__Students travel to Richmond to meet with senators and delegates__
p. Jan. 22, 55 students traveled to Richmond to lobby Virginia senators and delegates on the importance of funding higher education. Students left campus at 6 a.m. and arrived at the Library of Virginia for a 7:30 a.m. breakfast with legislators, legislative staff, alumni and students. They traveled to the Capitol Building and split into groups to talk with legislators for two and a half hours.
p. Intern for the College’s Office of Public Affairs Seth Levey ’08 helped organize the event.
p. “The legislators love hearing from the students because higher education is a service provided to citizens of the commonwealth. Students are essentially customers providing customer feedback. We understand better than anyone else the impact of funding and are able to provide an important point of view,” Levey said.
p. In fall 2007, the College was faced with a 6.2 percent budget cut when it was already at its lowest functioning funding level ever.
p. “We wanted to put a face to all of the students in need of operating facilities, well-paid professors, and strong financial aid packages,” Student Assembly Vice President Valerie Hopkins ’09 said. Hopkins had the opportunity to speak with various representatives, and other participants described similar interactions. Specifically, students focused on issues of importance to the College. They petitioned legislators to support building projects, especially for the new School of Education.
p. “The College has a particularly notable School of Education, but its accreditation is on probationary status because the facilities are so poor,” Hopkins said.
p. The College’s need to offer competitive salaries to professors was another key lobbying point. The students maintained that because the College employs a highly-skilled faculty, it must provide its members an economic incentive not to seek higher salaries at private institutions. Lastly, students discussed the importance of the Gateway Program, which gives scholarships to students unable to afford education.
p. Road to Richmond allows students the unique opportunity to interact with legislators and represent the College’s interests.
“Most students will not be receiving the benefits of any potential budgetary changes. They all come to protect the College that they love and provide for future generations of William and Mary students,” Hopkins said.
p. SA Sen. Ryan Eickel ’10 described the experience as evidence of students’ desire to help the College.
p. “It was great to speak directly to those that hold the power to affect change and offer us the resources that we need to succeed,” Eickel said.
p. SA President Zach Pilchen ’09 led a group of students to meet with legislators, including Delegate David Bulova ’91. Conversation not only covered issues of funding, but also environmental issues facing Virginia and the Chesapeake Bay.
p. “He reminded me that William and Mary’s impact is so much more expansive than a few acres in downtown Williamsburg,” Pilchen said.