Roanoke College students got a chance to talk with U.S. Sen. Jim Webb this week when he stopped by campus for a fairly impromptu chat in the Colket Center.
Webb had been in the region to encourage both sides of a now four-week-old strike at the Volvo Trucks North America plant in Dublin, Va., to restart their contract talks. In the afternoon, he came by the Wortmann Ballroom and met with more than 100 students, faculty and staff, sharing his thoughts and urging the community to get involved.
Welcomed by College President Michael C. Maxey, the senator spent about an hour talking on several topics including a “GI Bill,” which was the first he introduced in Congress. Calling it “a no-brainer,” he said the government should provide more support for people in service, including increasing coverage of their college costs.
“I think that the greatest thing that you can do in expressing your thanks for people who stepped forward is to make sure that they have a true chance at a first-class future,” Webb said.
Webb also took questions from students that ranged from immigration and funding public school systems to the economy and income tax refunds. Afterward, Webb talked one-on-one and posed for pictures with several students who lingered.
Trista Wilkins, a senior from Wytheville, Va., described such access to a senator as “awesome.”
“He was on our level,” said the English major. “He wasn't intimidating, and I learned a lot…. It was a really good chance to further my understanding.”
President Maxey agreed and called it a “wonderful experience” for the students. “They asked him intelligent questions, and he gave them intelligent responses that enlightened their awareness of a lot of topics,” he said.