The College of William and Mary’s current financial strains dominated conversation at the campus forum Tuesday, Sept. 11. College President Taylor Reveley argued against the state-enforced cap on the number of out-of-state students who are permitted to attend the College. We understand Reveley’s concern that the commonwealth is failing to provide adequate funding to its schools and slowly draining state universities’ funds; however, we disagree with Reveley’s argument that in-state and out-of-state students should both pay fair market value. This plan of action comes very close to a path of privatization for the College — a path that, frankly, is unrealistic. Reveley’s comment that out-of-state students are “bags of gold with feet” is appalling because it frames the College’s job as generating a profit rather than educating students, a sentiment that is out of touch with the beliefs of the campus. College leaders must help the College stay afloat by fighting for improved state funding and investigating innovative ways to make the school more efficient.
The Creative Adaptation Fund demonstrates the type of innovation we hope the College utilizes in the future. This fund aims to find ways to improve the school’s efficiency without damaging the quality of education it provides. It does this by channeling the creative ingenuity of the faculty at the College. We are particularly optimistic about the Creative Adaptation Fund because the College’s faculty members are in-tune with the educational needs of the students.
We are not criticizing Reveley’s attempts to fight for an increase in higher education funding from the state. We hope he continues to campaign for more state funding. Virginia’s public universities are some of the state’s greatest assets, and often students stay in Virginia after graduation to live and work. The state must be willing to support its public universities in order to continue reaping the benefits of educated students.
We disagree with Reveley’s approach in that we do not believe that moving toward privatization is the solution. We feel that we should focus on increased state support of the College and more efficient use of funding. These solutions to the College’s current budget shortfalls are aimed at focusing on the quality of education provided to the students who attend the College, not the amount of money these students can bring to it.
President Reveley’s position is to net funding for the school, and we support his efforts to improve the College’s depressed financial situation. Nonetheless, his emphasis on money over educating students in Tuesday’s forum was distasteful. Money is a necessity, but begging state legislatures to allow for a more privatized path for the College is not the solution. We hope that Reveley and other College leaders will look toward innovative solutions for funding in the future.