University of Washington students walk to their meeting in the state reception room in the capital building in Olympia. Photo by Taylor McAvoy

University of Washington students walk to their meeting in the state reception room in the capital building in Olympia. Photo by Taylor McAvoy

Students lobby for state funded tuition grants

University of Washington students from the Bothell, Seattle, and Tacoma campuses met with lawmakers on Monday to lobby for support of higher education bills during the annual Huskies on the Hill lobby day.

The Associated Students of the University of Washington asked their legislators to fully fund the State Need Grant which, they said, is underfunded by $85 million. Diversity and undocumented students’ rights were at issue as well. Kendra Canton, director of diversity efforts at ASUW Seattle, said she came to Olympia in support of undocumented students who may have been unable to join for fear of revealing their status. A State Need Grant and Washington Opportunity Scholarship recipient, Canton said state funding is essential to undocumented and minority students.

“It is my duty to be here and help those students because the things they are fighting for have helped me so much,” she said.

There are nearly 22,000 college students across the state, not only at UW campuses, that would otherwise qualify for the grant but cannot receive it, according to Courtney Acitelli, director of alumni association UW Impact. She said the group is urging lawmakers to fully fund the grant using the operating budget.

Acitelli also said the group is asking lawmakers to pay for 50 percent of UW’s employee compensation expenses as it does for five other universities. UW currently receives just 34 percent funding from the state. She said a tuition increase to raise the 16 percent of additional funding is not an option because it would put an unfair burden on students.

The capital budget recently passed by lawmakers includes funding for a new college of engineering building, a new science, technology, engineering, and math teaching building at UW Bothell, and construction for a new Population Health and Health Sciences learning facility.

The students also spoke with lawmakers in support of SB 6029, which would establish a student loan bill of rights and a student loan advocate. The ASUW legislative agenda says this bill would establish parameters to protect students from high interest rates on loans.

The group also supports two bills that would establish mental health resources on campus. HB 2513 would provide resources for behavioral health and suicide prevention training. And HB 1737 would establish a mental health counselor for students who are veterans.

Textbooks are also on the students’ agenda. HB 1561 would establish grant programs to create open source resources, like textbooks and other materials. The bill passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, Jan. 18.

Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib speaks with the Associated Students of the University of Washington. As a blind Iranian, he faced challenges growing up and attending college. Never run away from the tough conversations, he told students. Photo by Taylor McAvoy

Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib speaks with the Associated Students of the University of Washington. As a blind Iranian, he faced challenges growing up and attending college. Never run away from the tough conversations, he told students. Photo by Taylor McAvoy

In addition to meeting with legislators, the ASUW students and alumni met with Lieutenant Governor Cyrus Habib and Governor Jay Inslee.

Habib told students that he faced adversity growing up blind and as an Iranian. Issues of immigration, race, and higher education are related, he said, and urged the students to keep fighting for equity with that in mind. He said funding the State Need Grant and programs for students facing homelessness is a priority.

Inslee said that the state has done more than ever before for funding K-12 education and now is the time to fund higher education for low income communities. He also took the opportunity to promote his proposed carbon tax, urging the students to speak to their representatives about climate change.

This report was produced by the Olympia bureau of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association.

More in Northwest

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
The smoky summer that wasn’t

While Washington had a mild season, wildfires burned near the Arctic.

Dane Scarimbolo and Dominique Torgerson run Four Horsemen Brewery in Kent. They were almost shut down in late 2017 by King County, which after years of letting them operate a brewery and taproom, decided they were in violation of county code. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Proposed winery ordinance irks King County farmers, neighbors and businesses

Concerns include more traffic, higher land prices, code enforcement and compliance.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Kim Schrier held a roundtable at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank on Oct. 3 to talk about the Trump administration’s plan to further change SNAP food benefits rules and reduce the number of people using them. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Murray, Schrier vow to fight White House restrictions on food stamps

Senator and Representative met Oct. 3 at Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

King County is not on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions goals, but emissions also have not been rising with population growth. File photo
King County isn’t on track to meet emissions goals

The goals were ambitious but progress has been slow.

Several roads in King County, including the Snoqualmie Parkway, were closed when a brief snow storm struck the region last February. File photo
More roads in King County could be plowed during winter storms

Proposal targets 70 more miles in unincorporated areas.

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo
King County wants to boost composting market

In 2018, around one-third of material sent to regional landfill could have been composted.

Bellevue is the most expensive place in the region to rent an apartment, according to a new analysis. Courtesy photo
Several Eastside cities are among most expensive to rent in Northwest

Bellevue topped the list for highest apartment rents during the first half of 2019.

VoteWA is a $9.5 million program that came online last May and is meant to unify all 39 county voting systems in the state into a single entity. Courtesy image
WA’s new voting system concerns county elections officials

VoteWA has run into some problems in recent months as the Aug. 6 primary election draws closer.

‘Feedback loops’ of methane, CO2 echo environmental problem beyond Washington

University of Washington among researchers of climate change’s effects in global temperatures.

PSE’s battery storage project could help the clean energy roll-out

The tiny pilot project in Glacier could eventually be expanded.

Courtesy photo
King County Sheriff’s Office has been giving ICE unredacted information

Both the office and jail have supplied the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Mukilteo schools may soon have state’s highest paid teachers

Teachers ratified a new contract Monday and the Board of Education will consider it next month.