Texas Rising advocates for progressive issues


Texas Rising registers voters and travels to the Capitol. Photo Courtesy of Christopher Garana

Gauri Raje, Assistant News Editor

Texas Rising is the youth outreach branch of Texas Freedom Network, a statewide advocacy group based in Texas. The organization has chapters in universities across Texas, including UTSA.

Christopher Garana, a junior who is currently one of the student leaders at UTSA’s chapter of Texas Rising, explained that the main goal of the chapter is to advocate for progressive causes that impact the UTSA community and college students in general.

“We basically do advocacy for different progressive causes on campus and within the college setting…the main things we like to do is voting, but it can also be things like reproduction rights, immigration and criminal justice reform, or LGBTQ+ rights,” Garana said.

One of the organization’s main activities is centered around voter mobilization in local and statewide elections. Last year, during San Antonio’s city council elections, Texas Rising endorsed two of the candidates in the race and helped with text banking for their campaigns.

“During the last city council elections here we did a lot of text banking for two of the candidates, Jalen McKee and Terri Castillo…we talked to them, we made sure that…[their] policies lined up with our ideas [and] endorsed them,” Garana said.

Texas Rising registers voters and travels to the Capitol. Photo Courtesy of Christopher Garana

Apart from participating in the local election process, Texas Rising is also involved with other state and local issues. Garana noted that, going forward, the organization will be focusing on some of the controversial legislation that was recently passed in the Texas Legislature, with the new abortion law being their priority.

 “I think right now our most pressing issue will be the abortion bills [the Texas legislature] passed because that is … the laws they’ve passed now are unlike anything that the state, and honestly this country, has seen like ever. These are basically the most restrictive abortion bills in…definitely Texas’ history,” Garana said.

Garana also shared that the organization will also be focusing on other controversial issues like the recent voter suppression and “bizarre” gun laws.

Advocacy is a key step when working on issues like abortion and other controversial pieces of legislation, something that the group hopes they can resume now that in-person activities have resumed on campus.

“Basically, last year we were totally online, so all our meetings were online on Zoom. We didn’t get to do a lot of the in-person advocacy stuff that we usually do,” Garana said. “Honestly, it’s just such a vital part of … any kind of political advocacy, you don’t just wanna have Zoom meetings where you talk about stuff, you wanna talk to the people about these [issues] face-to-face. You make a bigger impact that way.”

Despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic, Garana pointed out that the organization works to convert advocacy into tangible solutions that can actually help make a difference. This was also one of the reasons that Garana decided to get involved in the organization here at UTSA.

“These are people who know what they’re doing…they’ve got game plans, they’re not just gonna try to get petitions…they’re actually going to get out and get people to vote, get people registered and try to make a real impact [and] I think that’s why I stuck with them,” Garana said. 

In Garana’s opinion, Texas Rising is one of the “better organizations” out there that actually contributes to change.

“It gives you that satisfaction of I’m doing something even if it is small, on a local level, you know, I am making a change. In this last student council election, that was most tangible when the two candidates we endorsed and I spent basically two weeks phone banking for, they both got elected, they’re both student councilmen. I helped,I was able to be involved with that, be a part of it,” Garana said.


Texas Rising registers voters and travels to the Capitol. Photo Courtesy of Christopher Garana

Garana further pointed out the importance of organisation’s like Texas Rising in helping young individuals, especially students, to channel their passion for issues and topics into action.

“I think that if you really feel passionately about these issues, you need to take the steps to be able to actually work on them. And I don’t think anything is really as forgone. I think there’s always some sort of fight, there’s some sort of push you can do,” Garana said. “I think that’s the most important thing to keep in mind. It is hard times, you know. You can sometimes look at the news and be like, ‘it’s not going great’. Getting involved with an organization like this, it really helps keep your spirits up.”

The organization’s active involvement in local and state issues makes it stand out in comparison to organizations that are centered on advocacy and awareness alone. Through UTSA’s chapter of Texas Rising, students have the opportunity to get involved in issues that affect their community and contribute to change.