the system is inherently flawed,” she explained.
Prior to the rally, the Legislative Director for OSLA, Jake Atwell-Scrivner, arranged a structured schedule for the students to follow while visiting the capitol. He stressed the importance of sharing stories about why higher education matters and give a face to the representatives for them to remember and act for. Atwell-Scrivner also arranged for the students to sit in on a senate hearing regarding a higher education bill.
The BC students met with staff from Senator Rodney Tom and left notes for Representative Ross Hunter to convey concerns with issues regarding education. ASG Chief Justice Abshir Mahamed shared, “I feel that cuts to our education are misguided attempts the balance the budget. It’s only going to further the problems we face in Washington, not this year, but ten years down the road.”
Fortunately, the group met one-on-one with Representative Debra Eddy, Larry Haler, and Mike Sells. Eddy acknowledged the barriers facing higher education today and admired the students for sharing their personal stories and encouraging her continual support.
Sarah Mirahsani, Campus Life and Events Representative, stated, “It’s ironic how students are responsibly seeking higher educations in order to support a strong future workforce for the state, and yet the state isn’t taking responsibility and supporting its own students.”
Haler is known as the ranking Republican on the House Higher Education Committee. Though he acknowledges the lack of money the government can allocate due to unemployment rates and less revenue to provide for public services, he has called for a zero percentage increase in tuition, or as close to that as feasible.
State Representative Mike Sells is Vice Chair of the House of Higher Education Committee and has been continuing to advocate for programs that will become accessible to all in order to achieve success. He supports higher education funding. Many of the BC students thanked him for his work and asked that he continue.
Overall, the rally was a success; students became educated with the pressing issues facing their education and how to effectively communicate with representatives. “It’s events like these that determine the success of our student’s voices. I’m thrilled how we were represented by a group of dedicated and dynamic speakers who left an impact down in Olympia,” says the OSLA Organizing Director, Monica Mendoza.
Students are encouraged to call and write to their representatives to demonstrate their concerns and share personal stories about how decreasing state funding has become a financial struggle.
Students who would like to be updated on events and opportunities to participate in upcoming political functions for BC, contact Monica Mendoza at