By Eric Stevick, Herald writer
Politicians aren’t the only ones with strong opinions on where a new University of Washington campus should be built in Snohomish County.
As state lawmakers begin tackling the issue in Olympia this week, high school students are more than willing to share their advice.
They raise many of the same arguments, from commute times to buildable land, that will be made in the Legislature during its 60-day session.
And many high school students also say they hope the political battle to land the university in Everett, Marysville or Lake Stevens doesn’t derail the chances of bringing the UW to closer to home.
“A lot of people who I talk to are trying their hardest to get into the UW,” said Hannah Walter, 17, a Lakewood High School senior. “The UW has such a good reputation with so many people here. For those who don’t want to leave home or who can’t, this is our best chance to get something good.”
Everett Station covers 27 acres in downtown Everett south of Pacific Avenue surrounding the transit center. A state-hired consultant ranked it ahead of proposed sites in Marysville, Lake Stevens and the former Kimberly-Clark property next to the Snohomish River in Everett. Marysville was rated second in the study and north county leaders are continuing to push their site.
Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson and the city’s lobbyists spent Monday in Olympia meeting with legislators, some of whom have made up their minds and some of whom have not.
On Thursday, the Senate Higher Education Committee will hold a hearing on a bill backing the Everett Station site for the college. A nearly identical bill is scheduled for a hearing later this month in the House higher education panel.
Meanwhile, supporters of Marysville will introduce legislation backing selection of that site sometime this week.
Gov. Chris Gregoire is proposing to spend $1.1 million to begin classes this fall for nursing and teaching students. She has said that money will not be made available and those classes won’t be held if a decision on a site is not made.
Any decision will need to be reached before the Legislature adjourns, which is scheduled March 13.
Walter plans to rent an apartment in Everett and attend Everett Community College next year. She wants to transfer to the UW with a goal of majoring in English.
Everett would be easier once she moves, but Walter believes Marysville offers the brighter future because it has more than 300 acres on which to built.
“I would just prefer it in Marysville because it has the room to expand,” she said.
Kristin Villanueva, 18, a senior at Cascade High School, wrote an essay last spring on the need for a four-year university in the north Puget Sound area. Her plan is to attend the UW in Seattle and she hopes to become an anesthesiologist.
“Having the UW campus in Everett and focusing on polytechnic studies would be the best option for higher education in this region,” she said. “With our growing economy, and Boeing and Microsoft nearby, it’s going to benefit this whole area. I think that Everett has more potential just because of its access” to transportation and high-tech industry.
Brittany Adkins, 17, a junior at Marysville Arts &Technology High School, said she would be the first member of her family to go to college and she will have to pay for it.
Her plan is to start at Everett Community College. After that, she would love to have access to a UW campus in Snohomish County.
Her preference would be a UW branch north of Marysville.
“I just like the idea of going to a four-year university after my two-year degree,” she said. “I’ll have to pay my way and I just think housing is cheaper in Marysville than Seattle or Everett.”
Although it would be better for her to make the trip to Marysville, Nicole DePrey, 17, a junior at Granite Falls High School, she figures that local students can’t lose either way.
“A lot of the good colleges are far away,” she said. “This would be so close. It would allow us to stay at home and still attend a good university.”
Snohomish High School senior Laurel Jarchow plans to study accounting at the UW in Seattle next fall. She favors Everett over Marysville.
“I would agree with (state Rep.) Hans Dunshee’s idea of building it by the train station to get those classes started right away,” she said. “I think students would prefer it be in a more developed or bigger area, but I don’t think it would stop them.”
Either location should work, she said.
“It’s a short distance as opposed to going to WSU (Washington State University in Pullman),” she said.
Alex Bachleda, 18, another Snohomish High School senior, believes a campus in Everett would help the city and the students. He likes “The Ave,” the University Avenue hangout near the UW campus in Seattle, and he argues that Everett’s urban setting could create a similar draw for people in Snohomish County.
“It would be really nice for Everett,” he said.
Morgan Wright, 17, a Lakewood senior, craves a rural site versus the 27 acres being discussed in Everett.
“I don’t want it in a city,” she said. “It would be just too crowded. I wouldn’t want it in Everett. There is absolutely too much stuff going on there.”
At Marysville Arts &Technology, sophomore Cody Nation, 16, believes the UW will find plenty of students willing to stay close to home to go to school. “I really do believe students would want to go there,” he said.
Jessica Hodgson, 15, is a freshman at Arts &Technology and her brother graduated from the UW in Seattle. That’s where she wants to go as well.
She knows a UW nearby will mean access to a UW diploma close to home. It’s is an opportunity many students wouldn’t otherwise have.
“Many parents can’t afford to send their kids far away,” she said.
Reporter Jerry Cornfield contributed to this story.
Reporter Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.