Student Government makes progress on Davis statue, other issues

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Bruce Elfant, Travis County tax assessor collector and voter registrar, deputizes about 30 UT resident assistants on August 15.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rohit Mandalapu

This summer, Student Government made progress on their list of issues to cover, including the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue, a topic that President Xavier Rotnofsky and Vice President Rohit Mandalapu were vocal about when they ran for SG.

 President Gregory Fenves put together a task force over the summer to decide what would happen to the statue, and Rotnofsky and Mandalapu are excited that they have been able to accomplish one of the heavier issues on their platform, according to Mandalapu.

 “It’s been a pretty eventful summer,” Mandalapu said. “We’ve made a decent amount of headway on the whole Jefferson Davis situation, which was probably one of the harder things we had
to tackle.”

 Although the removal of the Jefferson Davis statue has been one of the bigger Student Government issues of the summer, Rotnofsky and Mandalapu have also become ordained ministers in order to perform marriage ceremonies during Student Government meetings, succeeded in extending Jester Dining hours to 8:00 p.m. and deputized about 30 residential assistants on campus to help students in their halls register to vote.

 Farry Seddighzageh, a Kinsolving RA who was recently deputized, said ensuring students are registered voters is important in a country where college-aged students have the lowest voter turnout.

 “One of the first things that [Rotnofsky and Mandalapu] talked to us about was that voter turnout for our age group, college-aged adults, in the United States is the lowest of all the other age groups,” Seddighzageh said. “I think RAs have a lot of influence, and they know that because we deal with an entire hall of students. I’m in charge of 38 girls on my hall, and so just the fact that I can help them out is really important.”

 As for the next semester, Rotnofsky said he is looking forward to some of the new projects Student Government will be working on.

 “It’s been a great summer because we’ve been working on different initiatives we’ve come up with for this year,” Rotnofsky said. “Right now, we’re working to bring food trucks to campus, and we’re working with the different entities involved.”

Rotnofsky said SG is also looking to expand the Good Samaritan policy to include drug overdose. According to the Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Good Samaritan policy is a measure that prevents the punishment of individuals who call for help during an alcohol-related emergency.

 Mandalapu said this summer has been a good one for Student Government, and he hopes this semester holds the same promise.

 “I definitely think we got a lot more accomplished than we thought we would get, especially coming in with zero SG experience,” Mandalapu said. “We definitely have gotten a few things under our belt now and are looking forward to a positive year.”