EVENT RECAP: Making the Case for Higher Ed
*Special guest blog from UW Impact intern, Kenny Applewhaite.
UW Impact held its 5th annual Legislative Preview event on January 10, 2019. At the event, alumni, students, friends, and higher education advocates alike gathered to make the case that higher education IS for anyone and everyone that wants it.
This year’s first-panel discussion included a moderated discussion by UW Department of Communication chair David Domke examining the different pathways for attaining a college or post-secondary credential, highlighting UW’s work to expand access to four-year degrees to transfer students. Panelists included:
- UW President, Ana Mari Cauce
- Seattle Central College President, Sheila Edwards Lang
- UW transfer student, Jonathan Rivera
- Executive Director of Washington States Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Jan Yoshiwara
The second panel moderated by Assistant Attorney General, Sarah Reyneveld focused on the state Legislature’s investment in higher education ahead of the upcoming legislative session. Legislator panelist included:
- Representative Vandana Slatter (D-48)
- Representative Drew Stokesbary (R-31)
Attendees heard a variety of opinions from a wide variety of perspectives all with similar intentions: to bring attention to the importance of investing in higher education. President Ana Mari Cauce pointed out the importance of approaching the topic of higher education as a unified group saying: “This isn’t about a competition…this is really about how we can work together”.
The panel covered a wide variety of topics around higher education including affordability, degree completion, and meeting our region’s demand for skilled workers. Executive Director Jan Yoshiwara talked about the statewide need for skilled workers to fill openings within the labor force. She stated that “we have to almost double the amount of graduates we’re putting out into the labor force. That is a big lift”.
President Sheila Edwards Lang continued the discussion by breaking down the newly-introduced Seattle Promise—a program enabling any Seattle Public School graduate to attend a Seattle college tuition free. This program, to be implemented with the graduating class of 2020, gives opportunities to students who wouldn’t think of higher education otherwise. It enables them to explore a wide variety of program and degree options that allow them to achieve whatever career goals they hope to accomplish.
The panel also included personal testimony from Jonathan Rivera, a UW transfer student from the Yakima Valley. Rivera explained how the UW opened opportunities to help him achieve his dreams and potential he never thought possible. “Attending a university as prestigious, as highly-ranked as the University of Washington is not the privilege of few, but the right of many”.
Sarah Reyneveld, who leads the UWAA’s Legislative Advocacy Committee, lead the second-panel covering topics such as the budget surplus, tuition decreases, increased faculty compensation and the need to improve the K-12-to-college pipeline. When asked about advice for advocates, Rep. Stokesbary told the crowd to bring personal stories to help connect the dots between the data. Rep. Slatter suggested bringing examples that are intersectional, touching on multiple issues.
The night ended with two calls to action. UWAA Board of Trustees President Dan Heu-Weller asked the crowd to first become a UW Alumni Association member in order to support the work of UW Impact, and second, he advised the audience to sign up to be an advocate in support of higher education issues on the UW Impact website.
Click the link below to see video highlights from the evening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtwJf3xG1yA&feature=youtu.be&list=PLgNkGpnjFWo9kV3cAXC2cNdGnwp86skYw