Students share their priorities with lawmakers

 

Chancellor Yeigh welcomes three lawmakers to forum.

Chancellor Yeigh introduces state lawmakers.

By Douglas Esser
University of Washington Bothell students would like the Legislature to advance plans for a new academic building on campus.

The University’s $3 million request for predesign work to expand the School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics was at the top of a list of legislative priorities prepared by the Student Legislative Action Committee.

Nate Blanchard, the director of governmental relations for student government, had a chance to talk about the priorities Jan. 3 at a legislative send-off for the three state lawmakers for the 1st District.

Sen. Guy Palumbo and Reps. Derek Stanford and Shelley Kloba met constituents and answered questions from dozens of community members and students at the Activities and Recreation Center. The event was co-sponsored by UW Bothell, Cascadia College and the city of Bothell in anticipation of this year’s session of the Washington Legislature in Olympia.

Nate Blanchard, Rep. Derek Stanford

Nate Blanchard, left, with Rep. Derek Stanford

The planned STEM building would be the most impactful way to benefit the study body, Blanchard said.

“That’s going to have a huge impact on UW Bothell — just getting more seats for people to come in,” said Caleb Lohrmann, a computer science and software engineering student planning to graduate next year. Lohrmann also is a policy analyst for the student committee.

Students also would like the Legislature to test a program called open educational resources that would make textbooks and other teaching materials available digitally. That could save students money, said Isabel Conrad, a media and communications major on track to graduate this year.

“Especially on this campus — they are commuters or people coming back to school or people who have done Running Start so we have a very diverse campus. Being able to lower the price of textbooks and other materials students need for school is really important,” said Conrad, the public relations officer for the student committee.

Other items on the student wish list were requests to fully fund state need grants and expand child care for students who are parents. Students also support extending voter registration and protecting voting rights, Blanchard said.

Chancellor Wolf Yeigh welcomed the audience to the event and called the districts’ state lawmakers strong advocates for UW Bothell and Cascadia College. Cascadia President Eric Murray moderated the question-and-answer session.

The $3 million for the UW Bothell academic building, plus authorization for Cascadia College to borrow $29.5 million for a new parking structure, were already on the minds of the lawmakers. The items were part of a $4 billion capital budget that stalled in last year’s session.

Palumbo, of Maltby, is a member of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, which handles the operating and capital budgets. Palumbo said there has been a sea change in the Legislature with Democrats taking control of the Senate from Republicans. Democrats, who also control the House, have a backlog of priorities and issues to address. A big one is the state Supreme Court order to increase spending on K-12 education by $1 billion.

Stanford, of Bothell, (who has a UW doctorate in statistics) said the state also needs to increase spending on higher education and state need grants.

Growth, traffic and the I-405 tolls lanes were concerns for Kloba, of Kirkland, as well as the other lawmakers.

Sen. Guy Palumbo Rep. Shelley Kloba Rep. Derek Stanford

From left, Sen. Guy Palumbo, Rep. Shelley Kloba, Rep. Derek Stanford


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