West Texas Colleges to Rally in Austin

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Community College students in the Basin will be rallying in Austin, if the weather permits, to fight for their schools' funding.

Community College Day happens every year at our state's capital and Midland College officials told NewsWest 9, they lobby for whatever issue is the most important at the time.

This year, with the possibility of both Odessa College's and their own budget being slashed, the Home of the Chaps will be there on a mission.

After three weeks of hard work inspired by the possibility of their budget being cut, Midland College is now prepared to make their voices heard.

So speaks the hundreds of signatures they collected in a petition to stop the funding cuts altogether.

"We really would not like to have any schools really shut down because of an economic crisis that we're in," Andre Chance, Midland College's Parliamentarian, said.

So Tuesday morning, 30 selected students from Midland College, as well as students from across the Basin, will make their way to the state capital and rally on its steps.

There they'll meet with State Representative Tom Craddick and give the petition to Senator Kel Seliger.

It's signed by both Midland College faculty members and students alike.

The students that are going believe this is a chance to fight for the stability of West Texas community colleges and the opportunities they give to kids who, for whatever reasons, are kept out of major universities.

For some students, that belief hits home.

"Especially for some of the guys coming out of the military like I did, I got hurt in boot camp, came here, and I had everything paid for," MC's Vice President of Student Government Associations, E.C. Dunson, said. "I was on Legacy Scholarship. There's a lot of kids in high school like that to where their parents can't afford to send them to a college, and if they shut down, say, Odessa College, kids won't have a chance to actually progress themselves educationally or start out right."

But they won't be alone, Midland College will be walking in Austin side-by-side with students from Odessa College, Howard College, Amarillo College, and countless others.

The Chaps call it a sign that the colleges and students stand together.

"I think it shows that the state of Texas is a team no matter what, all these colleges coming together to push," Stephanie VanCuren, Midland College Student Activities Coordinator, said. "We're all in this together and it all affects everybody."

"For students to actually have a significant chance of actually making a big difference for the first time, or not for the first time, for any time, it's a very major deal," Chance said.

Midland College officials did say if the weather proves to be too much, they will have to stay here.

But they'll still mail the signatures to Austin.

Odessa College told NewsWest 9, they'll see how the roads are too, and that they're coming with their own petition. One MC student told NewsWest 9 he doesn't care how bad it is, he'll just put chains on the busses tires.