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CWU students and ASCWU members embark on a three hour trip to Olympia, Washington with the sun barely above the hills and temperatures below freezing. They had a clear goal in mind: to push legislators to back policies beneficial for CWU.

Having lobbied in Olympia, Washington on Feb. 2 for CWU’s annual Lobby Day, students met with state representatives and advocated for student-related issues.

Tom Dent, the 13th District State Representative, represents Kittitas County alongside CWU political science professor Matt Manweller

Dent met with students and listened intently as some students voiced their concerns on the various issues they brought to Lobby Day.

“It really felt like we had an impact on him and he had an impact on us. It was really cool,” said Oliver Hawks, a freshman computer science major.

The Proposals

CWU students focused on three main proposals during Lobby Day.

The main proposal requests the “decoupling” of Services and Activities (S&A) fees from tuition, which will give CWU student committees the power to decide how to utilize these funds in various programs.

S&A fees have been “coupled” by state law for the past four years which gives the administration control of the funds.

The second Lobby Day proposal requests $49.9 million to construct a health sciences building. This would provide classrooms and labs and open up research opportunities for health science majors.

The third proposal requests funding for an Advanced Wildfire Education and Training program which will better equip future firefighters to prevent and suppress fires.

Arianna Rhodes, a senior psychology major, said she enjoyed visiting the state’s capitol for the first time and that her favorite part of the trip was talking to Dent about these proposals.

“He was super super cool and invited that huge group of us into the office,” Rhodes said, “I felt like he really invested in listening to what we had to say, even though he only had 15 minutes.”

The representatives were “overjoyed” by the amount of students, professionalism and knowledge, according to J.R. Siperly, the ASCWU vice president of Legislative Affairs.

Student Involvement

ASCWU Legislative Affairs planned and organized Lobby Day through tabling and campaigning.

The Lobby Day bus was filled with 47 students on the three-hour ride to Olympia.

Siperly represented ASCWU and was heavily involved in the event planning and execution.

Siperly said it is important to understand that it is not easy to speak with state representatives, but it is necessary to make change.

“It’s not just a select few students that make a difference, it’s everyone that makes a difference,” Siperly said.

According to Siperly, while public speaking and knowing the issues is a problem for the students, the state representatives were pleased with the CWU students who met with them.

25th District State Representative, Melanie Stambaugh said that she believes it is important for students to speak with representatives and “see a face, not just read something in print.”

“I think any way that we can make government personal, people will want to get engaged more,” Stambaugh said.

Students have viewpoints and interests that many of the legislatures don’t have, according to Stambaugh.

“You, as students of that area, provide a perspective that I think is valuable in policy making,” she said.

Making the Difference

Siperly said students should take pride in the fact that CWU’s name is involved in the Lobby Day proposals.

“We’re the college that wrote it,” Siperly said, “that’s something to be proud of. A lot of cool students have a lot of pride and I love it … I hope this pride continues for next year.”

The three proposals have all been “dropped,” meaning they will go through readings. Legislatures will then either approve or deny the proposals.

The S&A fees proposal has the most momentum, with support from both parties, according to Siperly.

“It’s about time that a college, like Central steps up and says, ‘Hey let’s permanently decouple it,’” he said.

ASCWU Legislative Affairs wants to follow this trip by having more students involved in next year’s Lobby Day.

Siperly said he’d like to see his successor double the student turnout for next year.

“I’m not saying I’m doing a terrible job,” he said. “But [we should] always … take what we have learned and run with it and grow with it.”

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Capitol Approach