By Noah Lopez/Texan Mosaic Staff
The future of community colleges is dependent on the decisions of a few, but those decisions will impact students across the state.
Recently, a group of South Plains College students traveled to the Texas Capitol to advocate for the college’s future. Student Life Director Josh Meredith organized the trip.
” Community College Day is a collective day of action for community colleges from across the state of Texas,” Meredith said.
The event, hosted by the Texas Association of Community Colleges, took place on January 26.
“Something that was interesting was seeing how the Capitol works and seeing the processes that make up how our laws are made,” Marshall Bates, one of the SPC students who attended the event, said.
Students met with Texas Senator Charles Perry. Students were able to ask questions and share their plans after graduating from South Plains College. The group also met with staff of Representative Carl Tepper and Representative Dustin Burrows.
“It was super interesting to meet our representatives and senators and get to talk to them about our stories,” Bates said.
Meredith said attending Community College Day is a way for SPC to remain active in the conversation surrounding community colleges at the state level.
“Numbers show the big picture, but stories share what numbers cannot,” Meredith said.
He said while the outcomes of this event will not be known immediately, advocating for the college reminds state representatives their actions affect real people.
“Community College Day itself does not have any immediate impact,” Meredith said. “I hope our fellow students, faculty, and staff can see that the college is looking ahead and taking steps to ensure SPC is not forgotten or overlooked when decisions are made at the legislative level.”
Meredith said the legislature is looking to change the funding model for community colleges. The model proposed would look at how many students go from community colleges to a four-year university. This model could benefit community colleges across the state, including South Plains College.
“Our desired outcome, ultimately, is that community colleges like SPC see an increase in funding that allows us to better meet student needs,” Meredith said.
Community College Day is likely to become a tradition for South Plains College as it is a chance to show representatives the faces that attend the college and not be seen as just a number on paper.
“In terms of Community College Day itself, and for South Plains College specifically, the desired outcome is to take a representative group of those who new legislation will most affect, students, to the Capitol and let them share their stories—who they are, where they’re from, and what they hope to achieve,” Meredith said.
The goal for community colleges represented at Community College Day is for their students to be recognized and remembered as the legislature moves into the next session. “In the future, we hope that the legislature considers the interests and unique positioning of schools like SPC when voting and making decisions about the funding of community colleges,” Meredith said.
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