p. Students attended the Road to Richmond lobbying event in record numbers Jan. 23, where volunteers traveled to the state capitol to lobby for continued funding for the College’s new School of Education.
p. In Richmond, they breakfasted with legislators and then visited the offices of senators and representatives to talk about the College’s goals.
p. “Some of the senators and delegates ate breakfast with us, as well as some of their staff members, and seemed excited to see us there, fighting for our education,” sophomore Brittany Constance, who attended the event, said.
p. Every year those that attend also address items such as faculty salaries and other funding issues. But what seems most beneficial to the College is the simple fact that students show up consistently.
p. “The important thing is to present [the legislators] with the direct beneficiaries of the funding and policy that they establish in order to remind them what they’re working for,” Student Assembly President Ryan Scofield, a senior, said.
p. Junior Seth Levey agreed.
p. “What’s good is the reliability and that students get up early to talk to legislators,” he said. “I think we had a positive effect on the legislators. And we are consumers of the product; they get to see firsthand what the tax dollars for higher education are doing.”
p. The event is traditionally put on through a cooperative effort between the Student Assembly and the College’s Office of Public Affairs. Levey was a main contact and organizer for the event, as an intern in the College’s Office of Public Affairs and as Student Assembly secretary of public affairs.
p. Student Assembly members were not required to come, but Levey requested that they show support for the College and attend. Monday night these students and other volunteers met in the Board of Visitors Room in Blow Hall to discuss the talking points and logistical questions.
p. “The meeting we had on Monday night was great and full of energy,” Constance, also an intern in the Office of Public Affairs, said. “The Board of Visitors room was packed with well-rested students back from break ready to lobby for William and Mary.”
p. The annual event is in its 15th year. It started small with only five students, but Levey estimates that between 50 and 70 students attended last week, though he could not give an exact figure due to large discrepancies between the number of students on the sign-up list and the number that actually showed up.
p. “A lot of freshman went; I tried to get a random grouping of people for a varied look at the College,” Levey said. “Obviously I can’t force anyone to come, but it’s good to have more than government majors and people who are stuck in Morton all day.”
p. Levey and Constance agreed that it was the best turnout ever, based on other students’ comments and previous years’ experience for Levey. They were also impressed by attendees’ levels of alertness and enthusiasm so early in the morning.
p. “All the students that went were passionate about the College’s mission and all were wide awake at 5:30 a.m.,” Levey said.
p. One of the buses returned to the College after breakfast with the legislators at 9:15 a.m. Another bus took those who stayed to visit officials’ offices back at 12:30 p.m.
p. “The bus that returned late was so full I had to stand,” Levey said. “It’s a good thing; I mean, I got some exercise, and it’s just a good sign.”