Student Senator Justin Pulliam, who also chairs a group called Texas Aggie Conservatives, authored SB63-11. The bill, if passed, would establish that "it is the opinion of the students" that undocumented individuals living in Texas should not receive in-state tuition at the university and that the Student Government Association will oppose any federal or state legislation granting such perks. Texas currently allows undocumented students to qualify for in-state tuition if they meet certain criteria.
The bill already passed the student senate on Nov. 3, with a vote of 41 to 26. But student body President Jacob Robinson vetoed it. Robinson told The Battalion, A&M's student newspaper, that he felt the bill would be better settled in the state Legislature. "Regardless of the logic behind the bill, the Texas A&M Student Senate meeting room is an inappropriate place for an attempt to settle a state issue," he told the paper.
Tonight, supporters of the bill will attempt to override the veto. They need at least a two-thirds majority to do so, and if the vote remains the same, they are about four votes short.
Student Senate bills are non-binding. "Our success comes from what we can convince others to do," Pulliam says. "I think that the bill already passed with 61 percent of the vote shows that students really are for this. ... So, we've been successful." Pulliam says that what's really at stake at tonight's meeting is the ability of student government representatives to lobby the state Legislature on this issue on behalf of the student body, which they can only do with Student Senate approval.
The debate over student residency has been heating up as supporters of the DREAM Act, a federal provision that would clear a path to permanent residency status for undocumented individuals pursuing higher education or military service, push for passage during the upcoming lame duck session of the U.S. Congress.
UPDATE: With a 34-25 vote, the veto was upheld.