Legislative interns meet with directors of student services and student government leaders to discuss student advocacy
As week four of the 2021 Legislative Session comes to an end, Da’Mea and I have connected with people in student services leadership and student government in various community and technical colleges across Washington. We were invited to meet with students and directors in honor of Student Advocacy Week to relay legislative information to students. One of the key topics we discussed was how to extend student advocacy beyond Student Advocacy Week. Following the formal meeting agenda, we hosted an informal Q&A and exchanged contact information with one another.
While my work as a legislative intern has typically consisted of watching bills and prepping for testimony, this past week provided a change of focus. Connecting with students allowed me an opportunity to not only relay information, but to encourage them to become involved with legislation directly. Many students expressed feelings of intimidation towards testifying for a bill in front of legislators. However, virtual testimony on Zoom typically offers more privacy and comfort, as most people testify from the comfort of their own homes. Another benefit of virtual testimony is the increased access to remote testimony, which opens the opportunity to people who are far from Olympia. Another option for students is written testimony, which does not require a live testimony during a hearing.
After connecting with students, I am excited to see so many who want to be involved in the legislative process, whether it be through live testimony or through spreading information to other students. I firmly believe that students’ experience with the Legislature and legislation largely influences other students’ interest in becoming involved. I encourage students to engage in the legislative process and share their experiences with fellow students, encouraging more students to take an active role in student advocacy.
In future weeks, Da’Mea and I will create a list of all virtual town hall meetings within the state. This will be a compilation of meetings from Washington House Democrats, Washington House Republicans, Washington Senate Democrats, and Washington Senate Republicans. For each town hall meeting, we will include information about the time, date, district, and the legislators that will be present. Once this schedule is complete, it will be distributed to community and technical college students in Washington, and it will be one more way for them to get involved with their elected officials.