Susan "Sue" Owen '94 February 18, 2019 4:45 PM updated: March 18, 2019 4:28 PM
The Aggie Advocates’ work with the 2019 Texas legislative session is just getting started.
On Feb. 5, more than 200 Aggies and Longhorns blanketed the Texas Capitol for Orange and Maroon Legislative Day.
Reporting back on their meetings, those OMLD volunteers say Texas legislators “were willing to listen to the concerns of higher education,” even if other statewide priorities are battling for their attention, said David Fujimoto ’17, director of strategic engagement for Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students.
It’s a critical time for universities, as state funding declines nationwide. Texas A&M would get $850 less per student than the University of Texas under 2019’s initial budget plans in the Texas House and Senate.
And national public opinion of higher education is low: Polls show both Republicans and Democrats are frustrated with U.S. colleges and universities, though for widely different reasons.
Efforts like OMLD can counteract some of the negative views, Fujimoto said.
To a lawmaker concerned about students graduating with debt, an Aggie Advocate can share a positive detail: 57 percent of Aggies graduated debt-free in 2018 at A&M's main campus in College Station.
Aggie Advocates, as part of the Texas A&M Advocacy Network, get information like this plus legislative updates and the chance to participate in events like OMLD and its Washington, D.C., counterpart, Aggies on the Hill. Fujimoto also recently organized informational lunch meetings for Aggie Advocates in Austin and Bryan-College Station.
For OMLD, he said, “I was impressed and pleased that we had so many Aggies, current and former students, that wanted to participate and felt it was a valuable use of their time.”
Advocates gain a better understanding of state policy and how it affects A&M; they can then make better decisions about who they vote for.
“We have over a million alumni between the two universities, and the mechanism for funding both flagships is the same,” Fujimoto said.
“When it comes to educating Texans, we have a good partner in the University of Texas and the Texas Exes.”
Association donors help support advocacy, news and awareness efforts. You can lend financial support here at tx.ag/give.