AUSTIN – The next step in saving the name of Sam Houston State University arrived yesterday morning when Representative Lois Kolkhurst presented House Bill 1418 to the Higher Education Committee.
Student Government Association President Christopher Whitaker joined with five other senators and several members from supporting organizations outside of SGA to support Kolkhurst and the bill.
President Whitaker expressed his anxiety about outside associations joining their force. “A large contingent reinforces that this student body cares about this issue,” he said. “[Everyone’s] presence represents a silent testimony.”
The reinforcements originally included a relative, Sam Houston IV, a member of the Alumni Association, Mike Sizemore and a representative from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas.
One member from each organization spoke on the consequences of the matter.
Sam Houston IV, who was absent from the committee meeting because of a doctor’s appointment, said, “Let the general stand on his own.”
The representative from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas reinforced the historical aspect, while Sizemore and Whitaker voiced the defense of current and past students at SHSU.
The name protection issue has been on the minds of students and alumni for more than half a year. The first hearing of the possible name change to Texas State University at Huntsville set off a spark in Whitaker’s head. He immediately informed the rest of the senate, articulated his position and called for cooperation to halt the motion.
The initial action of the organization was to inform the students and get mutual support. They passed around a paper petition entitled, “Save Sam Houston State University’s Name,” and confirmed as many as 5,000 signatures.
They sought another route of support for the petition through the alumni members. ” We were going to send an email to the active alumni members, but for some reason [the administration] wouldn’t let me have that database. So we created the online petition and let it circulate by word of mouth.” Chair of External Affairs Angela Varner said.
Another reaction taken by SGA included contacting several Texas Representatives.
Representative Kolkhurst shared opposition with the senate and authored the House Bill 1418 – legislation pertaining to the preservation of Sam Houston State University’s name.
If the bill passes through the Higher Education Committee, it will then go to the House Calendar Committee, which will set a date for the bill to be presented before the Texas House of Representatives. Clearance of the bill will await a majority vote, and then, if passed, the same process will occur for its presence on the Senate floor.
There was no testimony against the bill. The attendance of the senators and organizations yesterday was considered a proactive step to save Sam Houston State University.
Many students believe that Sam Houston is a legendary Texas hero and this university deserves to uphold the memory of what he did for Texans in the 1800’s and what he is still doing for thousands of people today.
The Sam Houston Student Government has fought for months to save recognition for the Texas hero, Sam Houston. They encourage the students, alumni, and residents of Huntsville to contact their representatives in regards to this bill.
Information on representatives on the committee can be found at http://www.house.state.tx.us/committee/290.htm.