Photo Credit Oregon House of Representatives
Towards the end of the 2021 session for Oregon lawmakers, one of the bills passed was bill 2590, otherwise known as the Student Voice Bill. This bill seeks to help underrepresented students graduate and achieve the education they desire. With this passing, Oregon’s government can now form a task force to achieve the goals of this bill. The bill defines by a wide arrange of students, such as students of color, LGBTQ students, and disabled students. This also includes students from other underrepresented areas, such as those who are foster children, undocumented, from a low-income family, or from a rural area.
The task force will tackle this by addressing and looking for solutions to deal with obstacles that these students face, such as tuition costs and student debt. They would also need to hear from students across the state on the issues that might prevent them from getting their education. The bill also highlights how black students’ graduation rate is about 15% less compared to that of white students. OSA policy coordinator intern Kati Rodriguez Perez has even remarked on hoping this bill can address things such as sexual assaults that happen on campus, which have left led to the victims dropping out.
Southern Oregon University’s Vice President of Government Relations and Outreach, Jeanne Stallman, is currently looking for students who fit in these underrepresented areas that are willing to reach out to the task force to address the problems that can get in their way from graduating. The task force is looking for students from 17 community colleges and all seven of Oregon’s public universities, including Southern Oregon University. The task force plans on having these meetings through Zoom, as a convenient way for students across the state to bring their problems to the task force for them to address.
The first meeting was held on November 19th. The task force had elected a chair and begun to talk about the scope and their planned timeline for action. Several students from schools such as PSU, UofO, OSU, and COCC showed up to testify their problems in school. There were also three students who were absent but did submit written testimonies. However, no SOU or RCC students were present. The task force also decided that starting in March and lasting through June, they would visit various colleges around the state to hear from students in person. Their next meeting is set for December 16th from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM. The meeting link will be on this page; once posted will be on the toolbar on the righthand side titled “Meetings.”
Here is also a page that will take you to a Google form that will allow you to share your story with the task force. You can also email SOU government relations or its vice president, Jeanne Stallman, about the task force if you have any questions or want to help make sure they come to visit campus at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.