The Texas Students Association (TSA) represents over a half million students throughout the state. Student Government leaders in all Texas public universities make up this group which is working to express what the students want within the government.
“We are looking to re-establish the student voice as that of a strong voice. TSA has the opportunity to get students in the state working towards achieving a common goal,” University of Houston SGA President Sam Dike said. “We have the potential to do big things and be a very important force for change in the future.
TSA, created in 1948, held its first meeting in recent years since it disbanded in the ’90s in the state capitol in July. They spent a lot of time discussing what the goals will be and why it is such an important organizations.
“During the last legislative session, many student issues came up and it became clear that different universities attempting to correct these issues would be much less successful than presenting a united front,” Stephen F. Austin State University SGA President Kent Willis said. “If all 16 public universities in the state work together we have the opportunity to have our opinions heard on a state level.”
TSA has interim officers for the time being, elected at the Sam Houston State University meeting. UH President Sam Dike is the elected president of TSA. SFA President Kent Willis is the vice president and UNT President Jeff Kline is the secretary of TSA.
“I am having an opportunity to work with tremendous leaders, they have so much potential to be future state leaders. They are so passionate about who they represent. Jeff, Kent, and I have such a great working relationship and we all represent such a diverse population of students from such different places,” Dike said. “It is a huge honor to be elected to this role”
The main issues that TSA is working on this year will be accountability, affordability, campus safety, improved funding for higher education, and student empowerment. Different schools have been appointed to create a platform on each topic based on their school’s experience, an overwhelming amount of research, and other school’s input.
“Sam Houston was appointed to the issue of campus safety on the basis that we have the top criminal justice program in the state. [SGA] chief of external affairs, Travis Miller, was looking out for the best interests of the students statewide and his passion impressed the other universities present,” Senator Marcelo Pendleton said.
University of Houston was assigned increase in funding for higher education. Stephen F. Austin State University was given affordability. University of Houston-Clear Lake was put in charge of student empowerment. University of North Texas chose accessibility.
“At the July 19 meeting in the State capitol there was a meeting there was an opportunity to be part of the executive planning committee,” Vice President of SGA, Chris Yancy, said. “University of Houston, who initiated the re-creation of TSA, asked for volunteers and I felt like this would be a wonderful opportunity for the Sam Houston State University Bearkats to be represented.”
There have been two meetings of the executive planning committee since the meeting this summer in Austin. Sam Houston hosted the first gathering in September, and SFA had a second meeting in early October. The entire TSA will be meeting at Texas A&M for a Texas Higher Education Summit on November 14-16.
“The summit is a huge gathering of student minds from all over the state. We are using this conference as an opportunity to determine an agenda to take to the legislator in the spring,” Dike said. “This is also an opportunity to meet with important members of the local and state government. Governor Rick Perry is supposed to be giving a speech to kick-off the summit.”