Renton Technical College adds student clubs to campus.

Renton Technical College has slowly but steadily established and built out a student government since 2011 and is adding student clubs to the mix for the first time this year.

Establishing a student government and resources for student activities is so important that students voted to increase their services and activities fees last year. Fees went from $60 per quarter for full-time students to $155 per quarter and creates a pool of money designated for student body use.

The funds have been used this year to support a student-run tutoring center and to support veterans’ outreach on campus.

“This is giving them a good opportunity to create something that is important to them and empower them and give them a budget that they can work with,” said Abigail Vidals about the fee increase.

She is the student vice president of student success, part of the school’s associated student government. When she started at RTC, Vidals said she felt lost without a student government and clubs, disconnected from student life.

“I was like sure you got administration, where you can register. But where’s the kind of extracurricular activities that you like to see?” she said.

A student government was formed at Renton Technical College in 2011 at the request of Steve Hanson, the college’s president. The school is the last of the 34 technical and community colleges in the state to have a student government.

“An active and committed student government makes an enormous contribution to the vitality of the campus,” said Hanson, in an email. “It provides numerous opportunities to engage in leadership activities, cultural experiences, and social events that enrich the lives of students at Renton Technical College.”

RTC’s current student executive officers are as diverse as the students on campus. The youngest officer is 20 and the eldest 53.

“I wanted to become involved and educate other students around here that this is their money to use to further their own education,” said Robert Taylor, 53.

He is the current student government president. Taylor’s working on a career in the culinary field and was encouraged to become a student government leader by a friend. He started attending meeting and was motivated to get involved after he heard about the potential resources  students could have with the services and activities fees.

In addition to that resource, students have also voted to allocate money to a textbook access program and to the emergency fund to help students in financial crisis.

“It’s another support,” said Phuc Pham about adding the student government layer to campus.

He is a student senator and club specialist. He calls his fellow officers like a family and a motivation for coming to school beyond just wanting to go to class and get the homework.

“It’s someone you can talk to when you’re having problems,” he said. “It’s just another life support when you think about it.”

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