A coalition of students and advisors formed just prior to the start of fall quarter with a goal of working together to have lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) demographics collected by community and technical colleges in the state. They are lobbying for demographics to be added to the community and technical colleges’ common application.
The members of the coalition that attend SPSCC are Mathew Shrader, Khurshida Begum, Amanda Frank, and Michelle Le.
The coalition is made up of 18 students and 3 advisors from 10 schools in the state. There are no representatives from schools in Eastern Washington.
Their efforts have focused on working within the community and technical college system to eventually propose the platform to the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) to have them vote and make the LGBTQ demographics collection a law.
“The [coalition’s] platform states that LGBTQ students are vulnerable….And the lack of data makes their needs invisible to administration,” said coalition and SPSCC student senator of legislative affairs Shrader.
Student Hien Do said collecting these demographics is important and could really benefit LBGTQ students at SPSSC.
Student Paula Huizar also said collecting this information is important because students in the LBGTQ may need different assistance.
So far the coalition has presented to multiple councils and gained their support to receive the opportunity to present to the SBCTC.
They presented to the Council of Unions and Student Programs (CUSP), the Multicultural Student Services Directors Council (MSSDC), and the Admissions and Registration Council (ARC).
CUSP members are the deans of student life and are comprised of representatives from each school in the state.
CUSP voted in favor of sending a letter to the Washington State Student Services Commission backing the coalition’s work and their right to propose their platform to the state board.
The MSSDC has also sent a letter of support.
ARC members are the deans of enrollment services, registers, and institutional researchers.
ARC voted in favor of sending a letter to the SBCTC; however the coalition has not yet received a copy of the letter of recommendation.
“It was the one vote that was not taken in front of the group. And from what I’ve been told it wasn’t unanimous,” said Shrader. “But it’s still a victory in the sense that they support it being considered, especially coming from the group that’s going to have the greatest impact initially. I think that’s a very strong statement.”
Shrader said the coalition predicts that they will receive the news whether the SBCTC will or will not allow them time to present in early to mid December.
Shrader said that the coalition is confident they will be allowed time to present to the SBCTC. They are still however working through the formal steps of having letters of recommendation sent to the SBCTC before they can be granted time.
Working within the system of community and technical colleges was the option voted in favor of by the coalition. The other option was to go straight to officials in the state legislature. According to Shrader this process would have taken longer.