As a citizen and veteran of the United States, I was shocked and surprised of the way in which I was treated when I attempted to appear and speak before the Texas State University System Board of Regents last Friday (08/19/2011). The Regents are appointed by the Governor of Texas and employ a staff to assist in the management of eight state funded institutions of higher learning, one of which is Sul Ross State University.
I requested by e-mail two weeks prior to their next scheduled board meeting that was to be held at Sul Ross to speak during their public comments.
On the 18th of August I visited with staff members to get an idea of when I would have an opportunity to speak. I was told to get an agenda for a timeline which I should follow. Since they did not provide me with an agenda, I went to the web page of the office of the Texas Secretary of State to retrieve a copy of the agenda to be used by the TSUS board. Although this document is straight forward, it does not provide a timeline and all public comments are simply listed at the end of the agenda.
The TSUS Regents were scheduled to meet for two days in Alpine, Texas on the (18th & 19th), so the last day is when time is allotted for any student, faculty, staff, alumni, parents or citizens of the community to address the Regents.
On the day of August the 19th (Friday) the day that I believed I would be able to speak before the Regents, they decided to leave without any notification, thereby not allowing public comments or the presentation of the collection of letters and information from several other Alpine community members concerning Sul Ross SU. The Regents did not have the common courtesy to listen or allow the community to express its views on the management of Sul Ross and its affect on our community. One of the many topics on their agenda was to raise the fees and tuitions of the universities and to consider raises of president’s salaries. If there is anything I’ve learned is that fees, tuition and salaries never seem to go back down just continue to creep up. The board’s unscheduled departure, without attempting to allow the community to speak or present a collection of letters from interested community members shows a lack of disrespect to us all.
Public comment and review is the foundation of public entities, but requires that citizens are given an opportunity to be heard. The TSUS Regent’s board appears to have taken that right away from the citizens of Texas.