p. Printed below are first-person student accounts of the Road to Richmond lobbying trip, which took place last Tuesday. Students traveled to Richmond to lobby Virginia senators and delegates on the importance of funding higher education.
Erica Chiusano ’08
p. “I feel a strong connection to this college and went on this trip because I want future generations of W&M folk to have the same wonderful opportunities I did. For me, it was the faculty that really made a difference in my life, so I was pushing hard for the professor salaries.
p. The Virginia representatives definitely saw the value of education and responded well to the energy and passion we brought as W&M students. We aren’t some lame lobbying firm that paid random people to go to the capital. We were students that hauled ourselves up at 5am to ask for money that we’ll never see in our own time at the college. That’s how much we love the school.
p. The representatives responded especially well to W&M’s emphasis on public service. Our college teaches us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We volunteer, serve and support causes for the advancement of societal interest, not just our own. The call to service is something that politicians understand (or at least pretend to understand).
p. And I think that W&M is unique from other colleges in that respect. Investing in our college is actually an investment in our community, state, nation and even the rest of the world, so if they’re smart, they should fork over the cash.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to storm the capital and run my mouth about why W&M is great. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Rock on W&M.”
Alexander Douglas ’09
“I spoke to Del. Chuck Caputo and found him to be very cordial. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for the second half of the trip to visit legislator’s offices. I enjoyed the experience but the real question is whether or not William and Mary’s budget will be restored.”
Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, J.D. ’09
“For the uninitiated, lobbying at the General Assembly can be daunting. But the students who carried the William & Mary banner to Richmond on Tuesday did so with both poise and passion. We argued for sufficient funds for our College valiantly, and hopefully the budget will reflect our efforts.”
Adam Rosen ’09
“The Road to Richmond serves as a unique opportunity to put a name, face, and image to the normally invisible constituency of higher education.”
Emily Shroder ’11
“Road to Richmond was a great experience. As a freshman, it’s still surprising to me when alumni are so excited to see current students and speak with them about W&M. I just went to the breakfast, so I didn’t get to talk to many delegates, but I did see some of their staff members and was encouraged that they seemed to really care about our school and our experience here.”
Cristin Toutsi, Graduate Student ’08, School of Education
“Overall, the trip was a great opportunity for us to converse with members of the General Assembly. Delegate Plum was the most interesting to speak with as he seemed to understand the issues facing Virginia’s system of public higher education along with W&M’s priorities and points of interest. I felt like he understood how we (as students) are affected by the decisions coming out of Richmond. We also enjoyed talking with Delegate Scott, and Delegate Joannou. We were grateful for the time and attention we received.
The breakfast was also another opportunity to meet and talk with officials from the Department of Planning & Budget and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. I was encouraged that several of these staff members made time to talk with us about the educational issues important to us.
Overall, this experience helped me to understand more about state government, members of General Assembly, and issues facing Virginia’s system of higher education; and more specially, William & Mary.”