A group of faculty and students’ planned trip to Austin has been delayed due to last weeks inclement weather. The trip was originally scheduled for Jan. 30-31 and is now pushed to an unknown date.
The group of students that will be in attendance includes the Jack Pope Fellows program, as well as ten journalism students. The students on the trip plan to meet with state representatives, lobbyists and a Supreme Court of Texas justice, as well as cover the Texas Legislative Session.
Led by Dr. Neal Coates, professor and chair of the department of political science and criminal justice, the Jack Pope Fellows are an on-campus program that revolves around public service and helps students pursue careers within this field through opportunities and scholarships. The program is in honor of Jack Pope, former Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court. The program was founded in 1989 and offers different events and activities that allow students to gain experience in the public service world, one of these experiences being the trip to Austin.
“Since that time, we’ve had a number of students enroll in our public service minor,” Coates said. “They hear special speakers that come to campus, they go on some trips, they get a scholarship. And we now are on a tradition where every two years we try to go to Austin when the legislature is in session so that we can be exposed to the variety of aspects of government.”
Along with the Pope Fellows, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications Advanced Reporting class will also be traveling to Austin to listen in. The class led by Dr. Kenneth Pybus, associate professor and chair of journalism and mass communication, will primarily focus on the legislation that calls for vouchers and essentially promotes the system of school choice.
During the trip, the two groups plan to stay together for the major events and hearings. However, they also plan to split up at times for events catering more to their respective groups and purpose.
“What I am looking forward to the most is the chance to sit in on oral arguments for the Texas Supreme Court,” Emma Jaxx, senior accounting and finance major from San Antonio said. “As a Pre-Law Legal Studies minor looking to attend law school after graduation, I’m thrilled at the chance to hear talented attorneys argue in front of our Texas Supreme Court.”
The students plan to attend events at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, listen to guest speakers, and tour the Texas Capitol, along with meeting with prominent figures such as state Rep. Stan Lambert and Justice Jeff Boyd. The trip will provide opportunities for students to gain a better understanding of the Texas government as well as the stories of today.
“The ability to watch an oral argument at the Texas Supreme Court is something that people don’t unveil themselves,” Coates said. “You can see what appellate lawyers do and you get to see what justices do and how they question and the strategies they follow in order to make sure in the limited time that’s available they get several arguments out in the open. That’s valuable.”
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