State legislators to take "Hot Seat" at SHSU to address legislative session
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 01:10
The campus community at Sam Houston State University will have a rare chance to discuss legislative issues with two state legislators on Thursday at "The Hot Seat in Huntsville".
Presented by the Texas Tribune, a non-profit online news organization, and the SHSU department of mass communication, the event will feature John Otto, R-Dayton and Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown.
The discussion is part of a statewide series of events by the Texas Tribune is to spread civic engagement throughout the state by visiting several Texas universities in cities like Tyler, San Angelo, Denton and Galveston.
The "Hot Seat" will begin with a discussion of the 83 rd legislative session led by Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune followed by a Q&A session with the audience.
SHSU assistant professor of mass communication Robin Johnson, Ph.D. decided to bring the event to the university to after a student pitched the idea.
"I thought [the event] would be a good showcase of SHSU and provide exposure for the mass communication program to a media organization in the state," Johnson said.
For students, the event presents a unique opportunity to speak directly to state legislators about issues plaguing them before the upcoming legislative session in January.
"It’s really a fantastic opportunity to question directly the people who represent us," Natalia Ciolko, Events Coordinator for the Texas Tribune, said. "We don’t get too many opportunities to do this… the sooner [college students] can become involved in politics the better off they will be."
According to Johnson, the discussion comes at a key time for college students.
"It’s good for college students to see real Texas politicians and to have their perspectives in a public forum, especially with issues that affect them like health care and public funding for universities."
According to SHSU President Dana Gibson, SHSU currently receives the lowest amount in state funding compared to other public four-year universities, an issue she said she hopes to address at the legislative session.
In 2011 SHSU received $193 dollars per student totaling more than $2.7 million. This placed SHSU second to last on the list, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Otto was first elected in 2005 and represents District 18, which includes Liberty, Polk, and part of Montgomery Counties in the Texas House of Representatives.
Schwertner is the Republican candidate for Texas Senate District 5, a seat currently held by retiring Sen. Steve Ogden. Schwertner is a managing partner and practicing physician at Georgetown Orthopedics, PLLC.
The "Hot Seat in Huntsville" will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Gaertner Performing Arts Center.
Students can RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Students who make reservations will be proved a light lunch. However, all members of the campus community are encouraged to attend.
*Robin Johnson is the adviser to the Houstonian.