Texas A&M Student Senate votes to deny illegals in-state tuition

Welcoming sentiments of “Howdy!” at Texas A&M’s main campus in College Station have been overshadowed this past week by cries of “Aggies don’t hate Aggies” and “Do what’s right.” The Student Senate voted and passed controversial legislation denying illegal aliens the in-state tuition rate.

Jason Cook, Texas A&M’s vice president for marketing and communications, gave a statement on behalf of the administration — in the statement, Cook said the Texas A&M Student Senate is an independent body of the university that is free to discuss and act upon issues that the group deems of interest.

As a state institution, Texas A&M adheres to state law and promotes its core value of respect across the Aggie Family, the statement continued.

Justin Pulliam, the student senator for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and co-author of the Student Senate Bill 63-11, said, “It opposes the current policy of giving in-state tuition to illegal aliens — the purpose being that we will hopefully have legislation introduced to the Texas legislature this spring.”

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, 10 states across the country, including Texas, have current laws which allow students classified as “illegal aliens” to receive in-state tuition rates similar to state residents.

Cook said in an e-mail these students have earned Texas high school diplomas, lived in the state at least three years prior to college enrollment and met all the university’s admission requirements.

Pulliam said Texas A&M has a system where students receiving $1,000 or more in scholarship funds per year have their out-of-state tuition waived. He said illegal aliens under the new proposal would still be eligible to receive in-state tuition if they attain such a merit scholarship.

Mary Coronado, a senior at Texas A&M and a Texas resident said, “It says nowhere in the (student) bill that they cannot attend A&M, just that they pay the proper amount to go here, due to them not paying taxes beforehand.”

Students are divided on the issue, which was evident in a heated debate and vote in the Student Senate meeting on Nov. 3.

Diego Medrano, a senior at Texas A&M and a Texas resident, believes the bill contains an issue with a solution that is beyond the power of the Student Senate at his university. He said the action focuses on a statewide law which affects less than 0.5 percent of the 49,000-member student population.

“Therefore, if we want to change (the law), we should contact our Texas senators,” Medrano said.

Coronado said as a Mexican-American, she feels that if her parents and others can go through the legalization process, illegal aliens who go through that process could also earn in-state tuition.

She also said that others in the Latino community feel there is hatred toward minorities that is being targeted toward them through this bill, which will be a difficult misconception to change.