VA21 chapter leaders meet for the first time of the year
Yesterday, the VA21 SLC (Student Leadership Committee) met for the first monthly meeting of the new year. On the agenda: 1. chapter recruitment, 2. issue discussions about student debt, college funding, financial aid shortfalls, youth employment challenges, career center effectiveness, and 3. planning for our annual activities.
Our ED, Tom Kramer, kicked off the meeting with a short history of VA21′s accomplishments and how excited we all should be that last year was our best. We involved over 10,000 people in a campaign to raise awareness of college debt and to support more funding for colleges after a 10-year period of drastic funding reductions. We were the student voice in a broad coalition calling for an end to those cuts, and we were amazingly successful scoring $230 million of new funding leading to the lowest tuition increases in a decade.
This was also the first meeting with Austin Mill, our new VA21 Deputy Director. Austin talked about how our different chapters are organized and invited Keenan Kelly from W&M, Jerrry Solomon from VCU, and Amanda Harwood from NVCC to talk about what strategies have made their chapters successful. Bottom line — our chapters are all very different. Some are organizing through SGA’s and some are independent clubs. Austin’s advice was that VA21 works best when we keep it local. To make sure our voice is heard in Richmond, the key is to get even more people involved.
Our discussion then turned to the issues. One of the largest VA21 initiatives this year will be to conduct a statewide student survey to determine what students thing about a variety of issues on campus and in Richmond. Many of our representatives talked about the need for more robust career centers to help students determine how their education will help them compete in the workforce, more financial literacy education to make sure students know how to take care of their loans when they graduate, and ultimately targeted funding from the state to prevent more folks from getting deeper into debt. VA21 is going to launch the survey this month at all of our chapters to gauge student opinions on these issues and many more.
Keeping it real — after the meeting, we all attended a brunch reception w/ VA21′s board of directors and some of our past VA21 alums. Check out pictures from the day on our Flickr album.