Legislative Academy conference: Preparing students to voice their opinions to legislative officials and local representatives

The Legislative Academy is a yearly event that is hosted by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and sponsored by the Council of Unions and Student Programs. It is a conference for student leaders from all the community colleges around Seattle. At the Academy, speakers like Dr. Amy Morrison Goings, president of Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director and representatives like Ross Hunter, Larry Seaquist, and many others talked to the students about legislative affairs and how to be more involved with the government.

The conference was held Nov. 8-9 in Olympia, Wash. The Academy focused on students and preparing them to be able to face representatives and stand up for what they and other students think is right.

“Legislative Academy is about giving us the tools and resources needed for advocacy work,” said Joy Hoang, OSLA coordinator, who was one of the student leaders attending the Legislative Academy. During the conference, students were asked to prepare a legislative agenda in order to plan their advocacy work in the future.

A partner of the program is Washington Community and Technical College Student Association, whose main goal is to centralize students’ needs and to focus on important issues. They came up with four main issues: providing financial aid for undocumented students, protecting the funding for community and technical colleges, new revenues and tenure. All of these problems are affecting the students’ lives on and off campus. By having students attend the Academy, they are given the tools and experience to be prepared as they go back to their colleges and face these issues, magnifying the voices of their fellow students.

Through the Legislative Academy students are able to address concerns of students like, for example, the increase in textbooks and parking permits. Some students are voluntarily not buying books because they need to pay for their parking permits.

The Legislative Academy works by “empowering us and mobilizing us to execute how we are going to go to the state and saying that tuition should not increase anymore and something should be done with the costs of books,” said Joy Hoang. This Legislative Academy allows the students to prove to themselves and others that their voices are essential for the community and that they are able to make a difference.