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ODU Political Science Major Chairs Statewide Student-led Group Virginia21

The politically active university students who comprise Virginia21 - a student-led lobby group that encourages state legislators to support higher education in Virginia - will be led by an Old Dominion University student this academic year.

Waylin Ross, a senior political science major, has been selected as student chairman of Virginia21 by a body of students representing each individual community college and public, four-year institution in the state.

"It's a great honor, and an important time for us in higher education," said Ross, who is from Petersburg, Va.

As chairman, Ross will oversee all the regional coordinators for Virginia21, who oversee the chapters at each of the state schools. In addition, he will act as student spokesperson on behalf of Virginia21 to legislative offices, state Senate and House meetings, and the media.

A passionate interest in politics draws students to Virginia21, and their views and perspectives cross the political spectrum. There are liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, and everything in between. Ross said the organization is meant to be that way.

"It's truly nonpartisan," he said. "Virginia21 brings together Democrats, Republicans, independents and non-voters, all working together for the general goal of being the voice of a young generation."

Ross said he was selected as chairman because of his track record of working with students from all schools, regardless of their individual politics. "We all have the same common goal - supporting higher education in Virginia."

Virginia21 is a political education group that gets young people across the commonwealth involved in the political process by providing information, spotlighting policy, and promoting active citizenship and voter registration with a nonpartisan agenda. It was the first statewide students-lobbying-for-higher-education group created in the country.

Virginia21, which has been called the "AARP of the next generation," focuses its attention beyond the next election cycle, on policies that matter to building a better future for Virginia. Ross said it couldn't be more important today for a group like Virginia21 to exist.

"When you ask students around Virginia what issues matter to them, it always comes down to funding: money for tuition, loans, cost of books, housing. It's always a question of how much money is available for higher education. Our job is to convince legislators that it is worth funding, and funding well."

This article was posted on: October 21, 2011

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