Western Washington University students visited Olympia en masse Monday for Viking Lobby Day, students' annual trip to the state capitol to stump for issues of importance to Western.
A total of 79 students held 120 meetings with Washington state legislators or their staff members, said Patrick Eckroth, Western's Associated Students vice president for governmental affairs. And that's not counting the meeting with Gov. Jay Inslee in which roughly 20 students from legislative districts throughout the state shared their experiences at WWU as they relate to the students' legislative priorities. The students are focusing on several priorities this legislative session: student success, support for survivors of sexual and domestic violence, civil education in public K-12, voter rights and access, and new and dedicated revenue for higher education. More information on the students' legislative agenda is online here.
"Students were able to meet with a lot of their own representatives and share their experiences at WWU, and the majority of the legislators noted the meetings with WWU students as a positive experience," Eckroth said via email. "Our priority issue, student success, was supported by many of the legislators students met with, and most of the legislators were actually quite surprised that WWU did not receive the funding for these services last year, when CWU, EWU, and Evergreen did in the operating budget. Legislators have also been commenting on the success of the event and the students’ lobbying efforts, noting how prepared and educated on the issues the students were."
Students prepared for lobby day by participating in sessions covering each legislative agenda item, an overview of basic lobbying techniques and advice, and a panel with Rep. Gerry Pollet, a Democrat from the 46th District, and Rep. Melanie Stambaugh, a Republican from the 25th District.
"I've heard great feedback from legislators and other folks in Olympia about how incredible the Western students that come down for lobby day are," said Josie Ellison, the WWU Associated Students legislative advocacy coordinator, via email. "We consistently hear about how involved and interested WWU students are, and our Lobby Day plays a critical role in passing the legislation on both the student and administrative agendas."
Every student who attended the lobby day had a story to share about how at least one of the issues on agenda had affected them personally, Eckroth added.
"The fact that almost 80 WWU students were willing to use their day off from school and work to advocate for issues of concern to WWU students shows how dedicated and hardworking they are as well as how real these issues are at WWU."
For more, check out this story in The Western Front.
And finally, a look at a few tweets from the weekend:
.@WWU_AS prepares for annual Viking Lobby Day in Olympia http://www.westernfrontonline.com/2016/01/07/viking-lobby-day/?utm_content=buffere3cf7&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer #SGAchat— SG Resource Center (@StuGovResources) January 8, 2016
After three years of planning Viking Lobby Day it's surreal thinking this will be my last one.— Josie Ellison (@Josie_Ellison) January 17, 2016
Update on what student representatives are doing in Olympia for #vikinglobbyday by reporter @OfficialRobbyB http://www.westernfrontonline.com/2016/01/18/students-represent-western-in-olympia/— The Western Front (@TheFrontOnline) January 18, 2016
Great turnout of #WWU students in Olympia for Viking Lobby Day! #waleg #waedu https://twitter.com/OfficialRobbyB/status/689156983945965568— WWU Gov. Relations (@WWUGOV) January 18, 2016