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Petition: Protect Washington’s community college students

The following is from the Alliance for a Just Society:

OLYMPIA (June 15, 2020) — Community and technical colleges in Washington state are the backbones of our thriving economy and local communities. And without students, there are no colleges. During this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, the Alliance for a Just Society is working with AFT Washington to urge state lawmakers to protect its community college students and ensure their futures.

TAKE A STAND Please click here to join us in calling on the Washington State Legislature to:

Ensure universal access to online learning. As classes have moved online due to social distancing, many students have been left out because they cannot afford broadband access or do not have laptops to make inline learning possible. Our colleges should be funded to support students by providing appropriate equipment and providing free internet access.

Continue investing in critical programs that support student success. At this critical time, students have MORE need for support services, not less. Colleges should maintain counseling services, childcare services, mental health support, and support services for students of color, ELL students, etc. Colleges should hire or redirect staff to provide these services remotely during the pandemic.

Maintain financial support for students. This is not a time to cut financial aid and other resources for low-income students, it’s time for investment in the future. Colleges should establish emergency relief funds for students hardest hit by the pandemic and for students that are front-line workers. Student grants should be extended to next quarter since so many students lost educational time this past quarter due to the pandemic. Spring 2020 registration fees should be applied to Summer and Fall registration fees. Distribute resources to campuses and impacted communities in proportion to need.

Adjust the curriculum to the new conditions. The coronavirus pandemic is widening educational inequities. Unequal access to computers and broadband internet, as well as language and disability barriers, are all making it difficult for many students to maintain classroom participation, homework assignments, and passing grades. Students should be provided the tools and extra time needed to succeed under extraordinary conditions.

Washington state should fill the gap left by federal COVID-19 relief efforts. DACA students and others are being excluded from federal relief grants and other resources in the CARES Act. Washington State legislators should act to remedy this inequity. Undocumented students cannot fulfill the promise of the Washington State Dream Act (WSDA) if they are barred from financial support in this pandemic.

As students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community supporters of our community and technical colleges, we believe equitable treatment, fair funding for community college is an investment in the future. It is needed now more than ever during this pandemic.

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