This year, the Bellevue College Office of Student Legislative Affairs has teamed up with the Associated Student Government, the Washington Student Association and the Washington Bus to spread the word on voting registrations through the “Voter Registration Drive.” The drive began Sept. 15 along with Open House. The goal this year is to help at least 500 Bellevue College students register to vote.
The OSLA is a student-led organization that represents “students [at Bellevue College] on a state level dealing with student organizing, tabling, phone banking, class raps, rallying, lobbying and networking,” and their main goal is to help keep students aware of current events in our government and be “civically involved, as well as keeping the legislators aware of [their] needs.”
Most avenues for voter registration in Washington state close on Monday, Oct. 6, and both the OSLA and the ASG have, since the beginning of the fall quarter, been present around campus promoting and helping students register to vote. Along with the Bulldogs Vote Club, volunteers have been around campus “tabling, canvasing and [conducting] class rap[s] and group rap[s]” in hopes to raise awareness of voter registration, according to Zolzaya Tsengel, the community relations coordinator of the OSLA.
The ASG Vice President of External Legislative Affairs, Teague Crenshaw, emphasized the importance of voting is to have your voice heard by the government. Officials in the government will represent their majority voters and currently that is retired citizens. Paul Bell, policy research intern, stated: “Most people in the age demographic of the traditional college student don’t vote. Elected officials know this and that makes it harder for people to advocate on student issues because if officials act against the interest of students to help a group of constituents who are more vocal and more likely to turn out voters, then they know they are not going to lose that many votes. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is we get students to turn out for this election. This legislative session is going to be especially difficult for those people working on higher education issues on behalf of student interests.”
The volunteers tabling students across campus will also distribute an “ASG+OSLA Fall 2014 Student Survey.” The purpose of the survey is to collect ideas and opinions from the student body and help the student government know what the students liked and disliked from last years’ campaigns, as well as what they want and don’t want for the coming year. “We’re not student government because we’re students, we’re student government because we do what the students want,” said Crenshaw.
Unlike last year, the survey this year has so far been distributed through paper only and not online, though plans to digitize the survey are still under consideration. Their goal this year is to have at least 800 surveys collected through next week. The OSLA would like to emphasize that the survey is for all students, regardless of whether or not they’re registered to vote, and that they would really like students’ input prior to building a student legislative agenda for this year.