The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Student barred from Coug Lobbying Day

ASWSU barred WSU student who confronted governor Jay Inslee
Student barred from Coug Lobbying Day
Courtesy of Denver Mickali

A WSU student is challenging ASWSU’s executive staff’s decision to bar him from attending Coug Lobbying Day.

ASWSU decided to bar him due to a confrontation between Denver Mickali and Washington State Gov.  Jay Inslee during the governor’s visit to campus last April. Denver Mickali is a fourth-year political science pre-law major who is protesting ASWSU’s decision to bar him from visiting the Washington state capital in Olympia on behalf of Washington State University’s Department of Legislative Affairs agenda.

Mickali had been attending the Coug lobbying meetings regularly throughout the semester to prepare for the event, a day where WSU students from the Pullman, Vancouver, Tri-Cities and global campuses join in teams to lobby in front of legislators for bills that would benefit post-secondary education students.

Such bills included extending the Washington State College grant and mental health treatment accessibility. Mickali said the reason he voluntarily put his time into the Coug Day organization was because he was a recipient of the grant himself and a strong advocate for students, and understands how crucial gaining support for these bills are.

Although members of the ASWSU executive staff were aware of the encounter between Inslee and Mickali when it took place the previous year after witnessing it firsthand, the team waited until Jan. 10, less than two weeks before the event, to inform Mickali that he was not allowed to attend due to his confrontation with the governor.

When Inslee was leaving the building after his speech, ASWSU President Luke Deschenes and other members of his executive staff witnessed Mickali approaching the governor. The members were unaware of what words were exchanged Deschenes said.

“From our point of view, he followed and shouted at him. The governor wasn’t engaging in the conversation and it seemed disrespectful,” Deschenes said. “I was unaware at the time who the student addressing the governor was,” Deschenes said.

Micklai said he admits to approaching the governor after the meeting.

“I raised my voice to get his attention and ask him a question, and I engaged him in dialogue for over a minute,” he said.

He said he asked the governor about his vaccination mandates and asked their application to government officials. Mickali then expressed his concerns regarding the moral implications of vaccine mandates.

Mickali said the governor responded by mentioning  the court’s decision to move forward with the mandates, arguing  they were implemented legally. Mickali then doubled down and said he believed the mandates were unethical. The dialogue took place as the governor walked to his vehicle after leaving Bryan Hall.

“I understand my views are controversial, however I believe it is important for students to feel free to express their opinions and ask questions of our leaders, and especially our public servants,” Mickali said.

While Mickali knew the question was a challenge to the governor, he believed approaching him was protected under his First Amendment right. He did not anticipate this action could lead him to be deprived of academic opportunities at the university.

“I did it with the intention of doing it legally,” he said.

The decision came after the legislative affairs team began creating the list of who was eligable to attend Coug Day and who would not participate in preparation for the event, nearing the end of the fall semester.

Deschenes said the delay in the decision to ban Mickali  was because the team had not got down to the details until that week and the decision to dismiss him had not been final until then.

“It is important to us that we come across as professional and united, and the amount of passion and the way he approached the governor was a concern for us because if he treated a legislator that way it would be a setback for ASWSU efforts at Coug lobbying day,” Desenches  said.

Deschenes  said the team is very strategic in deciding who is able to come and represent WSU.

Mickali was given the chance to explain his position to the team and ensure nothing similar to the confrontation with the governor would  happen during Coug Day.

“I made it clear I understood my purpose was to advocate for students in a professional way at the Capitol,” Mickali said.

Nonetheless, the team stuck with their decision, Deschenes said.

“We just couldn’t risk an event like that happening again,” Deschenes  said.

Ultimately, the ASWSU executive team legally obtains discretion over who attends Coug Day, Deschenes said.

However, Mickali continues to challenge this decision.

He is handing out flyers in front of the CUB to inform the student body of his position in the matter. Mickali plans to meet with the ASWSU Judicial board as well.

He believes the ASWSU executive branch violated their bylaw 406.01 pg. 30 which states the Department of Legislative Affairs must carry out programs and initiatives that encourage student participation in the political process.

“ASWSU bylaws regarding the Lobbying Affairs Team do not specify who decides qualifications for attending Coug Lobbying team, or how it can be decided who is able to attend. As it exists now, there are no set conditions for qualifying for Coug Day, or how to remove students from the roster. To me, it looks like they’re making it up as they go; there’s no accountability. I want to change that. I believe our society is healthier when we won’t be punished for asking questions,” Mickali said.

More to Discover