Four students traveled to Washington, D.C. with Bellevue College’s Office of Student Legislative Affairs to attend the United States Student Association’s Grassroots Legislative Conference and National Student Lobby Day from March 14 to 17. Students gathered from across the nation in support of their legislative agenda, the Higher Education Act Reauthorization, which aims to eliminate box 23 on financial aid forms, to increase need-based grants, debt-free community colleges, Pell Grants and federal work study, maintain affordable interest rates on student loans, expand financial aid to eligible undocumented students and end lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and queer discrimination on financial aid forms.
Bellevue College, primarily through the advocacy of OSLA, is one of 11 members of the Washington Student Association which received an award as student association of the year following their hard work and successes such as the passage of the DREAM Act, in-state tuition for veterans and the tuition freeze for the biennium.
“[The] three-day event provides students at every level of organizing and leadership the ability and opportunity to learn new skills in student advocacy, network[ing], lobby[ing] their elected representatives on student issues, march through historic downtown Washington, DC [and] rally on Capitol Hill,” according to the USSA website.
The BC delegation included students Joy Hoang, OSLA communication coordinator, Jasmine Giles, Ellen Gilley and Daniel Morris. The students attending unanimously expressed an increased awareness of the intricacies of the issues facing students here at BC.
Hoang expressed interest in using the knowledge she gained to better educate the student body on how to advocate for the issues they face, both on and off campus, as well as surface underrepresented social justice issues faced by the Asian community that were brought to light through safe spaces. Safe spaces are private gatherings exclusive to individuals of a designated identity. Giles most identified with the defunding of the TRiO program, citing a funding proportion of 70 to 30 percent. With TRiO students achieving an average GPA of 3.0, Giles hopes to become more involved with the TRiO program here on campus and help students reach their potential. Gilley echoed Giles’ interest in the TRiO program, but spoke most highly of the various workshops provided. Daniel Morris was not available for comment.
BC will be hosting WSA’s board of directors meeting on April 5 at 10 a.m. “Students are not aware that they are a part of this bigger organization like WSA that Bellevue College pays for,” says Hoang. The meeting is open to all students, and attendance is encouraged. For more information on OSLA, WSA or USSA contact Joy Hoang at firstname.lastname@example.org.