Pierce went political on Civics Week

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Veronica Lu / Staff Photo
Mari Leavitt (Left) and Christine Kilduff are two of the state representatives that came to speak at Civics Week.

On May 10, 2019, Student Life hosted the Civics Week closing ceremony. The event was created to raise political awareness for Pierce College students. The presentation featured speeches from State Representatives Christine Kilduff and Mari Leavitt.

Pierce College Legislative Senator Daniel Chowritmootoo, one of the people who helped bring this event to life, said: “Civics Week is about encouraging student engagement in our politics, both state and federal level.”

Pierce Legislative Senator Derrick Brigge asserted: “I think it is a great chance for students to have face to face interaction with their elected state representatives.”

One of the guest speakers at the ceremony was Christine Kilduff, the State Representative in 28th Legislative District. Kilduff has been serving since 2014. “We are politically diverse, we are more purple than blue or red,” said Kilduff.

Veronica Lu / Staff Photo
Khuong “Finn” Quoc Ho and Calvin Beekman ask Mari Leavitt how students can be more politically involved.

When asked about the goal of the presentation, Kilduff responded that she wanted to hear from engaged citizens. She said: “The policies we make today, because you have so many more tomorrows, make more of an impact on you than me. When I look at my daughters, I think about what kind of a world I want for them.”

The other guest speaker was Mari Leavitt, a representative who has lived in the district for 29 years. Leavitt began as a community college student at Tacoma Community College then transferred to Western Washington University.  She has worked in higher education for 22 years, including 17 years at Pierce College. Leavitt won the election for State Representative in 2018.

Civics Week shows the variety of way for students to become more politically involved. In response to how student can participate, Leavitt mentioned the different routes that students can take to become more politically conscious. The routes include talking about the environment or advocate for a bill, contacting state representatives, looking at the bills and ask questions about them… They can also participate in the Legislative Academy in the Fall and the Voice Academy in the Spring, according to Leavitt. “Legislators’ doors are open, committees are public and these folks get along really well. There are students associations and ways for students to get involved…” she expressed. According to her, there are a lot of people lobbying and advocating for bills all the time.

Representative Kilduff added: “Working in the field and any campaign you can learn a lot. While you can certainly pursue opportunity beyond 2 or 4 year (college) levels, you can also cut your teeth by working on things like campaign or being a legislative assistant in say, Olympia.” She disclosed that there is a lot to learn from the “on the job” experience or while running for office. “We need representation from all walks of life,” said Kilduff,

I believe that it is really important for Pierce College students to care about these issues because they can directly affect us”

— Elena Asmar, Pierce College environmental science student

The event attracted many students. William Wasson, a third quarter freshman, said: “It’s cool to learn that they are working that hard. A lot of the bills that they were talking about were things that were helping us. Everything from affordable housing and tenant rights to LGBTQ rights.”

Another perspective comes from Elena Asmar, a Pierce College environmental science student. Asmar is currently involved in personal beekeeping research because she want to be able to help with the colony collapse disorder. The colony collapse disorder. The “disorder” occurs when worker bees disappear, abandoning a queen bee and nurse bees with food to take care of the immature ones according to planetbee.org. She told the Pioneer: “I believe that it is really important for Pierce College students to care about these issues because they can directly affect us. As the Representatives say, we have most of the skin in this game, therefore we need to be aware that they are important to us.”

To Asmar, her favorite part of the event was the fact that Kilduff speaks fluent Spanish, which makes her feel included. “It’s not very often that you find somebody with a Puerto Rican accent speaking to you directly about what you care about,” said Asmar.

With the new generation being our future leaders, an event like Civics Week can help the body of student at Pierce to be mindful of politics. Whether or not a student is to become a politician in the future, staying in the know can come in handy in the long run. The people of Pierce today are going to be the part of the group that builds the future. Being educated on the policies and procedures can inform one to make good decisions, and advocate for those that do the same.