Daily Texan

Photo Credit: Daily Texan Staff

Thanks for watching our live stream of the SG debate. For more coverage,  Click here to view our interactive database of all campus-wide candidates and their platforms and follow us on Twitter for the latest news.

Tonight at 7:00 p.m., watch as Daily Texan editor-in-chief Riley Brands moderates a debate between the Executive Alliance and University-Wide Representative candidates for the 2015 Student Government elections. For live-tweets from the debate, follow news editor Julia Brouillette at @juliakbrou

Want to get caught up on each candidate? Click here to view our interactive database of all campus-wide candidates and their platforms.

Voting will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at utexasvote.org.

Editor’s Note: This year four candidates are running for three available voting seats on the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees, which oversees The Daily Texan, the Cactus yearbook, the Texas Travesty humor publication, Texas Student Television and the KVRX 91.7 FM radio station. Three candidates are running for the two at-large seats and one student for the one open Moody College of Communication seat. Candidates were asked shortly after their certification to write two 500-word columns. The second column focuses on a topic of the candidate’s choosing relating to their campaign. Candidates who participated wrote their own headlines. Only light typographical corrections were made. Among the at-large candidates, the top two vote-getters will be seated. Jan Ross Piedad, the Moody College of Communication candidate, has written a column that is running here. She agreed to forgo print space. For more information on the candidates, please visit our candidate database here.

My first contact with the Texas Student Media Board of Trustees occurred about two and a half years ago. Susannah Jacob, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Texan at the time, had encouraged me to attend what she thought would be a “historic board meeting.”

During the meeting the TSM Board would discuss — and vote on — cutting the print media publications TSM oversaw. The drastic move came because for the first time in its one hundred twelve year history, The Daily Texan and its peer publications faced a six-figure budget deficit — a lingering effect of years of declining print advertising revenue.

So, thanks to Susannah’s encouragement, around 2:30 p.m. that Friday I trudged from my class across campus to the FAC where the board meeting was in full swing. 

As I entered and walked up to the third floor, I realized that the room to which I was headed was packed — full beyond capacity. A police officer stood at the door to keep people from entering and violating the room’s fire safety code.  

I was stunned by the turnout, to say the least. Suddenly hesitant, I decided to linger in the hallway for a moment, thinking: Should I enter? Do I even belong here? What if the officer turns me away?

Thankfully, I decided that since I had walked all the way across campus in the blazing heat to attend this meeting, I would enter that room. No officer would stop me. So I did. I mustered my courage, pretended as though I knew exactly what I was doing, and waltzed right in. I’m so glad I did. 

I opened the door to face some of the most impassioned students and alumni I had seen. These people had taken time out of their day — and for some their jobs — to defend The Daily Texan, Texas Travesty and Cactus Yearbook. They had come to save the voice of the students. They had come to keep print journalism alive. 

Thanks to their efforts, the Texan endured on that day as it has continued to do so in many board meetings since then. It’s only because of their effort and dedication — that of the hundreds of students who work at Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan — that the publications have endured. It’s these publications and these student interests that I will protect as a voting board member. 

A university as large, important and historic as UT needs a strong, independent student newspaper as much as it needs Student Government or Senate or college wide councils. It needs KVRX. It needs TSTV. It needs the Cactus, and it needs the Travesty. These publications in turn need representatives on the board that will protect them and the interests of the students who run them. 

In 1955, Daily Texan Editor Willie Morris wrote, “The Daily Texan is bigger than any one man … Protect it and its traditions [and] you will see your life here in much nobler focus.” He might as well have been talking about all five TSM publications — five publications whose publications and traditions I will protect on the TSM Board. 

Vote Amil Malik for TSM Board at-large on March 4 and 5.

Malik is a business honors and finance senior from Austin. She is running for an at-large seat on the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees.

Thursday’s UT System Board of Regents meeting came and went with perhaps the most unwelcome news possible regarding tuition for the next two years: No news at all.

The regents’ decision hurls the University into a state of uncertainty, creating administrative nightmares as it prepares its budget for the 2012-13 academic year. Students are left adrift in nightmares of their own as they begin registering for classes on Monday without knowing what their tuition bills will be.

In 2010, the previous tuition-setting year, the regents approved the tuition proposals of the system’s universities in early March. The group’s continued delay is the longest since the state Legislature granted tuition-setting power to the board in 2003, and the reason for the delay remains largely unexplained, according to The Daily Texan.

President William Powers Jr. submitted his proposal to the UT System in January to increase tuition by 2.6 percent for resident undergraduate students and by 3.6 percent for all other students. Powers’ recommendation mirrored the proposal prepared by the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee (TPAC), which is composed of nine voting members, four of which are students. However, much of TPAC’s process resembled a charade as it was bound by directives from the system. Two of the most restrictive directives set a cap on the maximum tuition increase TPAC could propose and required that all increases be tied to improving four-year undergraduate graduation rates.

The board’s delay in addressing tuition policy brings about a few interesting questions.

First, the next scheduled regents meeting is May 2-3, which coincides with the hellacious last week of classes for most students at UT. And while the board has been supportive of keeping tuition low, any increase will likely be met with demurring by individuals who feel that any increase simply reinforces the hegemonic narrative of transferring the burden of public education from the state to parents and students. The board does have the option of calling a special meeting before May to address tuition, however.

Second, since last year, several University administrators have privately acknowledged — and cringed at — the possibility of the regents disallowing any tuition increases at all despite state budgets cuts. Their postponement of the decision only adds to that anxiety.

Deans at UT had to submit a proposal to the provost’s office in October that outlined how they would use any extra money they receive from increasing tuition to improve four-year graduation rates. The Daily Texan acquired the proposals through the Texas Public Information Act.

Several deans proposed using the money to reduce bottleneck courses, improve academic advising and tracking and increase mentorship services. Others, such as at engineering and business deans, proposed using the money to hire tenure and tenure-track faculty members to reduce the student-to-faculty ratios in classrooms — a respectable thought, but one that is concerned more with improving rankings than graduation rates. The College of Communication even suggested using some of the new money to build a bridge across Dean Keeton Street to connect the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center with the new Belo Center for New Media, which will open in November.

It is possible that the regents may scrutinize the proposals and feel that they do not merit a tuition increase. UT System spokesman Anthony de Bruyn said that the deans’ proposals are currently being reviewed by the chancellor.

Additionally, while most universities in the state are upholding the emerging tradition of increasing tuition, some are holding out. Within the UT System, UT-Brownsville, UT-San Antonio and UT-El Paso are all proposing tuition increases, but UT-Arlington is not. And while the Texas A&M University System approved a system-wide, 3.95 percent tuition increase in February, the University of Houston System plans to keep its tuition the same.

The implications of the board’s decision go beyond the biennium as a change in tuition policy can affect how many view higher education as a whole.
At the moment though, the board’s inaction just has everyone else scrambling.

A crowd assembled Wednesday in the CMA plaza to protest The Daily Texan in response to the controversial editorial cartoon published in TuesdayÂ’s paper.

Photo Credit: Nathan Goldsmith | Daily Texan Staff

The Daily Texan editorial board apologized for a cartoon published in Tuesday’s Daily Texan at a Wednesday protest by students and Austinities who said the illustration reflected ignorance and racism.

The five members of the editorial board signed off on the cartoon before it ran, said Daily Texan editor-in-chief Viviana Aldous, Plan II and philosophy senior. In an official apology published in today’s Texan, Aldous said the board should not have approved the cartoon. Stephanie Eisner, the editorial cartoonist who drew the illustration, is no longer working at The Daily Texan and has apologized in a separate statement.

The cartoon depicts a mother reading to her child the following words: “And then the big bad ‘white’ man killed the handsome, sweet, innocent ‘colored’ boy.” The mother reads from a book entitled “Treyvon (sic) Martin and the case of yellow journalism.”

Many were upset with the use of the word “colored” and timing of the comic, which was released the same day as a large downtown rally for Trayvon, said Black Student Alliance member Jasmine Kyles, journalism junior.

“A lot of people don’t realize how insensitive this comic is, and this affects the recruitment of African-American students to the University by making the campus look bad,” Kyles said. “When they see things like this, they think the University is racist even though that hasn’t been everyone’s experience here.”

Eisner said she created the work to criticize the media’s attempt to simplify and sensationalize news stories.

“Our intent was not to offend anyone, and we are sorry that it happened,” the board said in its apology. “There was clear oversight that happened in allowing this cartoon to be published.”

The usage of the word “colored” also tied the cartoon directly to racist sentiments deeply embedded in U.S. history, said journalism professor Robert Jensen, who teaches a class on media law and ethics.

“Any cartoon that uses an overtly racist term such as ‘colored boy’ expresses a racist sentiment,” Jensen said. “The evidence is clear that in a white-supremacist society, we white people who do not endorse a racist ideology are not free of racist sentiments at an unconscious level.”

Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old African-American, was allegedly shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman while walking through a gated community to his father’s fiance’s home in Sandford, Fla. last month.

Zimmerman has claimed the killing was in self-defense, and because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law he has not been taken into custody. Following a slow build of awareness through a number of articles published in The New York Times and discussions in online forums, the killing rose to national awareness and clamor has grown for Zimmerman’s arrest.

Occupy UT members Lucian Villasenor and Michelle Uche, who is also a member of the International Socialist Organization at UT, created the protest that began outside The Daily Texan’s office at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. They also drafted a petition to censure the cartoonist who created the illustration, replace the editorial board and open The Daily Texan to commentary and guest editors from the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies to raise awareness about racial issues, Villasenor said.

Daily Texan Managing Editor Audrey White and the editorial board spoke and answered questions from members of the protest.

“We have not done enough to try and explore how racism affects this campus,” White said. “You deserve a paper that reflects the interests of everyone at UT.”

Many members of the protest were unhappy with just a simple apology, such as anthropology graduate student Elvia Mendoza, who said UT needs action about racism and not just discussions about diversity.

“We need to do more than just talk about race and diversity, we need to talk about how racism continues to affect this campus, and that means having more than just forums and meetings,” Mendoza said.

A large number of Daily Texan and UT alumni were also unhappy with the publication of the cartoon, including those who published comments on The Daily Texan website.

Journalism graduate student Tara Haelle, who taught journalism for four years at Sam Houston High School in Arlington, said she was disappointed by the “knee-jerk” reaction of the alumni and believes the board should not have apologized.

“I would expect the alumni to recognize the importance of free speech and not to chastise and patronize the editorial board,” Haelle said. “I don’t happen to agree with the opinion of the cartoonist, but if nothing else, that cartoon encourages a discussion about race.”

Journalism professor Maggie Rodriguez, who teaches a class on Hispanics in the media, said journalists could not use professional practices as a substitute for sensitivity.

She also said that while The Daily Texan was not being intentionally racist, more diversity in the staff was needed.

“By diversity I don’t mean people of the same race, but people who can be anyone and have special sensitivity to ethnicity,” Rodriguez said. “Just filling The Daily Texan with people of different races wouldn’t work, because you can have a person of a special race who is not aware of certain issues in our country.”

Rodriguez said she hopes The Daily Texan is able to grow from the oversight involved in publishing the cartoon.

“I hope people don’t just get fired,” Rodriguez said. “If people can come out of a mistake on race related issues and learn from it, then you can become a huge advocate for looking at race in a more nuanced way.”

In the board’s apology, it offers steps to improve the Texan’s coverage of race and racism, including requiring education about race and media for Texan staff and seeking submissions from a wider range of columnists.

“We understand these are only small steps in the much larger transformation we must undergo,” the board said. “We sincerely apologize for publishing the offensive cartoon and for the harm that decision caused.”

Printed on Thursday, March 29, 2012 as: Protesters: racism still affects campus