The WSU Pullman campus will have no direct student lobbying in Olympia this legislative session despite campaign goals set by the current ASWSU leadership.
When ASWSU President Riley Myklebust and Vice-President Amanda Spalding campaigned last spring they promoted the goal of “2-4-6 Legislation.” This goal involves holding two Coug Days at the Capital, 400 letters and 600 phone calls to legislators.
In the March 7, 2011 issue of The Daily Evergreen, Spalding said while more students want to go to Coug Days at the Capital, not all of them are able to. Spalding and Myklebust’s “2-4-6 Legislation” campaign goal would instead provide more opportunities to lobby from Pullman.
The student responsible for accomplishing this ASWSU lobbying goal is the Director of Legislative Affairs (DoLA), as reported in the Sep. 8, 2011 issue.
Last spring, Josh Hart was appointed DoLA. Supposedly, Hart would live and work in Olympia lobbying on behalf of WSU for the year.
“We knew this summer before school even started that we weren’t sending someone to Olympia,” Myklebust said.
Last year, ASWSU created a WSU-based lobbying group called the Cougar Coalition. The coalition is made up of the ASWSU campuses lobbying representatives. The mission of this new organization is to lobby for WSU interests without a hefty fee.
With the introduction of the Cougar Coalition, the WSU-Vancouver DoLA will lobby in Olympia for the majority of the school year.
“(WSU-Vancouver) currently has a DoLA position but the position is currently vacant,” Myklebust said.
Now the ASWSU-Vancouver President and Vice President are representing the Cougar Coalition in meetings with legislators, he said.
“When we sat down, the reality of it is that Vancouver is a lot closer and it’s a lot more fiscally responsible,” Spalding said.
The DoLA earns a salary of $3,600 for the year they serve, Myklebust said. The salary increases when the DoLA is in Olympia due to the cost of living and the amount of time dedicated to WSU, he said. The money for the director comes from S&A fees.
According to the 2010-2011 WSU-Pullman executive staff application, the DoLA position “demands” that the DoLA lives in Olympia for the duration of second semester while state legislature is most active. In previous years, the Pullman campus had a representative in the capital during the active session.
“We chose a chief of staff and a director of legislative affairs without an application process,” Myklebust said in the Jan. 12 2012 issue of The Daily Evergreen.
Selecting a director of legislative affairs without an application process was new to the WSU system, he said.
“I would say in that month or two in the whole (campaign) planning process we get a pretty good look at students we worked with,” Myklebust said. “One of those students was Kendall (Kossler) and another was Josh.”
They hired Hart as the DoLA because of his help under the pressures of the campaign, Myklebust said.
Hart spent most of his time during fall semester working with the Cougar Coalition and aiming to get more students involved in the voting process.
The Cougar Coalition will better serve the needs of WSU students, Spalding previously said in the Feb. 22 2011 issue.
“As a united front we have more of an impact,” she said. “We would really like to represent all students of Washington State University, but it’s no longer restricted to Pullman representing everybody.”
At the end of the fall semester Josh Hart graduated from WSU. His assistant Tristan Hanon succeeds him as DoLA for the spring semester.
“Josh Hart was a senior but he wasn’t scheduled to graduate,” Myklebust said.
It was after one to two months after his appointment that Hart made it clear he would be graduating, Myklebust said. Hart told the administration that he would understand if they wanted him to step down, but we said it was not necessary, Myklebust said.
In December, ASWSU executive and committee members said they had not made much progress on the “4-6” aspect of their campaign plan.
Myklebust said that the administration has converted five upcoming PB & J Club/Wazzu Wednesdays into letter writing movements.
“We’ll have some giveaways and our staff will be down there just to hopefully grab students,” he said. “While you’re grabbing lunch, how can we explain to you in less than a minute how a letter can be impactful?”
The hope of the conversion is to encourage students to write a letter to the legislators about anything they care about, Hanon said. The hope is to create students that are involved citizens, he said.
“As far as phone calls, that is probably not as far along as we would like it to be,” Myklebust said.
Myklebust said he and Spalding set high goals for themselves when they campaigned for the “2-4-6 Legislation.”
“I don’t know exactly if we’ll get there but it’s still on our radar,” he said. “I mean we can still do it, we still have time, time left between now and the end of the semester."