During the second week of September 2017, the Cal State Student Association sent a delegation to Washington D.C. to meet with higher education partners and policymakers. CSSA’s delegation was led by Maggie White (CSSA President), Alana Lim (CSSA Chair), Yomira Zamora (CSSA Civic Engagement Officer), Dr. Rob Shorette (CSSA Executive Director), and Jared Giarrusso (CSSA Assistant Director of Government Relations). Throughout this three-day trip, CSSA representatives spoke about a number of issues, including Pell grants, Title IX enforcement, and the important role of the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education; however, the main focus of many meetings was advocating for legislative solutions that ensure the protection of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
CSSA’s notable meetings with policymakers included Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA), Congressman Darrell Issa (CA), and Congressman Kevin McCarthy (CA). During these meetings, there was a universal support for protecting DACA recipients; however, no legislative deal on DACA exists as of Friday, September 14, 2017. While the sentiments of policymakers pointed towards a legislative solution, it is clear that CSSA and CSU students must continue to build coalitions, advocate, and take action to support DACA students.
The delegation also met with educational organizations such as the U.S. Department of Education, The College Board, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), The Education Trust, and The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). We were able to meet with the most recent past Secretary of Education, John King (now the president of The Education Trust), and the current acting Under Secretary of Education, James Manning. During a meeting with James Manning, acting Under Secretary of Education, Title IX was a main topic of discussion with student leadership expressing their interest in ensuring a system that is fair and promotes the safety and well-being of victims and survivors of sexual violence.
After this trip, the delegation traveled back to California for the September plenary at California State University, Fullerton. The CSSA Board of Directors was briefed on the outcomes of the trip and the members of the board developed collective advocacy strategies related to federal higher education policies that fall within the board’s 2017-18 Public Policy Agenda priorities.