Texas

Senior second baseman Brooks Marlow makes a throw toward first against Texas State. Marlow said the Longhorns look to put their frustrating weekend at TCU behind them when they take on Prairie View A&M.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

After a sweep from No. 7 TCU this weekend, Texas is back to square one.

The Longhorns, who entered the season with high expectations and a roster full of returning talent, now sit at .500.

Texas came into the series with high hopes after two dominating performances against Kansas and Texas State. But after the Horned Frogs swept the Longhorns, they’re once again trying to regroup after suffering their 22nd loss of the season.

Despite the up-and-down season, the players still believe they can rally and make a run toward the postseason.

“We have the players to be one of the best teams in the country,” sophomore catcher Tres Barrera said. “But if you look as good as you want on paper, you got to come out here, and get it done. We’re playing hard. We’re fighting. We’re just not executing.”

Texas (22–22, 8–10 Big 12) will have a chance to gather itself against Prairie View A&M (14–31, 4–17 SWAC). The Panthers defeated Alcorn State, 10–7, Sunday and are coming off their first conference series win since Feb. 28.

The Longhorns and Panthers square off at UFCU Disch-Falk Field at 6 p.m. on Longhorn Network.

The Longhorns hope to find a break at home as they look to rebound from a tough weekend. 

Texas head coach Augie Garrido said the key to fixing the team’s issues is all in its execution.

“We’ve got to win with we we’ve got,” Garrido said. “I think we can win with what we’ve got. We just have to execute.”

He added that the team badly wants to get better.

“As bad as we’ve been beaten up during the course of this season, not only injury-wise but also mentally, with the losses that have accumulated, they still want to get that done,” Garrido said. “Their spirit is not broken. They’re still competitive.”

At .500, Texas will have to keep fighting through the rest of the season to make it to the postseason. 

“It’s just [about] battling right now,” senior second baseman Brooks Marlow said. “Coach [Garrido] talks about being mentally tough all the time. That’s what this team’s got. We just got to be ready to play tomorrow and put this behind us."

Photo Credit: Victoria Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Austin, we have a problem.

Since losing the 2010 BCS Championship to Alabama, the Texas Longhorns football team has been far from great, compiling a record of 36-28 (23-20 in Big 12 play) over the last five seasons. The fans have been worse. They’ve stopped showing up.

It’s not that fans aren’t attending the games. According to the NCAA, Texas had an average home attendance of 98,976 in 2013. Although attendance is slightly down since the days Texas was contending for championships, there are a lot of people in Darrell K. Royal Stadium on Saturdays. It just doesn’t feel like it.

The atmosphere in the stadium is abysmal. When I came to Austin as a freshman in 2012, I expected an electric environment. I saw it once. Against West Virginia in 2012, the stadium was shaking. Texas was undefeated at the time.

But should the fans only be interested when the team is good? Where is our pride in our school? Sadly, the passion of Texas students and fans, when it comes to football, comes and goes with the wins.

This happens for every school to an extent; fans are always craziest when more is at stake. But folks who travel to Knoxville, Tennessee, to see the Tennessee Volunteers will tell you their crowd is wild for every game. They haven’t won more than seven games since the 2007 season.

The Texas crowd should be no different. It should be loud, and it should be difficult for opposing teams to play in Austin. Texans claim it is all about football here, and Texas is the marquee program in this state. Our students and fans need to act like it.

What makes college football unique is the passion of the students. Many Texas students with tickets don’t even attend the games. Lowerclassmen can move forward and fill the voids left by juniors and seniors who don’t attend. The bleachers in the south end zone are still half empty at kickoff. The student section should be rowdy. It should be crazy. It should not be boring. But it is.

To revive this fan base, the Texas Athletic Department needs to take a long, hard look at the gameday events, traditions and festivities on and around campus.

Tailgating is a popular pregame activity and always will be. But where are the events unique to Texas? The Stadium Stampede happens several hours before the games, but there isn’t currently much buzz about it. It isn’t a must-see event for anybody visiting Austin for a game. It’s time to create new traditions and new events that leave visitors clamoring about the gameday experience in Austin, even if they aren’t Texas fans. 

Before the game, the city’s abundance of musical talent should be utilized by having live music on and around campus during tailgating hours. After all, people do call Austin the “Live Music Capital of the World.” What about Austin’s many food trucks? Get those near the stadium for gameday. The South Mall is an iconic area of the Texas campus that needs to be incorporated into the experience. They held a Chiddy Bang concert there in 2013 with the stage right in front of the Tower, and it was a great experience.

Here’s my vision of a memorable game day event: a live music or DJ event with the South Mall full of Texas fans in burnt orange including school songs and chants led by someone on stage. This would be something to talk about but only if all the fans, especially students, buy in and get loud.

Instead of the current Stadium Stampede, the Texas band and football team could attend this event two hours before the game to create additional hype for the crowd. The walk to the stadium could run from the symbol of our campus and our school pride (the Tower) straight to the stadium. This is just one idea of an event that could get the Texas football players, campus and the culture of the city more involved in a fan’s gameday experience.

The stadium experience could also use some improvements. The speakers inside the stadium need an upgrade for better music and sound quality. More replays and highlights could be shown to further immerse fans into the game. Although an unpopular idea with the Athletic Department, moving more students closer to the field and into the lower deck would improve the student section. The student section isn’t that great right now, but they’re still the rowdiest group at the game. Many fans want alcohol to be served inside the stadium, especially since Texas games are, in a sense, an NFL equivalent in Austin. These are just a few ways the stadium could be improved for fans.

I hear fans asking for change. But nothing has changed since I came to school here in 2012.  There have been no significant upgrades to gameday inside or outside the stadium. Every year students and fans receive email surveys about how games can be improved. I don’t know if Texas fans just aren’t responding or if the school isn’t listening. Or maybe big changes are currently in the works. What I do know is that entering the 2015 season this fall, it’s time.

Ralph is a mechanical engineering junior from Allen.

 I would like to offer a significantly different perspective from the recent Firing Lines by Bobby French and John Stephen Taylor, neither of whom I know.

My mother introduced me to tennis at Eastwoods Park just north of UT in 1945, when I was 9 years old. After 2 weeks she turned me over to Daniel Penick, the longtime UT tennis coach (over 50 years) on Saturday mornings. When Caswell Tennis Center opened a short time later, I spent my youth through my years at Austin High there almost every day. Then, in 1954, when I enrolled in Plan II at UT, I was on the freshman team. My senior year, 1958, I was captain. I got to play under Penick and my junior and senior years under Coach Wilmer Allison (only the second tennis coach in the school’s history). My junior year I got to play with Dave Snyder (a senior), who became the third coach for the next 29 years. The original courts where I played were on the north end of Memorial Stadium and were clay.

The tennis alumni had a meeting in October to discuss the situation with athletic director Steve Patterson. We were told that we, the alumni, needed to raise $15,000,000 before construction could begin. Meanwhile one of the best collegiate teams in the country must work out at the Intramural Fields, where there are no stands, no dressing rooms and no scoreboards. Contrary to the information given by Taylor, the new facility will not be built at the Intramural Fields, from what I have been told. One other point that needs to be addressed: Taylor asks, “Where has Coach [Michael] Center been?” I must point out that Center is not in a position to make a decision. He has more than enough to do to coach some of the finest young men that have ever represented the University of Texas tennis team.

They are students, gentlemen on the court and winners. I, and the alums, could not be prouder of the team and the coaches. Now I hope the University officials who have the power and the money to make the decisions will act with due speed to bring about a solution to this unjust and inexcusable situation.

— Laurence A. Becker, Ph.D., captain of the UT Tennis Team (1958), assistant coach (1962-1964), in response to Bobby French’s Tuesday Firing Line titled “Texas Tennis deserves proper home” and John Stephen Taylor’s Wednesday Firing Line titled “Texas Tennis fan got it right.”

Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

Inspired by the tradition of the typical Americana band, Dallas-based folk band Light Horse Harry hopes to bring down-home roots and Texas twang to the UT campus, co-ops and bars across Austin.

Made up of UT students Augustus Miller, Zach Youpa, Drew Scherger, Kathryn Drake and Shane Gordon, Light Horse Harry originated in Dallas and then came to Austin to pursue its education at UT. 

The band is currently working on its second feature album, which will be released in 2015, and records in the West Campus apartment of Miller, an unspecified business junior and lead vocalist. “Busted in Brownsville,” the band’s four-song EP, was released this past summer. 

Scherger, radio-television-film sophomore and bassist, said the band prefers to record the songs themselves. 

“We do have complete artistic control,” Scherger said. “That’s the benefit to not having a professional recording space.” 

According to Scherger, Light Horse Harry is a Texas band, first and foremost, but enjoys playing all genres.

“We play rock; we play blues; we play country,” Scherger said. “We kind of do a mix of all of them.” 

Youpa, acting sophomore and guitarist, said it can be hard to stand out with so many young bands based in Austin.  

“There’s nobody that’s like a UT band,” Youpa said. “Hopefully that could be us.”

In an attempt to expand its sound, the band gained two new members — music performance junior Drake and business junior Gordon — on fiddle and drums. Miller met both Drake and Gordon through connections at UT. With the new additions to the band, Scherger said its sound has is gradually transforming. 

“We’re on kind of [a] lighter thing than we were earlier,” Scherger said. “We dropped a lot of the technology; it’s gotten more raw and ‘roots-y.’” 

The band makes an effort to meet up and hold practice every week. 

“There’s more of a problem with all of our schedules getting matched up to where we can find time to progress with each other, rather than just individually,” Miller said. 

The group even shares a Spotify playlist with songs they like to inspire each other and keep everyone in the same creative ballpark. 

“You want to get people dancing and jumping,” Miller said. “You wouldn’t want to play songs that are sentimental and lyrically driven.” 

For Light Horse Harry, getting a live audience excited about their music is essential. 

“We make people smile and alter their moods; one song we can play can make people feel a little better,” Youpa said. 

Scherger said the band would love to pursue a career in the music industry, but they hope to continue playing together no matter where members’ professional careers take them. 

“I’m still gonna play music as long as my hands work,” Scherger said.

Texas athletics sent out a full-blast email to students Wednesday asking them for a favor.

The email, with the subject line of “Burnt Orange Blowout,” asked students and faculty to wear burnt orange all day Friday in preparation for the Texas men’s basketball home opener against North Dakota State. While it is a common request for schools to ask students to dress up, it is far from a common request in Austin.

For the past few season, the Longhorns have struggled to gain any passion or support behind their basketball program. After getting knocked out in the third round of the NCAA tournament in 2011, Texas had trouble filling the burnt orange seats of the Frank Erwin Center.

However, Wednesday’s email represents a change in Texas basketball. It shows there is once again excitement surrounding the program, and, for the first time in years, the student body is excited for head coach Rick Barnes’ team.

After last season, when the Longhorns won their first NCAA tournament game since 2011, students started gaining interest again. And when Texas signed Myles Turner, ESPN’s No. 2 recruit, a real shift began.

Now, the Longhorns sit No. 10 in the preseason rankings and are predicted to be a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.

However, the real excitement this season for Texas fans will be Turner, the 6-foot-11 freshman from Bedford, Texas, who has been compared to former Longhorn star Kevin Durant.

He is known for his elite shot blocking, in addition to his ability to make shots from the perimeter. With a team returning all of its starting players from last season, Turner is expected to do big things on the court.

Furthermore, with the addition of Turner and the return of starters such as junior center Cameron Ridley and senior forward Jonathan Holmes, Texas fans should expect more wins this season. Last season, the Longhorns built a team that was able to work together, and, instead of having individual superstars, each player produced points and added to each game.

And, as Texas players mentioned during media days this season, over the last few months, Texas has created a chemistry with its new players that should easily transfer to the court.

Although the Frank Erwin Center was mostly empty burnt orange seats in previous years, expect more excitement and anticipation surrounding Texas this season.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Two. That is the most consecutive times Texas has travelled to Texas Tech and won since winning the first five matchups in Lubbock from 1934 to 1966.

The Longhorns have a chance to change that this weekend, as they travel up the Panhandle with a two game win streak at Jones AT&T Stadium.

“Whenever people say that, they kind of put a jinx on us a little bit,” senior wide receiver John Harris said. “But, we’re not worried about that; we’re not worried about records. We are just trying to worry about getting to bowl game. If the win streak continues, that’s good for us out there in Lubbock.”

With this weekend’s kickoff scheduled for 6:30 p.m., well after dark, the Longhorns will face the added challenge of playing a night game at Texas Tech — one of the more hostile environments in the Big 12. 

“It’s a good college football crowd, and they’ll be ready to rock and roll,” said Shawn Watson, Texas’ assistant head coach for offense and quarterbacks coach. “It’s one of those venues you walk into, and you’ve got to be ready for that aspect of it.”

More than anything, Tech fans are infamous for their crazy antics.

“They throw tortillas at you,” senior defensive end Cedric Reed said. “They do a lot of different stuff, man. It’s just a very loud crowd. They’ve got a lot of students in the stadium. There’s not much out there in Lubbock but football, so you know everybody’s packing in that little stadium.”

Junior running back Johnathan Gray had equal praise for the Red Raider fans, particularly at night and at this time of year.

“Those fans are rowdy,” Gray said. “The team, from what I heard, [in] Lubbock is a great night team, especially their Halloween [weekend] record.”

The Longhorns know that from experience. They are 0-3 all time when facing the Red Raiders on the road on Nov. 1. Their most recent loss came in 2008, when former receiver Michael Crabtree scampered into the end zone with one second remaining. That defeat resulted in a three-way tie for the Big 12 South lead, and the Longhorns lost the tiebreaker to Oklahoma despite beating the Sooners at the Cotton Bowl earlier that year.

In fact, the other two times the Longhorns fell in Lubbock under Mack Brown were very costly as well.

In 1998, the Red Raiders scored the game-winning touchdown with under 30 seconds to play to end Texas’ conference title hopes. In 2002, current Red Raider head coach Kliff Kingsbury led Tech to a victory that knocked the Longhorns out of the BCS picture.

While Texas does not have such lofty ambitions this season, a loss this Saturday would force them to win their last three games just to gain bowl eligibility.

“We just got to go out and execute and play because we know what’s on the line here,” Harris said. “They’re 3-5, [and] we’re 3-5, so the team who wins this game probably has a better chance of going to a bowl game.”

It’s never easy to win on the road — especially in such a difficult venue — but the Longhorns are ultimately focused on what goes on between the lines, as they try to win their third straight in Lubbock.

“When it comes down to it, it’s just Texas and Texas Tech playing, and none of those other people even matter, so it really shouldn’t affect us,” senior receiver Jaxon Shipley said.

Men’s athletic director Steve Patterson speaks at a Student Government meeting in September.

Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

As a result of the much-anticipated construction of the new Dell Medical School, the Frank Erwin Center, home to Texas basketball games and various concerts and events throughout the years, will be torn down. In order to fund what will likely be an expensive construction project, Texas men’s athletic director Steve Patterson has stated that the new arena ought to be paid for using Austin taxpayer money.

“The reality is that Austin has had a free arena for three and a half decades at no investment whatsoever,” Patterson said at an event in September. “You look at the growth projections five years out, to be a top 25 market in this country and not to have invested a nickel in an arena is a heck of a position for the city of Austin to be in.” 

While Patterson’s statements may not have been factually inaccurate, his comments are still misguided. The creation of a new venue that would first and foremost be used as the basketball team’s home court — not to mention other University-affiliated events — ought to be paid for mostly by the University without need for significant public funding from the taxpayers of Austin, who, along with the rest of Texas taxpayers, already help pay for the publicly funded University.

This football season is Baylor University’s first at the new McLane Stadium. The construction of the stadium was estimated to cost $250 million, with an estimated $100-120 million of the funding coming from private donations. When we consider that the University of Texas has the highest revenue-producing athletics department in the nation, not to mention an array of private donors that likely surpasses Baylor’s, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the University, if it wanted to, could build a new arena without several hundred million dollars of additional Austin taxpayer money.

It would appear, though, that the University of Texas does not want to pay for a new arena on its own, presumably because Patterson believes it doesn’t have to. Yet that is not a good enough reason to force Austin taxpayers to bear the brunt of the construction of a new arena that, outside of Austin Independent School District graduates and graduation ceremony attendees, many Austin residents may never set foot inside.

Public funding of stadiums has become trendy for professional sports teams. Owners merely need to hint at the possibility of relocation in order to strong-arm city leaders and officials into paying for a new stadium or arena using taxpayer money. Examples of this include construction of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, partially paid for with taxpayer money, and Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis’ flirtations with both San Antonio and Los Angeles as a bargaining maneuver.

Unfortunately, Austin residents may soon be subjected to the same injustice felt by the citizens of Minneapolis, who continue to fund a stadium they must pay, again, merely to enter. Because the University of Texas will never leave Austin, it is incumbent upon the citizens of Austin to demand that the University itself pay for a new Texas basketball arena. 

Sundin is an English and radio-television-film senior from San Antonio.

Not far removed from the buffet lines of J2, a group of UT students learn the refined techniques of robotic dancing. The members of Redefined Dance Company work to keep hip-hop dancing alive by participating in team competitions with routines inspired by traditional hip-hop styles.  

Redefined Dance Company was founded in 2007 to reestablish hip-hop dancing in Texas. Since then, the group has expanded and won the nationwide dance competition World of Dance two times in a row. In this competition, dance groups of all ages compete against each other by performing a combination of street dancing and new-age choreography.

The group holds auditions each semester, making no spot permanent. Fifth-year nutrition senior, Crystal De La Rosa, tried out for the group during her freshman year and has been dancing with the team since.

“When I auditioned, there were three freshman, and everyone else was an upperclassmen,” De La Rosa said. “There was a lot of pressure, and I didn’t know anyone at all. It was scary.”

Redefined gave De La Rosa the opportunity to make friends and network with other dancers around the nation. Sharon Melnikov, international relations and global studies junior, said the team chemistry was one of the greatest aspects of joining the team.

“I was expecting to join a team and dance — that’s it,” Melnikov said. “Obviously, you make friends at practice, but these are people you hang out with, you go out with and you randomly have lunch with.”

Melnikov said the dance routines tell a story and revolve around a central theme. In order to successfully convey the story, the dances must be exact.

“A lot of Texas hip-hop is very swag [and] hard-hitting,” Melnikov said. “Redefined takes the foundations of hip-hop and incorporates that into our routine. That’s really our drive — bringing back foundation.”

Dance teams are especially popular in Houston and Dallas, according to Melnikov. In these cities, there are official and unofficial dance communities taught by
professional instructors.

Redefined puts students in charge. Fifth-year mathematics senior Ramon Catindig is one of the group leaders who mentors the newer members.

“Dance is kind of like the perfect art style to bond with somebody,” Catindig said. “You’re not only moving to music people may enjoy, but you’re moving together. You’re getting in synced with your bodies as well. Dance is something we love.”

In order to encourage more participation, Redefined offers free bi-weekly classes. These classes are open to anyone interested in dancing, not just
UT students. 

“We want to redefine how people see hip-hop around Texas,” De La Rosa said. “Yes, there’s locking and popping, but it’s not just the hip-hop you see in videos. It’s more.”

Photo Credit: Connor Murphy | Daily Texan Staff

Texas government officials don’t always have the greatest aptitude for math.

Take Comptroller Susan Combs, for instance: Before the last legislative session, she underestimated the state’s revenues, which state legislators must not exceed in crafting a budget, by nearly $17 billion.

Sorry, kids, indigent population and anyone else who could have used the extra money.

More recently, the incompetence has trickled down to the county level.

Last week, the Travis County Commissioners Court decided not to challenge the 2014 commercial property tax rolls. For years, commercial property owners have taken advantage of a state law that allows them to pay taxes on values much lower than their holdings are worth. While residential property owners can challenge their appraisals, they have not enjoyed the same boondoggle as businesses have.

That means that anyone who doesn’t live in a commercially zoned area is picking up their slack.

According to Real Values for Texas, a property tax reform group, Texas commercial property owners are paying property taxes on just 60 percent of the value of their properties. While this group has an agenda, its estimate is buttressed by a finding by Harris County that vacant commercial lots might have been appraised at 62 percent of market price.

But when that glaring inequality, which really shouldn’t come as news to anyone at the county, was brought before the commissioners, they did nothing. County Judge Sam Biscoe, who just a few weeks ago seemed poised to act on homeowners’ behalf, cited two reasons: a lack of time to prepare such a large challenge before the June 17 deadline and insufficient savings to homeowners (or landlords).

A lack of time is laughable for the longevity of the commercial-residential disparity. But how about those savings? Just how insufficient were they, you might ask?

$5, maybe $10, according to a memo produced at Commissioner Bruce Todd’s request.

That’s based on the assumption that the county could add either $500 million or $1 billion to its tax rolls. But according to Laura Pressley, a candidate for the Austin City Council, the current appraised value of commercial property in Travis County is $56 billion. If we assume that Real Values for Texas is right, that would mean the county is being shortchanged to the tune of about $22 billion every year.

Assuming the county’s predicted savings of $10 is correct for an increase of $1 billion, about $220 should be freed up for the actual figure. And that’s just for the county alone, leaving out the taxing districts for the city, the public hospitals, Austin Community College and the Austin Independent School District. All told, taxpayers could save more than $1,000 annually, not $10.

Why, then, did the commissioners obscure the real benefit of restoring fairness to the taxation system? Sure, one might argue that they were being conservative, but to wager a guess of as low as $500 million seems overly pessimistic and dismissive of homeowners’ concerns.

It’s bad enough that the commissioners didn’t even try to do anything, but even worse that their action was based, in part, on such a stingy and obfuscatory assumption. (To its credit, the Austin City Council, which also didn’t take any official action this time around, promised to act next year.)

Sorry, Travis County homeowners and UT students who rent their properties. You’ll see the inaction in next month’s rent.

How many students would like to know if UT administrators are fibbing when they cite an internal study or committee recommendation on University efficiency? How many more are curious about the internal deliberations behind a University scandal?  

Because UT is a public institution, a mechanism exists to gain access to undisclosed University information, such as the specifics of the school’s budget or emails regarding a particular University issue. That mechanism is the Texas Open Records Act. By submitting a record request, any member of the public, not just journalists, can access unpublicized information regarding how our government runs. However, as we’ve seen in the past month during the impeachment proceedings of UT System Regent Wallace Hall, which were brought about by lawmakers concerned over Hall’s excessive records requests to UT-Austin, an open records request can cause a lot of trouble — and not always the productive kind. 

Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, based at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., spoke about government transparency and accountability at the 11th annual Austin Forum for Journalism in the Americas, an annual symposium that invites journalists to discuss issues facing the press. The event was put on by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, where I am a volunteer.

Blanton’s talk addressed the challenges of filing open records requests at the federal level, which are known as Freedom of Information Act Requests, or FOIAs. 

Blanton said these requests require a great deal of patience and resources. This presents a complication: While any citizen can file the requests, those best equipped for success are those who have the resources and patience willing to fight for the information. Blanton’s main recommendation? File multiple requests at once, the same sort of tactic that got Wallace Hall in so much trouble. 

Blanton also suggested that news services organize “FOIA Fridays,” in which journalists submit some type of relevant request every week. This gadfly mentality allows a constant flow of requests in the pipeline to adjust for slow response times and failed or blocked requests.

In Texas, the Open Records Act requires that the entity holding the information issue a response within 10 days of receiving the request. Requests are generally appealed to the state attorney general, making the petitioner wait another 45 days until the final ruling. If the ruling is negative, the petitioner may decide to sue for the information in court.

While the idea of getting one’s hands on some blockbuster government documents may seem empowering, the process doesn’t always yield useful information. Time and effort are required to yield valuable documents. Furthermore, public information requests aren’t all that useful if the petitioner does not know what they are searching for or if the request is too large to be adequately handled. Requests for information that, if disclosed, would violate patient or student confidentiality agreements are also troublesome, as they may produce documents that are so blacked-out as to be unreadable. One of the many charges against Hall is that he unlawfully shared files received through an open records request which contained protected student information. 

Filers of open records requests should never forget that frivolous requests waste time and taxpayer dollars. You may have a legal privilege to request copies of every email Mack Brown has sent in the past year containing the words “lunch break,” but that doesn’t mean you should make everyone in his office spend two weeks compiling them for you. 

At  the end of the day, the public has a responsibility to pursue information we think is relevant to informing the public at large. As citizens and students at a public university, we should be more proactive in using the rights we have at our disposal.

But if we have this useful tool for government transparency, we also have the responsibility to be selective and specific about the information we request. If we take nothing else away from the investigation of Hall by the House Transparency committee, we’ve at least seen the consequences of abusing records requests. Hall’s needless request for over 800,000 documents from UT-Austin, in which he asked that the University turn over even post-it notes from President William Power Jr.’s office, have caught up the UT system leadership for months in a distracting discussion that has little to do with actual higher education policy — without producing any of the valuable information open records requests are supposed to help uncover. 

I’m against “FOIA Fridays” for their own sake. Nevertheless, the next time there is a big scandal or burning question, students shouldn’t just complain about the university bureaucracy. Consider using records requests to hold the university accountable.

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