Texas A&M University

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas Exes canceled the annual Hex Rally on Monday because of inclement weather and the effects of the rain on all the participants and electrical equipment involved.

“You got a lot of equipment out there that the rain was likely to effect — it wasn’t the cold,” said Tim Taliaferro, vice president of communications and digital strategy for the Texas Exes. “You’ve got Longhorn Network that’s going to be out there to do the show, and they’ve got equipment, and the band’s going to be out there. … Bevo wasn’t going to be able to be there.”

The tradition began in 1941 after a local fortune teller advised the Longhorns to burn red candles to perform a “hex” on Texas A&M University, which was ranked No. 2 going into the Thanksgiving Day game. Texas won the game 23-0 in College Station. Since then, the rally has only ever been canceled once before — in 1999 out of respect for 12 Texas A&M students who died after the Aggie Bonfire famously collapsed during Thanksgiving week.

After Texas A&M moved to the Southeastern Conference last season, Texas played Texas Christian University in 2012 and will play Texas Tech University on Thursday.

Senior geography lecturer Troy Kimmel said the current weather Austin is experiencing came in early on Friday morning. The cold air arrived first and the upper air systems arrived after and combined to create the cold, moist environment. 

Rain gauges at Camp Mabry have recorded approximately 2.74 inches of rain since last Thursday at midnight. The lowest temperatures have been around 36 degrees.

Journalism junior Eleanor Holmes said she understood why the Texas Exes canceled the event, but she still wanted to carry out the tradition started in 1941.

“I think it’s important that the student body [makes sure] the Hex Rally, and these traditions didn’t die when A&M went to the SEC,” Holmes said. “It’s a Texas tradition, and we have to make sure that it continues on.”

Kimmel said the weather is expected to change Tuesday morning, and Austin should not expect any ice in the mean time.

“We just weren’t cold enough to get the ice … but we just missed it by a couple of degrees, being a little bit too warm,” Kimmel said.

Computer science junior Rebecca Carrender said she will be traveling home for the Thanksgiving holiday but is not worried about the weather as the system leaves. 

“I’m not too concerned,” Carrender said. “I prefer that it didn’t rain, but, as long as there’s not ice on the road, I’m not too concerned.” 

On Tuesday, the temperature is expected to dip to 31 degrees, with a high of 49 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

UT and Texas A&M University officially opened the Joint Library Facility Friday, a library in Bryan, Texas where libraries from both schools can send less-popular books. 

Photo Credit: Texas A&M University | Texas A&M

More than a million books from UT and Texas A&M University will have a new, shared home in Bryan, Texas.

The $6.3 million dollar Joint Library Facility officially opened Friday and will free up room at the main libraries at both schools by allowing them to send less popular books to the Bryan library, officials said.

It will also reduce costs associated with storing print books and journals, which amounts to $4.26 to store one book each year. UT and A&M worked on the project for three years.

The new facility will use high-density shelving to store library books and reduce the cost of storage to 86 cents per book each year. Other academic and health institutions will be able to use materials from this library, officials said.

UT and A&M have collaborated on joint library projects in the past, including a preservation library for rare books at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus.

“Collaborating allows us to build a larger facility and share a single copy of an item that can be recalled by a patron at either of the universities,” said Travis Willmann, a spokesman for UT Libraries. “[It] keeps down costs for each university.”

Willmann said the goal of the Joint Library Facility is to create new study space in libraries at both universities and free up more room for higher circulation materials.

James Hallmark, A&M vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the Joint Library Facility is an example of cost efficiency and cost sharing.

 “We live in an era of unprecedented budget cuts to higher education. We must pool our resources and work together for the good of Texans, especially those with students attending our universities,” Hallmark said in a statement.

Alejandro Azocar, an aerospace engineering senior at Texas A&M, said he uses the libraries often for his research. Azocar works on creating aircraft simulators from scratch and also tests new autopilot systems.

“It may seem inconvenient to not have the library nearby, but the library's existence will most likely make more books accessible for students that may otherwise not be available,” Azocar said.

Finance junior John Roberts was the only representative to vote against the bill supporting the continuation of funding the Gender and Sexuality Center.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

A bill to ensure the continuation of funding for the Gender and Sexuality Center passed in Student Government on Tuesday.

The bill was filed in response to events at Texas A&M University, where its Student Senate filed a bill to allow students to opt out of funding the University’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center for religious reasons. 

The purpose of the bill was to show that the student body supports the Gender and Sexuality Center and its educational value, Queer Students Alliance director Kent Kasischke said.

All members voted in support of the bill, with the exception of John David Roberts, a finance junior and McCombs representative.

“Today I represent the constituency that isn’t okay with the minority being forced to pay for something that they might have a moral problem with,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he is a supporter of the gay community and was a sponsor for another bill that supports Ally Day. The difference is that the Ally Day bill is about support while the Gender and Sexuality Center bill is about money, Roberts said.

“Just because we are a Texas school does not mean we are going to do the same actions [Texas A&M and the Texas Legislature] have,” said Janet Yang, an author of the Gender and Sexuality Center funding bill.

Yang said the bill also addressed the possibility of people around the nation categorizing UT into the beliefs Texas A&M and the Texas Legislature have set forth recently. The bill will not make any changes, but was an expression of Student Government’s stance on funding the Gender and Sexuality Center, according to Yang.

“It’s the visibility of it all,” Yang said. “Just to make sure that the stance of UT is being seen, we want to put something in writing explaining our viewpoint.”

A&M Legislative Relations Ambassador Clayton Williford discusses the importance of state funding for higher education during Flagship Legislative Day at the Texas Capital building Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Students from UT, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, Texas Tech University and the University of Houston united at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to lobby for higher education funding.

The University’s student-run Invest in Texas campaign hosted Flagship Legislative Day for students from the institutions to meet with key legislators and discuss the importance of state funding for higher education. 

“At the beginning of summer, we were looking at how we could make Invest In Texas stronger,” Michael Morton, campaign co-director and Senate of College Councils president, said. “We talked about strategic partnerships with different universities to show the combined effort for higher education, and we wanted to get the flagships involved and show that student leaders across the state are very concerned about this.”

The university representatives were divided into five groups, including one student representative from each university. Throughout the day, each student met with representatives from six legislative offices and discussed how his university would impact the state of Texas. 

UT’s finance junior Nancy Bonds brought up the point that for every $1 the state invests in the University, $18 is generated in the Texas economy.

“We are in a bad budget situation in this legislative session and that makes it a little more desirable to put money back into higher education,” Morton said.

Zachary Haber, a student representative for Texas Tech University, spoke to representatives about the large number of students going to out-of-state schools, raising an issue for the Texas economy. 

“Ultimately, the points we brought up today were valid and need to be discussed at the Capitol,” Haber said. “The representatives were very responsive and overall, we had very positive feedback from all of them.”

Allison Sibley, the Texas State University student body vice president, said even though she was exhausted after walking around the Capitol all day, she was grateful the representatives were willing to take time out of their legislative work and listen to the students.

“As far as Texas State goes, it was very beneficial,” Sibley said. “It was an honor that UT asked us to join them in the Flagship Day, and I do think it is great to be a cohesive body for higher education.”

Published on February 13, 2013 as "Texas universities unite for education funding". 

The University of Texas and Texas A&M University would be forced to hit the field together once a year if the Texas Legislature approves a bill filed Monday.

The bill, filed by Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, did not have an accompanying text as of Monday night, but a post on Guillen’s Twitter account said the two rival universities would face each other in an annual non-conference game. 

“This game is as much a Texas tradition as cowboy boots and barbecue,” Guillen, Texas A&M alumnus, told The Texas Tribune. “The purpose of the bill is to put the eyes of Texas upon our two greatest universities to restore this sacred Texas tradition.”

If either institution refuses to participate in the game, it would suffer restrictions on its athletic scholarships, according to The Texas Tribune.

UT and Texas A&M previously faced each other annually on Thanksgiving. That tradition ended when A&M left the Big 12 to join the Southeastern Conference at the start of the 2012-13 academic year. UT defeated A&M at their last meeting in 2011, 27-25.

In 2011, Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said he would file legislation during the 83rd Legislature requiring the two teams to meet. So far, no such legislation has been filed in the Senate.

“This football series began in 1894, and I don’t think it’s time to stop this rivalry,” Williams said in a 2011 press release.

DeLoss Dodds, UT men’s head athletic director, said in 2011 that such legislation would cause scheduling conflicts for both teams because each team’s schedule is confirmed until 2018.

Electrical engineering freshman Dushyant Bhatnagar said he would be excited to watch the two teams play each other again but said he hopes the Legislature does not prioritize establishing the game over more pressing topics.

“It’s better to keep a strong state than to mandate a football game,” Bhatnagar said.

Leah Miller, Latin American studies freshman, said she does not pay attention to UT football and does not know what the Big 12 is.

“I know football’s a big deal down here but I’m from Massachusetts,” Miller said.

Printed on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 as: Bill proposes annual UT, Texas A&M face-off 

Police are continuing to search for a freshman wide receiver for Texas A&M University who has been missing since Monday evening.

Thomas Linze Johnson, 18, was last seen leaving his residence in College Station at 5 p.m. Monday, according to a press release distributed by the A&M Police Department on Wednesday. Johnson grew up and attended high school in Dallas, where he still has family and friends, and police say he may have traveled to the Dallas area.

Johnson originally committed to play at UT but decommitted before signing with A&M. During his first season on the Aggies’ football team, he has 339 yards receiving and one touchdown.

A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin released the following statement Tuesday:

“All of us are obviously very concerned about the safety and well-being of Thomas Johnson, who has been missing since Monday evening,” Sumlin said. “Authorities are working closely with his family, friends and law enforcement agencies to help locate him. Thomas is a tremendous student-athlete, greatly admired by his fellow teammates and all of us on the coaching staff. If anyone has any current information about him or knows of his whereabouts, please contact his family or law enforcement authorities immediately. We pray for his quick and safe return.”

A&M police are asking anyone with information about Johnson’s location to contact them at 979-845-2345.

Representatives from the Texas State Employees Union urged students to speak out against job privatization Thursday night.

Photo Credit: Taylor Barron | Daily Texan Staff

Following the privatization of more than 1,500 jobs at Texas A&M University this summer and thousands of other positions across the state, UT students are working with state-worker advocacy agencies as a measure to prevent the same from happening at UT.

Members of the UT chapter of United Students Against Sweatshops are collecting signatures on a petition started by the Texas State Employees Union with the goal of restoring funding cuts to higher education during the 82nd state legislative session. According to the petition, the funding cut during the 2011 Texas legislative session led to “radical increases in tuition and fees charged to students and forced the elimination of thousands of university teaching and staff positions” statewide.
Representatives from the organizations said they fear widespread privatization of staff jobs at UT.

“The only thing you have to be afraid of is if you don’t do anything, you are going to get hit in the head,” Jim Branson, assistant organizing coordinator for the Texas State Employees Union, said. “There is no such thing as hiding when this kind of thing goes down. There is not hiding. They will privatize and they will not spare anyone.”

Ted Hooker, organizer for the Texas State Employees Union, said the petition has received roughly 5,000 signatures so far statewide.

Branson said one of the best things UT workers can do to protect themselves from privatization is to join a union. He said only about 700 UT workers have joined the Texas State Employee Union.

Christine Williams, sociology professor and department chair, said joining a union and speaking out about University injustices isn’t always easy to do for many at UT.

“If workers make noise, they get fired, unless they are tenured professors,” Williams said. “That’s why it’s so important that students speak out, because they are not going to fire you. They need you and your tuition.”

UT spokesperson Rhonda Weldon said there are no official regulations at UT prohibiting employees from joining unions, and if informal actions were taken to prevent unionization, the administration would want to stop it.

Weldon said the only recent job privatization at UT was for 36 custodial workers at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus earlier this year. She said no employees lost their jobs in that process, and the 36 workers were transferred to the main campus.

Weldon said the move helped Facilities Services achieve the University-mandated 2 percent self-funded contingency reserve, a fund set aside to pay for future issues.

Branson said although privatization is not currently rampant at UT, it could occur quickly. He said members of the UT community should come together now to prevent it by taking action including joining unions, speaking out and signing the petition.

A connection has been made between the man charged with making a false email bomb threat against Texas A&M University on Oct. 19 and the woman charged with making three false email bomb threats against Texas State University on Oct. 18 and Oct. 19.

The Texas A&M University Police Department arrested Dereon Tayronne Kelly, 22, of Bryan in connection with a bomb threat that was emailed to Texas A&M’s Computing Information Services Department on Oct. 19, forcing the evacuation of the entire university. Allan Baron, Texas A&M police spokesperson, said Kelly is an acquaintance of Brittany Nicole Henderson, 19, who was arrested Oct. 23 by Bryan police for making one email bomb threat against Texas State on Oct. 18 that forced the evacuation of three campus buildings and two email bomb threats the next day. University operations were not affected by the second and third bomb threats.

Texas A&M and Texas State police said no bombs were found in either case. The targeted area of Texas State, its admissions building, was searched Oct. 18, and the entire Texas A&M campus was searched Oct. 19.

UT received a false phone-in bomb threat that prompted the evacuation of the campus Sept. 14. Bob Harkins, associate vice president of Campus Safety and Security, said UT officials do not believe the threat is related to the bomb threats made against Texas A&M and Texas State.

According to a press release issued by Texas A&M police Monday, Texas A&M Police Department investigators, the FBI and several other law enforcement agencies were able to link Kelly to the threat through his cellphone, and Henderson remains a person of interest in that case.

Daniel Benitez, captain of operations for the Texas State University Police Department, said Henderson’s arrest came after Texas State police were able to link the threat to her email account.

Kelly was arrested at the Brazos County Jail, where he was being held for unrelated charges. He has been charged with making a terroristic threat, a third-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Henderson was charged with three counts of making a terroristic threat and three counts of making a false alarm, a misdemeanor.

Kelly and Henderson remain in the Brazos County Jail. Kelly is being held on $150,000 bond each and Henderson on $300,000 bond.

Printed on Wednesday, October 31, 2012 as: Link found in bomb threats 

Connection made between those arrested for Texas State and Texas A&M University email bomb threats

A connection has been made between the man charged with making a false email bomb threat against Texas A&M University on Oct. 19 and the woman charged with making three false email bomb threats against Texas State University on Oct. 18 and 19.

The Texas A&M University Police Department has arrested Dereon Tayronne Kelly, 22, of Bryan in connection with a bomb threat that was emailed to Texas A&M’s Computing Information Services Department on Oct. 19, forcing the evacuation of the entire university. Allan Baron, Texas A&M police spokesperson, said Kelly is an acquaintance of Brittany Nicole Henderson, 19, who was arrested Oct. 23 by Bryan police for making one email bomb threat against Texas State on Oct. 18, that forced the evacuation of three campus buildings, and two email bomb threats the next day.

Texas A&M and Texas State police said no bombs were found in either case. The targeted area of Texas State, its admissions building, was searched on Oct. 18 and the entire Texas A&M campus was searched on Oct. 19. No bombs were found in either case.

UT received a false phone-in bomb threat that prompted the evacuation of our entire campus on Sept. 14.

Bob Harkins, associate vice president of Campus Safety and Security, said UT officials do not believe the threat is related to the bomb threats made against Texas A&M and Texas State.

According to a press release issued by Texas A&M police Monday, investigators with the Texas A&M Police Department, the FBI and several other law enforcement agencies were able to link Kelly to the threat through his cellular telephone, and Henderson remains a person of interest in that case.

Daniel Benitez, captain of operations for the Texas State University Police Department, said Henderson’s arrest came after Texas State police were able to link the threat to her email account.

Kelly was arrested at the Brazos County jail where he was being held for unrelated charges. He has been charged with making a terroristic threat, a third degree felony, punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Henderson was charged with three charges of making a terroristic threat, a third degree felony, and three charges of making a false alarm, a misdemeanor.

Kelly and Henderson remain in the Brazos County Jail. Henderson is being held on $150,000 bond and Henderson on $300,000 bond.

Enrollment at public universities is increasing across Texas, not just at UT-Austin.

Texas A&M University, the University of North Texas, Texas State University, Texas Tech University and the University of Houston all saw increased enrollments this year. This is the 15th consecutive year Texas State’s and the fourth consecutive year Texas Tech’s enrollments have increased.

Texas Tech admissions director Ethan Logan said the downturn in the national economy has contributed to statewide increased enrollment, among other factors.

“Generally, when you have a downturn in the economy you have an upturn in enrollment,” Logan said. “The economy starts to depress, and there are a lot of folks who want to go to college to improve the opportunity to get a job and make a good wage.”

UT-Austin admitted 8,092 first-year students this fall, which is a 13.2-percent increase from last year and its largest in history. UT’s total enrollment is the second largest in the school’s history at 52,213.

The University did not plan to admit so many students this year. Every year, the University offers admissions assuming that some students will decline admissions offers. More students than anticipated accepted admission offers.

While UT faced problems with its increased enrollment, including housing issues, other institutions were expecting or working for their increase.

Texas A&M’s total enrollment has reached more than 50,000. This is the first time A&M has passed the 50,000-student milestone.

In an email, Texas A&M spokesperson Jason Cook said the large student body has not caused the university any problems.

“University officials here anticipated the increases and planned accordingly, so the effects of the larger student body have been manageable,” Cook said.

Fall 2012 marked the 15th consecutive year Texas State has set a new record for its enrollment. Total enrollment was at 34,229, up from 34,113 last year. Texas State saw its second largest incoming freshman class at 4,251 students.

Texas Tech has also seen a steady increase in its enrollment figures for multiple years. This is the fourth consecutive year of increased enrollment. Logan said Tech has been working on increasing its enrollment since 2008. He said the university’s goal is to reach 40,000 students by 2020.

Logan said the increase is designed to be gradual so that Texas Tech’s resources are not taxed.

“At this point we have not reached a critical increase that has challenged the resources of our institution,” Logan said. “We are trying to be conservative in the effort in growing the enrollment.”

He said the university is responding to the steady increase with new resources. For example, Texas Tech opened a new residential hall this year.

University of North Texas saw a 9.2-percent increase in its first-year enrollment to 4,444 students.

The University of Houston also saw an increase in its total enrollment but a decrease in first-year students.

Despite enrollment increases in many Texas universities, the U.S. Department of Education released a report Tuesday that found the number of undergraduates in the country dropped from 18.65 million students in 2010 to 18.62 million students in 2011.

Printed on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 as: Enrollment increases across Texas