The Graduate Student Assembly is throwing its weight behind affirmative action by voting to support the University’s policy during their general assembly meeting Wednesday night.
Joint Resolution 16, between GSA and Senate of College Councils, was passed almost unanimously by GSA, with one representative abstaining from the vote. The resolution will be voted on tonight by Senate.
Krittika Krishnan, psychology representative for GSA and co-author of JR 16, said the resolution was written as a way to promote UT as an inclusive environment.
“We’ve seen the response to the [Young Conservatives of Texas] bake sale along with other events that have happened on this campus for several years, and I think as an assembly we just wanted to reaffirm our support for the University’s stance on affirmative action,” Krishnan said. “We’re essentially reaffirming that we welcome students of different backgrounds, diversities, genders, ethnicities and that we want to promote UT as an inclusive environment.”
Krishnan repeated that having GSA supporting the resolution — and Senate voting on it at its meeting Thursday — shows the student body is excited to have students of different ethnicities and backgrounds on campus.
“We all enjoy having people of different backgrounds in our classrooms to interact with,” Krishnan said. “It’s not just a homogeneous group of people, and that helps us learn about other cultures. We’re trying to get an idea of what it’s like in the real world, and this is what it’s like in the real world. You have people of different backgrounds and different ethnicities.”
GSA economics Representative Anthony Maxam, who was the only representative who didn’t vote in favor of the resolution, said he abstained from the vote because he felt the resolution wasn’t something all of the international students he represents would agree with.
“I certainly don’t mind it passing,” Maxam said. “Personally it’s fine with me, but I just don’t think there’s a strong consensus in my department … With affirmative action, I know some students have faced challenges because of affirmative action making it harder for them to get in, or some people are in favor because it helps. It’s hard to say.”
Originally, JR 16 had a clause addressing the Oct. 26 Young Conservatives of Texas anti-affirmative action bake sale, but it was removed in order to make the resolution more encompassing of the entire policy of affirmative action, GSA Administrative Director Adam Aziz said.
“The GSA administrative wanted to turn this opportunity into something positive,” Aziz said. “We wanted to make it a more general resolution supporting affirmative action, while at the same time advocating the right to freedom of speech. We do recognize what has happened recently is equally important, but we want to focus on a more larger, positive picture.”
Electrical engineering senior Kinan Hernandez said he supports affirmative action, but believes legislative student assemblies don’t need to spend time formally supporting it.
“I don’t see it as that big of an issue affecting me or many of my peers, so in that sense, I think it’s really necessary for [GSA] to spend time addressing it,” Hernandez said. “It’s too small of an issue at this point — it’s gone through the courts already, it’s been decided UT can do it and other schools can do it.”