UT Students Call on Legislature to Invest In Texas
By Michael Morton
More than 80 University of Texas at Austin students descended upon the State Capitol on Tuesday, April 2 for the Invest in Texas Legislative Day. Students dressed in "Invest in Texas" T-shirts walked from UT Austin's Student Activity Center to the Capitol's North Steps to hold a press conference advocating to keep the university competitive, safe, represented, and affordable.
The press conference featured speeches from student leaders as well as Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), member of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, and Representative Dan Branch (R-Dallas), Chair of the House Higher Education Committee. Both legislators spoke about the importance of higher education and how UT Austin benefits the state of Texas.
Following the press conference, the Invest in Texas campaign was honored in the House of Representatives by Representative Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) who authored HR 1215 recognizing April 2 as Invest in Texas Day at the State Capitol.
Immediately after the reading of the resolution, students spent the afternoon meeting with legislator offices in small groups to discuss the campaign's legislative platform and why higher education is important to the state.
The Legislative Day was part of the student-run, non-partisan Invest in Texas campaign coordinated by UT Austin's Senate of College Councils, Student Government, and the Graduate Student Assembly, along with more than 30 other UT student organizations. Started in 2011, the campaign is designed to advocate for students during each legislative session and focuses on key student issues such as increased state appropriations and financial aid funding, providing plus-one insurance benefits to university employees, allowing UT Austin to determine its campus gun policy, and granting the UT System Student Regent a vote on the Board of Regents. Each legislative session, members of the campaign draft a legislative platform and campaign representatives meet with legislators and testify at house and senate committee hearings.
This year, Invest in Texas also organized the inaugural Flagship Legislative Day with Texas A&M University, the University of Houston, Texas Tech University, and Texas State University in order to underscore the importance of higher education.