SG

As the school year starts to wind down, so begins the transition and adjustment period of Student Government’s new president and vice president, Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu. 

Following in the wake of their hugely successful social media campaign — that played a large role in them winning over veteran SG shoo-ins Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi — comes a huge responsibility, that is to implement the change they spoke of on the campaign trail.

The stakes are now higher than ever for an SG president and vice president to deliver on campaign promises, especially with so many first-time voters being inspired to “rock the ballot” because of Rotnofsky-Mandalapu’s appeal to the average, underrepresented UT student. 

If Rotnofsky and Mandalapu can keep these voters involved through the use of social media, then we at the Texan predict their term will be particularly impactful. Transparent clothing jokes aside, keeping students in the loop is crucial in order to maintain the loyalty of the student body and preserve the belief that the little guys should have a voice, too.

In order to avoid a schism between SG veterans and these newcomers, Rotnofsky and Mandalapu should take the time to learn the ins and outs of SG. They don’t have the experience that the typical SG president and vice president candidate typically have, and as much as we hate to say it, steps must be taken to remedy this inexperience in order to avoid tension. This action will have a two-fold result: one being to show current SG members they are committed to their new positions, and two, to demonstrate to UT’s student body as a whole that they are more than just two jokesters trying to make a political statement. 

The reality of the present SG situation may call for fewer jokes, but certainly not less humor. It is important that these two strike a balance between being the funny guys and the guys that actually get things done. This past election was certainly one for the books, but Rotnofsky and Mandalapu are going to have to work twice as hard to win over opponents who weren’t wooed by their comedic charm. At the end of the day, not everyone is into humor. Rotnofsky and Mandalapu should keep these people in mind in order to expand their fan base, but take care not to lose the support of all those who liked their funny take on traditional campaign strategies.

With all eyes on them, including those of national news sources and comedy publications, the pressure is on. As the underdogs, they are expected to fail. Luckily for them, there is much left to be desired about Student Government as it currently stands. Just getting elected is the first of hopefully many refreshing changes to be made to the institution.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Over spring break, the Texas Senate gave final approval to SB 11, a campus carry bill for public universities. In response, members of the UT Student Government said they will intensify lobbying efforts to make sure a comparable bill is not passed in the Texas House.

Campus carry, in its current state, would allow licensed concealed handgun carriers who are 21 or older to bring their handguns on college campuses, including in most buildings. For it to become law, the bill must pass in the House and obtain Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature.

Sports games, residence halls, hospitals, preschools and grade schools would be exempt from campus carry laws.

Sens. Judith Zaffirni (D-Laredo), Royce West (D-Dallas) and José Rodríguez (D-El Paso) proposed that the bill clarify the list of areas on campus where guns could be banned and said it is not clear whether universities could ban guns from bars, houses of worship, laboratories and medical clinics. Their amendments did not pass.

SG President-elect Xavier Rotnofsky, who has not yet been sworn into office, said he was not surprised to see the bill pass in the Senate and said SG will continue to oppose the bill and lobby to prevent its passage in the House.

 “I guess a lot of proponents say that it’s our God-given right to self-defense, but, I think also by that same argument, we also need to defend ourselves against such legislation because it could potentially be more harmful than good,” Rotnofsky said.

SG members plan to increase lobbying and join forces with other student groups, such as UT Students Against Guns on Campus, in efforts to prevent campus carry from passing in the House. 

“We’re going to do what we can to either testify or lobby to stop it,” Rotnofsky said. “It’s still something that can get shut down.” 

Current SG President Kori Rady said SG members have spoken in opposition of the bill at public hearings and with legislators. Additionally, SG passed a resolution formally opposing campus carry. 

SG Vice President-elect Rohit Mandalapu attended a public hearing Tuesday to speak against the House equivalent of SB 11. He said UT students have an uphill battle in preventing the bill’s passage. 

“Especially for a lot of the representatives, I feel that they have their minds made up already,” Mandalapu said. “So it’s really [about which way] the swings are going to go. I do think it’s very much possible to get campus carry overturned in the House. Like I said, it will be very hard, I think. … We have to get a lot of support behind it.” 

Rotnofsky and Mandalapu said there is not yet a plan for what SG will do if the campus carry measure does become law. 

“We’d have to develop some sort of strategy with the president and [University of Texas Police Department] and all the groups involved,” Rotnofsky said. “For the most part, no, we haven’t sat down and thought about that — but if we see that these bills have a likelihood of passing, yeah, we’re going to come up with some stuff.”

Will Rotnofsky-Mandalapu be able to effect real change?

As of yesterday, #RotMan2015 is officially a thing.  

Now more than ever before, though, the stakes for Student Government are high.   

When I took a step back from the frenzy and excitement, I wondered if perhaps Rotnofsky-Mandalapu are too progressive. In the broader scheme of things, SG maintains itself because of the same things that people don't like, namely the lack of diversity and transparency.  

Year after year, students in SG drink the Kool-Aid and assimilate into the system quickly and quietly. The reason the general student body doesn't hear about the ins and outs of SG is that they aren't a part of it.  

Elite? Yes. Good at doing what its job description says? Sure. The general student body's favorite student organization? Probably not. 

But when it comes down to it, UT has, and always will, run somewhat smoothly because of the lack of diversity within SG. We put our trust in these people to keep UT afloat, and until this past election season, nothing was done about it. 

This idea of exclusion is one that Rotnofsky and Mandalapu touched on several times during the race. It comes as no surprise that their platform resonated with many — after all, SG isn't a representation of the student body and definitely doesn't get to hear the opinions of all students as much as they should or want to. As more and more people rallied behind the refreshing ideas of the comedic duo, it became clear that a lot of students wanted change in SG and viewed Rotnosfky-Mandalapu as the vehicle to deliver it.  

But — and as much as it pains me to say this — is UT ready for this change?  

Yes, SG has problems. But just like the dysfunctional family that they are, SG is suited for a leader that understands the nuances of the system. The benefit of Braydon and Kimia is that they have a deep understanding of how SG works and would have been able to continue to run it in the fashion that it always has been.  

While this would have angered some, it would have eventually resulted in all the social media hype dying down and things returning to normal, which, as the past has shown us, isn't all that bad after all. A few bills will get passed, something will be changed to a 24 hour study center and another initiative for student safety will come to fruition. No harm, no foul--SG will do what it does best: do stuff that we plebeians can't understand.  

Opponents of the traditional SG candidates voted for RotMan because they didn't want more of the same, and I applaud them for that. In the past few weeks, a statement about inclusion and student voice was made loud and clear.  

However, I can't help but think that more of the same is all that UT is equipped for. We're used to being in the dark about campus issues. It's kind of our thing. Maybe it is time, as Rotnofsky-Mandalapu assured us, to give students a voice and more active role in their UT communities. I certainly hope this is true, but a part of me knows that getting SG members to rally behind such an inexperienced pair will be a struggle — one I hope doesn't break the two "good old boys." 

 I don't believe effective change is possible at this University when it comes from SG. To be quite frank, it doesn't have to. At best, we are here for four or so years. What happens here — in Student Government at least — doesn't change the world. I'm OK with that. While no steps get taken forward, neither are ones backward. In my mind, that's good enough.  

I commend Rotnofsky-Mandalapu for an incredible campaign and for saying the things that a lot of us were thinking. Curious is an understatement about how I feel regarding the coming weeks as Rotnofsky and Mandalapu take office. Good luck to both of them and may the odds be ever in your favor. 

Berkeley is an associate editor.

Still wondering who to vote for this Student Government election? This alumnus doesn’t have the answer but will give you insights to the game.

I’m proud to say I was an outlier within Student Government. It’s smothered in Greeks, Plan II scholars, Spirit Org affiliates and career SG members who have had a plan since their freshman year to one day run it all, yet I stumbled my way into it all my junior year as a sole student looking to advocate for his passions. 

I met some of my best friends, and got to pursue ambitions to better the University all while representing my communities; however, I always knew I could not represent every student. The way I combated this was to surround with people who were different from me. People who knew what they were talking about, didn’t mind getting their hands dirty, and who could connect back to these struggling groups in need of change and support. 

Student Government then in itself has to be diverse and inclusive to bring in as many minds, opinions, and critiques to allow it to grow and prosper. 

Here is where Student Government flounders: it thinks it can simply cast a larger net on students to fix this problem every year. With this wide approach, they hear about issues and then “support” communities by writing resolutions. WRONG. Student Government needs polarizing, passionate, intelligent and driven leaders who want to represent these students and their communities and who are not afraid of getting themselves battered in the process.

Being a figurehead with loads of experience means nothing if you cannot define your stance on issues. At the same time, not taking yourself seriously will cause you to loose respect from the institution itself. 

To practice what you preach means everything in the world of university politics. Take the recent University of Oklahoma scandal: President David Boren took a swift and strong stance on a racist video and established a zero tolerance position from the top down. We need our student leaders to be just has strong-willed and vibrant.

Jones-Dargahi say they want to talk. You can talk all day, but UT students need you to stand up for them and debate Campus Carry, Domestic Partner Benefits, Immigration stances, Gender Neutral Housing, Disability Services and more. Rotnofsky-Mandalapu have shown they’ll stand up for students, but at what point will they take a second to step away from the humorous juggling act to actually have critical and needed conversations.  

As an alumnus of our great institution, I will not be casting a vote March 11th or 12th for the next student body president and vice-president, but I hope current undergraduate and graduate students take it upon themselves to ponder what they think is more important: passion or politesse. 

Kasischke is a recent natural science and liberal arts graduate, 2-year Director of the Queer Student Alliance the LGBTQ Agency of Student Government, a non-Greek/non-spirit group member and one of the main organizers behind the Rady/Strickland 2014 Student Government campaign.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

In a recent op-ed piece, Nicole Kruijs provides an uncharitable and one-sided description of the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu campaign for Student Government president and vice president. She emphasizes the satirical elements of their message without paying heed to the substance that undergirds that satire. Fairness demands a more considerate treatment of their candidacy.

“Jon Stewart is hilarious,” Kruijs says. "But I wouldn't want him to be president of the United States."

This analogy is disingenuous in that it presumes the qualities required of the two offices — president of SG and president of the United States — are identical. This is fallacious. 

As commander-in-chief of the armed forces and custodian of our nuclear arsenal, the president of the United States must obviously possess attributes that extend beyond compassion and a willingness to listen to the people who elected him.

This is not so for the executive officers of Student Government. Their role — their only role — is to be a faithful representative of the student body — the whole student body. Kruijs concedes this much later in her piece. 

Rotnofsky and Mandalapu evince a desire to fulfill such a representative role. As evidence of this fact, I direct the reader's attention to their profile in the Daily Texan, in which Mandalapu provides an eloquent response to the question of what's wrong with Student Government, namely that it's unrepresentative. Mandalapu has noted that only 15 percent of the student body voted in last year's election, which — amusingly — was considered a record turnout.

Mandalapu attributes this lack of participation to the fact that SG has recently been dominated by Greek and spirit organizations, an arrangement that inhibits less represented student organizations from receiving SG funding. While I can’t prove this beyond a reasonable doubt, I do have reason to believe it is true. As treasurer of UT's Undergraduate Classics Society, I have seen SG and Senate financial officers ignore my organization’s request to borrow the required credit card after completing the mandatory steps to receive funding for an event.

Without attributing any malicious motives to the other two candidates, I do assert that they undeniably fit the profile of the unrepresentative elements whose influence within SG is alleged to be disproportionate. This is precisely why I support the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu ticket: a consideration of what the two campaigns stand for. That students do not engage in such a consideration is no fault of their campaign. 

Kruijs also suggests that the Jones-Dargahi slate, unlike Rotnofsky and Mandalapu, will "listen to you" as the official representatives of the student body. This allegation I find generic, insincere and unsubstantiated.

Consider the recent Assembly resolution to remove the Jefferson Davis statue from the Main Mall. Rotnofsky and Mandalapu, taking into account the discomfort the statue's presence creates for students of color, are taking action to bring about its removal. Though Jones admittedly signed on as a co-sponsor, this resolution should be adduced as an example of the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu ticket's willingness to listen to students. I find it more reassuring than a Twitter hashtag. 

Indeed, all the measures Kruijs attributes to the Jones-Dargahi ticket — "building bridges across communities," for instance — are ill defined; they're broad, and what's more, they're not accompanied by specific examples of how Jones and Dargahi propose to accomplish such an objective, other than "relationships" (more on that below).

This is precisely the sort of electoral laziness that Rotnofsky and Mandalapu seek to ridicule when they propose Adam Sandler movies as a method by which the Assembly and the Executive Board can develop greater rapport. I find their humorous attempts to underscore the insincerity of conventional responses to such issues less insulting that their opponents' assumption that they can walk away with the election with empty phrases. Kruijs seems to assume that the campaign's satire is gratuitous, that it isn't directed at any systemic shortcomings. This I find overly simplistic. 

Finally, Kruijs attributes the connections Jones has established with alumni, faculty and administrators during a time of administrative transition as reasons to support his candidacy. She provides no assurances that such connections are representative — that they fulfill precisely the role she says SG should play in conveying the concerns of the student body to higher authorities (I find the allegation that any bill adopted by state legislators depended upon the support of a UT student ludicrous on its face; Kruijs provides no evidence — short of the fact that she and her colleagues "voiced their support" — that Jones was instrumental in SR 11's or AR 30's passage). I would appreciate confirmation that Jones can use his connections responsibly, or at the very least evidence suggesting he is capable of so doing. 

Dean-Jones is a Plan II, history and classics senior from Austin. He is not officially involved in the Rotnofsky-Mandalapu campaign.

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

Members of Student Government are working to bring a mobile safety application to campus in an attempt to give students a better sense of security. 

Taylor Strickland, SG vice president, said the inspiration for the application came from a similar program at Virginia Tech, which a student who was present at Virginia Tech’s 2007 on-campus shooting helped develop.

“I’ve lived in West Campus since my sophomore year, and I’ve actually been fortunate enough to always feel safe, but I know that’s not a universal feeling,” Strickland said. “So any tools we can provide to students to make them feel better and more secure and safe is kind of what I saw this being a great opportunity for.”

Strickland said the main feature of the application would be a tracking system for students walking on campus or back and forth from their homes. It would allow a friend or parent to monitor their progress and show when the student reached their destination.

“This is probably one of the biggest ones because we live on a campus where a lot of students live in West Campus, and a lot of students live within walking distance, even if you’re just on campus and walking at night,” Strickland said. “That way somebody is looking out for you, and it doesn’t have to be super invasive, but at the same time, it’s just an extra sense of security.”

Strickland also said they want the application to connect students to officers from both the University of Texas Police Department and the Austin Police Department, and SG members have worked alongside UTPD officials on the early stages of its development.

Instead of adding more blue emergency call boxes across campus and further into West Campus, Strickland said she saw this as a more feasible and practical solution. 

“We have a great UTPD, they do a lot, but there’s only so much you can do with 50,000 students, and that’s where blue boxes came in,” Strickland said. “So where UTPD can’t be, the blue boxes are there, but now we’ve moved into an age where blue boxes can’t be everywhere.” 

Government senior Mirusha Yogarajah said she liked the idea of a safety application but said she wasn’t sure students would consider the application a viable option for personal security.

“I know I’m sometimes worried about walking home when there aren’t many people around, and this feels like a sense of security,” Yogarajah said.

Corporate communications senior Anna Chamness said she has lived in West Campus for three years and that an application like this would be useful to all students walking to and from campus or walking to different places in West Campus.

“I think the app is a step closer in improving the safety of West Campus and other student-populated areas,” Chamness said. “It’s an easy and convenient way to make sure our friends make it home safely after a night out.”

Strickland said she hopes the application will be available to all students — even those who don’t live on campus or in West Campus.

“What I would really like to see is this count for more than the 40 Acres because we aren’t always on the 40 Acres,” Strickland said. “There are a ton of students who live on Riverside, and there’s some students who live in North Campus, so making sure that they can still use this app and someone will make sure that [the police] get contacted no matter what the circumstances.”

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa speaks at the Student Government meeting in October. Cigarroa, who has held his position for over five years, is leaving his role as chancellor in January to return to medicine. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Only 13 students have signed up to run for 43 Student Government positions, according to University data, and students can easily file until Feb. 17 at noon in SAC 2.102 (see: http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/campuswideelections/howtofile.php). Having been involved with the organization as a University-wide representative over the past year, I’ve come to see that SG is an important organization that could benefit by being more representative of the student body and that means involving more students and especially those who don’t normally participate.

Throughout my time at UT, I’ve seen many diverse groups of people, but I rarely see them involved in SG. SG gets a lot of criticism because many see it as ineffective and unimportant, but I’ve come to see its significance. For example, members of SG represent the student body to the Legislature and to the regents, examine local issues with city and county task officials and lobby in many areas to benefit students. When I came to UT, I didn’t think much of it, either, but I came to see its importance.

When I first became interested in SG, I had heard mostly bad things about it. Even though honorable leaders like J.J. Pickle and Lloyd Doggett got their start in UT’s Student Government, it seemed to a complete outsider like me and many others as nothing more than a resume booster and rubber stamp for unpopular ideas the administration wanted. Furthermore, a primary criticism against SG was not being composed of the colorful strings of diversity that stretch from Austin to the Rio Grande Valley and all across the world tying our campus together. Moreover, some of the most pressing issues on campus including affordability, transportation and sexual assault were not being addressed. Students saw SG discussing trite issues like toilet paper and other internal conflicts that had no significance to most. When important issues came up, students felt like SG took no real action.

For example, SG failed to consider the popular objections to the tuition hikes proposed last March and gave “student approval” via a haphazardly constructed ad hoc committee. On top of all this, the negative stigma increased when a former president made national news for his controversial views on women. However, SG can have a bigger influence and should raise its voice regarding important issues. That’s why I decided to run, even though many of my friends said it would be nigh impossible because I wasn’t in a Greek or spirit organization. We created a platform focused on listening to students and including priority issues like sexual violence prevention, increasing facility hours and lobbying the Texas legislature. We also met with UT staff to determine how to best make our goals happen. To overcome the popularity contest, we created a strong legislative agenda that has yielded concrete solutions while connecting with student groups.

For those who want to make a difference but are worried that SG isn’t worthwhile or that you won’t get elected, I have a few solutions. First, truly believe in what Gandhi-ji said: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Then, form ideas that focus on the needs of students, rather than just the old, over-used slogans. Lastly, communicate your message and vision to every group and reach out to every student (hint: social media isn’t enough).

It’s imperative the diverse population that composes the campus, regardless of whether they reside in North Campus, Riverside or elsewhere, get involved and help continue to better UT. Students need to highlight other issues and concerns for SG to focus on. Join an agency, apply to get nominated for a committee or even run for the various positions that are open this spring! You really can be the change you seek.

Patel is a biology junior from Katy. 

Student Government President Kori Rady and Vice President Taylor Strickland are currently halfway through their terms.

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

With half of their year-long terms behind them, Student Government President Kori Rady and Vice President Taylor Strickland said they hope to use their remaining time in office to extend and perfect the initiatives they implemented in the fall semester. 

In the fall, SG members authored a resolution in support of having the Flawn Academic Center open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This semester, Rady said the FAC will retain extended opening hours, but cut back slightly to 24 hours a day, five days a week. 

“The plan is to work with [the FAC] to take away 24/7 because Fridays and Saturdays weren’t getting that heavy of usage,” Rady said. “We’re meeting with a roundtable group in the next couple of weeks, I hope, but I don’t want to make any promises. We hope that it’ll be back this semester, as it was
quite successful.”

Cherry Chau, human biology and chemical engineering junior, said she uses the FAC to study late at night because of its proximity to West Campus, but a change from last semester’s 24/7 policy would not interfere with her study habits.  

“Until finals come, people don’t really study on Fridays anyway,” Chau said. “If the [FAC] was open Sunday through Thursday, that would be good. I wouldn’t mind the reduction.”

Rady said the Student Services Budget Committee, a collective effort between SG, Graduate Student Assembly and faculty members, approved $52,000 in additional funding to continue Safe Ride, a student driving service that provides users with rides home from downtown Austin. The additional funds will double the size of the program, Rady said.

“We served over 3,000 students overall [last semester] and gave them rides home for free, preventing drinking and driving and giving them another option to be safe while enjoying the experience that is college,” Rady said.   

Strickland said SG will continue to plan Upperclassmen Shadowing Day, a goal Rady and Strickland introduced in their original campaign platform in spring 2014. The event would pair freshmen with seniors, with the hope that seniors can provide advice about the major selection process. Students will be able to attend classes with their senior counterpart.

“We really like that students have engaged us,” Strickland said. “A lot of things we’ve done have been from students’ recommendations and things that students really want to see. We just want to keep that going … and make this the campus [students] want to be on.”

Rady said SG will push to make student IDs an acceptable form of voter ID, and work to plan a unified student tailgate before football games. Strickland said she hopes last semester’s changes will remain in effect after her tenure ends.

“We’re going to be fighting until the end,” Strickland said. “Nothing is dead in our eyes. We’re going to be pushing for all of our platform points, so we’re really excited to see things develop.”  

UT’s Student Government prides itself on being a voice for students; its mission, according to its website, is “to earnestly represent the interests of students, to preserve and protect the traditions and legends of the University, and to support students and student organizations in their academic and community endeavors.” Recently, however, it appears that Student Government’s leadership is more concerned with its exertion of power and internal conflicts than representing “the interests of students.”

I joined Student Government as a freshman. It was the place where I met my closest friends; it was where I found my place in the University, and most of all it was a place where I felt I could have a positive impact on the student body. As a freshman I was shown the possibilities of SG, what had been done and what could be accomplished with team effort and student support. Naively, I believed that everyone was committed to the same goals and people felt a responsibility to their constituents. During my sophomore year I served as the assistant director for the Federal Relations Agency. I started out my term excited for the ways I could show students how laws in Washington, D.C., affected them and how they could effect change. Early in my term I realized that I was essentially a figurehead, someone to fill a spot. My agency director did not work with me, and the individual who oversaw the agencies never addressed my concerns, as I was continuously told to wait a bit longer. I contemplated stepping down from my position at the end of the semester because of my frustration, but I stayed on until the end of my term in hopes of seeing improvements; there were none.

After the end of my term, during my junior year, I stepped away from SG. I did not want to hate the organization that I loved and had devoted two years of my college career to. Seeing SG from the outside, as a student, has led me to write this. I was able to look at SG from an unaffiliated student’s point of view, and I began to understand why students do not take SG seriously or put much stock in legislation. This year, more than any other year that I’ve been a student, there has been internal fighting and what appears to be a lack of respect among the members, as evidenced most recently by an attempt to remove Chief of Staff Chris Jordan from office. Legislation has been passed that I, as a student, have not seen followed through on. Instead, it appears as though many SG members have forgotten their purpose, to serve the needs of students and to be their voice.

Student Government has the resources, the support and the drive to create real change around campus. That is evident through the programs that have already been accomplished. During my freshman year the PCL became a 24-hour facility during midterms and finals, and recently, the FAC followed suit. There have been programs implemented to assure students safety, such as Sure Walk, an initiative that helps students safely get home from campus, and this year URide has been implemented to give students a safe ride home from downtown. Agencies such as Longhorn Run, State and City Relations and Diversity and Inclusion have reached out to students about issues that greatly affect them, such as voting in local elections and fostering discussion on appropriate Halloween costumes. In the past, legislation has been passed to support undocumented students, to support Sexual Violence Prevention Month and, more recently, to update student IDs so that they qualify as voter IDs. But these pieces of legislation are merely words and suggestions. It is important to show support for different events and groups of students, but one more step needs to be taken to create spaces where students can come together and discuss problems, to learn more about each other. Student Government has the ability to create change and impact students’ lives, but more steps need to be taken to focus on students, to follow through on legislation and sustain and grow already existing programs.

This is not a call to dismantle Student Government, to remove people from office or to single out individuals. This is a plea for student leaders to come together and serve the University and students. Student Government has the ability to impact student life. It is supposed to be the voice of students, an advocate. Student Government should not be just a line on a resume, a tool for getting into law school or a way to gain power. The success of a representative is not in being elected, but in fulfilling his or her platform and making a tangible change on campus. The members of Student Government need to take the time to look at the platforms they ran on, reflect and return next semester with goals that will positively affect the student body and complete the tasks they were elected to do. They need to leave the office and the Legislative Assembly Room, meet their constituents, hear their issues, be seen and be vocal. Student Government can do better, and its members should be held to a higher standard by the student body.

Wellington is a Plan II junior from Dallas. In Student Government, she served as a Longhorn Legislative Aide and Federal Relations assistant director.

Photo Credit: Mariana Munoz | Daily Texan Staff

After a group of Student Government representatives sought his removal, Chris Jordan, SG chief of staff, will be monitored by assembly members for compliance with SG policy and behavior.

At the SG meeting Tuesday, Jessica Sherman, external affairs committee chair, announced that there would be a new code of conduct and expectations implemented as a zero-tolerance policy to address the responsibilities and behavior of an executive member. 

The announcement came after members of the assembly attempted to remove Jordan from office. A draft of a document, titled “In Support of Chris Jordan’s Removal From Office,” called for his removal, listing reasons behind the assembly’s decision. According to Cameron Crane, College of Natural Sciences representative, the anonymously written document was supported by over 20 assembly members and was intended for internal sharing. Currently, no formal document is required to remove an individual from an appointment.

According to Crane, who said he did not contribute to the document, assembly members had been sharing and contributing to it over the past week. 

The document outlines claims of Jordan’s alleged misconduct, which include Jordan’s supposed failure to release interview notes for external and internal positions in April. The document claims his actions were intentional and that he was aware of the rules requiring the notes to be released. 

According to the document, Jordan has also “exhibited patterns of bullying and physical aggression.” In addition, it stated Jordan failed to communicate with his agency directors and other UT-related entities, claiming he did not file impact reports and poorly handled a proposed Austin City Council debate.

“I don’t think that he has been doing the duties outlined for his position,” Austin Ferguson, College of Fine Arts representative, said in an email. “His lack of transparency and initiative in ensuring that communication is upheld has been the thing that I have picked up on the most. This, in turn, has created some tension between the various branches.”

Jordan’s biggest concern, he said, is the behavioral accusations made against him, including a claim that he shoved Sergio Cavazos, College of Liberal Arts representative, at last week’s meeting. As a result, he notified the Office of the Dean of Students about the document.

“I want to feel safe and feel that I have the opportunity to defend myself because some of this is constructive criticism, and I’d be happy to sit down and talk about it, and we can go down the list, but some of it is just not true,” Jordan said.  

Members of the executive board and the assembly discussed the accusations with Jordan before Tuesday’s SG meeting. Crane — who was present at the meeting, along with Cavazos and Tanner Long, also a College of Liberal Arts representative — said the group decided to implement the code of conduct announced at the meeting once Jordan left. Crane said this compromise would best represent the assembly’s concerns and suggestions as a whole.

According to the assembly board, a group of six SG representatives that speak for the assembly — Braydon Jones, Melysa Barth, Jamie Nalley, Sherman, Cavazos, Chandler Foster and Shannon Geison — communication has been their biggest problem with Jordan this year.

“For the most part, the legislative branch has no knowledge of what agencies are doing internally and externally,” the board said in an email sent by Geison. “[Jordan] can absolutely fix it by apologizing and sharing how he plans to move forward.”

SG President Kori Rady said he stopped Jordan’s removal prior to Tuesday’s meeting in favor of the compromise announced at the meeting. Rady would like to see this code applied to other SG members, not just Jordan.

“I’m the leader of the organization,” Rady said. “And when I see that there is misinformation [and] miscommunication, it is my job to connect the different parties who are not aligned and [make] sure they are on the same page.”

Jordan said he walked into Tuesday’s meeting thinking he was going to be impeached after seeing the document. Although impeachment and removal from office are two different processes, Jordan said they send the same message. 

“What it is is that they don’t have faith in me to do my job and are removing me from my job,” Jordan said.