Since its establishment in 1982, the Washington Student Association (WSA) has been an advocate to the interests of students attending public post-secondary colleges in the state of Washington. The student-led organization has accumulated 150,000 students over the years and continues to grow.
WSA looks to improve higher education, making it affordable and accessible for students in Washington. In previous years the organization has lobbied in Olympia, during legislative sessions, to rally in support of the Dream Act and Voter Access. According to WSA’s website they make up a collective 10 college campuses with 13 members.
Recently, this organization shifted its focus towards racial and ethnic diversity across UW campuses and resource distribution. The WSA has proposed a new initiative that would unite the three UW branches—Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell—to address these concern.
The WSA has recently spurred the UW Tri-Campus Diversity Initiative that is led by the student government presidents from all three UW campuses: Sophie Nop (UW Tacoma), Dominick Juarez (UW Bothell), and Christina Xiao (UW Seattle). Each campus must create a Diversity Taskforce of student body leaders. However, the UWT Diversity Taskforce is not yet fully operational.
Each UW president is leading the process of creating a Diversity Taskforce that includes student body leaders. The group will collaborate to collect and relay information about needed resources to a Diversity Committee, which will discuss and attempt to resolve the issues before sharing them with WSA for statewide consideration and action.
The initiative involves resource management for veterans, racial and ethnic groups, clubs, and other student organizations across the three campuses. For instance, the UW Bothell campus lacks a Returning Student Center. This makes it difficult for returning students to receive the proper counselling.
Sophie Nop, explains in a nutshell what Tri-Campus Diversity aims to achieve: “We want to create a report for what diversity looks like for all campuses. We are trying to establish that we are all students and we are all equal.”
Nop says that after speaking with UWT Black Student Union (BSU), she realizes it is important for certain marginalized groups of students to be represented well in the faculty. She explains that UWT will be using their new Diversity Taskforce to make the campus faculty more diverse. She expects these potential new professors will have excellent qualifications and add more racial diversity to the faculty at UWT.
Nop says that between all three campuses, UW has around 50,000 students. According to Nop, the Tri-Campus Diversity Initiative will expand to influence all the students in the state with better resource management.
“This will get Olympia’s attention!” Nop says. She went on to explain that in order for the state capital to make serious reform you need a large body of student support.
Nop has been communicating with the student body presidents at UW Seattle and Bothell about the Diversity Initiative, and says the UW is very lucky to have three presidents that all want to work together to ensure that UW universities meet the needs of diverse student groups and funds and resources are equitably allocated.
“I’m excited to work with the other student body presidents and discuss the implications of the Diversity Initiative” Nop says. She continued to explain that in order for this initiative to be successful it is essential that student leadership from all UW campuses work together.
The Diversity Committee will be holding their first meeting regarding the Initiative on November 21st at the UW Seattle campus. Presidents Nop and Juarez will hold additional meetings in Tacoma and Bothell on as-of-yet unspecified dates to ensure that they can properly assess the unique concerns and resource deficiencies at all UW campuses.