Forum: National affairs consume campus politics

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Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

For the third consecutive year, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow on Student Government election day, and so the UT student body will enjoy another week of campaigning. Much of the conversation surrounding this week’s festivities has centered on the degree to which SG should speak out on national and local political affairs. Our Forum contributions for this week focus on that subject, as well as The Daily Texan editorial board’s non-endorsement in the Executive Alliance race.

The first, by soon-to-be lame duck SG President Kevin Helgren, discusses why student leaders should serve as advocates for their constituents. He defends the introduction of partisan politics into SG and details how student issues are inevitably intertwined with national affairs. The second, by his 2016 executive alliance opponent Kallen Dimitroff, criticizes the editorial board’s refusal to endorse a ticket. Dimitroff argues that the Daily Texan Editorial Board has an obligation to endorse in the race when appropriate, and that their failure to do so this election cycle highlights what she sees as a greater trend of SG-related ignorance in the paper. 

On Dimitroff’s point, we’d like to clarify that the Editorial Board’s non-endorsement was not a discouragement from voting, but rather a vehicle to express their doubts that any of the executive alliance tickets are equipped to manage student affairs in accordance with their perception of the University’s needs and desires. And both the Forum team and the editorial board have agreed with Dimitroff’s belief in the importance of Student Government through the duration of the election process. We look forward to following the race as it continues.

Next week, we’ll highlight some experiences of direct, targeted incitement that students of color and religious minorities have experienced on and around campus — harassment of the sort that falls outside the bounds of the First Amendment’s protections on hate speech. We’ll also turn our focus to the Texas Legislature, which will begin debating SB 6 — the controversial “bathroom bill” — on Tuesday. As always, if you have any thoughts on these topics or any others, send us an email at editor@dailytexanonline.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Shenhar is a Plan II, economics, and government senior from Westport, Connecticut. Vernon is a rhetoric and writing sophomore from The Woodlands.