By Christina Lorella
On Nov. 16, Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, met with representatives of the Associated Students of UW Bothell to discuss her recent proposal to close branch campuses, including the University of Washington, Bothell and Washington State University, Spokane.
ASUWB invited Haigh to campus after she referred to UW Bothell as an “operation cost” in her October proposal and recommended its closure. ASUWB wanted to show Haigh the unique and valuable nature of UW Bothell, which they believe is unmatched by any other institution.
Freddie Hensen, President of ASUWB commented on Haigh’s tone, stating that she sounded sympathetic, but resolute.
“She seemed to care more about preserving K-12 education and less interested in preserving higher education; claiming that our intensive learning atmosphere with smaller class sizes and more contact with professors is inefficient,” Hensen said.
According to Hensen, Haigh remained closed-minded and unwilling to compromise throughout the meeting. He said that, rather than working with ASUWB to brainstorm alternatives, Haigh focused on “how to squeeze as much funding from higher educations as possible, without killing it. Like a parasite,” Hensen said.
While Haigh agreed that higher education is important, she explicitly said that, when it came to the options currently on the table, higher education was her target for cuts. According to Hensen, the likelihood of UW Bothell closing is slim, but it is an option still being discussed.
More likely, Hensen said, is another reduction in state assistance for public universities, and the elimination of both the State Need grant and the Work Study program.
Another round of cuts will result in “crippled aid for all but the most desperately needy students, and another tuition hike of at least twenty percent,” Hensen said. “If the cuts are ratified without a successful revenue package, we could see tuition increased before the end of the academic year.”
In early November, Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, met with members of ASUWB to discuss the potential consequences of Haigh’s proposal. Seaquist disagreed with her strategy, referring to it as an “awful solution to saving funds in a squandering economy.”
“Investing in higher institutions is the ladder out of a recession,” Seaquist said.
The special session to discuss these budget cuts began on Nov. 28. Legislature expects a decision to be made by January.
ASUWB urges students to get involved by contacting their local representatives, rallying at the State Capitol during the special session and by encouraging other students to get involved.