The UWT student government approved a $5,300 membership fee for WSA, a student lobbying group that represents colleges in Olympia.
On Nov. 17, student leaders met with Nancy Canales, Executive Director of the Washington Students Association, to discuss the need for UWT’s membership in the association. At the end of the meeting, ASUWT members decided to renew their membership.
The WSA organizes representation for all students in Washington state. The association aims to empower students to lobby for the needs of their college campuses. To maintain membership in the association, student governments must pay a membership fee each year of $5,300. This figure is $6,700 less than initially budgeted.
“WSA is not an advocate. We are a tool for you to advocate with.”– Nancy Canales
Despite the lower-than-expected fee, some members of ASUWT were still concerned with the allocation of money and wanted more information on how the association could impact students before agreeing to renew UWT’s membership.
Roland Heyne, Director of University Affairs, questioned how involved ASUWT was with the association and how their involvement might impact students. Canales described how the association opens doors for student advocates that may be difficult to access otherwise.
“WSA is not an advocate. We are a tool for you to advocate with,” said Canales. “The capital is complicated and even experienced lobbyists have many questions. We are a bank of institutional knowledge acquired over years of experience available to you and your student advocates.”
Canales went on to describe how difficult it has been for campuses to advocate for themselves when they are not members of the WSA. The association, according to Canales, provides not only knowledge about Olympia, but also a coalition between all Washington campuses to work together toward their goals.
Chrystal Miskanis, Director of Legislative Affairs, reiterated the importance of working with other campuses, specifically UW Seattle and Bothell.
“I think we need to talk to all three campuses,” said Miskanis. “Especially if there is an issue that is very important to us, we need all the votes we can get.”
Holly Wetzel, ASUWT President, emphasized the need for representation at the state level.
“There are so many initiatives that we’re working on, for example, related to safety, health, wellness, etc., where we can only do so much on this level to try and get stuff done,” said President Wetzel. “But eventually, we need to lobby for these things. If we want more security guards on campus, for example, and the University says we have no money, we have to go to the state level, to the legislator and say, hey, our school needs more funding. That’s just how it works.”
ASUWT decided to renew membership with the organization. To assist in lobbying efforts and aid in representing UWT at the state level, look out for announcements regarding Huskies on the Hill, the Tri-Campus lobby day in Olympia.