• SG strikes down legislation that would make marijuana a lower priority offense

    Student Government voted against legislation Tuesday that would ask UTPD to make marijuana possession a lower priority offense.

    The legislation encourages UTPD to issue citations instead of arrests, arguing it will save UTPD time, energy and money, and would encourage the enforcement of the campus-wide tobacco be a higher priority than marijuana. The legislation also states this lower priority would help limit disproportionate treatment under the law, based on race or ethnicity.

    Perry Pickei, public health junior and natural science representative, said his constituents in the College of Natural Science are not in support of the legislation. Pickei said the legislation is insufficient and Student Government should wait until the next term starts April 4, with new representatives to continue researching the topic before pushing for similar legislation.

    “Students come to this university to change the world, not to get high,” Pickei said. “This resolution is hurried and rash.”

    Several representatives said the legislation overstepped Student Government’s responsibility and power to try to impact police policy.

    Robert Love, public affairs graduate student and an author of the legislation, said the purpose of the legislation is to promote police efficiency and more equal treatment under the law.

    “This makes sense as far as saving money and police resources,” Love said. “We’re not trying to change policy; we are encouraging what they already are doing, [which is] issuing citations.”

    UTPD Chief Robert Dahlstrom said according to Travis County law, officers have the option to arrest or issue a citation to those in possession of fewer than four ounces of marijuana, at the officer’s discretion.

    “A resolution from [Student Government] doesn’t mean legally we have to change our policy,” Dahlstrom said. “I’m in support of citations when possible.”

    Dahlstrom said officers will abide by state law regardless of any campus policy or legislation. He said in cases with less than two ounces, citations are almost always issued.

    In 2012, UTPD had 58 controlled substance cases, although not all involved students.

  • Barton Springs to open doors for the year, following repairs

    Although Texas weather is struggling to make up its mind, Saturday’s reopening of Barton Springs Pool is a sure sign that summer is on its way. 

    The pool, which is fed by a natural spring, remains at an average 68 degrees throughout the year, according to the City of Austin website. It has been fully closed since December for repairs to the bypass tunnel and dam. 

    Victor Ovalle, public information officer for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, said Parks and Recreation staff had hoped to have the pool open before spring break, but they are still working to prepare for Saturday’s opening.

    “We expect the pool to be open this summer during its normal hours, and we’re glad to have our park patrons back to enjoy the pool in the normal way that they do,” Ovalle said. “We’re hoping that the repairs will help us keep the pool open for a long time. I know our staff is still continuing to work on cleaning to pool in preparation for Saturday.”

    Adult admission to the pool is $3, and it is closed on Thursdays for cleaning.

  • General faculty strike down fall break proposal in 27-58 vote

    Students will not be getting two extra days in the fall to relax and catch up on schoolwork — at least not any time soon.

    At a specially called meeting, faculty members voted against the fall break proposal Monday, which would have given students and faculty a two-day break near the end of October. The proposal would have also pushed the start of school two days earlier in August.

    Of the voting members present, 27 voted in support and 58 voted against.

    The special general faculty vote was announced after 61 faculty members submitted petitions in opposition to the proposal. Only 25 petitions were needed to call the general meeting. The last time this happened was 2001.

    Many cited the two-day break would cost classes required lab time, even if labs were available during the first week of class.

    Currently, the University has 12 full weeks of school for labs in the fall. If the fall break were implemented, professors would need to include labs during the first week of class to maintain the number of sessions.

    Faculty members also expressed concerns about not getting paid during the proposed longer first week.

    Correction: An earlier version of this article mistated what now happens to the fall break proposal. The proposal is now dead. 

  • Five candidates for School of Undergraduate Studies dean visit UT

    The School of Undergraduate Studies is undergoing a search for a new dean, and candidates are in the process of visting the campus.

    Five candidates will visit the campus to share presentations and speak with student and faculty. The finalist were selected by the school’s search committee, which includes UT faculty, staff and students who will help advise University president William Powers Jr.

    Michael Morton, Senate of College Councils president and member of the search committee, said the visits will help determine the best option to fill the position.

    “It is very important for the dean candidates to come to campus and see how everything operates,” Morton said. “It’s even more important for them to listen to students and get a firm grasp on the issues affecting them because these are the issues they’ll be tasked to solve and address.” 

    The candidates include Bernard Mair, the provost of Undergraduate Affairs and mathematics professor at the University of Florida, who visited campus Thursday.

    Selmer Bringsjordis, chairmen of the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will visit Tuesday.

    Paul Diehl, a political science and law professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will visit Thursday and Friday.

    Steven Brint, the vice provost for Undergraduate education and sociology professor at the University of California Riverside, will visit April 1 and 2. 

    Brent Iverson, UT Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry chairmen and professor, will give presentations on April 4 and 5.

  • Faculty vote to determine fall break to take place at Hogg Memorial Auditorium on Monday

    The general faculty meeting to vote on fall break March 25 will now be held in the Hogg Memorial Auditorium instead of the Student Activity Center auditorium.

    At least 366 voting faculty members must be present Monday to vote on the fall break proposal, which would give student and faculty two days off near the end of October.

    The special meeting was set after 59 faculty members petitioned in opposition of the proposal, forcing a full faculty vote after the Faculty Council initially voted in favor of it in January. Only 25 petitions were needed to call the meeting.

    Many professors expressed concerns about losing class time for required labs in natural science classes, which might require class restructuring or less lab time.The current proposal would also push the start of class two day earlier, on Aug. 26. The proposal would require these classes to start labs during the first week of class.

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