Students demand lower tuition

OSLA Rally1On Feb. 8 and 18, students of Bellevue College left for Olympia, Wash. to represent BC in a march with Evergreen State College. Led by the Office of Student Legislative Affairs, it was followed by a rally on the steps of the Temple of Justice at the capital with other branches of the Washington State Association. Many students came to speak up and chant along with their peers—“They cut; we bleed. Dedicated revenue is what we need.”

The main message during both rallies was to advocate higher education. Each school had their own message that they stuck to and BC went along the theme of raising awareness and encouraging people to get higher education. Even for an in-state student, tuition costs continue to rise and the national student loan debt hits $1 trillion leaving some people wondering if college is even worth it anymore. “Soaring tuition and shrinking incomes are making college less and less affordable,” Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Committee on health, Education, Labor and Pensions told Bloomberg.

They rallied with the Revenue Coalition, which was followed by meetings with legislators such as Joe Fain, Washington state senator of District #47. “Our state is struggling with hard times and an uncertain future. Out-of-control state spending has only made matters worse—a broken budget, billions in deficits and severe cutbacks to our schools and colleges. I’ve advocated investments in those things that grow our economy and keep our region competitive: education and transportation,” he said in an interview. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Associated Press that “lowering college costs needs to be priority for the whole country.”

WSA provided the yearly opportunity for students across the state to congregate to Olympia with the sole purpose of meeting legislators and telling it like it is. Students from the BC branch of WSA were given the chance to go over 4 priority issues: expanding financial aid, new and dedicated revenue for higher education, increased voter access for students, and access to financial aid for SB-1079, or the DREAM Act, which would allow aspiring citizens to receive financial aid for in-state tuition. These four legislative priorities were at the top of the long list of issues to discuss, chosen by the WSA students for the session. Other legislative action items included STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degrees, viticulture education, shared governance, and much more.

Ly Vu mentioned how awe-inspiring it was to see “so many people a part of the rally compared to the one on Feb 1st. People were chanting things about education as a human right and budget cuts” As a member of OSLA and an international student, Vu attended the rally to share her story about how she “has the same circumstances as national students yet [she] pays almost four times as much of the tuition as an in-state student.” The four priority issues provided students with a way to stay on topic, especially since everyone has different circumstances and wants to voice their personal issues.