International Socialist Organization

UT graduate student Adam J Tallman, a member of the Texas State Employees Union, talks about the recent shuttle route shutdowns at the Neoliberalism and the Corporate Takeover of UT Austin meeting on Wednesday night. The meeting was sponsored by the International Socialist Organization.

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Shuttle route cuts caused by a lack of funding and a new smarter service system were a few of the concerns expressed by students in the International Socialist Organization at a forum Wednesday. 

The forum, at the Congregational Church of Austin, addressed the Cameron Road and Wickersham Lane shuttle routes because of low ridership and limited funding from the University to Capital Metro. Adam Tallman, linguistics graduate student and member of the Texas State Employees Union, said limited funding should not have been a problem if the University did not spend its money on things such as the Shared Services plan. 

The Shared Services plan’s goal is to reduce the work force of administration by 500 jobs over four years. The pilot program of Shared Services will be implemented before actually applying the plan.

Tallman traced the roots of the current political climate of UT and highlighted forms of resistance during a speech.

“UT administration refuses to show evidence to the public regarding privatization and justified cuts based on the budgetary crisis,” Tallman said.

Following Tallman’s speech, students spoke about the rising cost of tuition. Although students who spoke largely opposed the financial plan that is still in the works of being implemented, the University’s stance is that the administrative system needs to be replaced and a modern system should be implemented.

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer of the University, said during an interview that the shared services model’s goal would be to make sure few jobs are cut and have employees do the work of multiple people. The plan is projected to save $280 million to $320 million over 10 years. 

“We can sit still and do exactly what we’re doing and have to cut almost 500 jobs, or we can take a different action and redesign a new construct ourselves that we think works with our campus,” Hegarty said.

Kelly Booker, information studies graduate and full-time employee at the Tarlton Law Library of the School of Law, said she disagrees with the idea of “less people doing more work” because they will not receive more money for the extra work they do.

“For those of use that are lucky enough to keep our jobs, it means we’re working more for less money,” Booker said.

Clarification: An earlier version of the story used the word "faculty" to describe all employees.

Citizens participate in a march organized by the Texas State Employees Union that was held to raise awareness of proposed privatization and cut backs on university services at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Emily Ng | Daily Texan Staff

International Socialist Organization members, students and staff marched to the Capitol today in protest of previous University budget cuts, as well as cuts proposed in a report that might privatize and cut back on university services.

The march, organized to show solidarity with the Texas State Employees Union, joined about 1,000 union members from across the state to march around the Capitol, lobby their legislators and demand a higher pay raise.

“We’re here to bring attention to the privatization push that Powers and the regents are doing,” history and nursing junior Ije Uche said. “There’s no reason for us to cut programs that we’re cutting … [and] if we need more revenue, we can tax businesses 1 percent.”

Uche said given the contribution UT makes to businesses by training their workers, her proposed tax does not seem unreasonable to her. 

English professor Snehal Shingavi said the cuts do not suit the mission of the university.

“This is not only a bad way of keeping the quality of higher education up, it’s also pretty bad for the people whose jobs are being sacrificed,” Shingavi said.

Shingavi also criticized UT President William Powers Jr.’s suggestion that natural attrition could help ease any cuts to worker numbers by allowing cutbacks without firings.

“What it’s meant in the Center for Asian American studies where I worked, people had to leave either for medical reasons or because they got other job offers,” Shingavi said. “We’re basically down to half a staff person.”

At press time, UT Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty said system administrators have not yet planned which parts of the ‘Smarter Systems for a Greater UT’ report, which will cost the University $960,000, will be implemented. Hegarty said committees will be formed to establish timelines and recommendations based on the report in the coming months.

“I am not sure what someone would be protesting given that nothing has been decided,” Hegarty said. 

Shingavi said if the time does come for cuts, he hopes the University finds a better way than raising prices and cutting back on services.

“It’s already expensive to go to school here, tuition is already high,” Shingavi said. “Because this model is being imposed on higher education it has nothing to do with the quality of education here.”

Junior English major Zach Guerinot stands in support of Palestine during a protest Monday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

As the Israel-Gaza crisis becomes increasingly violent, people around the world and on the UT campus are paying more attention to it. Members of the UT community on multiple sides of the issue voiced their opinions Monday.

Roughly 20 students from the UT chapter of the International Socialist Organization and Palestine Solidarity Committee marched across campus Monday in support of residents of Gaza. They walked through the East, West and Main Malls as well as the halls of the Beauford H. Jester Center and the Student Activity Center chanting, “Free, free Palestine. Occupation is a crime.” Meanwhile, roughly 45 students from six organizations tabled on the West Mall in support of Israel.

These six organizations were Texans for Israel; College Republicans; Chabad Jewish Student Organization; Alpha Epsilon Pi, a fraternity that works to provide opportunities for Jewish men; the Latino and Jewish Student Coalition; and Texas Hillel, an educational Jewish center. 

The International Socialist Organization and Palestine Solidarity Committee set up tables on the West Mall as well.

Advocates on both sides of the issue worked to attract passing students to their table.

Tracy Frydberg, Middle Eastern studies and liberal arts honors sophomore and head of campus relations for Texans for Israel, said she has family in Israel and came out to support them and the other Israelis in fear for their lives.

She said the organization’s main goal in tabling was to better inform students of the issues surrounding the conflict.

“We are here to clarify, to answer questions, to be here as a resource for students on campus and to explain the issue and what is happening right now,” Frydberg said.

Frydberg said the more vocal approach to the situation taken by students from the International Socialist Organization and Palestine Solidarity Committee seemed ineffective to her as it didn’t educate people on the issues.

“We are not going to be doing anything like this,” Frydberg said. “These people are not here to clarify the situation. They are not explaining what is happening.”

Jonathon Orta, Latin American studies senior and member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee, said drawing more attention to the issue is necessary.

“It forces a dialogue to happen, and a dialogue that happens is often uncomfortable for some people,” Orta said. “Just as when the South was segregated, you had these protesters of the Civil Rights Movement fighting for integration, but those conversations had to happen ... the same conversations are what we are trying to have happen at UT.”

Journalism professor Robert Jensen spoke at the protest in support of the people of Gaza. He said the public must fully educate themselves on the issue since the situation’s history is essential for full understanding.

“You cannot understand what is happening in Gaza today without understanding one central fact — the occupation of Palestine by Israel,” Jensen said.

Ben Mendelson, government and liberal arts honors junior and chief financial officer for College Republicans, said he believes standing with Israel is an issue of safety, not politics.

“I don’t think it is an issue of political party,” Mendelson said. “There is overwhelming support on both sides of the aisle for American support of Israel.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and other politicians from both sides of the political spectrum have come out in support of Israel’s right to defend itself.

Protesters on both sides of the issue said they will be working more this week to advocate for their causes through similar efforts.

Austin Center for Peace and Justice president Rudolph Williams speaks to students about institutionalized racism in Parlin Hall Wednesday evening. Williams said racism in institutions such as media and education, both locally and nationally, creates a larger racist mindset that is difficult to break.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

A Wednesday evening open forum brought students together to discuss how racism permeates modern institutions on local and national levels.

UT’s branch of the International Socialist Organization hosted a public talk titled “Systemic Racism: the Role of Institutions and Race” that included three guest speakers and an open discussion on the topic of modern racism in current institutions such as media, government and education. Speakers included government senior and International Socialist Organization member Michelle Uche, finance junior Chas Moore and Rudolph Williams, Austin Center for Peace and Justice president.

Nearly 40 students attended to listen and participate in the discussion at Parlin Hall.

International Socialist Organization member Jonathon Orta said the talk was held as response to several local issues surrounding race, including the high rates of violence by the Austin Police Department against unarmed black and Hispanic suspects.

“As a socialist, there are problems everywhere,” Orta said. “Especially after the Trayvon Martin [cartoon] in The Daily Texan, there’s a lot of buzz but there’s not a whole lot actually going on. People are excited and wanting to run and wanting to do stuff but they don’t know how.”

Williams said racism in institutions such as media and education, both locally and nationally, creates a larger racist mindset that is difficult to break.

“Institutionalized racism, much like racial profiling, is a perception, an attitude and a lingering picture of what people think other people are,” Williams said. “Just because we live in this particular environment does not mean we can’t change it.”

Moore said pop culture’s portrayal of black American males is one major factor that affects the everyday lives of members of the black community.

“If you didn’t know me and you watch TV, you probably would think three things of me,” Moore said, “Either I can play a physical sport really well, or I can dance and entertain and make you laugh or that I’m really violent. Why am I portrayed in only one way? Why can’t I be known for writing books and giving prophetic speeches?”

The lack of coverage in the media surrounding issues such as crimes against black Americans contributes further to a negative stereotype, Moore said.

“Trayvon Martin was a rare incident because black people get killed every day by non-blacks, but it doesn’t get circulated in the media that way,” Moore said.

Uche said incarceration rates within the United States point to severely racist undertones in the criminal justice system on a national level. This disproportionate amount of incarceration indicates an inherently racist system that keeps black Americans in a second-class status, she said.

Public discussions, such as the one held last night, allow for free debate and are vital for creating action within a community, Orta said.

“People are interested,” Orta said. “People are upset, and people are realizing that these things aren’t isolated. These things are systematic. This is a good gauge to see where people are at, and you start the dialogue on how to connect these issues.”

Printed on Thursday, April 26, 2012 as: Institutional racism, negative stereotyping topics in open forum