The first of two Coug Days at the Capitol this year had student leaders and representatives brainstorming, planning and asking questions to help garner the most information possible to bring back to their peers.
Lobbyists, politicians and a former professor all spoke and fielded questions to help the group clarify the most recently proposed budget and how students can help keep budget cuts from taking a greater toll on WSU.
All those in favor of helping higher education institutions had the same advice — do not stop trying.
"Don't give up right now," said Jim Justin, Gov. Chris Gregoire's lobbyist. "Do not stop right now."
Justin added that if higher education starts to receive an increase in funding again, it will be because the voters decided to give the money back. While he did not think Senate Joint Resolution 8225 would pass this year, he reminded the students that pushing for those kinds of bills will be the way for higher education institutions to stop cuts.
Justin added that higher education is important for society as a whole and will continue to be important in the coming years.
"If the state's going to succeed long-term, we've got to have an educated work force," he said.
The student leaders brainstormed between presentations about how to make students attending the second Coug Day as effective as possible as well as how to be effective lobbyists from the WSU campus.
Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, talked to the students about effective lobbying methods.
"Start early," Schoesler said. "You don't start in January, you start early."
He also said threats are ineffective and students should try to work in some face time with their legislators. He added that legislators are usually accessible and available for face time if given the chance.
The most effective methods are the frequent but basic ones, he said.
Lobbyist Greg Hannon agreed with this strategy.
"Legislators like students," Hannon said. "They particularly like students from home."
Coug Day Coordinator and Associate Director of Legislative Affairs Devon Seymour encouraged the group to write down as many ideas as possible to help make the next Coug Day successful. Along with bringing helpful information back to campus, she said she wanted to help the students get noticed by legislators.
"It's a lot of work but it's also going to get Washington State University students heard," Seymour said.
She also said the next Coug Day event will be an open application program and will be a much larger event.
The weekend was planned purely for educational purposes but the attendees spoke with senators and representatives to pitch recent legislation that would help higher education and soften the blows of budget cuts.
WSU Director of State Relations Chris Mulick said students need to have someone in Olympia regularly to connect with legislators.
"They know you're there and you're paying attention," Mulick said.
He added that some of the proposed cuts for higher education are daunting.
The students also discussed how to combat the budget cuts that are inevitable this year and how to help encourage their fellow classmates to keep trying despite more difficult times.
"Budget cuts impact the resources that we have at WSU, but as students we have the power to impact the quality of our education," said Kyle Erdman, ASWSU director of student life. "We provide an education outside of funding that no other school in Washington can ever experience."