ASUWB Advocates in Olympia
Published: February 13, 2015
On a rainy Friday February 6, a determined crowd of students, staff and faculty from all three UW campuses descended on Olympia for Huskies on the Hill. This is a day set aside to talk with legislators about issues concerning higher education in the state of Washington and at the university.
James Anderson and Justin Nygard, ASUWB president and director of government relations respectively, were among the contingent. Before meeting with our local delegation, many who are key members of the budget and higher education committees, Anderson inspired the crowd with a moving speech.
Anderson and Nygard were eager to discuss higher education with lawmakers, specifically the exceptional education offered at UW Bothell. They pressed legislators on the ASUWB legislative agenda, including college affordability, capital investment, community well-being and civic engagement, diversity, transportation, and veteran services.
Anderson and Nygard shared their thoughts on the day and next steps.
Why was it important to go to Olympia?
Anderson: One of the most important things that we were trying to show was that we had numbers down there with University of Washington students who were actually passionate about protecting their higher education. It was also educational. The state legislature and a lot of those folks went to school in a very different time period. The cost of education was far less. We wanted to go and re-educate them about the rising tuition costs that we face. We also discussed freezing undergraduate in- state tuition.
Nygard: It’s important that students had representation from UW Bothell. It’s really important to get our name down there and put us on the political map… Lately, the legislators themselves have actually been bringing up to committee, “How does this impact the branch campuses, specifically UW Bothell?” For me, it’s a moment to be proud of for our campus to be recognized.
Talk about the turnout.
Nygard: Huskies on the Hill was an excellent representation of the university coming together as a whole. All these different populations coming together to support prioritizing higher education in our state legislature.
Who participated in meetings with you?
- Sen. Barbara Bailey (10th Dist.), Chair of Senate Committee on Higher Education
- Rep. Larry Springer (45th Dist.)
- Rep. Luis Muscoso (1st Dist.)
- Representatives of Sen. Andy Hill (45th Dist.)
- Sen. Marilyn Chase (32nd Dist.)
- Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (1st Dist.)
Do you believe you provided information to the conversation that legislators didn’t already know?
Anderson: In addition to stressing the impact of rising tuition costs on them, I always try to highlight facts about UW Bothell that make us different.
What was the response?
Anderson: A few of the senators promised to fight for tuition freeze. The overall response was very positive. They were impressed with how educated we are on the issues we were discussing with them. The best meetings were with Sen. McAuliffe and representatives of Sen. Andy Hill. It helped that UW Bothell is in Sen. McAuliffe’s district. Also, I am a constituent in Sen. Hill’s district. When I said that at the beginning of the conversation, their ears perked up a bit.
Another benefit is that Justin used to work for Sen. Barbara Bailey as an intern and he has a great rapport with her. That helps us maintain a strong relationship. We’re lucky to have him.
Less than one week after Huskies on the Hill, Sens. Barbara Bailey (R-Oak Harbor) and John Braun (R-Centralia) proposed cutting and capping college tuition in the state. What is your reaction and what’s next in the fight for continued access and affordability at UW Bothell?
Nygard: We are pleased to see the dialogue at the state legislature steer towards reducing tuition as long as the institution’s operational budget is maintained. This will allow higher education to become more affordable while maintaining the quality of services provided to students.
The next step is addressing what it means to freeze tuition. Right now both sides indicate that they would champion the idea of freezing tuition for the next biennial. However, that does come with a cost. We as students actually have some concerns with a tuition freeze if they cannot fully fund our services. We do not, as students, want the quality of our education to suffer because we froze tuition.
We’re trying to look at both sides of the battle as in who should pay for what and what does it mean to serve as a public institution. We’re trying to make sure that the legislature understands that.