SG finishes last meeting supporting gun control

Audrey White

In its last meeting of the semester, the Student Government assembly passed a resolution in support of in-state tuition for undocumented Texas residents — reflecting agreement with an existing law that allows undocumented immigrant students, and those in the U.S. under other types of visas who attend Texas high schools, to gain in-state tuition at Texas public universities.

The assembly also passed resolutions to support a gun-control amicus brief, to honor a former UT administrator in the naming of the new Student Activity Center and to set its own February election dates.

Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Houston, filed a bill in November that would counter the existing tuition law. The resolution gives representatives the authority to lobby against Riddle’s bill.

Two undocumented students from the University Leadership Initiative came and spoke in support of the legislation, noting that they were able to attend UT because of the bill. According to the office of admissions, 376 students attended UT under benefit of the bill in the 2009-2010 school year.
“Texas is a pioneering state in accessibility to higher education for immigrant students,” said civil engineering senior Loren Campos, president of the University Leadership Initiative. “I encourage you to vote in favor of this resolution because [the bill] affects a lot of students here at Texas.”

The assembly voted to sign onto an amicus brief from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence for the two court cases. The brief provides information to judicial officials regarding two court cases ­— one in Texas that would lower the age for a concealed handgun license to 18, and a national case that would lower the handgun purchasing age to 18.

Texas State University’s Associated Student Government voted Tuesday to support efforts to repeal a ban on concealed carry of firearms on state
college campuses.

The UT assembly has previously voted in favor of maintaining the concealed carry ban on college campuses. Graduate student representative John Woods expressed concern that if those under 18 are able to purchase and conceal handguns, it would seriously increase the number of students eligible to carry in Texas. A bill will come before the Texas House in the spring that would repeal the concealed carry ban, so Woods said it is important to pay special attention to the two court cases.

“These cases are going to have a huge effect on who is carrying,” Woods said. “Even the pro-concealed carry people are confused because a lot of them like the licensing process and think that age requirement that we have is important. The NRA didn’t consult with the concealed carry people before filing this.”

SG entered into a 70-minute debate over a resolution that supports exploring the possibility of naming of the Student Activities Center after Margaret C. Berry, who is a UT alumna, former UT vice president of student affairs and has held several other positions within the University administration and faculty. It eventually passed unanimously.

“SG is the only place in the world where voting to possibly honor a great member of your community is more controversial than illegal immigration,” said University-wide representative Jeremy Yager, who authored the tuition resolution.

The assembly has considered 28 resolutions and 16 bills — internal rules-related legislation — since taking office in April. SG President Scott Parks said he is glad the organization has produced so much legislation, especially resolutions focused on particular lobbying issues that they will advocate for before the Legislature in the spring.

“They’ve done a good job preparing us for the legislature and established opinions on major issues,” Parks said. “Next semester, big state legislative issues will take center stage. We’ll have to be very active making sure we have resolutions ready to deal with unexpected issues that might affect students.”