Student Advisory Council

Rotnofsky and Mandalapu make executive board and PSAC selections

Student Government President Xavier Rotnofsky and Vice President Rohit Mandalapu have selected candidates for executive board and members of the President's Student Advisory Council.

According to Rotnofsky, he and Mandalapu received 105 applications and conducted over 30 hours of interviews before filling the jobs. The board and PSAC members will be appointed at an SG meeting Tuesday.

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  • Their selections:
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  • Chief of Staff: Taral Patel 
  • Communications Director: Thomas Mylott
  • Internal Finance Director: Nicole Chu
  • External Finance Director: Conner Patrick
  • Administrative Director: Amber Magee
  • PSAC: Zachary Stone and Christle Nwora  

Patel and Patrick served as University-wide representatives last term, while Magee was the director of the Diversity and Inclusion Agency. Stone also currently serves on the Judicial Court.

Patel and Magee were both workers on the Braydon Jones-Kimia Dargahi Executive Alliance campaign. Jones and Dargahi lost to Rotnofsky and Mandalapu in a runoff. Patrick was also an agent on the Jones-Dargahi campaign. 

Senate of College Councils executive dirctor Jeff Stevens hands out polls about opinions on plus and minus grading system at the Chicano Culture Room at Union on Tuesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Mary Kang | Daily Texan Staff

Students could be penalized when applying to graduate schools or fellowships because UT does not offer an A+ grade said Bhargav Srinivasan, a finance senior and Senate of College Councils member.

The Senate of College Councils met with the President’s Student Advisory Council at the first ever SenaTea to share refreshments and discuss the failures and successes of the plus/minus grading system at UT on Tuesday at the Union.

At the event, Srinivasan said adding an A+ grade worth 4.33 GPA points to the plus/minus system at UT might help students compete for admission to any program that has a strict GPA requirement.

“Without an A+ option students can lose the incentive to go the extra mile,” he said.

Carisa Nitsche, Senate of College Councils president, said the motion for a plus/minus grading system was implemented in 2009 despite some opposition when it was brought before the faculty council.

“All of the students with a vote were against the system, and a small and not very vocal minority in the faculty council [also] voted against it,” Nitsche said.

Meredith McGraw, chair of the Academic Affairs Committee within the President’s Student Advisory Council, said PSAC has recently held meetings to discuss some of the failures of the plus/minus grading system.

“The majority of the PSAC discussion has been in reference to the inconsistencies in the system. It’s just so irregular and so haphazard,” McGraw said.

She said few university-wide regulations have been implemented to address this issue.

“Professors are not required to use plus/minus grading,” McGraw said. “Also, for some departments a student needs a C to receive credit for a course. For others they only need a C or a D+.”

She said some departments require that professors use the plus/minus system, but others leave it to the instructor’s discretion.

The inconsistencies make it difficult for faculty and departments to communicate their expectations to students because there is no clearly defined standard she said.

“The University needs more standardization when it comes to which professors use which systems and what actually constitutes each grade,” McGraw said.

She said this would be a difficult task to accomplish without compromising the academic freedom of professors and departments at UT, but these concerns need to be addressed.

Nitsche said it was important for the issues discussed in the meeting to be brought before the University faculty to resolve issues of inconsistency within the system and the absence of an A+ grade.

“A large part of this [debate] will be in faculty council. It will be the faculty that we need to talk to,” Nitsche said.

As the March 2 and 3 student-wide general election approaches, candidates for Student Government and other student leadership organizations are hoping to capture student attention with Facebook groups and fliers. The Daily Texan met with the five SG executive alliances to get their thoughts on issues that impact students. The elected president and vice president will preside over the 2011-12 SG and hold positions in powerful groups like the Student Services Budget Committee and the President’s Student Advisory Council. They will also be able to fight for personal goals and initiatives and act as official voices for the student body.

Spencer Scorcelletti and Aaron West

Public relations senior Spencer Scorcelletti started the “Free Rides” service where he would ride around campus on his tandem bicycle giving people free rides to class to inspire people to do more random acts of kindness. Journalism senior Aaron West is interested in magazine writing and editing. He is a former Daily Texan writer, interns at The Onion and is also involved in the Rotary Club.

Why we are running

Scorcelletti said: We’re running because no one normal ever runs for president and vice president. The campaign process is so hectic and crazy that the only people who are up to the challenge are the career politician type. So we think it’s important that the student body is given the option to elect someone who’s not from the usual circle that gets elected every year. Our platform is based off this premise, and the way our campaign is run reflects this. Instead of flooding students and trash cans with fliers, we’re campaigning with creative and personal techniques. For example, our campaign “literature” comes from other candidate’s fliers that have been thrown into the trash. Also there’s “Have tea with your student body president” which is where in the mornings, students can get tea from me and sit down and talk to me about whatever they want.

Guns

Scorcelletti said: Personally I don’t own any guns and I don’t like them, and I think maybe it’s OK for there to be some places where guns aren’t carried. But I think that there should be more talk on the issue. It’s banned already, and I think there should be an open discussion on it. I’m not going to say that I’m going to fight one way or the other until there is more discussion. We want to make a decision based on what the campus wants and needs.

Budget Crisis

“Everything is secondary to the budget,” West said. “What’s the point in arguing about guns on campus if there isn’t a campus? The budget is what we need to take care of, and we need to let the legislature know that this is a real issue. We need to start by looking into unconventional options for saving money,” West said.

If Elected...

West says: We would focus on distributing the power among the student body and allowing them to realize what they have the power to do. We want to encourage crystal clear communication and to get more student involvement. Our decision making will be based on discussion, debate and representing the student body.”

Scorcelletti says: The biggest change that we can bring to the [executive] office is bringing common sense and down-to-earth policy to the table. The executive office only has so much authority, but one thing that can be done, that no one ever thinks to do, is simply involve the student body.

Andrew Nash and Melanie Schwartz

Government senior Andrew Nash is the chair of the University Unions Board of Directors and has previously chaired the Texas Revue committee and served as president of the Student Events Center. He is also involved with Freshman Leadership Organization and Leadership Education And Progress. History senior Melanie Schwartz is a former College Republicans at Texas president and was also involved in the bipartisan voter registration organization Hook the Vote in 2010.

Why we are running

Nash says: We want to leave the university a better place than we found it. Somebody really needs to step up to bat for students and make sure that tangible differences are being made. For a long time, SG was focused on these abstract ideas like accessibility, reform and transparency, but students didn’t have anything to show for that, so at the end of the day we want to make sure that students have something to remember SG by.

Guns

Nash says: We have different views on guns, but we agree that safety is an issue. If a student does feel that there is a legitimate need to carry a gun on campus then that’s a concern for us. We support the right for the university to decide their own gun policy. What we’re advocating for at the capitol is that if it comes down to being our decision we would put it up to a student referendum and let the students decide what happens at UT.

Budget Cuts

Schwartz says: We have to make sure the cuts that do happen don’t affect students disproportionately and so the things that we need to be cutting first are the things that we need least. We started with the SG stipends for us. We are the only candidates who pledged to not accept a stipend. We want to shift that money somewhere people need it because this is a job that we’ll do for free. There’s a lot of options like that to be explored.

Tuition

Nash says: What we’ve been telling people is that we cant always control how much money comes into the university, but this is actually one area where we can control that. We have to look at how much the university is spending so we want to look at both areas and make sure that there is a balance because although we are looking at cuts from the legislature, we can’t just raise tuition to make up for the difference. We are going to have to have targeted cuts.We are going to have to make sure we are spending students money effectively.

Captain Dave-id Tiberius McQuary 5000 & H.A.N.N.A.H. Oley (Humanoid Android Nebraskanoid kNifefight Android Humanoid)

Business honors senior David McQuary and biology senior Hannah Oley are both members of the Texas Travesty staff.

Why they are running

McQuary says: I come from the distant future!I must stop Natalie Butler from becoming elected Student Body President. We can prevent great tragedies from occurring by stopping her ascent to power now. My future, the one where Ms. Butler was elected, is a terrible, horrific place. Wild dogs run amok through the nuclear wastelands of campus, feasting on the rotting flesh of the thousands of dead students. Robotic soldiers patrol the streets, liquefying all humans who disagree with the President’s despotic policies. I am the leader of the resistance against ButlerNet, the evil corporation responsible for starting World War 3 and destroying Austin as you know it!

Guns

McQuary says: “We are pro-ray guns, [but] only if they are set to stun.”

Tuition

“Inflation is going got get real bad if she wins. I feel like when we are discussing issues like tuition we are kind of missing the forests for the trees because, yea tuition might go up or down if you vote for Natalie, but Nuclear war is certain. So its kind of a give and take. So pay a little less so you can get a cheap apartment in West Campus or survive. You pick.”

SG Accessibility

“Being a part of SG is not an option in my time. Natalie is very much a dictator in my time. I think that what you guys are seeing in Libya and Egypt right now with people fighting against tyrants just shows that without democracy justice cannot prevail and humanity cannot prevail so students need to get active in protecting themselves against possible demonic overlords and the best way to do that is to give their own voice.”

SG Experience

“I am currently the leader of the Resistance so it’s just me, a few wolves and my running mate, I don’t have any governmental experience persay, because there is no government — it’s just Natalie and her dictatorship.”

Natalie Butler and Ashley Baker

Presidential candidate Natalie Butler, a Plan II, government and political communications senior, was an SG Longhorn Legislative Aide her freshman year and has remained involved in the organization, currently serving as a University-wide representative. She is also a member of Orange Jackets and Friar Society. Junior Ashley Baker, her running mate, is also a University-wide representative and was previously involved with Senate of College Councils. She is also a member of Black Students Alliance and other organizations.

Why they are running.

Baker says: I would love to see more people involved in student government; getting people from all around campus involved and having a stake in the organization because it’s supposed to be the voice of the student body and being in SG, I’ve noticed there’s cliques and what not so we really want to change the culture of the organization.

Guns

Butler says: By no means am I anti-guns but I’m anti-guns in the classroom. I was one of the sponsors of the resolution that said that we don’t want guns on campus. We are realistic that it is likely to pass given the makeup of the legislature. What we are asking for now is to allow individual votes for each campus as to whether or not they want to allow guns on campus.

Textbooks

Butler says: SG supported a bill that would put the burden of textbook changes on the publishers. It makes publishing companies and book stores let professors know what’s different from edition to edition. There no need to assign a new edition of a textbook that would cost students more.

Baker says: Natalie and I both supported a resolution this semester for professors to get their book lists to the Co-op early, that way the Co-op could release their lists so that other book stores would be able to order their books early. We believe in allowing competition so that the publishing companies are held accountable and that they are open and transparent about the things that are changed in their books.

Tuition

Butler says: I’m really committed to making the TPAC process open from the beginning. What’s happened in the past is that TPAC meets and once they are done with their process they have a lot of forums to discuss the things they proposed and those are great but I think that we also need to have open conversations with the student body through out the entire process. I think then we will get better responses as to what students want and need in regards to tuition. We want to make sure that tuition doesn’t go up in a way that prevents students from coming.

Budget Cuts

Butler says: What we want to avoid happening is what happened in Liberal Arts. There was a board made up of faculty and there were no students involved, and I feel like if there had been multiple students involved in those conversation, then those proposals would have looked a lot differently because students would have been able to say, this is what these departments and centers mean to me. So we want to make sure that students are involved, and we don’t necessarily want it to be SG members — we want it to be all students from all walks of life and all kinds of involvement on campus because it effects all of us,” Butler said.

Abel Mulugheta and Sameer Desai

Government senior Abel Mulugheta is a leader in his fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., the National Pan-Hellenic Council, and recently the Student Government Reform Task Force . Business honors junior Sameer Desai is active in the Indian Students Association, Texas Blazers and the Business Honors Program Steering Committee.

SG Accessibility

Desai says: We know that SG is only as powerful as the students it represents. Students deserve to have their voices heard by SG and by administrators. We will remove the unnecessary levels of bureaucracy in order to create a direct link between students and Student Government.

Budget

Mulugheta says: We know the state is going to cut the budget and that tuition is getting higher and financial aid is getting lower. We want students to rely less on the federal Pell Grant and TEXAS Grant and rely more on university-sponsored scholarships.

Safety

Mulugheta says: We will implement Safe-Ride for students who don’t live on or close to campus in conjunction with expanding SURE walk. In addition, students will enjoy a greater sense of security by having a lit up campus. We will push for more lights in West Campus, as well as all over the 40 Acres.