state law

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

While the University often cites state law as a reason it cannot provide certain benefits to LGBTQ students and faculty, others say there are ways to circumvent these obstacles.

Mandatory diversity training, gender inclusive housing and same-sex insurance benefits are still not available on campus, much to the frustration of several organizations that have pushed LGBTQ legislation for years. Though LGBTQ-friendly legislation often garners significant student support, it is stopped one step short of implementation, at the UT System Board of Regents or at the Texas Legislature.

UT’s Queer Students Alliance successfully passed legislation through Student Government in support of gender-inclusive housing and same-sex insurance benefits in 2012, but SG resolutions do not have the power to enact change unless they are approved by the regents.

Currently, students are only allowed to live with peers of the same sex on campus, which can make students who identify as transgender uncomfortable, according to Marisa Kent, marketing sophomore and co-director of QSA. The Board of Regents have never approved any resolutions calling for gender-neutral housing, according to UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo. 

Hemlata Jhaveri, director of residence life for the Division of Housing and Food Services, said the division considered implementing a pilot program in Jester, but the floor plans in the residence halls made it impossible because residence halls have 35 to 55 students on one floor and usually have community bathrooms.

Jhaveri said universities that offer this housing do so through apartment style living because up to four students can live together with private bathrooms. 

The University has several apartments in its housing inventory, but none are located on campus. 

As efforts to change regent policy have stalled out, some UT faculty and staff have turned to the state legislature to lobby for LGBTQ-friendly legislation — also without much luck.

Pride and Equity Faculty Staff Association, a university resource group established in 2006 to promote the interests of LGBTQ faculty and staff, has advocated University domestic partner benefits at each legislative session since 2009. Invest in Texas, a lobbying group established by SG and the Senate of College Councils, also includes domestic partner benefits in its platform. 

State Rep. Elliott Naishtat, D-Austin, has introduced bills to allow Universities to offer domestic partner benefits for the last three legislative sessions and will push for the bill again in January. 

Naishtat said UT’s inability to offer domestic partner benefits means the University is less competitive when attracting and retaining top faculty and staff.

“This bill would help to ensure equity among married and nonmarried faculty and staff of the two systems and would demonstrate strongly that diversity is truly a value of the UT and Texas A&M systems,” Naishtat said. Shane Windmeyer, executive director and co-founder of the national nonprofit Campus Pride, said many universities are able to offer these benefits even when they are in states with constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage, similar to Texas’ Defense of Marriage Act. This includes Michigan State University, the University of Florida and Ohio State University.

“Much of the work that happens in conservative areas has to happen under the radar or in partnership with state legislatures,” Windmeyer said.

Karen Landolt, one of the founders of the UT Pride and Equity Faculty Staff Association, helped research peer institutions with domestic partner benefits and said she does not see a pattern between a university’s location and its ability to offer benefits.

“These are not liberal states where those benefits are happening,” Landolt said. “It’s just not happening at UT.”While this legislation for gender-inclusive housing and same-sex insurance benefits, QSA is currently writing student legislation that would require members of student organizations to go through mandatory diversity training, though this legislation would also require regent approval.

According to Kent, diversity training would educate students about the needs and experiences of different minority groups on campus, including students with disabilities and LGBTQ students.

Kent said she hopes the diversity training requirement will not encounter as much resistance on the path to approval as gender-neutral housing resolutions have experienced.

“I think that’s one of the most frustrating parts about this — we get the support of the student body, but once we send it to the Board of Regents, we see a lot of hesitation from them,” she said.

In a report released earlier this week, private legal counsel representing the UT System concluded there was “no credible evidence” that Regent Wallace Hall violated a state law regarding the protection of confidential information. 

Philip Hilder, outside counsel to the System, submitted a report outlining his conclusions to the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations on Monday. The committee is investigating Hall to determine whether Hall overstepped his duties as a regent and whether he should be recommended for impeachment. 

Hall has been accused of conducting a “witch-hunt” against President William Powers Jr. after he filed open-records requests with the University for more than 800,000 pages of information. 

At one committee hearing in November, UT System lawyers testified Hall was mistakenly given access to private student information — possibly in violation of federal privacy laws — which he subsequently shared with his private attorney. Francie Frederick, general counsel to the UT System Board of Regents, said regents are only allowed to view documents with information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act — known as FERPA — if the regents have a “legitimate educational purpose” for doing so.

At the same hearing, State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, requested a review and response from the UT System regarding the potential violation. Martinez Fischer also motioned to have Rusty Hardin, legal counsel to the committee, review Hall’s actions in sharing confidential documents and determine whether Hall committed a crime.

In his letter, Hilder said Hall requested all information protected by FERPA be redacted from the documents, but UT failed to completely remove all potentially problematic information when providing Hall with the requested documents. Hilder concluded Hall did not violate privacy acts because the University “never determined that Regent Hall did not have a legitimate educational interest” in viewing the information. 

“Regent Hall specifically asked that documents with potential FERPA information be withheld,” Hilder said. “However, when potential FERPA documents were provided by UT-Austin, in response to a regental information request, issues surrounding UT-Austin’s admissions process came to Regent Hall’s attention.”

Hilder said the role of a regent includes maintaining admissions standards consistent with the mission of institutions in the UT System, so, once Hall read the documents in question and identified potential issues with the admissions process, he would have an educational purpose. 

In the letter, Hilder said Hall did not violate FERPA when he disclosed the emails because UT did not intend to give Hall access to the information, and Hall did not intend to receive it, demonstrated by his request for all information protected by FERPA to be redacted. 

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston and co-chairwoman of the committee, said she is glad the System followed the committee’s request by submitting a report. 

“We appreciate them getting this to us in a timely manner, and I’m looking forward to reviewing the main report from our own general counsel [Hardin],” Alvarado said.

Members of the Texas House and Senate are seeking to tighten restrictions on American history classes that count towards fulfilling Texas public universities’ core requirements. 

Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake,  and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, filed two bills amending a 1955 state law that mandates six history credits be included in the University’s graduation requirements. The amendment would require the American history classes to be a “comprehensive survey.”

The two bills follow a report issued recently by the National Association of Scholars, a conservative group that describes itself as committed to fostering intellectual freedom. The January report criticized UT and A&M history classes for over-emphasizing issues of race, class and gender and said the schools “frequently offered students a less-than-comprehensive picture of U.S. history.” 

In an official response, UT criticized the report and called it “overly narrow” in nature. 

“The report attempts to isolate race, class and gender as something distinct and separate from other areas of study, when in fact they are intrinsic to these other areas,” a press release stated.

Illustration by Colin Zelinski.

The Obama administration released a 67-page brief Friday arguing that the federal Defense of Marriage Act “violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection. The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples.” 

Section 3 of DOMA, which is debated in the brief, “defines ‘marriage’ and ‘spouse’ for all purposes under federal law to exclude marriage between persons of the same sex, regardless of whether a marriage is recognized under state law.”

In the brief released by the Obama administration, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said “moral opposition to homosexuality, though it may reflect deeply held personal views, is not a legitimate policy objective that can justify unequal treatment of gay and lesbian people.” 

The brief made headlines the same week that a poll released by the Center for American Progress and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders suggested 59 percent of registered voters oppose section 3 of DOMA. The poll also found that 62 percent of American voters think DOMA discriminates.

In a separate poll, the Respect for Marriage Coalition – “a partnership of more than 80 civil rights, faith, health, labor, business, legal, LGBT, student and women’s organizations working together to end the DOMA and grow support for the freedom to marry,” according to the coalition’s website — released findings from the “first public opinion poll of 2013 on marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.” 

The results suggest “growing bipartisan majority of registered voters believe that the right for Americans to marry the person they love is both a Constitutional right and a freedom that all Americans — including gays and lesbians — should enjoy.”  The poll found 75 percent of American voters believe that marriage equality is a constitutional right, up 4 points since 2011. 

Regardless of the personal opinion's of the participants of the survey on the issue, the poll found 83 percent of Americans believe same-sex marriage “will be legal nationally in the next five to ten years” and 77 percent believe it will be legal in the next couple of years. This signifies a “significant increase since 2011 when 72 percent believed it would happen in the next five to 10 years, and 67 percent believed it would happen in the next couple of years.”

Voters on both sides of the issue do not believe that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry will have much of an impact on their personal lives. According to the Respect for Marriage Coalition poll, 62 percent believe legalizing same-sex marriage will either have not much impact or absolutely no impact at all, and the vast majority of these voters think it will have absolutely no impact on their lives.

Yet those who are denied legal marriage and its federal benefits are vastly impacted by DOMA. The Obama administration brief notes this can have a negative impact on children because “the denial of federal benefits otherwise accorded to married individuals undermines the efforts of same-sex couples to raise children, hindering rather than advancing any interest in promoting child welfare.”

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments next month on DOMA, the evolving attitudes regarding marriage equality in America suggest now more than ever, people across the board recognize that regardless of their own personal beliefs, discrimination based on sexual orientation is unconstitutional. 

Published on February 27, 2013 as "Marriage act deemed unconstitutional". 

Travis County Taxpayers Union treasurer and founder Don Zimmerman (right) speaks out against Proposition 1 in front of the Federal Courthouse Wednesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Yaguang Zhu | Daily Texan Staff

A U.S. district court is expected to rule soon in a lawsuit that could deprive UT of revenue that UT officials say it needs to fund a proposed medical school and teaching hospital in Austin.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel heard arguments Wednesday in a case that claims the ballot language of an initiative Travis County voters approved Nov. 6 violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protects against election laws that disenfranchise voters based on race. The ballot initiative, known as Proposition 1, would raise property taxes collected by Central Health, Travis County’s hospital district, contribute revenue toward operations at the teaching hospital and purchase medical services from medical school students and faculty for the general public.

The Travis County Taxpayers Union, a political action committee formed to oppose Proposition 1, and three other plaintiffs filed the suit in October. Their attorney, Stephen Casey, said Central Health violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act by including ballot language that advocated for the proposition. State law required Proposition 1 to provide the proposed tax rate, year of implementation and the rate increase, but Casey said additional language confused Michael Cargill and Mario Jordan, two plaintiffs who have low reading comprehension.

In addition to the required language, the proposition said Central Health will use increased revenue to fund “improved health care in Travis County, including support for a new medical school consistent with the mission of Central Health, a site for a new teaching hospital, trauma services, specialty medicine such as cancer care, community-wide health clinics, training for physicians, nurses and other health care professionals, primary care, behavioral and mental health care, prevention and wellness programs and/or to obtain federal matching funds for health care services.”

Casey said additional language is unnecessary because voters approved the creation of Central Health and therefore should understand its duties.

Judge Yeakel said he did not understand Casey’s distinction between voters’ ability to understand language describing the tax increase and Central Health’s mission.

“So the same people that are incapable of understanding the second half of the language on the ballot are presumed to know what the statute that created the health care district says and therefore can vote knowledgeably if the language is restricted to the first half of what was on the ballot?” Yeakel asked.

Jim Cousar, an attorney representing Central Health, said state law does not bar Central Health from including additional ballot language. He said the Voting Rights Act protects voters who do not speak English but does not account for illiteracy.

“There’s nothing in the Voting Rights Act that expressly or implicitly addresses claims based on reading comprehension,” Cousar said.

If Yeakel rules in Central Health’s favor, the tax increase will take effect Oct. 1, 2013.

Texas District Judge Steve Yelenosky issued an injunction that will keep Planned Parenthood in the Women’s Health Program pending resolution of the organization’s lawsuit claiming a rule banning it violates state law.

The organization had asked Yelenosky to extend a temporary order issued two weeks ago that stopped Texas from defunding clinics and doctors that have ties to groups that provide abortions. A new rule, which took effect this month, would effectively deny critical funding to Planned Parenthood clinics that provide preventive health care and contraception services to 110,000 poor women, even though they do not provide abortions and are financially separate institutions.

Unless overturned on appeal, the injunction will remain in effect until a trial can decide Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit. Yelenosky decided Thursday that Planned Parenthood has a reasonable chance to win its lawsuit and that allowing the rule to go into effect would cause irreparable harm to the organization.

Lauren Bean, spokeswoman for the Texas attorney general’s office, said the state would immediately appeal Yelenosky’s decision.

Planned Parenthood attorneys recently lost a federal lawsuit that hinged on a doctor’s right to freedom of speech and association. The argument before Yelenosky on Thursday hinged on whether the so-called “affiliate rule” could result in the loss of federal funding for health care.

Steve McKetta, arguing for Planned Parenthood, explained that a section of Texas law clearly states that any rule that violates federal law, and therefore endangers federal matching funds, is automatically inoperable. He said lawmakers have made it clear that the state Department of Health and Human Services should do everything possible to gain federal matching funds for health programs.

The federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent a letter to state officials Wednesday that said the affiliate rule violates federal law, and therefore the center was cutting off $36 million a year for the Women’s Health Program on Dec. 31. McKetta said that since the affiliate rule led to the end of federal funding, it should not be enforced.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry has known since March that federal officials would cut off funding and ordered state officials to develop a new program that depended solely on state funding. That program was due to launch Nov. 1, but Perry and Health and Human Services Commissioner Kyle Janek said they would continue to accept federal funding for as long as possible.

However, Perry did say that he would cut off funding to Planned Parenthood immediately, and Planned Parenthood won a temporary order the next day to retain funding. Janek and Perry have both said they will cut the Women’s Health Program if a court decided the affiliate rule is illegal and the state must fund Planned Parenthood clinics that do not provide abortions.

Perry said state lawmakers made it clear that they don’t want any state funds to reach groups such as Planned Parenthood under any circumstances.

Printed on Friday, November 9, 2012 as: Judge issues injunction for Planned Parenthood 

SAN FRANCISCO — In a case that affects thousands of businesses and millions of workers, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that employers are under no obligation to ensure that workers take legally mandated lunch breaks.

The unanimous opinion came after workers’ attorneys argued that abuses are routine and widespread when companies aren’t required to issue direct orders to take the breaks. They claimed employers take advantage of workers who don’t want to leave colleagues during busy times.

The case was initially filed nine years ago against Dallas-based Brinker International, the parent company of Chili’s and other eateries, by restaurant workers complaining of missed breaks in violation of California labor law.

But the high court sided with businesses when it ruled that requiring companies to order breaks is unmanageable and that those decisions should be left to workers. The decision provided clarity that businesses had sought regarding the law.

The opinion written by Associate Justice Kathryn Werdegar explained that state law does not compel an employer to ensure employees cease all work during meal periods. It stated that while employers are required to free workers of job duties for a 30-minute meal break, the employee is at liberty to use the time as they choose even if it’s to work, she wrote.

“The employer is not obligated to police meal breaks and ensure no work thereafter is performed,” Werdegar wrote.

Tracee Lorens, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said she believed the court’s decision still allowed some wiggle room for the case to get class-action certification on the meal break claims. Lorens said she was happy the court did allow a separate claim regarding the plaintiffs’ receiving proper rest breaks to proceed as a class-action.

Class-action lawsuits are brought by one or more plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and others facing the same circumstances, and can include thousands of people in some cases.

It was unclear whether the opinion would reduce or increase future class-action lawsuits on the issue because the court did not dismiss the meal break violation claim by workers but instead sent it back to be reargued in trial courts.

Lorens said she will argue to the lower court that Brinker’s company meal break policies still violate state wage-and-hour laws, even though the court said employers do not have to police when those breaks are taken.

Roger Thomson, executive vice president and general counsel of Brinker, said he was happy with the court’s decision on the key issue of whether employers must ensure workers take their breaks.

“That was the biggest issue to us,” Thomson said. “It has been allowed for our team members to work through lunch if they want or take the time off instead, and this ruling allows our team members that flexibility,” he said.

Generally, employer-side attorneys were confident that Thursday’s ruling would reduce future class-action lawsuits surrounding the meal break issue in California, which has cost companies millions of dollars in legal costs.

“The courts are making it clear that you have to create a system and a procedure that fully allows employees an opportunity to take breaks and meal periods, and if they do that they do not have to be Big Brother and individually monitor each employee to ensure that they’ve taken every bit of their breaks,” said Steve Hirschfeld, founder and CEO of the Employment Law Alliance, an employer-side legal trade group.

Others said the court’s opinion did little to stem the tide of meal break lawsuits.

“It left enough holes open that creative plaintiff’s lawyers will continue to file these cases. In short, it’s business as usual. And already overburdened court system will continue to be flooded by these daily filings,” employment lawyer Mark Neubauer said.

Attorneys for workers said low-wage workers such as those at Chili’s and other restaurants face unique issues that dissuade them from requesting meal and rest periods.

“The decision ... should have required employers to take affirmative steps to provide meal periods, and not just adopt policies that allow them,” Fernando Flores of the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, said in a statement.

“The (court) previously held that employees who are denied their rest and meal periods face greater risk of work-related accidents — especially low-wage workers who engage in manual labor,” Flores said.

The Brinker decision doesn’t account for the public health and general welfare argument and weakens these standards for millions of low-wage workers across California, he added.

State law has mandated meal and rest breaks for decades. But in 2001, California became one of only a few states that impose a monetary penalty for employers who violate these laws, requiring employers to pay one hour of wages for a missed half-hour meal break. There is no federal law requiring employers to provide such breaks.

There are no estimates of how much has been paid out by employers, because the penalties are paid directly to individual employees, legal experts said.

Meanwhile, California’s restaurant owners applauded the opinion as helpful guidance in determining their obligations to employees.

“The ruling dramatically affects how our industry operates and provides clarity to restaurateurs who have been left to guess what their legal obligations are. We believe this ruling will benefit employers and employees alike,” said Jot Condie, president and CEO of the California Restaurant Association.

While many UT students geared up for a trip to Dallas on Friday, Austin’s City Council made a controversial and highly questionable decision regarding a seemingly innocuous topic: election dates. Instead of moving the 2012 municipal elections to November, the council voted 4-3 to keep them in May. The highly symbolic move significantly limits the principle of democracy in Austin while simultaneously creating a de facto limitation on the student vote.

A new state law allows for cities to move their municipal elections from May to November. The arguments in favor of such a move are numerous and incontrovertible. In the last city council election, an abysmal 7.4 percent of registered Austin residents voted, according to city data. In stark contrast, November elections in Travis County have consistently seen voter turnout above 30 percent. It would make sense that elected officials would be in support of an opportunity to engage more citizens in voting during municipal elections. However, four of our council members apparently disagree.

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and council members Bill Spelman, Kathie Tovo and Laura Morrison have cited concern over violating Austin’s charter as the reason for their opposition. Cole said that a vote “against the charter provision” would go against her mandate as an elected municipal official in Austin, according to the Austin American-Statesman. However, this reasoning is blatantly illogical. SB 100, the state resolution that legitimizes the move, specifically declares that the state law “supersedes a city charter provision that requires a different general election date.”

So why are these four council members still opposed when their stated rationale is patently illegitimate? To be fair, they have expressed a desire for formal voter approval, but the issue is much more complicated than it seems. According to the Statesman, Spelman argued recently that “we’re not doing [voters] any favors” by moving the election to November, implying that the electorate doesn’t endorse the switch. In actuality, a poll by Littlefield Research proved that 75 percent of traditional Austin municipal voters support the November election. How can a measure that involves more citizens in the decision-making process and is overwhelmingly supported by those same citizens do a disservice to the population? As is the case in most matters concerning elections, it seems the culprit is political ambition.

The feigned concern about the charter seems to be merely a symptom of self-interest on the part of some council members. Austin’s so-called political “elites” have traditionally wielded considerable power in May elections. It turns out that support from these Democratic clubs and organizations is “key to the prospects of Sheryl Cole and Bill Spelman,” who are considering running against current Mayor Lee Leffingwell next year, according to the Statesman.

Their refusal to move the election to November can be seen as a political move calculated to undermine Leffingwell. It’s a travesty of democracy when dissatisfaction with a mayor, whether justified or not, supplants the desire to enhance the level of public involvement in elections.

For students, the issue is of particular concern. Currently, the May elections fall during finals week. College students, usually sleep-deprived and singularly-focused during their exams, do not have the opportunity to participate in elections as they might if the election were at another time. Likewise, any possible run-off elections take place during June, a time when most students go back home or are away on vacation. Moving the election to November would substantially increase the number of students able to vote.

Moreover, keeping the election in May is not just damaging to democracy and voter involvement generally; it is also economically negligent. Refusing to move the election to November will cost the city around $1 million in new voting equipment, said Travis County clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, according to Community Impact Newspaper. Just a few months ago, massive cuts were made to many city programs because of a lack of funding. Paying extra money to have fewer people vote is an idea that has rightfully been described by Leffingwell as “fiscally irresponsible.”

The hard facts in favor of the November election heavily outweigh the arguments made by proponents of the status quo. Keeping municipal elections in May during 2012 will preserve low levels of voter turnout and cost the city money. Councilwoman Laura Morrison wrote in a Statesman column last week, “There is no compelling or pragmatic reason” to shift the election date. If saving money and involving more people in voting are not compelling enough reasons, what are? As long as our city council members are willing to perpetuate low voter turnout, students have every reason to be worried.

Katsounas is a business and government sophomore.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska officials have dismissed an ethics complaint filed against former Gov. Sarah Palin that alleged she violated state law because the TLC docu-series “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” took advantage of a state film production program she signed into law.

Malia Litman of Dallas filed the complaint. She also alleged Palin benefited from the production of the eight-partseries in violation of a two-year moratorium that bars former officials from being compensated for assisting others in state dealings.

Documents show producers of the reality program received nearly $1.2 million in tax production credits.

The complaint dismissal says there’s no basis for the grievance.

When Texas A&M University’s student body President Jacob Robinson vetoed a bill from the university’s senate earlier this week, the issue of in-state tuition for undocumented Texas residents again took the spotlight.

If the bill passed, it would have allowed A&M’s Student Government Association to lobby the Texas Legislature to overturn a state law that currently allows undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges, as long as the students graduated from a U.S. high school and meet other residency requirements.

Justin Pulliam, a student senator for A&M’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, was one of the senators who proposed the bill last semester. The bill, which passed with a 41-26 vote, was purely a tuition issue, not a comment on who should be allowed to live in the U.S. or attend its universities, he said.

“It’s about making a fair tuition policy for Texas students and taxpayers,” said Pulliam, an animal sciences junior. “Texas universities are public resources, and we should not be subsidizing education for people who can’t legally work after they graduate.”

Current state law allows U.S. citizens, permanent residents and certain international students to claim Texas residency if they meet the criteria set by the bill. For an A&M undergraduate enrolled in 12 hours of classes, in-state tuition is $4,193 per semester, according to A&M’s Division of Finance website. Tuition for nonresident undergraduates is $11,843.

“We don’t think it’s right that Texas is giving the privilege of in-state tuition to illegal immigrants,” Pulliam said. “We feel like they should be treated more like international students, and Texas shouldn’t reward them for being in the country illegally.”

Pulliam said the student body president did not pay enough attention to students’ opinions before he made his decision to veto the senate’s bill.

“I believe there is overall support for the bill, and it is outrageous that our president is listening to lobbying groups, many who support the DREAM act, and seems to be supporting their opinions over the views of A&M students,” Pulliam said.

Robinson vetoed the senate bill because it would not have an effect on A&M students, he said.

“The state clearly defines who can get in-state tuition, and at the end of the day we’re really not helping anyone unless we define what residency is,” he said. “This needs to be addressed at the state Legislature and not the Texas A&M Student Senate.”

After the senate’s External Affairs Committee proposed the bill last spring, senators sent it back to the committee for more research and an intent to survey the entire student body about the issue before voting on it, according to The Battalion, A&M’s student newspaper.

“There was no data with this bill,” Robinson said. “It only expressed the opinion of the student senate. I don’t want my name attached to a bill that has no official data behind it. It’s simply hearsay.”

Chelsea Adler, president of UT’s Senate of College Councils, said the issue of who is allowed to receive in-state tuition is one that students should be forming their own opinions about.

“I believe every effort should be made to educate students on the current situation,” Adler said. “This is ultimately an issue for the state Legislature to address, and this conversation should take place on every college campus in Texas so that student opinion is accurately reflected.”