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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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SGA welcomes visit from Texas Senator


Texas Senator John Whitmire spoke to the new SGA administration regarding several topics, one being his experience as a UH student. |The Cougar/Leen Basharat

Texas State Sen. John Whitmire spoke to the new SGA administration regarding topics including his experience as a UH student. | Leen Basharat/The Cougar

The first meeting of the 53rd Student Government Association administration started off with a visit from Texas State Sen. John Whitmire, a UH alumnus and a representative of Harris County.

Senator Whitmire agreed to the visit when his former intern and newly confirmed Director of External Affairs Delaney Catlettstout and SGA President Shane Smith reached out to him.

“I wanted to get him a meeting with Shane due to the fact Sen. Whitmire is a huge supporter of the University,” Catlettstout said. “He has been very generous to the UH Democrats in the past, and we love to hear his incredible insight due to the fact he has been in the legislature since the 70s.”

He discussed his experience as a UH student, the 2016 presidential election, University of Texas’ expansion into Houston and the Higher One Education fund with the new pool of leaders.

“This election is rewriting history,” Whitmire said. “No one knows what’s going to happen. It’s important to pay attention to it because it’s going to make tremendous impact.”

He mentioned that President Renu Khator should consider concerns such as higher meal costs for resident students than non-resident students, and how this problem could be remedied by subsidizing the costs of meal plans.

“(Khator) is always so proud of her relationship with her students, but I’m going to let her know that if she’s that proud of her relationship, she needs to hear the comments of the residents,” Whitmire said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

He also discussed the differences between UH and UT and remarked that UH has a more diverse campus.

Cullen College of Engineering Senator David Gratvol asked Senator Whitmire about Texas’ Permanent University Fund and UT’s expansion into Houston.

“UH can’t compete with an unlevel playing field,” Whitmire said. “When they have a PUF, they’ll be recruiting the best professors, the best research. I’m not sure how that’s going to play out.”

Overall, senators and visitors were pleased with the opportunity for Whitmire to share wisdom with the SGA.

“He really does want young people to be active in politics and the community, and by him stopping by the SGA meeting, it just showed that he really wants us, SGA, to be fighters for the students,” Catlettstout said. “He opened an avenue for students to utilize the legislature to have their voices heard in Austin.”

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