As the newly-appointed ASWSU director of legislative affairs (DoLA), Tristan Hanon has a lot on his plate. His primary duties include solidifying the structure of the Cougar Coalition (a WSU lobbying group), and revamping Coug Day at the Capitol, all while working to promote WSU interests during the legislative session.
Hanon, who previously served as the associate DoLA, is stepping up to the new position mid-year because the former DoLA, Josh Hart, graduated. Hanon was approved for the position last month by the ASWSU Senate.
A sophomore agriculture economics major, Hanon said he chose to attend WSU because of his high school involvement in the Future Farmers of America and his subsequent interest in energy and biofuels.
Once at WSU, he jumped right into ASWSU politics as a senator his freshman year.
“I was looking for ways to get involved because I knew I wanted to, and that just presented a good opportunity to do so,” he said.
During the spring semester of his freshman year, he also took on the role of administrative assistant and helped DoLA Jeremy Trevino plan Coug Day at the Capitol.
Hanon thought the assistant role could be expanded, so he passed a bill in the senate that added the associate DoLA position to the bylaws.
“I thought that it would be very essential to have a position that was a little more fleshed out, a little more concrete in the bylaws,” he said. “And that’s why I thought an associate director would be a little more official.”
Hanon said he never expected to get heavily involved in politics, but his father, who is a lobbyist, was the one who got him interested.
Now that the WSU Board of Regents has the power to set tuition, the department of legislative affairs will have a more general lobbying focus, he said. Specifically, Hanon hopes to help revamp the State Need Grant, support revenue proposals that are less regressive than hiking the sales tax and increase student involvement with the Cougar Coalition.
“With the expansion of the Cougar Coalition, I think we have a lot of opportunity to really make an impact in Olympia, as far as getting our voices heard as students,” he said. “And just here on campus — I think we have an opportunity to get a lot more students involved in governmental affairs and in ways they can make an impact on things that they care about.”
Hanon said he would love to see more students apply to be on the ASWSU legislative affairs committee for next semester. The committee will be working on an important marketing plan for lobbying efforts, he said.
Ryan White, a sophomore environmental science major, lived with Hanon during their freshman year and went through resident adviser training with him.
They were also both involved in Stimson Hall government, and White said Hanon has had his sights set on the DoLA position for a while. He thinks Hanon will do well in the new position.
“He definitely is the leader type,” he said. “He definitely takes leadership roles very seriously.”
Freshman communication and French major Devon Seymour, who was recently appointed associate DoLA, said Hanon is an incredible leader. She said he understands the state legislature and how legislation affects WSU.
“He’s really great at putting himself on the student level,” she said. “He’s really good at making sure everyone’s equally informed.”
Hanon said he is very excited to take on the DoLA position.
“It’s going to be a very interesting (legislative) session this year, so I’m excited to see what strides we make for WSU and for the students here,” he said.
SIT ON LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE