VCU students lobby bills on the Hill

Kayla Wamsley and Alyx Duckett

Capital News Service

Despite the rain, a small group of VCU students gathered at the Capitol Wednesday to lobby bills at Rams Day on the Hill.

Rams Day on the Hill is a Student Government Association program, which allows students to meet with legislators and lobby for bills they believe affect VCU students directly.

Matt Harris, Political Affairs Aide of the SGA, expressed his opinion why student involvement is important at the event.

“We live in a Democratic society, and if students don’t get involved, higher education, VCU in particular, is going to get ignored,” Harris said. “If we want to have the changes that we all obviously want we’re going to have to go and talk to our representatives.”

Bills being lobbied included:

  • HB 2510/SB 1459, the Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011, which puts $50 million into new state funding for higher education.
  • SB 747, Nondiscrimination in State Employment, which extends protection to include sexual orientation, marital status, and those affected by medical conditions.
  • HB 1505, the Higher Educational Institutions Bond Act of 2011, which “provides necessary funding that allows VCU to build critically needed residence hall space.
  • HB 1435, American Sign Language, which provides that if a local school board offers a course in American Sign Language, it “must grant academic credit for…the completion of a foreign language.”

Ian Jordan, chairman of Legislative Issues and the Civic Action Committee of the SGA says he believes students care about their tuition and talking with their legislators about important issues.

“These are important things to students, these things affect students,” Jordan said.

Other student priorities during the General Assembly session include faculty and staff compensation, base adequacy funding, and the budget bill that contains a payment to VCU of $3.3 million in exchange for the transfer of the current VCU parking lot located on East Broad Street to the commonwealth.

Jazmin Tanner, a senator for the SGA is an out-of-state student who participated in lobbying. Although the Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act doesn’t affect her, she supports the idea of in-state students saving money on their tuition.

“I definitely support all the things my school is going for because anything that can save people money I think is fair,” Tanner said.

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