The rally of technical and community colleges on Feb. 7 brought students and others to the state capitol to voice their opinions and assert their presence to the Washington state Legislature.
The statewide rally took place in the rotunda of the historic Washington state legislative building; the marbled walls echoed with the cheers and unified protests of college students and school administrators.
At 11:45 a.m., people filled the stone steps and occupied the balustrades of the above story. The students were grouped in matching shirts and sat or stood holding a slew of signs. Some read “Barriers Limit Potential” or “Keeping Washington Competitive.” Other signs proudly displayed the slogan of this year’s rally: “We are Washington’s greatest investment.”
At 11:55 a.m., the places to sit were full. Even when the steps were congested, people still continued to make their way inside. A line formed near the podium placed in the center of the rotunda as the guest speakers talked amongst themselves excitedly. The emcee opened with an introduction of the rally followed by a roll call of the state’s community andtechnical colleges.
As each name was called, cheers erupted from members of each institution in attendance.
The microphone changed hands many times to give guest speakers opportunities to bring their voices to the rally.
Opposing an increase in tuition rates and defending the need for more affordable education, students, community college presidents, board members and area residents shared their stories and encouraged state legislators to support funding higher education.
“We have to do all we can to make success,” Norma Smith said. “That means degree completion. We need to keep higher education accessible and affordable.”
Stories of broken homes, homelessness and the opportunities granted by the accessibility of community and technical colleges inspired and connected with those attending the rally.
Each speaker’s discussion of concerns about college funding roused the audience members to applaud and nod in agreement.
“No more tuition hikes,” Rep. Hans Zeiger of the 25th Legislative District said.
Several legislators from across the grounds heard the audience members’ cheers and came to speak as well. They vocalized their pride in the difference made by two-year and vocational colleges as well as their continued effort in preventing a raise in tuition.
It appears the legislators are on the students’ side. Students are encouraged to write their legislators with concerns and ideas.
“We are one,” Rep. Chris Reykdal said.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost