• Graduate students oppose campus carry in letter to Fenves

    As faculty members from Gun-Free UT continue to debate the safety of the University leading up to the implementation of campus carry, graduate students made their voices heard Tuesday in a letter to University President Gregory Fenves.

    More than 1,000 graduate and professional students across UT expressed their opposition to Senate Bill 11, which allows people 21 years and older to have a concealed handgun. The Texas Senate passed the bill in May and Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill into law in June.

    In an email the group said these students chose to remain anonymous during their campaign as they call themselves “Coordinators for: UT Graduate Students Oppose Guns in Classrooms.”

    “Graduate and Professional Students operate as both students in classrooms as well as educators in their roles as Assistant Instructors and Teaching Assistants, and they are therefore particularly affected by the implementation of SB 11,” the group said in an email. “We have managed the campaign with the help of a number of volunteers who are also graduate students at UT Austin.”

    The group said that the online petition has been open to the public since Oct. 16, with the goal to send a letter to Fenves and the Board of Regents
    on Dec. 1.

    This petition will be available online through August 2016 and the group said in an email they expect the number of signatures to grow as media outlets report about it and more student groups become involved in discussions regarding campus carry.

    Campus carry goes into effect on Aug. 1, 2016, which is also the same day as the 50th anniversary of the Charles Whitman shooting that killed 15 people and left 32
    others wounded.

  • Resolution to block Syrian refugee assistance fails

    A resolution to block funds assisting Syrian refugees in their resettlement in the Austin area failed to pass a vote in the Public Safety Committee on Monday evening. As a result, the resolution will not reach the full Council for consideration.

    Austin City Council member Don Zimmerman drafted the resolution in the wake of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris in order to prevent the city government from monetarily facilitating Syrian refugee resettlement. The resolution failed on a 2-1 vote in committee with the only vote in support coming from Zimmerman.

    Austin’s refugee resettlement programs are primarily funded by nonprofits and do not depend on the city treasury, however, the city does spend money to provide health services for refugees, the Austin-American Statesman reported.

  • Officials identify man found dead in Lady Bird Lake as UT student

    A man found dead in Lady Bird Lake early Sunday was confirmed Monday evening to be a UT graduate student, according to a statement from UTPD Chief David Carter.

    The student, Santiago Gonzalez, was in the McCombs professional accounting program at UT. Carter described the death as devastating to the entire University.

    Out of respect to the family, we are unable to share any other details,” Carter said. “We are committed to helping fellow students mourning this death through university counseling services and other programs.”

    The cause and nature of death are undetermined, according to the Austin-American Statesman. According to the press release, UTPD is working closely with the Austin Police Department to find out more details about his death.

    This story is developing.

  • UTHealth receives new name, $75 million gift

    The UT Health Science Center at Houston Medical School will be renamed the John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School following a $75 million gift from the John P. McGovern Foundation on Monday.

    The gift is the largest in the school’s history, according to an email from UTHealth President Giuseppe Colasurdo, and it will be given in 14 separate endowments to the medical school and to the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics.

    Colasurdo said the endowment will be used to “bolster medical training, will provide full scholarships to outstanding students and will support scientific discovery and education.” The gift will also enhance programs at the McGovern Center and will create a collaborative research endowment for interdisciplinary learning and discovery, according to the McGovern Medical School website.

  • Helicopter crash kills 4 at Fort Hood

    A UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter carrying four crew members crashed Monday night in the northern part of Fort Hood during a routine drill. Emergency crews announced after a search that four crew members were found dead.

    “It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of four First Army Division West Soldiers as a result of a UH-60A helicopter crash that happened Monday evening,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general, First Army Division West, said in a statement. “The accident is under investigation and the names of the deceased will be released after the families have been notified. ”   

    Soon after the incident, Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement about the plane crash.

    “[First Lady Cecilia Abbott] and I extend our sincerest condolences to the families of the four soldiers who tragically lost their lives in preparation for defending our country,” Abbott said in the statement. “Whether at home or abroad, our soldiers put their lives on the line every day to secure the freedoms we hold dear in Texas and the United States of America. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and with the military community at Fort Hood during this difficult time.”

    Fort Hood, a military base located in Killeen, Texas, is one of the Army’s largest bases, with a population of about 218,000 personal including their spouses and children.