By IAN BRICKEY and CHRIS WEIDMAN
Before taking the podium to deliver the College of William and Mary’s annual Charter Day address, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor J.D. ’88 sat down with several student publications in a conference room inside William and Mary Hall. Cantor addressed higher education funding cuts, proposals to alter the percentage of in-state students at the College and his message to students entering the workforce during a struggling economy.
According to Cantor, the federal government is working to create a more promising job market for soon-to-graduate college students.
“The House is very, very focused on trying to create an environment where there will be jobs when the students graduate,” he said. “We want to reduce the unemployment level, we want to increase the competitiveness of U.S. companies and we want to create an environment that fosters long term economic growth, and I think that is the best thing that young students coming out of William and Mary can hope for.”
While Cantor said he is set on creating jobs, he offered no promise of financial support for the College, which is scheduled to lose nearly $7 million in stimulus funding next year.
“The days of unlimited largess coming out of Washington [are] over — we can’t afford it,” he said. “What is best for the long-term prospects for jobs and opportunity … is for the federal government to regain its rightful balance with the private sector and actually shrink in size.”
Cantor was asked about Del. Tim Hugo’s ’86 (R-Fairfax) renewed attempt to alter the student body populations of Virginia’s public universities to include 75 percent in-state students.
“If you are going to remove [the out-of-state] source of funding from a school like William and Mary, you better find out how you are going to change the model because you are fooling yourself to believe that there will be money there,” Cantor said. “So I approach that with a lot of caution.”
Despite America’s precarious economic situation, Cantor urged students to not give up on future dreams, calling the United States “the beacon of opportunity in the world.” He cited India and China as direct competitors, but concluded by assuring that the federal government is working to remove obstacles in students’ ways.