May 7, 2019
Partners Spotlights Lack of Student Voice - State Transparency Board Agrees

During a meeting of Virginia's Freedom of Information Act Advisory Council yesterday, Partners' State Advocacy Manager, Stacie Gordon, urged Council members to support requiring the Boards of Visitors of Virginia's public colleges and universities to listen to the voices of the affected public, including students and parents, by holding public comment periods.  

As the Council considered legislation pertaining to public comment requirements for public bodies with an exemption clause for governing boards of our state colleges and universities, Gordon's testimony shifted the discussion, highlighting a startling lack of public accountability and transparency within the tuition rate-setting at Virginia's largest enterprises.

“You guys highlighted a really big problem,” said state Sen. Richard Stuart, R-Montross and chairman of the FOIA advisory council.  “I had no idea they didn’t allow people to speak when they’re really affecting people’s futures.”

After deliberation, the Council voted unanimously to approve a motion by Delegate Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, to adopt holding public comment periods prior to board decisions regarding tuition and fee rates as a best practice and include it in training.

The Council's decision was featured in The Virginia Mercury today.

“Currently, college governing boards have to issue public notice that a meeting will be held, allow people to attend the meetings and post a price range of potential tuition changes 30 days before a vote on the topic takes place.
“The boards don’t have to allow public comment.
“Last spring, the issue of governing boards operating without public input came to a head at Virginia Commonwealth University, said Stacie Gordon, the state advocacy manager at Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust.
“The national organization works on the issue of college affordability and created a petition for VCU students to sign in opposition of what ended up being the largest tuition hike among Virginia’s schools.”

Read the full article here!