When, in the spring of 2011, the battle first began between UT President Williams Power Jr. and the so-called “rogue regents,” the players, and their motives, at least seemed identifiable: The regents, with the support of Gov. Rick Perry, wanted to encourage the implementation of the Seven Breakthrough Solutions for Higher Education, which were written by Jeff Sandefer, a member of the conservative think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation. Powers, and most of the UT administration, faculty and, arguably, students, weren’t as taken with the idea.
Admittedly, the struggle was a little difficult to follow. But in the latest incarnation of the UT System regents v. UT-Austin battle — which will continue to play out this week in meetings of the Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations on Tuesday and Wednesday and possibly in the meeting of the Board of Regents this Thursday — keeping up with the blows being exchanged is damn near impossible. More disturbingly, the simple, central question, “What is each side fighting for?” seems impossible to answer.
Below are just a few of the players in the current struggle. This map is intended, yes, to help those fans of Texas politics who have been watching the sparring matches from afar identify the key players. But it’s also intended to force us all to ask a simple question about this complicated mess: Haven’t the fighters lost sight of what they’re fighting for?