In late October, Lt. Governor Habib traveled to Central Washington University for a full day of speaking engagements, tours with faculty, and meetings with University leadership and students.
Lt. Governor Habib began the day by delivering a speech at the Washington Student Achievement Council’s Pave the Way conference, an annual gathering of non-profit leaders, policymakers, and educators to discuss issues of access to education from preschool through higher education.
The Lt. Governor spoke to this issue in his remarks by asserting that the oft-repeated phrase “college isn’t for everyone,” itself carries an implicit bias against underprivileged students. It is rare, the Lt. Governor pointed out, that a student from a wealthy school district is encouraged to skip college and directly enter the workforce – but much more common in rural, poorer school districts. The Lt. Governor also pointed out that likely everyone present at the conference themselves possessed a college credential, and concluded,
“Let’s give the same higher education opportunities that we, here in this room, want for our kids — to everyone in this state.”
Following his speech, the Lt. Governor began his Central Washington University itinerary with a meeting in President Gaudino’s office with university leadership. The group focused their discussion on best practices for re-engaging adult students in Washington state, and the particular barriers to re-entry and completion that population faces.
The Lt. Governor then met with faculty on a series of tours to some of Central Washington University’s unique facilities.
His first stop was to the University’s anechoic chamber, a room completely unique to higher education institutions in Washington state designed to be as sound-absorbent as possible. The purpose of the room, tour guide and physics professor Dr. Piacsek explained to the group, is to help measure sound waves accurately, and is intended to function a regional resource for academic studies of acoustics and sound.
Following this visit, the Lt. Governor joined geology professor Dr. Kaspari for a tour of the University’s Ice Core Lab, kept at a temperature well below freezing to preserve the ice core cylinders collected from local glaciers by Central Washington University’s Geology Department. Dr. Kaspari’s work concerns studying the black carbon captured “like the rings on a tree” in ice cores, and evaluating its long-term impact on glacial melt and climate change.
The Lt. Governor then visited the University Access Center, where he met with students and staff who helped design programs and products to improve accessibility for students with disabilities. In particular, Central Washington University’s Access Center printing facilities are known for having the capacity to produce high-quality tactile graphics for the blind, which staff shared with the Lt. Governor.
The Lt. Governor concluded his visit with a roundtable discussion with current Central Washington University students, where he spent over an hour speaking with students about their own journeys to higher education and their hopes for the future.