Students, faculty take message to Olympia

By Elizabeth Ballinger.
In a state Senate hearing in Olympia last Monday, representatives from BCC went before the legislature to testify on behalf of the senate bill that would allow BCC to become a four-year-degree granting institution.
The reaction to BCC’s message?
“In some cases, it was well-received, [and] in others, not,” said Jean Floten, BCC president.
The bill, number 5575, titled, “Creating Bellevue College,” sponsored by Rep. Fred Jarret (D-Mercer Island) would grant BCC the power to add four-year degrees in addition to the pilot-program radiology degree they currently offer, a provision college administrators said would fulfill needs presently unmet.
In her presentation, Floten told the legislature that with 40 percent of University of Washington applicants turned down last year alone, the state needs an alternative option for students turned down by baccalaureate institutions.
BCC proposes to make itself more available to the under served population of what the administration calls, “good, solid students”- those with 2.5-3.75 grade point averages.
Adults returning to school, and students who can’t afford heavy university tuition, are an equally important target for BCC’s proposed list of four-year programs, which would include the fields of education, engineering specialties, green design, healthcare management and technologies, cyber criminology, and business intelligence.
With more flexible schedules, lower tuition, and a focus on four-year professional technical degrees that will put graduates straight into the workforce, the college hopes to appeal to a demographic generally ignored by most universities.
The Senate bill was officially opposed by the UW. The university’s president, Mark Emmert, told NPR reporters before the hearing that in place of “creating Bellevue College,” the state needs to finish funding it’s UW branches, which he said were intended to tend to the very population BCC is calling unserved.
However, these campuses in Eastern Washington, Bothell, and Tacoma, built to receive students rejected by, or unable to attend the main campus, also turned down 27 percent of applicants last year.
The corresponding house bill was also opposed by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges’ Director, Charlie Earl.
“We need to wait for the results of the applied baccalaureate pilot projects [at BCC and UW branches],” read the house summary of Earl’s and the UW’s objections.
The Associated Student Government (ASG) and it’s legislative committee testified before the senate Monday, accompanied by independent members of the student body. In addition to supporting the college’s bill to become a four-year college, students expressed concerns about the state’s plan to cut up to 13 percent of it’s higher education budget in the next two years.
“In many of the testimonies,” Amanda Alva, ASG president said, “the main concern was if tuition increased, then higher education might become unaffordable.”
The students, as part of their presentation gave a sign to Governor Christine Gregoire. “Don’t Balance the Budget on Student’s Backs,” it read.
The fate of the