TSU Students Protest Governor's Conservator Plan

Students and faculty at Texas Southern University say they hope Governor Rick Perry changes his mind about putting the school under the control of a conservator. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, the proposed move has the entire campus wondering about its future.

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In the middle of campus, student leaders held a rally to voice their unhappiness over the governor's proposal, a move that would temporarily put the control of the school under one person appointed by Perry. Sophomore Larry Bertrand came to TSU from Chicago and says he plans to let the governor know conservatorship is the wrong move.

"We're not going to lie down and just let anything happen. If we have to get on the bus ourselves and go out to Austin and tell them we do not want the conservatorship, that's what we'll have to do. If the governor is not going to come here so that he can hear us, then we'll go out there so he can hear us."

Word that conservatorship might affect the university's accreditation worries student body president Claire Bailey, who says if she had to transfer, all the work she's done so far would mean nothing.

"I think it would definitely dilute my diploma. Actually, I am a Masters student and I currently have 27 hours and I need 42 to complete. We know that transferring at the Masters level, only 6 hours is transferable anywhere you go so I would lose all my credits if I made a decision even to transfer from Texas Southern University."

Right now the school has an interim president and part of a board, although the governor has asked remaining board members to resign. Former TSU president James Douglas, who led the school between 1995 and 1999, says there are easier ways to fix problems at the university.

"I don't have any doubt that this is the wrong move for the state of Texas to make. To me, it's a simple issue. You have a group of bad people who do some bad things. At any other university, all they would have done was move the bad people out, found some good people who would have cleaned-up the mess and we would have moved on. That's all you have to do."

In Washington, the Congressional Black Caucus is doing what it can to change Governor Perry's mind. Forty of its 43 members have signed a letter to the governor urging a different solution. Congressman Al Green says problems at TSU have been magnified unfairly.

"I'm going to beg that people stop and think. We're about to put a major university in our state that is serving a meaningful cause in a position where it may cease to exist. I don't think we really want to do this and I hope that people will just stop and reflect and decide lets solve the problem, not put the university at risk."

Texas Southern University is one of the nation's largest historically black colleges.

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