Story by Carizma Barrera and Era Sundar
Issues of campus safety and the cost of higher education united an estimated 1,500 community college students from all over Texas Feb. 5 during Community College Day at the State Capitol.
President of the Texas Junior College Student Government Association, Ashley Scholten, said the decision of whether to allow concealed handguns on campus should be decided by individual college districts.
“Texas is a very vast and diverse state,” Scholten said. “What might work for campuses in Houston or Dallas may not be feasible for campuses in Amarillo or Hillsboro.”
That diversity is reflected right here in Austin.
Rio Grande Campus Senator Jimmy R. Gowan III said he is for concealed handgun carry on campus in light of the recent shootings in schools and other public spaces across the nation.
On the other hand, Dorothy Browne, Rep. Elliott Naishtat’s chief of staff, said the idea of armed students, faculty and staff is not popular with many teachers and school administrators.
The topic of funding for schools, however, seemed to foster a more united front. Browne wasn’t sure when funding for community colleges would increase, but said she was certain that there would be no more budget cuts on education – a position Gowan could appreciate.
“These textbooks are getting ridiculous,” Gowan said.
Lawmakers have addressed the cost of textbooks in bills before both the House and the Senate. House Bill 603 by Rep. Jose Lozano exempts the purchase of certain required textbooks from being taxed.
Senate Bill 46, sponsored by Sen. Judith Zaffirini is similar, but it restricts the time during which textbooks would be exempt. For example, textbook purchases for the fall semester would be exempt in August and spring semester purchases would be exempt in January.
Because community colleges offer staggered sessions of varying lengths, HB 603 would be more beneficial to community college students — especially those who take classes in the summer.
To hear audio from the event click here.