SG University

On Tuesday, a Travis County judge issued a temporary restraining order against UT, postponing the elections for student body president and vice president for at least two weeks.

The decision came after former Student Government executive alliance candidates Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara sought legal action against the University. Last week, the Election Supervisory Board disqualified the candidates for associating with Student Events Center presidential candidate Carissa Kelley via promotional materials for their campaign. Gardner and Guevara claim that their disqualification violates their constitutional rights because association is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Gardner had ample opportunity through his previous involvement with SG to change parts of the election code he found objectionable. Of course, he never did. He even used some of its more obscure provisions to attack his opponents. However, soon after he was found guilty of violating the rules, he cried about it to anybody who would listen.

During the hearing, Gardner and Guevara’s attorney argued that holding the elections as scheduled would deprive them of the opportunity to put the title “student body president” or “student body vice president” on their resumes and would potentially inhibit Gardner’s ability to eventually run for president of the United States.

The lawsuit, Gardner v. The University of Texas at Austin and the Student Government of The University of Texas at Austin, is against everyone at UT, including administrators and students. It reflects poorly on the University, very poorly on SG and horribly on Gardner and Guevara.

Clearly, Gardner and Guevara are not used to not getting their way. Their decision to file suit affects not only them but the other four candidates seeking executive alliance positions, who have done nothing wrong. The two remaining tickets, John Lawler/Terrence Maas and Thor Lund/Wills Brown, now have to scramble to raise money to compete with the well-oiled Gardner machine, assuming Gardner and Guevara make it back on the ballot.

This also affects candidates vying for other positions, including The Daily Texan editor and SG University-wide representative, as the delay of the executive alliance election may accelerate the descent of voter turnout in recent years into the abyss.

When asked on Sunday what steps the campaign was prepared to take in light of their disqualification, Alex Jones, campaign manager for Gardner/Guevara, told The Daily Texan that a lawsuit was not off the table. He said their actions were protected by the First Amendment, and that regardless of what anyone at UT said about the code, “the Supreme Court does not have to agree with a bunch of 19 year olds and UT administrators.”

What Jones failed to consider was that the opinions of students very much matter. This was supposed to be an election. They wanted it to be a coronation.

Student government president and vice president candidates attend the debate moderated by The Daily Texan Editorial Board in the SAC Auditorium Monday night. Candidates were given the opportunity to answer questions posed by Editor-in-chief Viviana Aldous and rebut comments made by the opposing candiates.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Candidates for the upcoming campus-wide general elections introduced themselves and their campaign platforms during a forum moderated by The Daily Texan Editorial Board.

The Office of the Dean of Students. During the first hour of the event, contenders for Student Government University-wide representative positions and the two candidates for Daily Texan editor-in-chief each had two minutes to pitch their platforms. The second hour consisted of a debate between executive alliance candidates.

Some campaign promises were nearly universal among the candidates vying for SG University-wide representative positions, including commitments to promote safety, improve the UT shuttle system and increase student involvement in SG. Manuel Ramirez is running on a single issue — the DREAM Act, a bill that would qualify undocumented students for citizenship.

Candidates for Daily Texan editor Susannah Jacob and Shabab Siddiqui each used a distinctive approach to pitch their candidacies.

Jacob briefly described her background in journalism and offered her vision for how the Daily Texan can have a greater influence on and off campus.

“The Daily Texan is strongest when people from outside of the University have felt that if they did not take The Daily Texan’s opinion into consideration, then they were going to have the wrath of UT students on the main mall,” Jacob said.

Siddiqui addressed the audience in verse. Reading a poem he claimed to have written just minutes before, he said “You may ask why I stand here and simply question, no closer to an answer, not even a suggestion. But the job of the Texan is not to serve solutions on a plate, but rather to host your discussion and debate.”

After Siddiqui spoke, four of the executive alliance pairs took the stage to answer questions concerning how they would influence tuition increases, budget cuts and their stance on the proposed smoking ban.

John Lawler and Terrence Maas, the first pair to address the crowd, said they differ from other candidates by running on specific reforms rather than repackaging vague campaign jargon.

“What we want to avoid as much as possible is just simply relying on the buzzwords,” Lawler said. “Things like ‘transparency,’ ‘safety’ and ‘affordability.’”

Each executive team also claimed to have specific plans and offered unique proposals for how they would carry out their positions.

Candidates Thor Lund and William Brown said UT should have a 24-hour library system. Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara said they would have regularly have breakfast with other campus leaders. Lawler and Maas said they would hold weekly “office hours” at the main mall and would raise revenue for the University by working with the University to start selling beer at football games.

The subject of state funding was discussed by the candidates and each team put forth strategies for interacting with Texas lawmakers in the case of election.

“We will be at the Capitol every day from January to May,” Gardner said. Guevara, his running mate, said, “I have lobbied to the secretary of state and got 6 million dollars pledged to my scholarship fund.”

Lawler reiterated the importance of a student presence at the legislature.

“We will have to, from the moment we get elected, start to lobby the Texas legislature,” Lawler said.

Lund said he would use the power of numbers and mobilize the student body to pressure lawmakers.

“It’s one thing for me to go talk to the legislature, but it’s another thing to get the whole student body behind this,” he said.

After the debate, Lund said he thinks the debate did not really change the campaign.

“It doesn’t change the campaign that much because all these people up here are talking about all these different things,” he said. “What we really need to do is get out and talk to students.”

Lawler said he thinks the debate did impact the race because it revealed more about the candidates.

“I think [the debate] showed who is and who isn’t knowledgeable of the issues, who is and who’s not passionate about fighting for the students, and who has proven results in their background,” he said.

Presidential candidate Yaman Desai and running mate Whitney Langston participated in the debate before rescinding their appeal of a disqualification ruling from the Election Supervisory Board and effectively removing themselves from the race.

Printed on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 as: SG debate introduces candidates

Don’t boo Wyoming

In light of the tragic death of a Wyoming football player earlier this week, can we please not boo them when they come out on the field or if they make a decent play or two?
I always feel pity for the students and others that feel the need to boo whenever an opponent comes out of the visitor’s locker room. Why bother in the first place?
On top of that, Wyoming had a lot to deal with, including an away game after something so awful. Just don’t boo.

— Creighton Weber
Texas Exes life member

Come for the discussion, stay for the free beer

Before I signed up for this whole Student Government thing, I wish someone had told me how difficult it would be to stay in touch with a 50,000-member constituency. In a perfect world, all 50,000 of you Longhorns would regularly inform me of how I’m performing and contribute your ideas for how SG could best serve you. However, it doesn’t quite work that way here at UT, where most students’ attitudes toward SG hover somewhere between apathy, ignorance and even disillusionment.
So, in an effort to counter the status quo, I’ll be hosting another round of SG “office hours” this afternoon in the (still open) Cactus Cafe, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. Come on over and we’ll talk about student issues like parking meters in West Campus, the DREAM Act, campus-wide budget cuts and anything else that’s on your mind. Bring your questions, your concerns and — my favorite — your ideas.
Also, because today happens to be somewhat of a special one for me, I’m sweetening the deal. I’ll have a few pitchers of Shiner Bock on hand, and if you’re at least 21, I’d love to treat you to a drink as a way of saying thank you for engaging SG as we do our best to reach out to you. For those of you not quite 21 yet, don’t worry — I’ll be sure to bring something for y’all as well.
Grad students, you’re invited, too! Consider this an invitation to emerge from your cramped offices and bring your grad student issues to the attention of SG. We certainly want to know what’s going on in your sphere. (And c’mon, heaven knows it’s rare that an undergrad is buying you a drink.)
See y’all this afternoon for our party — err, I mean, office hours — at the Cactus!

— Matt Portillo
Music and rhetoric and writing senior
SG University-wide representative