The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill Feb. 26 that will increase higher education investments. It will restore 94 percent of cuts made to Virginia’s higher education system. According to Virginia21, a nonprofit and non-partisan organization aimed at educating young leaders, these restored cuts will go toward new buildings projects at Virginia colleges, raises for college faculty, financial aid for students and other projects. The restoration of these cuts was due in part to a reevaluation of the commonwealth’s revenue and the Save Our Slice Campaign by Virginia21.
Executive Director of Virginia21, Tom Kramer, released a statement of congratulations to the General Assembly.
“We applaud the work of the General Assembly this session to prioritize higher education in the budget,” Kramer said. “They reversed deep cuts and prioritized keeping our colleges accessible, high-quality and affordable. Students organized a strong grassroots campaign calling for our leaders to focus on the real challenges of young Virginians, and we are glad they did.”
Virginia21’s Save Our Slice Campaign began as a response to Governor McAuliffe’s (D) proposal to cut over $100 million from higher education to bridge a $2.4 billion revenue gap. As part of the campaign, student body presidents of 13 Virginia colleges addressed a video to Governor McAuliffe, imploring him not to make further cuts to higher education. Student Assembly President Colin Danly ’15 was featured in the video.
“[The Save Our Slice Campaign] definitely helped [to restore higher education funds], giving a message to the governor and legislators that college students aren’t an amorphous body that didn’t have people representing them [and] that there were students who care and this issue and want to speak about it,” Danly said.
The College’s chapter of Virginia21, led by Jakob Stalnaker ‘16, further aided the Save Our Slice Campaign. Stalnaker helped create the video and called state legislators on behalf of restoring higher education funding.
“Unfortunately, higher education funding has been falling for many years,” Stalnaker said. “It’s important to let our legislators know that we need to preserve Virginia’s top tier higher education system because Virginia needs a well-trained and well-educated work force to help Virginia’s economy in the future.”
Virginia21 continues to lobby in order to make school more affordable and increase college students’ interest and knowledge of the local political system.