• UT System should remedy AAU sexual assault study's shortcomings

    According to the results of a survey released last month by the Association of American Universities, roughly one in four women will experience sexual assault during their time in college and one in five women at UT.

    That’s deeply troubling. But what’s almost as troubling is that, because of the survey’s limitations, we still know next to nothing about what sexual assault looks like at UT — meaning that we also know next to nothing about how to prevent it.

    The survey did include some useful details. For instance, it’s helpful for law enforcement to know that sexual assaults are more likely to occur off-campus. But for the UT System’s four-year study to provide more specific results, it needs to revise the AAU’s methodology.

    Despite its large sample size, the AAU survey still doesn’t tell us how many students are actually victims of sexual assault. As President Greg Fenves wrote in an email to the student body following the survey’s publication, even one assault is intolerable. But any self-reported study, especially one with an abysmal 13 percent response rate, will be distorted by sampling bias, perhaps even beyond the point of reliability.

    There are two simple approaches through which UT could address that problem. The first is to select a random sample of students, then collect enough demographic information to draw helpful conclusions from the data, including breakdowns based on race, age, classification and Greek affiliation. Alternatively, the University could make the survey mandatory by tying its completion to a student’s registration status, as it does with the “Know Your Line” safety module that freshmen must complete.

    The AAU survey gave us the most comprehensive evidence yet that sexual assault is a major problem on college campuses. The UT System will do its students a disservice if it merely parrots that result, without shedding light on any potential solutions.

    Shenhar is a Plan II, economics and government junior from Westport, Connecticut. He is an Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter @jshenhar.

  • Police Lives Matter undermines efforts to increase police accountability by Black Lives Matter

    Opposite sides of the spectrum of the discussion on police brutality were represented by two rallies held in downtown Austin on Sept. 19 — Police Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter. In order to understand the clashing of these two affiliations, one must know what they stand for. Black Lives Matter is a community-driven movement created to battle anti-black racism, as well as peacefully revolt against the disproportionate amount of police violence toward blacks. Police Lives Matter is a movement created to “highlight all the good that goes into protecting and serving,” but is rooted in complacency and undermines black activists.

    BLM gained traction following the shooting death of unarmed Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson. Since then, protests have erupted across the country following police killings of other unarmed black people, including Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Larry Jackson Jr., John Crawford and Freddie Gray.

    Fundamentally, BLM intends to hold police accountable for mistreating black people, along with battling other forms of anti-black racism.The Washington Post’s interactive database tracking police killings by gunfire, which the FBI admitted to improperly counting, is crucial accountability that exists because of BLM and other awareness initiatives.

    Furthermore, BLM’s grievances are not without statistical reinforcement. Black men are seven times more likely to be shot dead by police while unarmed than white men. As of 2013, 90 percent of those stopped-and-frisked by the NYPD were black or Hispanic, with 11.1 percent resulting in an arrest. Prison sentences for black men were 20 percent longer than white men with similar crimes. This blatant racial discrimination in the police and justice systems is what BLM wants to end.

    These statistics are only a small part of why “black lives matter” is a phrase every American needs to hear.

    The PLM Facebook page states “Police Lives Matter because All Lives Matter.” Much of the page’s dialogue operates around police safety and the debunked “War on Cops,” although felonious deaths of officers has been the lowest in decades. Simultaneously, police are killing civilians at outrageous speeds, and at a staggeringly higher rate than other developed countries. The page makes no attempt to acknowledge the police’s discriminatory track record.

    Movements like PLM, phrased identically to BLM as a means of contradiction, cloud the accountability black activists have worked to advance. When there is irrefutable documentation of harassment and violence against the black people officers are sworn in to protect, blind praise is the antithesis of a solution.

    BLM asking for their verifiable concerns to be acknowledged, as well as humanity, should not be controversial.

    Supporting police without criticising their oppression of black people proves what BLM has been saying from the beginning: Too many do not care about black lives. This isn’t the first time a group has attempted to disenfranchise black civil rights movements. To support BLM is to be on the right side of history.

    Hamze is an international relations and global studies junior from Austin. He is an Associate Editor. Follow Hamze on Twitter @adamhamz.

  • University needs to offer continuous support to transfer students

    Regardless how smooth a student’s transition is from high school to college, it is almost always terrifying. The apprehension associated with being thrown into a new environment is quelled by the fact that so many other students are engaging in the same experience. For transfer students, it is a different story. Transfer students face a new set of hardships, with scarce resources to ease the journey. The University, as well as Student Government, need to continue to find new, innovative ways to help these students feel comfortable at UT.

    From 2010–2014, there have been approximately 2,500 undergraduate transfer students admitted to the University per year. They are thrown into a pool of over 50,000 students, the majority of whom had the opportunity to go through orientation, involvement fair and other University entry-level programs with other incoming freshman. Often, incoming freshmen establish their friend groups and communities within their first year of college, making it difficult for transfer students to find their niche.

    The University offers certain programs, such as Longhorn Welcome Week, in order to give transfer students an opportunity to meet one another. But that isn’t enough. Transfer students should have specific resources throughout their first semesters to ask questions, meet new people and feel at home. There is currently only one organization on campus dedicated to this work, called Texas Transfer Students.

    Created over the summer by and for transfer students, Texas Transfer Students aims to establish weekly social events as well as academic advising, specifically for transfer students who reach out to their organization. The group hopes to smooth the transition for these students, instead of making them fend for themselves. Unfortunately, the organization is currently self-funded, relying on a GoFundMe page to raise money. 

    The quickest and most useful way for the Student Government to aid transfer students, as well as represent their needs, is to grant funding to this organization. The group dedicated to helping students feel less alone shouldn’t have to be alone in the process. There are a variety of reasons a student might be transferring to UT — coming from a two-year institution, looking for a new, more pleasant experience or maybe were unable to get into UT from high school. Whatever the reason, these students are looking to be a part of a wonderful yet vast community. The University should show them that they want them here as well.

    Hamze is an international relations and global studies junior from Austin. He is an associate editor. Follow him on Twitter @adamhamz.

  • China's Sept. 3 military display is about seeking recognition for sacrifices in Second World War

    The Second World War is the deadliest armed conflict in human history in terms of the total casualties of the war. Over 60 million people were killed and the destruction was so intense that it took at least a decade for the world to recover. 

    China lost 20 million people during the Second World War, which is one-third of the total population lost during the war. Yet, China is rarely mentioned in the history books for the pivotal part they played in helping the Allies defeat the Japanese during World War II.

    On Sept. 3, for the first time China held a military parade marking the 70th anniversary the Japanese Instrument of Surrender that ended the World War II. Critics of China claim this military parade is nothing more than a stunt to show off their new military might. I believe this parade is China trying to show the lack of international attention paid to their role in the World War II. 

    China’s role in the Second World War was vital in the Allies’ victory against the Japanese. The Chinese military’s resilience in bogging down the main body of the Japanese military within China prevented the Japanese from sending vital troop reinforcements to other active theaters of war in Asia, which heavily contributed to the U.S. victory in the Pacific. Had China not actively resisted the Japanese, Japan’s ambitions to conquer all of Asia could have become a reality. China was also a member of the Cairo Conference with the U.S. and U.K. in deciding the post-war world order in Asia after the defeat of the Japanese.

    Above all, China lost close to 20 million people in this conflict, with 14 million of them civilian casualties. The fact that this sacrifice is not internationally recognized is an insult to all those who served, fought and experienced the war first hand. 

    This conflict also shaped the identity of China since 1945. The controversy surrounding China’s confrontational foreign policy in 2015 can be traced back to World War II. By understanding this conflict, we can understand China’s current view of the world and how to deal with it.

    By also recognizing China’s role in this war we can finally recognize the heroic sacrifices made by both Chinese troops and civilians for the part they played in securing the Allied victory against Japanese aggression during World War II. 

    Chen is an international relations and global studies senior from Galveston. He is an associate editor. Follow him on Twitter @ZhelunC.

  • Rare admissions decision a step towards transparency

    “I do not know this young man or anything about his qualifications, but I do know [his] parents and I know his grandparents very well.”

    That ringing endorsement from former regent and UT donor Tex Montcrief, released during the Kroll investigation into UT’s admission policies under former President Bill Powers and published recently by the Dallas Morning News, was one of 73 reported instances of the president’s office overriding rejections issued by the admissions department. The ensuing firestorm led the Board of Regents to revamp the University’s “rare admissions” policy, which now requires the UT System Chancellor to review any overturned admissions decisions and bars the President from admitting “unqualified” applicants.

    It’s unclear how many admissions decisions will be affected by the new policy. Even without oversight, rare admissions represented just over one percent of the 65,163 full-time freshmen who enrolled during Powers’ tenure, and it’s impossible to know how many of them fall under the Regents’ definition of “unqualified.”

    Still, the measure should boost accountability at the upper levels of UT’s administration without restricting the President’s discretion to pursue the University’s best interests. The fact that new President Greg Fenves would have to justify all of his overrides to Chancellor William McRaven should deter him from egregiously interfering with the admissions office. But as unjust as it may be to give applicants preferential treatments based solely on their last names and their family’s bank accounts, doing so can appease donors without harming other current or prospective UT students. That allows UT to provide more resources and opportunities to all of its students, privileged or otherwise. Keeping those trade-offs well-regulated and above the table can prevent abuses without destroying the system in its entirety.

    Shenhar is an associate editor. Follow him on Twitter @jshenhar.

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