Leadership Initiative group determined to stop Texas Aggie Conservatives

Kayla Jonsson

UT and Texas A&M have long been rivals on the athletic field, and now a group of UT students have established a political rivalry as well.

Members of the University Leadership Initiative, a UT student group, are condemning a petition that seeks to limit funding for undocumented students circulated by the A&M student organization, the Texas Aggie Conservatives.

Students with undocumented Texas residency receive funding under a current law once the student proves he or she has graduated from a Texas high school, maintained state residency for at least three years and pledged to change their legal status once eligible to do so.

The petition proposed by the Texas Aggie Conservatives aims to prevent undocumented students from receiving funding for higher education, said ULI member and anthropology and international relations junior Ainee Athar.

“During the last state legislative session, ULI spent months combating dozens of bills that would deny undocumented students equal access to a higher education,” Athar said. “We did this because thousands of young people, who are not responsible for the circumstances of their migration, get into college on their own merit and deserve the same accommodations as any other student.”

The petition to destroy the bill has received more than 300 signatures as of Wednesday morning, Aggie Conservatives chairman Steven Schroeder said. The students’ goal is 1,000 signatures by the end of the week, he said. Schroeder said Texas taxpayers should not be forced to set aside money for undocumented adults who cannot work in this country legally.

“This is not about who goes to college,” Schroeder said. “This is simply about who pays the bill. [Supporters of the bill] believe illegal immigrants are entitled to reduced tuition, which is ridiculous. It is not mean spirited to say that adults breaking the law should not be rewarded with a free ride or reduced tuition.”

International students and American citizens pay $15,000 more each year than the undocumented students who attend A&M, he said.

Athar said she is an undocumented student, and if it was not for the bill, it would be a lot tougher to get funding for her education. There are 15,000 undocumented students in Texas that are in college because of the funding provided through this bill, she said.

“The Aggie Conservatives want to leave thousands of people in a lurch for the sake of an ill-thought out publicity stunt, the premise of which is not even supported by Rick Perry,” Athar said.

Biology and art sophomore Lauren Ross said she supports the efforts made by ULI to save the bill and protect the funding for undocumented students.

“I think everyone deserves a good education,” Ross said.