The group also discussed the $8.8 billion budget surplus.
By Ingrid Wilgen
Seven members from Student Government Association participated at Community College Day Feb.
2 at the Capitol of Texas in Austin, bringing attention to issues about concealed handgun carry on campus and using the state budgetary surplus for education.
Approximately 1,500 students from community colleges across the state climbed the Capitol steps to speak with legislators and their staff after an energizing rally.
“Don’t let anyone sell you or your community college short,” Republican state Rep. Dennis Bonnen said, followed by thunderous applause from students.
SGA met with Patrick Lopez, higher education coordinator for Democratic Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, to discuss putting the state’s $8.8 billion budget surplus toward education.
“The budget surplus should go to higher education because it took such a hit,” Jacob Wong, psychology sophomore and SGA president, said.
Lopez said Sen. Van de Putte “is into restoring as much of these cuts as possible.”
Wong said the number of adjuncts has increased and tenured positions have decreased at this college because of budget cuts.
Linda Boyer-Owens, associate vice chancellor of human resources, said 52.6 percent of faculty districtwide are full-time faculty.
She said this campus has the highest percentage of full-time faculty with 57.6 percent.
Dr. David Wood, director of institutional research, said there are 322 full-time faculty and 486 part-time faculty members at this college.
Wood said adjuncts are not always teaching because some teach flex courses, open learning courses or do not teach every semester. Boyer-Owens said for the last two years, the district has granted tenure to recommended candidates.
In other news, SGA voiced its opposition to handguns on campus to Fritz Reinig, chief of staff for Republican Rep. Doug Miller.
SGA members agreed they support handgun ownership but not concealed carry on campus.
Wong said campus police ensure student safety; concealed carry holders would interfere with their duties.
“Not everyone is a crack shot under pressure. I want to ensure that their rights don’t extend 200 yards into my rights when they are trying to hit a target,” he said.
Reinig said Miller was supportive of concealed carry on campus as were the majority of his constituents.
He noted that Miller does not have college campuses in his district with the exception of the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg at 2818 E. U.S. Highway 290.
While SGA was voicing their opposition, HB 972, a bill endorsing concealed carry on campus, coauthored by Miller and 14 other representatives, was being filed in the House.
Feb. 5, this college district’s Legal Affairs Committee voted 2-1 to pass a resolution to oppose concealed weapons on district campuses.
During the trip, SGA met with Bonnie Bruce, chief of staff for Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell.
Bruce said the Texas Association of Community Colleges and this college have expressed the need for a common course numbering structure.
This would make transferring courses from a four-year college to a two-year college easier when doing a reverse transfer.
Bruce said she has heard individual stories about the problem of transferring courses and students having to take courses over.
A reverse transfer would benefit those who, for whatever reason, could not finish their bachelor’s degree but at least could obtain an associate degree, she said.
Bruce and Wong agreed that reverse transfer was integral to students finishing their academic degrees.
When Wong brought up the state budget surplus being used for education, Bruce said, “We have bills we didn’t pay last session, so that surplus goes away quite quickly.”
Alamo Colleges had other student representation as well. About 30 students and six faculty members from the Alamo Colleges Student Leadership Institute also met with legislators.
David Alfaro, coordinator of student services, said the group talked to Martin Golando, chief of staff for Democratic Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer about HB 22, which would require undergraduate students to perform 20 hours of public service to graduate and HB 28 that would allow some public junior colleges to offer baccalaureate degree programs.
Students from St. Philip’s College representing Future United Latino Leaders for Change, SGA, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Soccer Club spoke to representatives about HB 81, a bill that would allow veterans to transfer unused educational benefits to their progeny among other issues.