Rally gives voice to Washington community college students

WA State Senator Barbara Bailey, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee supports and encourages higher education availability for all who seek it. Photo by Maggie Angel

WA State Senator Barbara Bailey, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee supports and encourages higher education availability for all who seek it. Photo by Maggie Angel

Over 350 students from nearly two dozen schools gathered early February to share their opinions about college tuition, textbooks, and budget cuts. South Puget Sound Community College brought seven activists eager to join the discussion.

Excited students packed the rotunda. They carried signs and wore t-shirts with messages such as, “Forget the NFL, give me a PhD,” “Cut tax on textbooks,” “Don’t cut the solution,” and “We are Washington’s future.”

“Students must communicate with their legislators to be represented in the house and senate, so they will know we’re here and we care about the services they provide for us,” said SPSCC’s Senator for Public Relations, David Rowland.

Representatives Norma Smith and Chris Reykdal, who also serve on the House Committee of Higher Education, urged all community and technical college students to continuously contact their legislators by sending letters, emails, voicemails, and demanding face time.

“Education is something that’s good for the future. Every country that has become intolerant of education has collapsed,” said SPSCC student Cameron Cumberland.

K-12 and university systems don’t work when the community colleges are forgotten, said Larry Seaquist, chair of the House Higher Education Committee.

Senator Barbara Bailey said she would fulfill her position of chair on the Senate Higher Education Committee by assuring that all citizens of Washington seeking education and employment will be able to attain it.

Educators, administrators, and schools must take into account that a vast amount of students are “nontraditional” college students, said President Mark Mitsui of North Seattle Community College. Many of the 500,000 Washington community college students are first generation college students, are working full time, are veterans, or speak languages other than English at home, said Mitsui.