Longhorns, get familiar with the 25th District

Brooks Johnson

When it comes to Ted Cruz, we organize and protest. But when we hear the name Roger Williams, we scratch our heads.

We focus on certain races that captivate our attention, disregarding other races that will more directly impact UT and its students. The race between Roger Williams and Julie Oliver to represent Texas’ 25th Congressional District must be treated with the same amount of urgency as the Beto-Cruz Senate race.

The Republican-dominated 25th district stretches from Fort Worth to San Marcos and eastward through Austin. It swallows conservative suburbs, rural pastures, farming communities and, most importantly, our campus. With a student body of roughly 52,000 — over 40 percent of whom are represented by Williams — this can create a feeling of electoral irrelevance among liberal students in such a lopsided district.

“Even though Democrats are the minority in this district, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make an effort to have our voices heard,” said undeclared freshman Celine Low while attending Beto O'Rourke's on-campus rally on Oct. 4. “Just because the Senate race is getting all of the publicity doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to the representative race.”

Williams holds positions that stand in stark contrast to the majority of opinions of students at UT, such as supporting the border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a travel ban from Muslim-majority countries, deregulation of greenhouse gas emissions and the deportation of DREAMers who are eligible for citizenship. However, few students even know his name.

When contacted for a response to this column, the Williams campaign declined to comment on his relationship with the UT students he represents.

Williams makes it clear on his website that he is “glad to see Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the nation’s highest court,” something many UT students disagree with — including the over 1,000 students who said they would attend the Stand with Survivors protest this past Tuesday.

“I wish that our representatives would hear out our concerns, even if they disagree with us,” undeclared freshman Devon Messinger said. “It’s frustrating when the people who represent you won’t even give you the time of day, and it’s worse when they only geographically represent you in order to swallow your vote.”

Oliver is running as Williams’ opposition in the fight for the 25th District. Her liberal positions on key issues align much closer with UT students than do Williams’. She knows that her fight to represent the UT student body in Congress will be an uphill battle due to the district’s conservative-leaning demographics.

“It’s imperative that students on campus educate themselves about this election and vote accordingly because elections like these have lasting consequences,” said a member of the Oliver campaign. “Even if some students may not support Ms. Oliver, as long as they become involved in the process, that’s what matters most.”

The 25th District election is one of many statewide races that often fail to grab our attention. If students are serious about civic engagement, all elections deserve our attention, regardless of their scope. When going to vote, make sure you know the candidates and positions that will be on the ballot.

Johnson is a journalism freshman from San Francisco, California.