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Sunday, May 31, 2020

New club tackles local issues


Some students get lit on Western Wednesdays but others get lit on Tuesdays. Western’s newly established Local Issues Team had its first meeting Tuesday, Jan. 31 in the Viking Union.

The group will look to offer a student voice in local politics.

The Associated Students Local Issues Coordinator Galen Herz noticed local politics are controlled by who shows up to city council meetings. Attending these meetings are the most effective way to change policy and make progress, Herz said.

“Student voice can change up the game when it comes to local politics.”

Associated Students Local Issues Coordinator Galen Herz

Issues affecting students are interconnected to what city hall does, often times their voices aren’t heard. This could be affordable housing, landlords taking advantage of students or how Bellingham is progressing so slow in becoming a sanctuary city, Herz said.

During the meeting, members participated in a pair share, where they turned to their neighbor and answered the questions: What is an issue you care about and what are you feeling about working on these issues?  

The group discussed undocumented students on Western’s campus, voter access, student housing, renting rights and homelessness.

The group plans on working on these issues continuously throughout the years.

Junior Alyssa Kaufman received an email informing her about LIT and thought it was a good a idea to check it out.

“It should be a bigger priority in our lives,” Kaufman said. “This is a really great way to do that and a great way to chunk out that time in my life without seeming like something extra on top.”

Kaufman’s friend, junior Rachel Perkins, also attended the meeting.

“This quarter I’ve been focusing on becoming more involved in the Western community so I’ve been trying to go to more club meetings in general,” Perkins said. “This was especially appealing because it’s not just involved in Western but more broadly involved with the Bellingham community.”

Only five students attended the meeting, including Herz, Perkins and Kaufman. Although it was a small group, issues discussed were not just important to attendees but also for the Bellingham community.

“I have seen a very small group of people who are vocal change city policy,” Herz said.

Sophomore Cora Cole works with Herz in leading LIT.

“I’m excited to collaborate with existing groups because there is a lot of cool stuff that happens on campus with the AS, clubs and students who work off campus. I want to facilitate bringing all of those people and organizations together to make concrete change,” Cole said.

Through this team Herz hopes students get connected with other community groups and learn more about these organizations and about community issues.

“Social change happens when people get together,” Herz said.

Students can get more information from Herz by contacting him at AS.local@wwu.edu or visit their Facebook page, WWU Local Issues Team. The next meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 7, 7 p.m. at the Karate Church on Maple street.



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