The student body of the city of Tacoma is a bit stronger now as six universities decide to fuse and form an alliance for combined action. The students of Pacific Lutheran University, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma Community College, Bates Technical College, Clover Park Technical College, and UW Tacoma have decided to form a group to lobby.
The Tacoma coalition will be much like the Washington Student Association (WSA). Founded in 1982, the WSA includes 11 major Washington universities such as UW, WSU, CWU, EWU and so on. With a current roster of 150,000 students, the WSA serves to protect the collective educational interests expressed by students in regards to their campuses.
For each of the six schools in Tacoma the process will be different. The goal according to ASUWT Director of Legislative Affairs, Sam Ranslem is for the Tacoma coalition to meet once or twice a month to discuss what is going on within their universities, as in certain aspects of their campus the coalition should examine and fight to change.
As of now, there currently are no set times for the meetings to take place because it is the beginning of the school year. However, once schedules are made, meetings will have an “open door” policy for students to attend.
“Having transparency, keeping it open is extremely important,” said Ranslem.
As of now, UWT has two groups associated with the Tacoma coalition. There is a lobbying group headed by ASUWT Director of Legislative Affairs, Sam Ranslem, and ASUWT. During the meetings, which will last approximately two hours, the two groups will be split for the first hour and then come back together and discuss an agenda for the second hour.
The ASUWT will be addressing issues brought forth by the student body, the campus, and certain aspects of their own board. Possible topics range from parking arrangements around campus, to up-to date-technology. The coalition is being formed to be the voice of the student population, no problem is too small.
The lobbying group, within their group, will address a variety of different decisions that have been ruled in Tacoma City Council meetings.
“Each university is going to bring their own opinions, their own needs, and their own interests to the coalition. It is a matter of laying it all out on the table and seeing where we have overlapped, which things can we work together on, and where can we resource it,” Ranslem said.
“It is one thing to go to a legislature and say ‘Hey, UWT wants this.’ It is completely different if our representative says, ‘UWT wants this, so does TCC, UPS, PLU, the entire Tacoma coalition wants this.’ It carries a lot more weight with legislation because it is Tacoma as a whole. They [government officials] take this very seriously because we are the people who vote them in,” Ranslem said.
As the Tacoma coalition is in their beginning phase, there has not been much communication with the other six schools, and concrete information is sparse. However, Ranslem plans to get the coalition meetings for both the lobbying and the associated students of each of the six universities up and running by late October, and at the latest, the middle of November.