The new Chancellor of the University of Texas System, Distinguished Alumnus and Osama-Obliterator Admiral Bill McRaven, hasn’t wasted any time in making sure his opinion is known about issues at the Legislature that can impact UT’s campuses across the state.
First, he came out strongly against the Campus Carry bill that would legalize carrying guns in campus buildings in a letter sent to Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker of the House Joe Straus.
In his letter, he wrote in part, “I feel the presence of concealed weapons will make campus a less-safe environment.”
Now, Admiral McRaven has taken another strong stance: he supports continuing to grant in-state tuition to undocumented Texans.
“I think it is the morally right thing to do,” McRaven stated during an interview with Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith.
This stance puts the leader of the state’s flagship public university system directly at odds with the two Republican leaders of the state, Abbott and Patrick, who both want to abolish the in-state tuition measure for undocumented students.
It may be hard to believe now, but Texas was the first state that allowed undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public universities if they met residency requirements. Rick Perry signed the measure in 2001 and was resoundingly attacked for it in the 2012 Republican presidential primary.
In a signal of how far to the right the modern-day Texas Republican Party has moved on this issue, Patrick actually campaigned on repealing the measure and seemingly aims to alienate Hispanics every time he opens his mouth.
The Texas DREAM Act has broad, bipartisan support because it supports a culture of attending college and enables our state to produce the educated workforce we need to keep our economy strong. Even the Texas Association of Business supports the measure.
McRaven is no pushover, and Republicans should think twice about how they react to the four-star admiral who led the successful raid to kill Osama bin Laden. He is also a former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and I wager that he knows a tiny bit more about public safety, guns, and even terrorism than Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
Notably, McRaven hasn’t waited until the end of the session to make his opinion known about these bills. He’s speaking up early, which may be critical in slowing the legislative progress of these measures if not peeling off votes sufficient to stop them in their tracks.
It remains to be seen if the moderate members of the Legislature and Governor Greg Abbott — himself a UT alumnus — will listen to the distinguished veteran and former Longhorn, or the far-right conservative fringe that dominates Republican primaries and runoffs.