University Co-op

Photo Credit: Melanie Westfall | Daily Texan Staff

About 40 students searched campus Thursday morning hoping to find a golden egg and win a semester’s worth of free textbooks in the process, but were misled by the presence of “fake” eggs that weren’t part of the official hunt.

As part of an egg hunt organized by the University Co-op, students followed clues posted by Co-op officials on Twitter and Snapchat to search for three eggs hidden on campus. The winner was promised free textbooks for a semester, and the two runner-ups would receive $100 Co-op gift cards, said William Kelleher, promotions manager at the Co-op.

Before the hunt began, someone placed “fake” eggs, not sponsored by the Co-op, around campus, leading several students to believe they had won the free textbooks.

“Some students have too much time on their hands,” Kelleher said. “[I’m] bummed someone did it, but that stuff happens. I felt bad for the students that found [the fake eggs] — it put them on an emotional roller coaster.” 

He said he doesn’t know who planted the fake eggs.

The Co-op put on the hunt to increase its social media presence, according to Kelleher. This is the first time the Co-op has used Snapchat in an event to attract students.

Biology freshman Brodi Amos, who found one of the fake eggs near Littlefield Fountain, said the hunt was frustrating because he thought he had won free textbooks for a semester, which he said would have lifted a major financial burden.

“It definitely bothered me that someone had hidden fake golden eggs on the campus,” Amos said. “Once I had found the fake golden egg, I immediately stopped looking and checking Twitter for updates to its location, which is probably exactly what the person who hid them was hoping for.”

Zach Perlman, physical culture and sports sophomore, found one of the eggs containing a gift card. He said because many students came close to finding the same egg, he had to answer a trivia question correctly in order to win the egg officially.

“It was funny because when asked [the trivia question], every person around pulled out their phones and tried to figure out the answer, including me,” Perlman said. “I just got lucky and was able to figure it out first.”

The Co-op gave free T-shirts to students who found the fraudulent eggs and believed they had won free textbooks, Kelleher said.

Photo Credit: Leah Rushin | Daily Texan Staff

The University Co-op is stocked with green Longhorn shirts, caps and mugs to ensure students don’t get pinched on St. Patrick’s Day, but a good portion of the merchandise will end up on the clearance rack after the holiday ends.

While Jeff Halliburton, vice president of operations for the University Co-op, said there is sufficient demand for holiday-themed UT apparel, students around campus disagree. 

“You’d be surprised. We sell hundreds and hundreds of pieces across the different St. Patrick’s Day styles,” Halliburton said. “We have pretty decent demand this year, especially with
the head wear.”

Stephanie Del Paggio, a Plan II and marketing junior, said many of her friends shop at the Co-op a few times a year for clothes or souvenirs for family members, but that’s about it. 

“A lot of my friends shop online, where it’s cheaper, or get free shirts from fairs on campus,” Del Paggio said.

Incoming students, family members, alumni and tourists are most likely to shop at the Co-op, according to radio-television-film freshman Amanda Booth.

“Beyond these groups, I think students use the Co-op for convenience or gifts,” Booth said. “Most students buy clothes from organizations they join.”

The Co-op sells thousands  of pieces of merchandise a year for many holidays, including Halloween, Christmas and Independence Day, according to Halliburton.

“We like to get behind every holiday,” Halliburton said.

Nobody really buys holiday-themed items, according to exercise science sophomore Helen Haile. 

“College students don’t have the money to blow on temporary things,” Haile said.

While some of the green gear will still likely end up on clearance, most merchandise for other holidays does get sold, according to Halliburton. 

“Traditionally, after markdown, almost everything is sold,” Halliburton said. “Then we’ll make donations [if need be].” 

Radio-television-film freshman Julian Alvarado believes that students generally won’t spend money on St. Patrick’s Day clothing.

“Money is tight. Nobody will spend that much money on UT clothes for a specific event.” Alvarado said.

Students pass by the 23rd Street mural Monday evening. The University has asked original artists Kerry Awn, Tom Bauman and Rick Turner for their help in restoring the masterpiece after it was destroyed by vandals in January.

Photo Credit: Jarrid Denman | Daily Texan Staff

The artists of two murals that were vandalized in January will be restoring their original works over a period of 10 weeks but may not be paid for their time.

The University Co-op asked original artists Kerry Awn, Tom Bauman and Rick Turner to renovate the murals after the city removed the graffiti in the Renaissance Market area, which is located on Guadalupe and 23rd Street. A University Co-op security guard first noticed graffiti on the south wall of the Renaissance Market building Jan. 7 at approximately 6 a.m., according to Brian Jewell, University Co-op marketing director.

Awn, one of the three original artists, said he is concerned they will not meet their fundraising goal of $30,000. As of Sunday, the artists raised $13,570 through an online fundraising campaign that began Feb. 15 and will end April 16. 

“I don’t think we’re going to hit our total goal of what we’re trying to raise,” Awn said. “We’ve hit a wall.”

According to Bauman, the artists must provide funding for anti-graffiti coating on the murals, and whatever is left over will pay the artists for their labor.

Julia Narum, Travis County Health and Human Services program supervisor, said the city removes graffiti but has a limited role in restoring murals.

“Once [the city is] finished cleaning it, I don’t know that there [is] much else to do,” Narum said.

Narum said she thinks the public’s response has been integral to the Renaissance Market murals’ restoration.

“There’s been a big enough outcry about it,” Narum said.

According to Awn, paint company Winsor & Newton donated paint and supplies, and the Co-op donated $5,000 to the artists to work on the project but asked them to raise the rest of the money needed to complete the renovations. Awn said he thinks the artists will break even.

“The Co-op seems to think that we’ll just come in there and do it for free,” Awn said. “We can’t take two months of our lives and do that. We have to live and pay rent.”

According to Awn, most of the money raised will fund the artists’ labor and transportation costs. Awn said he and Bauman commute about 20 miles each way to work on the mural, and Turner, who lives in New York, must pay for his airfare and accommodations to be able to work on the mural.

Awn said the renovations on both murals are scheduled to be completed by June 1. Currently, the artists are working on the 12-year-old mural of Texas and hope to complete it by April 15, after which they will begin renovations on the 40-year-old mural of the Austin skyline.

Awn said, no matter how much money is raised, the artists will restore the murals and potentially make additions, even though they may not be paid for their time.

“We probably will put more stuff on there, because that’s who we are,” Awn said. “It’s a labor of love for us.”

A bicyclist crashed into a potted plant outside the University Co-op on Monday around 1:15 p.m., according to University spokeswoman Cindy Posey.

Emergency Medical Services, the Austin Fire Department and campus police responded to the scene. An EMS spokesman said the individual was transported to a University Brackenridge Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The accident is the third traffic-related incident reported in four days.

APD arrested a jogger Thursday for failing to identify herself after illegally crossing the intersection of 24th and San Antonio streets.

The mirror of a UT shuttle bus hit an unidentified woman Friday as she was crossing Wichita Street.

A student walks by the 40-year-old Austin mural on 23rd street. and Guadalupe that was recently vandalized. The Austin City government, University Co-op, and the original artists are looking to crowdsource funding to complete the restoration process.

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

After public outcry over the defacement of two murals near 23rd Street and Guadalupe, the original artists, the University Co-op and Austin officials have removed the majority of the graffiti and are crowdsourcing funds to finish the restoration process.

Brian Jewell, University Co-op marketing vice president, said a co-op security guard first noticed graffiti on the 40-year-old mural, located on the south wall of the Renaissance Market area, on Jan. 7. Jewell said the guard did not see anyone deface the murals, and no security footage of the area was available, so the co-op could not file a report with Austin police. Jewell said the graffiti removal is nearly complete, and the co-op and original artists are raising funds through online donations to begin restoring the murals in mid-March. 

Jewell said the mural is an important part of Austin history.

“[The mural] is 40 years old, and it’s an iconic symbol of Austin,” Jewell said. “It’s almost a rite of passage to view it.”

Kerry Awn, one of the murals’ original artists, said he did not realize the mural was important to the public until he witnessed the extensive media coverage done on it.

“It took the whole public to let me know that people care about it,” Awn said. “In a weird way, it’s kind of a good thing.”

According to Awn, he and the two other original artists — Tommy B and Rick Turner — will complete the restoration over the course of 10 weeks from March 15 until June 1. Awn said the co-op will take additional measures, such as installing cameras and additional lighting in the area, in an attempt to prevent additional acts of vandalism toward the mural from occurring.

Julia Narum, Travis County Health and Human Services program supervisor, said cold, damp weather — which makes removal less effective — delayed the city’s process of removing the graffiti. According to Narum, the city has removed graffiti from more than 1.5 million square feet of public and private property. Narum said the city’s annual budget for graffiti removal is approximately $516,000, including supplies and labor costs.

Narum said she thinks the amount of graffiti has increased, forcing the city to dedicate additional funds to graffiti removal. 

“It’s, in part, a growing pain,” Narum said. “There are so many events, so many visitors.”

Narum said graffiti is more common in places where there is more pedestrian traffic, but she said business owners sometimes paint murals to try to deter graffiti.

“When [vandals] did the [graffiti] at the co-op. To me, that means they have gotten really bold,” Narum said. “The [graffiti on the] murals have proven there’s no respect anymore for the murals.”

Jewell said he thinks it’s important to preserve the murals for later generations to view.

“It should be preserved,” Jewell said. “Not just because we should always preserve something, but because its helped define Austin.”

A heated argument broke out between two men on Guadalupe on Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. near the University Co-op — the fight escalated to physical violence, and then one of the men produced a knife.

UT police officers responded and arrested the man wielding the knife, who was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The charge is categorized as a second degree felony.

The unarmed man was not cut or stabbed by the 3-inch pocketknife, according to the UTPD report.

UTPD officer Jimmy Moore said the incident poses no immediate risk to students walking up and down the Drag.

“There shouldn’t be more prevalent of a safety risk for people walking by than there would be any other day,” Moore said.

Both men involved in the fight regularly spend long stretches of time on the Drag, Moore said.

The man in possession of the knife was transported to Travis County Central Booking.

A heated argument broke out between two men on Guadalupe Street Tuesday at 2:15 p.m. near the University Co-op — the fight escalated to physical violence, then one of the men pulled out his knife.

UT police officers responded and arrested the man wielding the knife, who was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The charge is categorized as a second degree felony.

The unarmed man was not cut or stabbed by the three-inch pocketknife, according to the UTPD report.

UTPD officer Jimmy Moore said the incident poses no immediate risk to students walking up and down the Drag.

“There shouldn’t be more prevalent of a safety risk for people walking by than there would be any other day,” Moore said.

Both men involved in the fight regularly spend long stretches of time on the Drag, Moore said.

The individual in possession of the knife was transported to Travis County Central Booking.

Last week, Solidarity Ignite, an advocacy group promoting fair working conditions in factories, hosted an event to highlight the benefits of the University Co-op’s new partnership with Alta Gracia, a factory in the Dominican Republic that provides its workers with health benefits and a living wage.

Members of other groups, such as Make UT Sweatshop Free Coalition, which last September occupied UT President William Powers Jr’s office, also attended the event.

 UT ended up joining the students’ preferred group, the Workers’ Rights Consortium, which independently monitors working conditions in factories worldwide. The University Co-op pledged to invest $35,000 in Alta Gracia products. This investment was well short of students’ demands of $250,000, but was significant. Similar investments have paid off at universities across the country, such as Duke, which effectively leveraged Alta Gracia’s reputation on workers’ rights to make the brand competitive at their campus store. However, the Co-op’s  limited investment highlights the university community’s financial limitations and reminds anti-sweatshop movements that activism cannot start and end with the university or overseas philanthropy. Solidarity Ignite, therefore, brought Alta Gracia workers Yenny Perez and Maritza Vargas to speak to students and  to put  hard-to-ignore faces on the struggle for dignified work.

The speakers pushed listeners to dispense with easy comparisons and to challenge students to go beyond one hour events. The workers encouraged students to be active in preventing workplace tragedies.

Students wondering about the local costs of oversight lapses need only to look to West, Texas, where a nighttime fertilizer plant explosion killed 15 first responders  and injured over 150, although no workers were killed.

Perez spoke about the years of struggle to bring a factory like Alta Gracia to the Dominican Republic, and of “before” Alta Gracia, at a BJ&B garment factory when many workers were beaten on the job and many of the organizations charged with monitoring the shops were “bought off.” According to Perez, monitoring organizations would ask workers about their conditions with management looking on. Perez firmly believes that Alta Gracia is different, citing Alta Gracia’s three-month paid maternal leave and the wages offered, which are three times higher than other factories in the country.

“It’s like the difference between heaven and Earth,” she said. Despite this praise, she reiterated that her intention was not to sell the audience on the Alta Gracia factory but to advocate for awareness in the U.S. She urged UT students to visit Alta Gracia and other factories in Dominican Republic.

Vargas discussed ongoing challenges, saying that workers were “counting on students” to take their activism beyond graduation. She conceded that the workers will, for now, focus on increasing investments on university campuses (more than 400 universities now support the factory). She argued creating a dilemma between the ability to stay in business and the ability to pay workers a decent wage is misleading because workers “make businesses run.”

I thought of the August protests to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers here in the U.S. and asked her opinion of that national conversation. I was expecting a tacit support for that struggle, but her answer surprised and challenged me. She contended that the minimum wage debate distracted from structural inequality and said that employers use the minimum wage to depress salaries for workers. She encouraged students to “turn this mentality on its head” and move to a fight for a “dignified” wage. Her message was clear: Mere idealistic slogans, easy mainstream solutions and pity will not help workers.

All in all, the workers’ presence forced those listening to pay attention to where UT apparel comes from and to rethink global paradigms. With growing inequality in the U.S., our raised voices in the Dominican Republic cannot be silent about exploitation at home.

Knoll is a first-year master’s student in Latin American studies from Dallas.

Last week, Solidarity Ignite, an advocacy group promoting fair working conditions in factories, hosted an event to highlight the benefits of the University Co-op’s new partnership with Alta Gracia, a factory in the Dominican Republic that provides its workers with health benefits and a living wage.

Members of other groups, such as Make UT Sweatshop Free Coalition, which last September occupied UT President William Powers Jr’s office, also attended the event.

 UT ended up joining the students’ preferred group, the Workers’ Rights Consortium, which independently monitors working conditions in factories worldwide. The University Co-op pledged to invest $35,000 in Alta Gracia products. This investment was well short of students’ demands of $250,000, but was significant. Similar investments have paid off at universities across the country, such as Duke, which effectively leveraged Alta Gracia’s reputation on workers’ rights to make the brand competitive at their campus store. However, the Co-op’s  limited investment highlights the university community’s financial limitations and reminds anti-sweatshop movements that activism cannot start and end with the university or overseas philanthropy. Solidarity Ignite, therefore, brought Alta Gracia workers Yenny Perez and Maritza Vargas to speak to students and  to put  hard-to-ignore faces on the struggle for dignified work.

The speakers pushed listeners to dispense with easy comparisons and to challenge students to go beyond one hour events. The workers encouraged students to be active in preventing workplace tragedies.

Students wondering about the local costs of oversight lapses need only to look to West, Texas, where a nighttime fertilizer plant explosion killed 15 first responders  and injured over 150, although no workers were killed.

Perez spoke about the years of struggle to bring a factory like Alta Gracia to the Dominican Republic, and of “before” Alta Gracia, at a BJ&B garment factory when many workers were beaten on the job and many of the organizations charged with monitoring the shops were “bought off.” According to Perez, monitoring organizations would ask workers about their conditions with management looking on. Perez firmly believes that Alta Gracia is different, citing Alta Gracia’s three-month paid maternal leave and the wages offered, which are three times higher than other factories in the country.

“It’s like the difference between heaven and Earth,” she said. Despite this praise, she reiterated that her intention was not to sell the audience on the Alta Gracia factory but to advocate for awareness in the U.S. She urged UT students to visit Alta Gracia and other factories in Dominican Republic.

Vargas discussed ongoing challenges, saying that workers were “counting on students” to take their activism beyond graduation. She conceded that the workers will, for now, focus on increasing investments on university campuses (more than 400 universities now support the factory). She argued creating a dilemma between the ability to stay in business and the ability to pay workers a decent wage is misleading because workers “make businesses run.”

I thought of the August protests to raise the minimum wage for fast food workers here in the U.S. and asked her opinion of that national conversation. I was expecting a tacit support for that struggle, but her answer surprised and challenged me. She contended that the minimum wage debate distracted from structural inequality and said that employers use the minimum wage to depress salaries for workers. She encouraged students to “turn this mentality on its head” and move to a fight for a “dignified” wage. Her message was clear: Mere idealistic slogans, easy mainstream solutions and pity will not help workers.

All in all, the workers’ presence forced those listening to pay attention to where UT apparel comes from and to rethink global paradigms. With growing inequality in the U.S., our raised voices in the Dominican Republic cannot be silent about exploitation at home.

Knoll is a first-year master’s student in Latin American studies from Dallas.

Blake Love, a clothing and jewelry line designed by Brian Tran and Lauren Craft, will be available in the fall. Photo courtesy of Dustin Mansyur. 

For the first time, the UT Co-op is partnering with a UT student to make a new fashion line.

The UT Co-op is expanding its line of womens clothing with pieces designed by a UT student. Blake Love, a clothing and jewelry line designed by Brian Tran and Lauren Craft, will be available in the fall when the Longhorn football season kicks off, giving UT fans a few more options on game day

While the Co-op partners with students often, this is its first time partnering  with a student for a fashion line. The line will debut on Sept. 5 and will consist of nine different looks, Tran said.

“That translates to about 14 different individual pieces, but to start off with we’re only [producing] five pieces,” Tran, an RTF senior, said. “One maxi dress, one trapeze dress, one blouse, one cami top and a pair of shorts.”

On average, the items will be priced at $88, but some prices depend on the styles. They are still experimenting with higher and lower prices and waiting to see how the clothes sell, Tran said.

Tran said the line is versatile, simple and current, but slightly classic at the same time.  Currently, the Co-op does not have a line similar to Blake Love. Tran said the line is for more than just gamedays. The custom color from the orange family was inspired by copper, clay and sunset. Most of the clothes are made of lightweight, breathable fabrics. 

“We’re excited about trying the upscale line,” George Mitchell, president of the University Co-op said.

Mitchell said Tran and Craft have been working with the Co-op since last semester to make the line available.

Tran came up with the idea to start the line after he spent years listening to his friends talk about their struggles to find a cute outfit to wear on gameday, he said.

“The project really hit me during fashion week,” Tran said. “I was at Nicole Miller’s show and it just all popped into my head. I could really create a brand. I could make something cool and cute for all women.”

Tran said after the show he called Craft and they started to work together on the designs. Craft and Tran met years ago when Tran first worked for Craft, a local jewerly maker.

“[He] always comes up with amazing concepts,” Craft said. “The best part is he can really execute what he thinks and what I think to a high level.”

Tran said Craft understands the importance of Longhorn sports on campus because many of her family memebrs attended UT and raise Longhorn cattle.

“It’s really rare for people in the fashion industry to really understand what a Texas gameday is,” Tran said. “Luckily, Lauren gets it all.”

Tran said he was inspired by classic sportswear pieces with the adaptation necessary to fit a UT gameday.

“Austin’s casual, cool culture and definitely all the women in our lives played a huge part in the creative direction for this line,” Tran said. “Our ideal customer has a great sense of self and is young at heart.”

Currently, Blake Love will only be available at the Co-op and online at blakelove.com.

Follow Wynne Davis on Twitter @wynneellyn