June 14, 2019
Partners in GOVERNING: The Voices We’re Not Hearing in Public Higher Ed

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signs the public comment bill into law as supporters of the legislation look on, including Partners' president Dr. James Toscano (front-left) and NCLC's Andy McCracken (back-second to left).

In a joint op-ed in GOVERNING, Partners' president Dr. James Toscano and Andy MacCracken of the National Campus Leadership Council weigh-in on the importance of student voices when it comes to decision-making in higher education.

"At its core, the problem of not listening to the voices of those most affected before making decisions can leave well-meaning trustees tone-deaf and disconnected from the realities of students and a public they were appointed or elected to serve. This too often leads to decisions that ultimately exacerbate very real challenges facing today's students."

This year, Virginia became the 11th state to pass a statutory or regulatory requirement for public comment before voting on tuition rates. The public comment bill, introduced by State Senator Chap Petersen (D-34) and Delegate Jason Miyares (R-82), was passed with near-unanimous support thanks to a broad-based coalition of community leaders and organizations, including Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust, the National Campus Leadership Council, AARP-Virginia, the Virginia Parent Teacher Association, the Virginia Education Association, the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, and more!

"Governing boards must step up and invite increased transparency and discourse. To be sure, listening to opposing views can be disquieting. But what's worse and unacceptable is for those in power to think that students and others shouldn't be allowed or encouraged to speak up. With concerns over the management of public higher education mounting, it's too much to expect students and the public to hold their peace."

Read the full op-ed HERE!