Criminal justice reform, voter suppression, women's reproductive rights and police reform were a few issues college students questioned a Democrat gubernatorial candidate about during his visit to Hampton University Friday.
Former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello led a question and answer session with about 50 students from Hampton University and Thomas Nelson Community College in a lecture hall at the Scripps Howard School of Journalism on HU's campus.
One student asked what Perriello would do to protect women's reproductive rights in the face of a General Assembly that has repeatedly worked to defund Virginia branches of reproductive health provider, Planned Parenthood.
Perriello said the state could look to Maryland, which recently passed legislation protecting Planned Parenthood funding. On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed legislation allowing states to strip the organization, which performs cancer screenings and abortions not funded with federal dollars, from Planned Parenthood.
"We also want to take strides to make sure access to women's care is protected, as well as keep costs down," Perriello said.
A student from Thomas Nelson had recently been in the Middle East and learned more about Syrian refugees there. He asked the gubernatorial candidate what he thought about bringing refugees to Virginia.
Perriello said he hopes to see Virginia welcome more Syrian refugees, who are fleeing from a seven-year conflict between their government and rebel forces hijacked by Islamic extremists. More than 11 million Syrians have been displaced by a conflict that has killed more than 470,000 people.
Perriello is touring some of Virginia's colleges and universities this week, and will be at the College of William and Mary Friday afternoon.
Canty can be reached by phone at 757-247-4832.