New organization seeks to align Texas colleges

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Jason Plotkin, Student Government Association secretary at Sam Houston State University, thinks that a million student voices are better heard than a mere 13,000.

Six members of the SHSU SGA attended the Texas State Student Association Constitutional Conference in San Antonio March 29-30 to discuss issues regarding the new state organization that would bring students at Texas’ four-year institutions of higher leaning together in alliance.

St. Mary’s, a private university in San Antonio, contacted all the universities and four-year colleges in Texas, about 70 schools, to put together the TSSA. Currently 15 to 20 schools have joined the organization, with the aim to bring together all schools contacted by St. Mary’s.

“Basically, it’s to network all the schools. It’s a more powerful network – you can learn what other student governments are doing that’s successful,” said Plotkin of one of the advantages to joining TSSA.

Plotkin went on to say that TSSA would be more than just sharing student government information between schools.

“It would be the voice of students. All students have the issue of paying for college. All students at universities face practically the same issues – especially in the legislature. TSSA will lobby for causes that affect students, so the funds are still there for them to go to college,” he said.

Schools currently involved in TSSA include St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Abilene Christian University, the University of Texas El Paso and Prairie View A&M.

Statewide student issues TSSA will fight for include eliminating increasing tuition fees and the Southwest Texas name change.

SHSU has yet to join the organization, but will be voting on it before the end of this legislative session.

“It’s in discussion. We want to look at the pros and the cons of joining such an organization,” Plotkin said. “It would be a commitment to send students to conferences and actively staying involved in what TSSA wants to accomplish.”

TSSA is currently applying for non-profit status.

TSSA would require about 2 percent of the SGA budget. The funds held for TSSA would be spent on sending students to TSSA conferences, TSSA materials and staying involved in the organization.

Each state in the United States has its own statewide student association. Texas is the first organization to integrate public and private schools in the association. Texas junior colleges have their own association, as the differences between two and four-year colleges are great.

TSSA is a member of United States Student Association. USSA is a national version of the organization, and lobbies for students on a national level.

“I think students would be interested in a group that’s working on their behalf to ensure they’re able to continue their higher education,” Plotkin said.

The next meeting will be held at Abilene Christian University in September.

For more information, contact SGA, or visit SGA on the Web at www.shsu.edu/sga.