Job access and higher education funding were high priorities for Virginia college students as they lobbied the general assembly in Richmond Thursday.
The effort was a part of Virginia21’s annual lobbying day, when students from all over the commonwealth gather and learn how to reach out to state legislators and have a conversation on higher education.
A group of approximately 100 students gathered to talk to legislators and encourage more funding for state higher education.
The current budget proposed by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell does not include any cuts for higher education.
McDonnell has called for 100,000 higher education degrees in Virginia, which would come from STEM areas: science, technology, engineering and math.
“The more educated the workforce in Virginia means better companies, better jobs and a way to keep Virginia students here,” said Bo Hart, Virginia Tech’s SGA president.
Virginia21 works with the state’s public colleges. Tom Kramer, executive director of Virginia 21, praised Tech’s student governance for its participation.
“At Virginia Tech, you have an incredible student government association,” Kramer said. “We work really closely with them and were really happy with how the relationship has evolved.”
Members of the government affairs branch of Tech’s SGA travel to Richmond each month to meet with members of
“They have lots of the same goals for higher education,” said Katie Collins, director of government affairs for Tech’s SGA.
On Thursday, the students broke into groups and traveled to talk to different members of Virginia’s Senate and House of Delegates. With many of the legislators busy, some of the students talked to legislative aides.
Tech sent four people to Richmond last Thursday. Natalie Cruise and Tyler Arthur were two freshmen among the group.
“The legislative aides loved hearing stories from the students’ perspectives. It is hard to know what is going on on campus just from a list of statistics,” Cruise said. “We got lots of support. Legislative aides were very supportive and you could tell they were listening.”
In the past, Virginia21 has been a major lobbying organization on higher education legislation, acting in favor of legislation such as the Textbook Market Fairness and Reform Acts of 2004 and 2005, which required professors to post their required books for classes before the first day of class so students had the opportunity to shop for cheaper textbooks.