On Thursday, Feb. 4, a group of BC students took a bus down to Olympia for an annual rally. From, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., students held a rally coordinated by the Office of Student Legislative Affairs.
Hundreds of students gathered to give their support. The majority of students from Bellevue College met with other members of the Washington Community and Technical College Student Association to get in touch with their legislators.
The rally targeted a wide range of issues faced by students in general. Tuition, housing and financial support were all important topics mentioned by the protestors.
The primary motive this year for the rally was to prevent funding cuts. OSLA uses its budget to inform students on campus about legislative affairs.
The groups met up at Capitol Hill for a unified cause. At the steps of the Olympia Legislative Building, students carried signs, cheered and marched down the Sid Snyder Avenue.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous, said to his friends, “Students need to understand the power they hold as a body” and “together we can make a difference.”
Others appeared to share this sentiment. Another, similarly wishing to remain anonymous said, “It’s amazing what we can do by peacefully protesting, we’ll stay all night if that’s what it takes.”
All across the nation, the costs of attending both community colleges and public universities have increased steeply. Since 1985, the average price of tuition for educational institutes has gone up 500 percent. These price hikes are due to an increase in prospective students combined with limited space at colleges. Subsidized grants from the government are also infrequently utilized to accommodate more students.
The stress of holding a job while managing schoolwork can be a daunting task for students. This can be represented by Bellevue College’s relatively low dropout rate. According to America School Search, BC’s dropout rate is reported at 23 percent. For these reasons, students have gathered to share common concerns they have for their education and the school.
Tai Yang, OSLA’s Policy Coordinator briefly gave an overview of the general goals she hoped to meet, to make the students “feel like their voices are being heard” by “connecting them straight with the legislators.”
“We’re honestly just hoping for students to become excited about these issues,” Yang said, and “learn that they have a power in the government, to make a difference.”
President Barack Obama outlined in a recent announcement a plan to make the first two years of community college “as free and universal in America as high school.” If the bill passes, it would take effect around 2016. Obama also hoped to reform the way students borrow money and also proposed a plan for eliminating student debt.
Both students and government representatives were given a chance to leave more aware of each other’s concerns.
Students who wish to voice their opinion and share their perspective on current student issues can contact the members in OSLA by visiting the program leaders in Student Programs or emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.