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Mace & Crown | April 22, 2018

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Responsibly Engaging in Politics

SGA lobby’s General Assembly for increased university funding

Old Dominion University sounded its voice at the 2013 General Assembly when the Student Government Association sponsored a trip to Richmond to lobby for increased university funding.

SGA and other student-leader volunteers arrived in the capital early Wednesday, Jan. 23, to meet with delegates of the Tidewater districts to make their plea. SGA President Mariam Abdelhamid said the effort was “extremely successful.”

“I believe our message was clear,” Abdelhamid said. “We are producing great students but…we could be doing so many more great things if we were on par with our fellow state institutions.”

The request for increased funding, namely in the sum of $15 million, was based largely on ODU’s graduation rate. Fifty-three percent of students graduating from ODU do so in six years.  Many attribute this to the widening student-teacher ratio.

“Many legislators know that we are one of the most underfunded state institutions that also have one of the largest percentages of in-state students among the many Virginia colleges and universities, but it was great for them to hear from real students what implications that lack of funding actually meant to our students,” Abdelhamid said.

Eighty-eight percent of ODU’s fall 2012 enrollment was comprised of in-state students, which is 10 points higher than the state-wide average.  That same semester, 30 percent of enrollees qualified for Pell grants.  Incidentally, ODU ranks 11 percent lower than the institution with the lowest amount of funding needed and received.

The requested additional funding would be used to hire approximately 200 faculty members, with an emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Currently, there is one instructor for every 21 students at ODU.  Other public universities average a ratio of one instructor per 17 students.

Although the General Assembly allocated an additional $5.3 million to ODU in 2011 and 2012, rising tuition costs, something ODU strives to keep as minimal as possible, ODU is a rapidly growing institution with growing needs. To help ensure these needs are considered, SGA stresses the importance of their new mantra, “Responsibly Engaging in Politics.”

SGA’s Director of Legislative and Diversity Affairs, Taniesha Simmons, said, “It was truly a joy to watch everyone take matters into their own hands and advocate for their education and future.”

“Engaging in politics is key to seeing change and making sure one’s voice is heard,” Joshua Darr, program assistant for student engagement and enrollment services, said.

By: Derek Page

News Editor