The Washington Student Association (WSA) met with senators of ASWSU at their meeting Wednesday night to discuss their recent successes in Olympia regarding potential budget cuts to the university.
The WSA is a student voice group that lobbies in Olympia to serve the collective interests of public universities across Washington.
“We give campuses tools, knowledge and resources to help students at local levels advocate for the policies we are working on,” said Mike Bogatay, executive director of WSA at the Wednesday night meeting.
Although WSU is no longer part of the association, they still get represented by their team, he said.
With recent proposals by Gov. Chris Gregoire to cut the WSU budget by $26 million, the WSA is using all their lobbying efforts to stop increased cuts to upper education, for not only WSU but for all public
universities across the state.
However, even with Bogatay’s efforts, the potential for cuts is not completely out of the question.
“At this point, we’re in wait-mode,” said Joan King, chief university budget officer. “The Legislature is still in session, but we’ve not seen or heard any information about the budget. If there is no agreed to budget before the session ends, we could, indeed, end up with a cut.”
She said one potential cut legislators are discussing is a 10-percent “across the board” cut which would apply to every state agency budget that does not require funding by law or contract.
“This would not be a good outcome for the higher education sector, as we are the largest portion of the discretionary budget,” King said.
The ASWSU senate plans to motivate students in becoming more active in getting their voices heard in Olympia, said Derrick Skaug, vice-president elect and political science major.
He said beginning next semester ASWSU is offering an internship program to students known as the Cougar Lobby Team.
“The purpose and goals of the Cougar Lobby Team internship is to become educated on the legislative process in Olympia,” Skaug said.
Members of the new lobbying group will build a network to help increase connections in Olympia, he said. The group hopes to facilitate lobbying efforts and inform students, parents and alumni across the state about the issues of upper education.
Students who do the internship would work an average of