Students, alumni attend second Longhorns on the Hill in Washington D.C.

Paul Cobler

A delegation of UT alumni, University officials, students and former UT quarterback Vince Young traveled to Washington, D.C. Wednesday for Longhorns on the Hill.

The second annual event, organized by Texas Exes, is a lobbying effort to increase federal support for UT Austin, said Daniel Becka, vice president for Constituent Relations for Texas Exes.

“We want to elevate the visibility of the University,” Becka said. “We want to make sure that people here in D.C. are seeing the University, seeing burnt orange in the halls of the Capitol, in the halls of congressional buildings."

The day included a congressional breakfast in which over 100 alumni gathered with members of Congress, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). 

UT president Greg Fenves and Student Government president Kevin Helgren both spoke at the event, remarking on the University’s need for research funding, the rising cost of college tuition and sexual assault prevention on campus.

“It’s imperative that the student voice is heard at the federal level,” said Helgren, a psychology and neuroscience senior. “Things like research funding, sexual assault and financial aid all impact the student experience; as the ones being directly affected by the aforementioned issues, our perspective must be taken into consideration.”

After the breakfast, a delegation made up of about 40 alumni, University representatives and students traveled to 30 different congressional offices, mostly within the Texas delegation, to speak to members of Congress on the importance of public higher education in Texas, Becka said.

“I think one of the most unique things about this day is the alumni that were there and were participating are volunteers,” Becka said. “A number of them traveled up from Texas, and I think it demonstrates the passion they have for public higher-ed in Texas, specifically for the University of Texas at Austin.”

Communications studies freshman Rola Elkhatib said alumni taking a strong role in the progress of the University is beneficial for current students.

“For ex-students to care so much about the education I’m receiving as a student now means a lot,” Elkhatib said. “I feel really strongly about awareness of sexual assault on college campuses, and it’s definitely something the federal government needs to do more about. I’m happy they’re going up there to tell them what’s important for students.”

Last year, Texas Exes used Longhorns on the Hill to begin their federal advocacy program for UT. Becka said Texas Exes plans to keep Longhorns on the Hill an annual event for the foreseeable future in order to continue growing UT’s national presence.

“It’s such a great opportunity for alumni to support the University by spending a day walking around Capitol Hill, going to congressional offices and talking about the value that the University of Texas brings to not only the state, but also the nation and ultimately the world by providing a wonderful place for students to learn,” Becka said.