More than 100 students from the University of Texas marched to the state capitol in hopes of pushing legislation emphasizing higher education on April 2.
“Invest in Texas” is a campaign comprised of more than 30 student organizations including the UT Student Government, the Senate of College Councils and the Graduate Student Assembly.
“It’s really important for students to get out there, especially at the capitol, and talk about why it’s important that they [the legislators] fund higher education,” President of the Student of College Councils, Michael Morton said. “They really like hearing from the students as opposed to just administrators because we provide a different point of view.”
When students at Sam Houston State were asked if they would be willing to do what the students of UT did last week, they agreedùif only the capitol were closer.
“I definitely think we should start an alliance like ‘Invest in Texas’ here at SHSU,” freshman Ileana Bola?os said. “We are misrepresented a lot of the time and rather than legislators just assuming what we need, we could tell them directly.”
Bola?os said that if more campuses came together like UT the effects could be far-reaching.
“We could let our voices be heard, not just in our specific campus, city or state, but maybe even throughout the country,” she said. “What UT is doing is very admirable and more campuses, including ours, should form groups like this.”
No matter what campus a student may belong to, every student has a voice which freshman Matt Minner, member of the Student Government and Senate of College Council said, should be used to its full potential.
“I think it is crucial for many students to participate in stuff like this,” Minner said. “The government is here to serve us. However, if we don’t speak up, they don’t know what we want from them. The more students participate, even if it is just writing letters to your representative, the more they will have to listen to what we have to say.”
The campaign was established during the legislative session of 2011 and is designed to help the students and faculty of UT by getting their voices heard. Morton said a total of about 200 students are involved in “Invest in Texas” this year, although, just a little over half of them actually marched last week.
“It’s not just a one day event; we work year-round, beginning each summer, to lay the groundwork for our platform and work months in advance to plan the actual march day,” he said. “It’s really cool to see so many different people from all parts of campus come together for one cause that affects us all.”
This year’s platform had four major points including: adequate funding and increased financial aid, allowing UT to determine its admission policy, proper representation of students in the Board of Regents, and lastly, each campus in Texas to be able to determine its own concealed carry policy.
Put more eloquently, the platform was: “Keep Us Affordable, Keep Us Competitive, Keep Us Safe, and Keep Us Represented.”
“We definitely made a difference and an impact,” Morton said. “Right now, only 13 percent of our total funding is covered by state appropriations. Of course, we won’t know the entire affect we had on legislation until later on, but I think funding will definitely get increased.”
Freshman Matt Minner who marched last week, is a member of the Undergraduate Business Council which also means, he is a member of both the Student Government as well as the Senate of College Councils.
“I personally marched because I saw it as a way to directly improve my school,” Minner said. “I got the chance to represent UT and really make a statement that the issues we were bringing up were important and that we were not going to sit back without our voices being heard.”
Not only did the students march to the capitol, but they also were able to present their platform to the legislators.
“I’d say the coolest part was going into the offices of various senators and representatives and just being in the capitol in general,” Minner said. “I definitely think we made a difference. We got our platform in front of so many representatives. We definitely made our presence known. They saw that the issues that we were bringing up have to be addressed.”