Washington Student Association Board meets in Tacoma
Published: Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012 13:03
The Washington Student Association held their monthly Board of Directors meeting on Sunday December 11th inDougan 160 to discuss: the Special Session, their stance on the Higher Education components of the Governor's Budget and New Revenue proposals, the association's Legislative Agenda, and Liason Training. Current student governments participating in Washington Student Association include all three UW campuses, Western Washington University, Eastern Washington University, Central Washington University, Evergreen State University, and Bellevue College. ASUWT President Jonathan Bowers represented UW Tacoma as a voting member, accompanied by Legislative Liaison Eric Lint and Vice President Ally Molloy.
According to WSA's website, the association, "represents, serves and protects the collective interests of students attending public post-secondary institutions of higher education in Washington State and is the recognized voice of students to the Governor's Office, Legislature and higher education institutions and agencies. Through nine member student government associations, whose student body leadership comprises our statewide Board of Directors, WSA represents more than 100,000 students studying at the associate, baccalaureate, graduate and professional levels."
At the meeting, a representative from the UW Seattle campus asked other board members to, "Please support the governor's proposal."
Progressive revenue structures were discussed as regressive tax proposals should be a last resort option in raising revenue. WSA will seek to recommend progressive over regressive taxes.
During the discussion on new revenue Sarah Round observed that, "The problem with a new tax is that low income people are going to be adversely affected."
Eric Lint made comment that this was, "not a permanent measure. We need to lay the groundwork," for long term funding for higher education.
Rebekkah Schoonover, a representative from Central Washington University, discussed the budget saying that she felt CWU didn't want higher education to get cut, but if it was going to be cut then it should be cut by only 10% as this would be more manageable. Sarah Round agreed, but also wanted to see that work study was prioritized and not cut.
Focus was placed on building capacity this year, as something the organization values. WSA will look to partner with students on campus through committees.
There are currently no student members on the boards of trustees at community colleges and the state board for community and technical colleges. This is a significant issue because many of the decisions made by the governing boards directly impact the lives of students and having student representation could lead to better insight into these kinds of decisions. Currently there is a Substitute House Bill (1568) that addresses this problem. On November 28th the bill was reintroduced and retained in present status for the 2011 Special Session. Despite the fact that this legislation doesn't directly affect four-year institutions, there is a direct connection between two-year institutions and colleges/universities due to transfer rates.
Another issue discussed at the meeting was marriage equality. According to documents discussed, "students of same-sex parents can only report the income of one parent when applying for financial aid, creating a distorted picture of their economic situation," and, "Gay and lesbian students with domestic partnerships will be incorrectly recognized as dependents, requiring the inclusion of their parent's income. This system puts same-sex couples at a disadvantage to heterosexual couples when applying for aid."
Days of action were also planned at the meeting. On Jan. 26 UW Seattle will be having a rally, with other campuses following suit. Emphasis was placed on sending a consistent message to legislators regarding student interests. Sarah Round stated the importance of defining, "what a consistent presence looks like in Olympia." According to David Wieland, a representative from UW Seattle, they will be contacting every student group and letting them know how WSA can be a resource to them.
The meeting shifted back to institutional funding, as Mike Bogatay, WSA representative explained that, "Having an honest conversation would be a step toward getting more structured revenue."
Bowers said that how universities are spending money needs to be further analyzed. "What are graduation rates? What are we getting? What is the quality of education?"
Shared Governance was also an issue as students don't feel like they're taken seriously by the Board of Trustees or Board of Regents. There are certain doubts about letting students speak. Currently administrations make decisions and the Board of Regents rubber stamps them, but there is no accountability in the current system. It was desired that there be more communication with the Board of Regents. WSA believes that students should be viewed as a shared power holder.
Sen. Mike Carrell of the 28th District has been working with CWU students on legislation to grant veterans residency in Washington state. Many states waive residency requirements for active duty service members, but there aren't as many states that do the same for veterans.
UW Seattle emphasized a need to focus on current students. Rebekkah Schooner stated that, "Certain universities are very strongly for this, so they will work with one another. Brandon Anderson, the voting member from Bellevue College said that breaking down barriers wasn't divisive, speaking from his experience as a veteran in higher education. The vote on in-state residency for veterans passed at six to one.