First UW Bothell student advocate in Olympia

Salvador Salazar-Cano / Marc Studer photo

By Douglas Esser
The University of Washington Bothell’s first full-time student advocate to the Legislature, Salvador Salazar-Cano, builds relationships and promotes policies as the face of UW Bothell students in Olympia.

He is meeting with lawmakers, testifying on bills, bringing other students to the capital and coordinating with student government. “Communication is the key to being successful in this position,” Salazar-Cano said.

Salazar-Cano was hired by the Associated Students of the University of Washington Bothell this year as its Olympia policy advocate in recognition that the campus has grown and needs a steady voice in the capitol, said Nate Blanchard, the ASUWB director of government relations. UW Bothell’s advocate also collaborates with the Washington Student Association, which represents about 120,000 public university students in the state, Blanchard said.

“Having Salvador down there allows us to work on specific UW Bothell items, but because he’s in Olympia, it also allows him to communicate daily with representatives from other universities and look at the bigger picture,“ Blanchard said.

A senior majoring in society, ethics and human behavior, Salazar-Cano typically works in Olympia Mondays through Wednesdays. He’s back on campus Thursdays and Fridays to keep up with course work. That includes a Legislative Research class taught by Bruce Kochis, senior lecturer in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences.

“There’s never a time when I’m just working. It’s always working and learning at the same time,“ Salazar-Cano said.

Salazar-Cano files daily reports, frequently checks in by phone and tries to make it to the Friday student government meetings. He coordinates with Blanchard, who also spends time in Olympia representing student positions. For the session, which is scheduled to end in March, Salazar-Cano is paid $6,000, funded by student activity fees, Blanchard said.

“He’s great at collaborating, working in a team and communicating” — all hallmarks of a UW Bothell education, he said.

Salazar-Cano grew up in Tri-Cities and transferred from Columbia Basin College in Pasco to UW Bothell on the “green” side of the state to pursue interests in educational policies. After graduating in June, Salazar-Cano plans to take a year off then pursue a master’s in education policy. Eventually he’d like to enter politics himself, maybe starting on a school board or city council back home in the Tri-Cities.

Salvador Salazar-Cano testifies
Salvador Salazar-Cano / courtesy photo

ASUWB should be proud of its representation in Olympia, said Kelly Snyder, the UW Bothell assistant vice chancellor of government and community relations who has seen Salazar-Cano testifying at meetings and heard lawmakers praise his work. “He’s doing a good job.”

Salazar-Cano testified in favor of $3 million for predesign work on a new academic building on campus. The authorization was included in a capital budget that passed early in the session that began in January. A pending priority, known as open education resources, would promote free online alternatives to textbooks. Other priorities are controlling tuition, expanding state need grants and improving voting accessibility.

“Politics is incremental. Change happens over time. I’ve come to accept that and work with that so we can continue to build relationships with local and state governments,” Salazar-Cano said. “That’s one thing I’ve learned both from taking courses here and having the real-world experience.”

Salazar-Cano’s advice to the next UW Bothell advocate is “not to forget about the students.”

“When we’re in Olympia we tend to dive into this new portal of politics, but at the end of the day it’s nearly 6,000 UW Bothell students who are counting on you, who are expecting you to put your best foot forward,” he said.

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