Students march to Capitol to push for higher education

Alexandra Dubinsky

Despite cloudy skies and light rain, 80 students marched from the Student Activity Center to the Capitol’s North Steps to keep UT competitive, safe and affordable. 

Coordinated by the Senate of College Councils, Student Government and the Graduate Assembly, the demonstration was a culminating event for the Invest in Texas campaign, a student-run, nonpartisan organization intended to champion for the student body during the 83rd Legislative Session.

A press conference followed the march in which state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, a member of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, and state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, the chair of the House Higher Education Committee, praised students for their involvement and stressed the importance of investing in higher education. According to Invest In Texas, for every $1 the state invests in UT, $18 is generated for the Texas economy.

“Funding has to be improved,” Zaffirini said. “The key to lower tuition is higher appropriations. It is wise, just and good to invest in Texas.”

In addition to affordability and improving levels of financial aid funding, speakers at the event discussed UT’s campus gun policy and admissions policy.

Student Government President Horacio Villarreal, who will be inaugurated Tuesday night, gave a short statement prior to entering the Capitol. 

“Because UT is such a large school it’s really important we mobilize students,” Villarreal said. “We’re only one mile from the Capitol and it’s crucial we make our presence.”

After the press conference, students witnessed the official proclamation of Invest in Texas Legislative Day and visited various government officials to lobby for student concerns.

Melissa Dunn, supply chain management senior and curriculum committee member, said the event was a small way to make a difference.

“These are all things I really care about,” Dunn said. “I’m passionate about education policy, and I’m going to be participating in Teach for America. So, Invest in Texas fits right in there.”

Business and history sophomore Miriam Petsch volunteered to help lead students to the Capitol as well as administer information packets.

“Education is my niche of politics that I dabble in,” Petsch said. “With prices soaring all over campus and not enough grants being distributed, the issue needs to be addressed. If we don’t make UT affordable, we threaten its diversity.“