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JEA and 4 other scholastic journalism organizations ask Texas Gov. Abbott to veto bill

The Journalism Education Association joined its convention partner, the National Scholastic Press Association, and the Associated Collegiate Press, the College Media Association and the College Media Business & Advertising Managers to send a letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asking him to veto a bill, if passed, that discriminates against transgender students.

The letter, sent Feb. 22, states:


February 22, 2017

Dear Governor Abbott,

We are writing to you on behalf of Associated Collegiate Press, College Media Association, College Media Business & Advertising Managers, Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association, and as representatives of those who educate and support college and scholastic media students. We are asking you to please vow to veto Senate Bill 6 if it is indeed passed. Any law that strips the rights of citizens is detrimental to the freedoms of many Texans, endangers the business interests of Texas institutions and makes it hard to encourage others to visit the state.

College Media Association and Associated Collegiate Press held our 2015 fall convention in Austin, and the Texas members were very proud to show off the state to our colleagues from around the country. It was a very successful event for us, highlighted by many professional journalists from the Austin, Houston and Dallas areas. That success made us quite excited to come back to the state, and the area, this fall with our convention being held in Dallas.

Our joint fall college media conventions typically bring in approximately 2,500 college students and advisers from around the country. This fall all those attendees are hoping to be coming to Texas. But these attendees and their media operate under the tenets of the First Amendment, so they are understandably hesitant to spend their precious higher education dollars in a state that is limiting freedoms to even a portion of the population. In fact our many members from California will not be allowed to spend California funds in any state that legalizes discrimination. We don’t want Texas to be one of those states.

The Journalism Education Association and National Scholastic Press Association will hold their joint 2017 fall convention in Dallas in November. More than 5,000 high school students and their advisers from across the country are expected to attend that convention. This isn’t the first time JEA/NSPA have been in Texas for a convention. In 2012 the convention in San Antonio attracted 4,540 and in 2002, the last time we were in Dallas, 5,278 people attended the convention. We like coming to Texas but JEA and NSPA will not plan or participate in future conventions or conference events in any state or city where legislation passed or pending would mean some of our members would not be able to attend and practice Constitutionally guaranteed rights.

College Media Business & Advertising Managers (CMBAM) was founded and incorporated in Texas in 1982. CMBAM regularly hosts its annual convention in Texas, including Austin in 2014 and the upcoming Fort Worth convention in March 2017. Conventions held in the state of Texas typically represent the best convention attendance due to proximity, attraction of the area and weather. Our member schools are located across the country, although more than 10 percent of our member schools are located in the state of Texas. This bill would greatly punish our Texas members with the inability to host the annual convention within their home state.

Between our organizations, we anticipate bringing in more than 7,500 professionals, educators and college and high school students. 7,500 people who will spend money for lodging, transportation and meals.

We ask that you consider the negative impact such a law would have on Texas, and the potential loss in revenue from groups like ours. Texas is a large state with a storied past and much to offer visitors. SB6 would cast the entire state in a negative light, and it will definitely prevent organizations like ours from bringing money into Texas. We cannot plan events in Texas if we know some of our members will not be able to attend because of the passing of laws like SB6.

Please consider the horrible damage this law will do to Texas. If organizations like ACP, CMA, CMBAM, JEA and NSPA are already struggling with the implications of hosting a convention in Texas, imagine what other organizations are dealing with. Please stand by Texas businesses and tourism and vow to veto this harmful bill.

 

Respectfully,

Kelley (Callaway) Lash
President, College Media Association
Director of Student Media, Rice University

Tami Cindea Bongiorni
President, College Media Business & Advertising Managers
Advertising and Marketing Manager, Kent State University

Laura Widmer
Executive Director, Associated Collegiate Press

Linda Puntney, MJE
Executive Director, Journalism Education Association

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