State Rep. Pollet praises efforts to increase diversity in public higher education

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

By Evan Smith

Democratic State Rep. Gerry Pollet has praised efforts by the president of Western Washington University to diversify the student population at public colleges and universities.

Pollet, vice chairman of the Higher Education Committee in the State House of Representatives, joined a coalition of groups in urging unity in face of backlash that followed University President Bruce Shepard's late April call for greater diversity.

Pollet and the organizations urged a public show of unity against the "disgusting intolerance of those displaying or supporting messages on a public campus such as ‘diversity = white genocide.’”
Pollet said the coalition of organizations that work to increase access and equity through the ladder of education, from preschool through graduate school, "is proud to stand with President Shepard, students, and the greater community of the state of Washington who want to ensure that every student can get a college degree."

Several weeks ago, Pollet applauded Shepard for addressing the issue head-on.
       "As our state of Washington becomes more diverse, we must work harder to ensure that every resident has access to opportunities and dreams offered by attending our state’s higher education institutions," Pollet said. "I applaud President Shepard’s recognition of this mission, and his recognition that, as he said, a public educational institution fails if it does not serve all segments of our state and does not provide every student with the important opportunity to learn in classrooms that reflect our full diversity.
"Every public official in Washington should unite to reject the disgusting racial response to planning for a public institution to reflect our state’s diversity," Pollet said in response to Republican State Rep. Jason Overstreet’s news release, which includes a link to an organization that called Shepard’s comments "Caucasian cleansing."

Legislation passed in the recent legislative session implemented a goal set forth by the Washington Student Achievement Council: At least 70 percent of Washington adults ages 25 to 44 should earn a certificate or degree from a community or four-year college by the year 2023.

Pollet said, "In an increasingly diverse state, we cannot meet this important goal unless our public higher education institutions become much more diverse."

Pollet represents the 46th Legislative District, including Lake Forest Park, Kenmore and northeast Seattle.


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