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The ASUW Office of Government Relations is excited to unveil this year’s Legislative Agenda. This document is used by the Associated Students of the University of Washington to guide our lobbying efforts throughout the legislative session. Having been approved by the ASUW Student Senate, the Legislative Agenda outlines the ideology and issues that students see as legislative priorities.

Legislative Agenda 2015-2016

The students at the University of Washington express gratitude for the financial investment made by the Washington State Legislature during the 2015 session; investing in public higher education is a direct investment in the people of Washington State. Public higher education in Washington continues to be at the forefront of social change and academic excellence. Ensuring that all students have equitable access to a quality education free of undue financial burden and discrimination is an imperative for the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW). On behalf of over 40,000 students, the ASUW holds the following legislative priorities:

QUALITY OF EDUCATION:

The ASUW believes in a world-class higher education system that provides a flexible environment and ample opportunity for personal and intellectual development of all students. We stand behind enhancing our status as a world-class institution by placing an emphasis on innovative instruction and cutting edge research that will continue to be at the forefront of the academic community. The ASUW supports attracting, retaining, and developing diverse, globally competitive faculty and students who are prepared to contribute to the growth of Washington State. University of Washington students should feel confident in the substance and value of their degree.

STATE FUNDING AND FINANCIAL AID:

The University of Washington, a fundamental investment in our state’s people and economy, must be properly supported by state funding. The ASUW commends the Legislature for enacting a historic 15% tuition cut and committing to backfill lost tuition revenue. We feel the state reaffirmed its commitment to public higher education with this historic investment, and the ASUW urges the state to continue and further its commitment to stable, long-term, dedicated funding for higher education in the future.

It is imperative that the inability to pay is never a barrier to higher education. Strong state financial aid programs are essential to fulfilling the University of Washington’s commitment to serving students from low and middle-income backgrounds; over 3,000 students at UW and 35,000 students statewide qualify for the State Need Grant but do not receive it. We urge the State to commit to fully funding the State Need Grant and other financial aid programs. We support policies working to address the total cost of higher education, including tuition, housing, textbooks, transportation and other expenses.

RACE, EQUITY AND ACCESS:

The ASUW supports a holistic approach to university admissions and believes that learning from those who have diverse experiences, beliefs, and perspectives is an essential component of a quality education. The ASUW recognizes the cumulative disadvantages of oppressed groups and advocates for policies that address racial and economic inequalities and disability issues in higher education. Likewise, the ASUW supports equitable access and opportunity for all members of the university community, particularly students, faculty and staff from marginalized groups. We support higher education outreach programs and resources for underrepresented communities and advocate for equitable programs that utilize the unheard voices of ostracized communities.

WELL BEING, HEALTH, AND SAFETY

The ASUW remains committed to ensuring equitable and comprehensive access to mental and physical health resources for members of the University of Washington community. We support funding for projects, programs and policies that improve safety on and off campus. We also support legislation that improves and maintains the physical and mental well-being of the students of the University of Washington, including policies that work to prevent sexual assault and relationship violence, as well as those that empower and protect survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence. The ASUW is devoted to ensuring that students do not face barriers to health and safety resources on campus.

SHARED GOVERNANCE AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT:

The ASUW supports students as vocal stakeholders in our community.

We advocate for policies that strengthen students’ ability to participate in democracy through accessible voting, lobbying, and other efforts. Student participation at every level is critical to ensuring that students are fairly represented. We support the protection of the civil rights and liberties of students, faculty, and staff.

2015-2016 Position Statements

QUALITY OF EDUCATION – The ASUW calls for:

  • Maintaining the institutional excellence of the University of Washington by keeping its operating budget whole
  • Competitive wages and a healthy working environment for all faculty and staff to ensure that the University can retain and attract world renowned personnel
  • State investment in the building and maintenance of necessary UW facilities

COST OF EDUCATION – The ASUW calls for:

  • Investing in an open source textbook pilot program
  • The state to explore and implement any policies that increase access to affordable housing for students
  • Maintaining the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) Program or a similar 529 savings plan

FINANCIAL AID – The ASUW calls for:

  • Full funding of the State Need Grant
  • Complete student control over all student fees

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT – The ASUW calls for:

  • The addition of a permanent ballot drop box on campus
  • The development of a university-wide voter registration institutionalization plan in collaboration with students, faculty, and campus administration

SEXUAL ASSAULT AND RELATIONSHIP VIOLENCE – The ASUW calls for:

  • Policies defining affirmative consent as “yes means yes”
  • Policies that expedite the consideration of student conduct code violations
  • Regulations that require universities provide twenty-four hour access to sexual assault nurse examiners to their students, faculty, and administrators

RACE AND EQUITY – The ASUW calls for:

  • Initiatives that address racial and ethnic disparities in higher education

TRANSPORTATION – The ASUW calls for:

  • Affordable, environmentally sustainable, and accessible transportation services for all students

SUSTAINABILITY – The ASUW calls for:

  • Continued state commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability

CAPITAL PROJECTS – The ASUW opposes:

  • The use of tuition dollars for capital projects

NON-TRADITIONAL STUDENTS – The ASUW calls for:

  • Further funding and dialogue regarding services supporting non-traditional students
  • Expanding access to child care
  • Expanding veterans’ services

9th Annual Legislative Reception

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Since 2008, tuition at the University of Washington has increased by over 75%, largely due to a 35% decrease in state funding per student between 2007 and 2012, according to a State Higher Education Executive Officer report. These impacts have significantly affected the student experience, requiring students to take out more loans or juggle several jobs to cover the cost of education.

Student advocacy efforts in Olympia spearheaded by the ASUW Office of Government Relations in the spring of 2015 led to a two-year tuition reduction for resident tuition when legislators agreed to increase state funding for the University. Advocacy by students such as this is the cause for making change in Olympia. Now, let Olympia come to you and share your stories about how vital the Husky Experience is to you.

It is now time again to tell our legislators to fund our education. Budget cuts to the University will affect every student, and we want to ensure that every student voice is heard at the table in Olympia this session. Join the ASUW Office of Government Relations for our 9th Annual Legislative Reception this Monday, November 16th at 5:00 PM in HUB South Ballroom. During this event, students will sit down with legislators over dinner to discuss the importance of higher education funding. All are invited, and dinner will be provided. RSVP at www.tinyurl.com/2015LegReception to BARK Against Budget Cuts.

Welcome!

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Welcome to the Office of Government Relations at the Associated Students of the University of Washington! Our office operates as the political advocacy and lobbyist branch for the ASUW–we represent the student voice in conversations with Washington state decision-makers on the campus, city, state, and federal levels.

The lobbying efforts of the Office of Government Relations have led to landmark feats for students in years past, including the 2015-2017 Resident Tuition Reduction. Acknowledging that students now contribute more to the cost of their education than the state, OGR also played a major role in creating a shared governance system at the UW that empowered the ASUW and GPSS to create PACS, the Provost Advisory Committee for Students, as well as college councils.

This year, our office aims to accomplish the following:

    • Increase student engagement in lobbying efforts to create a campus movement around access and affordability.
    • Extend the AY 2015-2016 tuition reduction to AY 2016-2017 and secure backfill tuition lost.
    • Refocus lobbying efforts surrounding students who belong to marginalized communities and effectively advocating to best support them .
    • Strengthen OGR’s lobbying efforts with the City of Seattle and King County.

Our first event for students is the 9th Annual Legislative Reception, which will be held on November 16th at 5:00 pm. At the event, students will have the opportunity to discuss issues of higher education during dinner with state legislators. Stay tuned for RSVP information!