Local higher education and business groups will gather on Tuesday, March 1 to discuss higher education funding and what could happen if the state continues to reduce it.
The public is invited to both a rally during the day at Western Washington University and a forum that evening at Bellingham City Hall.
The news release from WWU is below the jump.
A rally and a forum on March 1 will focus on the higher education funding crisis in Washington State, an issue of particular importance to Bellingham, home to a university and several colleges.
The “Rally to Restore Education” will be held from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1on the Performing Arts Center Plaza at Western Washington University.
Later that day, the “Community Conversation on Higher Education” forum will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at Bellingham City Hall Council Chambers, 210 Lottie St.
The public is invited to both events.
The forum will include a panel discussion, which will be moderated by Ken Oplinger, president of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Panelists will include former Bellingham mayor Tim Douglas, a member of the Whatcom Community College Board of Trustees; Robin Halliday, president and chairman of the Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington Board of Directors; Catherine Riordan, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Western; and Byron Starkey, vice president for Government Affairs for the Associated Students of WWU.
The forum will be filmed by the City of Bellingham and air on BTV10 and the City website. Check the BTV10 schedule after the event for exact dates/times: http://www.cob.org/services/education/btv10/index.aspx
“Funding for higher education in this state is at the tipping point – continued deep cuts could have serious economic and other consequences for our community that includes a university and several colleges,” said Steve Swan, vice president for University Relations at Western.
The panel will discuss the implications of the deep cuts in state funding to higher education. Between 2008 and 2010, the state cut operational funding for public baccalaureates by 30 percent and community colleges by a similar amount. If the currently proposed budget or an equivalent is approved, that cut will grow to 50 percent, cutting state support for public baccalaureate education in half in less than four years.
The forum and panel discussion is sponsored by Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham Technical College, the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the College Promise Coalition, a partnership of students, parents, alumni and leaders in business advocating for state universities and colleges in this state.
The Associated Students (AS) Board of Directors and Western Votes!, an Associated Students organization associated with the Resource and Outreach Programs Representation and Engagement Programs, are hosting the “Rally to Restore Education.”
AS President Colin Watrin and other Western students will speak and share their experiences. Students will have the opportunity to call and write to their legislators to share their personal stories and advocate for higher learning.
Whatcom Community College and Bellingham Technical College students also have initiated campus campaigns to garner support for funding of higher education with plans to distribute these letters to local legislators and members of the House and Senate Higher Education Committees.
WCC and BTC students plan to show their support of Western students’ Rally to Restore Education by attending the rally.
In case of inclement weather, the rally will be moved inside to the Viking Union Mulitpurpose Room.
“The rally will attempt to ensure that the issues students are facing are conveyed to legislators in Olympia through constructive and effective means,” said AS Vice President for Governmental Affairs Byron Starkey.
For more information about the rally, or for disAbility accommodations, contact Christina Roy by e-mail at WWUvotes@gmail.com