On February 15, Huskies from UWB, UWT, and UWS gathered by the hundreds in many smaller packs at the Washington Capital building in the shade on cold sandstone steps facing out toward the sundrenched view of Capital Lake.
ASUW’s Office of Government Relations organized the tri-campus annual event dubbed “Bark Against Budget Cuts” to show the legislators in Olympia that Huskies care about higher education.
Students are facing higher tuition, cuts to financial aid, the elimination of programs, and bigger classes with fewer TAs on top of several years of devastating tuition increases and funding cuts to higher education.
Frank Chopp (D) of District 43 and Speaker of the House spoke to all of the Huskies on the steps of the Capital. He announced that HB 1043, aimed to eliminate differential tuition, had passed in the House of Representatives earlier in the morning with a nearly unanimous vote.
After a catered meal of gourmet sandwiches and deserts, many smaller groups of Huskies went indoors to meet with lawmakers in their offices. One such group of four UWT students, lead by ASUWT Vice President Rai Nauman Mumtaz, went to keep prearranged appointments with three legislators whose district includes UWT.
The first meeting had been prearranged with Jeannie Darneille (D), Senator of State District 27. She was not available and a member of her staff met with the student group instead.
Next was a prearranged meeting with District 27 House Representative Jake Fey (D) who entered his office wearing a bright orange lapel pin shaped like a bicycle. Fey had formerly been a Tacoma City Councilperson representing District 2. A student immediately asked if he was for connecting bicycle paths to create a new commuting option which did not involve risking injury while pedaling on streets with automobiles.
“Yes, I’m all for that. I worked to connect the Prairie Line Trail and others for the whole time I was on the Tacoma City Council,” said Fey.
The students kept their third and final prearranged meeting with District 27 House Representative Laurie Jinkins. She was not available and a member of her staff met with the student group instead.
UWT Computer Engineering student Thang Tran expressed his concern that SB 5318, SB 5179 and/or HB 1011 might be enacted. All of these bills would enact laws offering in-state tuition for U.S. veterans to pay without a one-year waiting period.
Tran told the lawmaker and other staff that he had been raised in Washington but had been discharged from the Navy in Florida.
“I had to pay out-of-state tuition which is much higher,” said Tran.