Student Submission: Student senators help set priorities statewide

Each year, student government representatives from colleges throughout the Washington State Community and Technical College (CTC) system gather at the Legislative Voice Academy to identify their top legislative priorities for the upcoming year.

Attending colleges submit platforms for consideration. These platforms must be relevant to community and technical colleges throughout the state, and require attention on a legislative level. The proposed platforms are discussed thoroughly, then narrowed down through a series of votes until only three to five priority issues remain. These priority issues are written up formally in the Legislative Academy White Paper.

South Puget Sound Community College was represented at the 2011 Legislative Voice Academy by Jay Wainman, Senator for Diversity and Equity Affairs; Merlin Tsai-Madrid, Senator for Public Relations; and Cort Campbell, Senator for Legislative Affairs. SPSCC’s platform proposed that demographic categories of sexual orientation and gender identity be added to the CTC common application for admission.

Longitudinal data collected from these demographic categories would enable college administrators to research the enrollment, retention and degree completion rates of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students. LGBT students face significant life challenges that influence their college experience, and college administrators need reliable data in order to develop effective support services for this student population (“STATE OF HIGHER EDUCATION FOR LGBT PEOPLE: Campus Pride 2010 National College Climate Survey”; CPEC’s “Access and Equity for all Students: Meeting the Needs of LGBT Students”).

SPSCC’s platform was included in the final draft of the 2011 White Paper, along with the issues of dedicated funding for CTCs; student control over the entire amount of S&A fees collected; congruency of direct transfer degree requirements, harmonizing the different standards now in existence; and more affordable textbook alternatives. The final version of the 2011 White Paper will be released shortly on the State Board’s website: http://www.sbctc.edu/college/_g-wssscunionsandstudentprogs.aspx. The White Paper will be forwarded to legislators and to the State Board. This paper will guide the legislative advocacy efforts of student leaders in the CTC system in the upcoming year.