OCCSA pushes students to exercise their political voice

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 Political involvement is high on the priority list of Kurt Killinger, the director of legislative affairs of Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College.
Killinger is Central Oregon Community College’s representative in the Oregon College Student Association. The goal is to allow student representatives to exercise their right to be involved in pushing legislation of student interest, according to Killinger.
Anna Quesenberry
The Broadside

“Once legislation opened,” Killinger said, “we started working on prioritizing the bills we’re going to focus the most energy on.
As a member of OCCSA, Killinger’s role is to advocate for students on issues such as tuition costs.
Affordable tuition is the focus for State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, according to Amy Stevens, the director of legislative affairs at Portland Community College and chair of the OCCSA. If Wheeler’s “Opportunity Initiative” passes through legislation, it will provide a “long term sustainable way to make college more affordable,” explained Stevens. “But we need more funding now,” she said.
Killinger to lobby for Wheeler’s Opportunity Initiative
Killinger will be taking a group of COCC students to Salem on March 7 to lobby for Wheeler’s Oregon Opportunity Initiative. At an ASCOCC meeting on March 1, he requested the use of rental vans to transport students, and up to $500 to provide lunch for attending students.
“Ted Wheeler himself has asked me to help run this statewide campaign,” he said.
Killinger said he will be giving a closing speech at Opportunity Day on March 7 to “inspire and motivate students to contact their legislators.”
This level of council involvement in political affairs is a first, according to Ron Paradis, the director of College Relations at COCC.
“I don’t remember anybody being as involved as Kurt is right now at a statewide level,” Paradis said. “He has certainly stepped that up and is involved in a significant way.”
Despite his plans to advocate for Wheeler’s Opportunity Initiative, Killinger said this is a non-partisan movement.
“I am non-partisan. I don’t go at this stuff from a republican or democratic standpoint,” Killinger said. “I go at it from a helping students standpoint.”
COCC jumps from small tier to medium tier, OCCSA dues increase
With college enrollment on the rise, the student council will be spending an additional $350 in membership dues next fall.
Oregon Community College Student Association dues for fall 2013 will cost the Associated Students of Central Oregon $2066, according to director or legislative affairs, Kurt Killinger.
Central Oregon Community College had been classified as a small tier school prior to the vote by ASCOCC on Feb. 15.
“We voted as a council to raise that to middle tier,” Killinger said. “It was an ethical decision that I presented to the council.”
There is no requirement to belong to OCCSA, according to Killinger, but as a benefit to students, it is worth it to belong to an association that advocates for students statewide.
“If we’re a medium school, why should we be paying low dues?” Killinger said. “We need to pay our dues. That’s why they call them dues.”
The vote to increase to medium tier was unanimous, five to zero.
(Contact: aquesenberry@cocc.edu)

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