At the 2013 Community College Student Legislative Rally, whenever a speaker asked, “What don’t we want them to cut?” audience members would yell back the reason for the rally: “Don’t cut the solution.”
The rally on Feb. 1 at the state capitol was designed to defend student rights and emphasize to state legislators the importance of higher education.
Although only 32 students from Pierce College attended the statewide rally, other students participated in other ways.
They signed almost 700 postcards under a brief message telling legislators not to cut funds on higher education. These postcards were deliverered to the state Legislature. Pierce College Puyallup had one of the highest number of postcards delivered compared to other community and technical colleges in the state.
“Every student who went made an impact,” said Michael Alkire, Associated Students of Pierce College Puyallup president. “It was all activism. Each postcard is helping to create a work-ready Washington.”
Alkire explained that as the upcoming generation prepares to enter the work force, it’s important they have access to affordable higher education.
As the chant from the rally suggested, college students are the solution to the current budget crisis and raising tuition costs wouldn’t help the problem.
Bailey Barbara, chair of the senate higher education committee, stressed the importance of college students in the state’s future when she spoke at the rally.
Other legislators such as state Reps. Larry Seaquist, Chris Reykdal and Norma Smith spoke along with numerous students who described their experiences.
“It was really important to hear all the stories people had,” Alkire said. “Community and technical colleges are different from a university. (At Pierce) we have a greater diversity of students with different reasons for coming back to school or attending.”
To Alkire, the event was about more than emphasizing the importance of higher education. Bringing students from the different colleges to a single location such as the state capitol building also served another purpose.
“Students filled the rotunda,” Alkire said. “It was one way to provide a unified message from across the state.”
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