Morgan Smith/The Daily EvergreenMorgan Smith/The Daily EvergreenMorgan Smith/The Daily EvergreenMorgan Smith/The Daily Evergreen
ASWSU President Riley Myklebust and Vice President Amanda Spalding set the goal of two Coug Days in their campaign promises last year. The weekend featured six workshops that familiarized students with bills and the legislative process along with meetings with eight legislators, two justices of the state Supreme Court and two lobbyists.
“I think it went really well,” Spalding said. “Everyone seems to have had a lot of fun and learned something and that was kind of the hope is that students were able to learn something and bring it back to campus. We really want focus on grassroots.”
Spalding said grassroots means letter writing and phone calls that will develop relationships during all times of the year with representatives and senators. She said the message of making a personal connection with the legislators in Olympia is something she will take away from Coug Day and pass on to other students.
“I’m really looking forward for the rest of this semester to really, like Amanda said, working on some of this grassroots stuff,” Director of Legislative Affairs Tristan Hanon said. “You know we have the letter writing campaign going on right now and I’m also really hoping that after the session is over actually that we can focus on getting students interested in the upcoming elections for next year and getting students registered to vote.”Hanon said he hopes to get students excited about the possibilities of getting involved with the political process.
For the event, the WSU Pullman campus teamed up with the Vancouver and Tri-Cities branch campuses for the events at the capitol.
“It’s always good to have the main campus and the branch campuses coming together to support higher education,” said Narek Daniyelyan, the ASWSU-Vancouver vice president.
Daniyelyan said Coug Day presented an opportunity not only for students to support higher education, but also to become leaders.
“I love WSU-Vancouver,” Spalding said. “It’s nice to have a personal relationship that compliments a professional relationship. This year was a little different. We kind of all did our own thing but at the same time I see strength in that as we covered more ground and there’s always room for improvement and the communication will be open.”
Spalding said she will be following up with the Vancouver and Tri-Cities campuses to learn their thoughts on Coug Day.
“Having Vancouver and Tri-Cities both up on the hill and all three of our campuses kind of presenting ourselves as the WSU students and going up all talking about the importance of the budget right now, focusing on certain issues important to us was really great for us to represent all of the Cougars across the states,” Hanon said.
During the course of the weekend, Sam Reed, the secretary of the state of Washington, sat down with the students and lectured on his experience in politics.
District 1 ASWSU Sen. James Cockburn said that he, Senate Pro-Tempore Derrick Skaug and District 10 Sen. Nick Ramirez used the skills learned in the workshops to seek out time with an additional three state senators, six state representatives and eight legislative aides outside of the scheduled meetings.
“The most inspiring part of Coug Day was watching senators Skaug and Cockburn take the initiative to schedule appointments with legislators on their own when time wasn’t being used effectively,” junior women’s studies major Sara Tuomey said.
Ramirez said the thought of breaking off into a smaller group came from a lobbyist presentation along with the time constraints of student meetings with legislators. He said he feels meeting with senators and representatives in a smaller group of three to four students proved more effective.
“We felt it was important to seek out additional legislators so that we could increase the number of people that we talked to,” Cockburn said. “We wanted to get our opinions out to as many legislators as possible. It just further increases the effectiveness of what we’re lobbying for.”