Longhorns and Aggies Unite for Orange & Maroon Legislative Day 2019

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For just one day every two years, Longhorns and Aggies come together to storm the Texas State Capitol in the name of higher education for Orange & Maroon Legislative Day.

This year marks the ninth biennial effort focused on boosting legislative support for the state’s flagship universities. On Feb. 5, alumni, volunteers, and supporters from UT and A&M spent the day visiting with lawmakers and staffers about the universities’ shared legislative priorities. The key issues were the restoration of formula funding to support the universities’ core academic mission of educating students; funding for the Texas Research University Fund to ensure the universities can compete for and retain outstanding faculty; and the strengthening of the TEXAS Grant program to support Texas students in need.

The day began with resolution readings in both the House and the Senate as the rooms filled up with burnt orange and maroon. On the floor, the universities were represented by their presidents and alumni association leaders. Read aloud by Rep. John Raney and Sen. Kirk Watson, the resolutions noted the nearly 1,000,000 alumni that come from the two universities and how they shape the state. “Texas A&M University and The University of Texas at Austin are renowned for their life-changing research, and the teaching and research missions of both institutions benefit the state of Texas by advancing medical breakthroughs and overall quality of life,” the resolutions read.

From there, the 200 Longhorn and Aggie volunteers made their way to 800 Congress for a luncheon before heading back to the Capitol to meet with individual lawmakers. “I’m here to advocate for higher education,” said Mehraz Rahman, UT student body vice president and marketing senior. “It’s important for students and anybody who is affected by the different conversations happening in the Texas State Legislature and in local government to come out and see exactly what the issues are that impact them, and to know that they actually can have a say.”

Throughout the afternoon, groups of volunteers met with legislators including Rep. Donna Howard, Sen. Nathan Johnson, Sen. Pete Flores, Sen. Brandon Creighton, who is the current Senate Committee on Higher Education chair, and Rep. Chris Turner, the House Committee on Higher Education chair.

While some volunteers were long supporters of OMLD, for others it was their first time coming out to show their school pride. This year marked Longhorn volunteer Andrea Anderson’s first time participating in OMLD. As chair of the Texas Exes Black Alumni Network, she said she wants to energize and inspire the board members to get more involved. “So that we can inspire other black alumni to actually get involved and do more to help support the Texas Exes, the university, and our cause.”

For Aggie volunteer Stephen LaMantia, this year’s OMLD was his third time showing up for the event. He said it was important for legislators to meet with the people they serve, because it pairs real life experiences with an issue. As the first person in his family to graduate from college, that’s why he continues to show up and help with OMLD every two years.

“My grandfather immigrated to this country. My dad is a first generation American,” he said. “Education has been very important in our family for years, and we feel that education is a great equalizer, kind of like the tide. When the tide comes in, all the boats rise.”

OMLD wrapped up with a reception featuring remarks from chancellors James B. Milliken and John Sharp. More than 300 people attended the evening gathering to celebrate the day’s efforts.

“I think OMLD is great. Three hundred and sixty four days of the year, Longhorns and Aggies are against each other,” LaMantia said. “But for one day we get together and we decide that, ‘Hey there is a greater good that helps us both.’”

 
 
 

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