OSLA sends students to Olympia

Last weekend on Nov. 2, active members of the Office of Student Legislative Affairs had the opportunity to represent Bellevue College at the Student Legislative Academy in Olympia. Dustin Boelke, Kevin Tu, Vannarith Khov, Thuy Pham, Magneta Loera, Alex Clark and Kristin Velez registered to learn about lobbying and to discuss campus issues and the development of a unified student legislative agenda to inform student action during the 2013 legislative session.

While in Olympia, the OSLA participated in discussions on a variety topics, which included group exercises, academy overviews, counsel meetings, legislative overviews and a networking lunch in the Senate Conference room.

The Student Legislative Academy is offered each fall in partnership with the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges and the Council of Unions and Student Programs. All 34 of Washington’s community and technical colleges are encouraged to send students and advisors to participate in the event.

“During the spring Legislative Voice Academy, students created a white paper detailing three areas of interest to pursue during the 2013 state legislative session, protect and dedicate funding for the CTC system, eliminate differential tuition and redirect taxpayer funding from for-profit colleges to non-profit colleges,” said Alison Grazzini-Smith, a legislative and communications associate from the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges.

According to Grizzini-Smith, this year’s Student Legislative Academy was focused on student-to-student interaction. This was arranged by instigating discussion of campus issues. 150 students were registered, representing nearly every community and technical college in Washington State.

Students had the opportunity of watching presentations from Dick Van Hollebeke from Edmonds Community College and Chancellor Michele Johnson from the Pierce College District to understand the trustee and president perspectives in interacting with the legislature. Students also heard from a legislative panel including representatives Larry Seaquist (D-26), Larry Haler (R-8) and Phyllis Gutierrrez Kenney (D-46). Legislators spoke on higher education issues and the future of the system as a whole.

“There is a special emphasis this year on student networking and involvement, including introduction of the new Washington Community and Technical College Student Association,” said Grazzini-Smith.

“Through this conference we will be better equipped to turn the expressed needs of the student body into an agenda to be lobbied by myself come the legislative session, sent out to other campuses and used to set the legislative agenda for organizations we affiliate with,” said Velez. According to Velez, a survey has been going around campus in the recent couple of weeks featuring multiple questions pertaining on the legislative agenda to be. Visit the survey on http://surveymonkey.com/s/besurvey1 or the OSLA office in Student Programs for more information.