Campaigning for the campus-wide elections is fully under way now, but things have been a little quiet on the campaign trail for Executive Alliance, or Student Government president and vice president.
So with a little under a week to go until voting begins, we're curious to know who will be getting your vote.
If you already know, please take our poll above. But if you're still unclear on what the teams stand for, check out our news coverage as well as the candidate database we've set up for all the positions. To see the candidates in person, please come to our debate on Monday at 7 p.m. in Jester A121A. Participating will be the teams for president and vice president as well as the University-wide candidates. The Texan will begin issuing endorsements early next week.
Voting takes place from March 4 to March 5 and is open to UT students only. To vote, visit utexasvote.org.
On Feb. 11 the Graduate Student Assembly sent out a housing survey to better serve graduate students and enhance their living experience. Questions include how many rooms in an apartment graduate students prefer, what do they think is a reasonable monthly rent per person and how far from campus they would be willing to live. Responses could lead to the construction of new graduate student housing.
The survey was developed over the course of four weeks in conjunction with the GSA Housing Committee as well as John Dalton, the assistant dean of graduate studies.
“It’s great GSA is getting so involved with this," Dalton said. "It is absolutely crucial to understand what graduate students like to have. It’s not just a place to go home to sleep but a place to actually live."
So far GSA has received over 2,000 responses out of 11,000 graduate students in total. Brian Wilkey, president of GSA, told the Texan that they used different channels to distribute the survey.
“So far we have used the graduate school’s Listserv, also sent things out through our graduate student assembly members and to our representatives to make sure they get the word out to their department,” Wilkey said.
After collecting all the responses, the housing committee will analyze the data and present findings to the graduate school administrators. From there, Sasaki Associates, a University-contracted planning and design firm, will assess the feasibility of building graduate housing. Factors such as apartment capacity and the types of housing the school is able to build will be taken into consideration.
“It would be great for different graduate students from different disciplines to have an opportunity to interact,” Dalton said.
If a new housing project is given the green light by the University, UT could leverage housing benefits as a recruiting strategy against its peer institutions. While the possibility of offering every graduate student housing is slim, the Graduate School says it is open to new ideas to enhance the academic feel the students' living environment.
“Someone had an idea of having a faculty in residence that could serve as a mentor to some graduate students," Dalton said. "I love that idea. I think that’s really unique for the graduate student population."
Unfortunately, most current UT graduate students will not be able to enjoy new dedicated housing any time soon as the project is still very much in the preliminary stages. But the effort should not be stopped just because the numbers doesn’t work. For some graduate students, taking care of families and working at the same time as going to graduate school is nothing unusual, so the least UT can do is to try to support this group better by lessening their financial burden so they can succeed both academically as well as personally.
The survey closes Tuesday at noon and can be filled out at https://acsurvey.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9GE6kmCvTLEtY5D.
Universities are struggling to maintain their original mission. In his most recent column, Jeremi Suri recounted the history of public universities in the West and their fundamental ideals of deeper inquiry and personal discovery. Unfortunately today, those ideals must compete with the realities that face America’s working class. Higher education has become more accessible, but also more expensive and less effective.
Degrees today mean less. And more. High-quality research and teaching following the Second World War were reserved almost exclusively for the elite. Today, about 60 percent of high school students attend four-year institutions. This has facilitated tremendous socioeconomic mobility and enriched our universities. Students come from diverse backgrounds and bring with them new perspectives and skill sets. Today, pursuing a degree is more common and most jobs require them. On the same note, not having one is more expensive than it was 50 years ago. There is a notable income gap between high school and college graduates — $17,500 in 2013.
This has created a pressure to push students to get a degree, and rightly so. They won’t be paid without one. The students pursuing a four-year degree have to foot the six-figure bill. Half of our graduates leave this University with loans to repay, and their successors know this. Before most high school students even begin their college search, they are assaulted with questions of how they’ll pay their students loans. They can anticipate being entrenched in debt for the rest of their lives. Innovation and deeper inquiry must take a back seat to student loans, mortgages, credit cards and auto loans.
In order to preserve the American imperatives of equality and innovation, students must have the opportunities to experience them. This is the only way to sustain our country’s unique history of leadership that Suri recounts. If we allow universities to ignore the student debt crisis, we are responsible for pressuring our students to prioritize vocational job prospects and self-sustenance over their larger purposes.
Shah is a business and government sophomore from Temple.
On Monday, the Faculty Council (unanimously, I might add) reaffirmed its ban of firearms on campus following UT System Chancellor William McRaven's statement against the open carry bill currently making its way through the Legislature. Student Government came out with its decision to oppose the bill as well on Tuesday night. Senate Bill 17, the campus carry bill, and Senate Bill 17, the open carry bill, passed out of committee 7-2 last week despite objections from faculty and students. The fact that UT faculty and students' continuing opposition to Campus Carry is not being reflected in the decisions of our public officials is worrisome.
Beyond the threatening and unsafe atmosphere SB 11 would bring to campus, the bills would symbolize law being made without support from or consideration of the opinions of those being directly affected. It is in situations like these that the voices of Student Government and the Faculty Council should not be ignored. They are the representatives of our campus community and should have an integral say in the matter.
Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre who was shot four times, spoke at a Feb. 12 hearing concerning the bills before the committee voted, as did several UT students. Goddard said, “We survivors do not think that it is a good idea to have guns on campus. There is no evidence that a bill like SB 11 would do anything to stop a mass shooting, but SB 11 would make the average day on campus more dangerous in an environment where students are dealing with failing grades, alcohol abuse [and] relationship problems.” He's totally right. SB 11 would have no positive effects on campus life.
Unsurprisingly, Texas A&M's chancellor recently came out in support of Campus Carry and some of his students have followed suit. Fine. Let them do what they want on their campus. If they support it, let them decide that for themselves. But UT does not want campus carry, and that should matter. Let us keep our campus gun-free and listen to and respect the voices of our students and faculty.