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February 21, 2013 at 2:42 PM

Bill giving university students a louder voice passes House

OLYMPIA — Washington students are one step closer to having a larger role in decisions made by public university officials.

House Bill 1331, which allows student governments to form committees advising school administrations, passed the House on Wednesday, 95-1. Bill sponsor Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, said student input is becoming increasingly important, given rising tuition.

“As students are spending more on education, they deserve a seat at the table where these decisions are being made,” Riccelli said.

State statutes currently allow university students to form student governments that act as liaisons between student bodies and administrators. Student governments are already involved in setting and allocating activity fees, which fund services ranging from on-campus gyms to health centers.

Under the House bill, students could form a committee to advise the administration on issues affecting student access to education, including tuition levels and fees. The administration would then be required to provide the committee with all non-confidential information that students could use to make recommendations.

The University of Washington already has such a committee –- the Provost Advisory Committee for Students (PACS), which was implemented during the 2011-2012 school year. Margaret Shepherd, a lobbyist for the university, said University of Washington administrators support HB 1331.

Student representatives Angie Weiss, with the Associated Students of the University of Washington, and Tristan Hanon, with the Associated Students of Washington State University, also support the bill. Hanon said his student government has no trouble communicating with WSU President Elson Floyd, but he wants to preserve the right for students to come.

“I don’t want that to change, and I feel like this bill cements that precedent,” Hanon said.

The legislation must now move through the Senate before being sent to the governor’s desk. Sen. Barbara Bailey, an Oak Harbor Republican who chairs the Higher Education Committee, said the bill will be given a hearing within the next few weeks. She said she won’t form opinions until after she hears public testimony, and is unsure how the bill will fare on the Senate floor.

0 Comments | More in Politics Northwest, State Legislature | Topics: Angie Weiss, Margaret Shepherd, Rep. Marcus Riccelli

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