University of Virginia

UT graduates 52 percent of its students within four years. That’s a terrible mark in comparison to those of other highly ranked public flagships, like the University of Virginia (86 percent, as of 2014) and UC Berkeley (72 percent, as of 2012).

The school’s administration has tried to raise that number in recent years, and it hopes that 70 percent of the class of 2017 will graduate on time. In pursuit of that goal, the provost’s office recently implemented an initiative designed to nudge rising fourth-year students into graduating by next May.

Promoting four-year graduation should benefit both students and the University. Those who graduate on time wind up spending less in tuition and, ideally, earning salaries earlier than those who don’t. From the school’s standpoint, a high rate of student turnover means more future donors and a boost in the irrationally important yearly college rankings.

But don’t expect the new policy to have much of an impact. By offering carrots to students who commit to graduate when they’re supposed to, the initiative carries the implication that UT’s lackluster four-year graduation rate is the consequence of an aimless student body. 

That scenario rests on the implausible premise that a high proportion of belated graduates are simply choosing, for one reason or another, to accumulate several thousand dollars’ worth of extra debt and delay their entry into an increasingly competitive job market.

It’s more likely that delayed graduates get waylaid by coursework-related problems. Those could stem from a wide variety of factors, like excessive Q-dropping, rigorous dual-degree programs and a flawed registration system. The first two issues are difficult to address without promoting grade inflation or consolidating general education requirements across different colleges. But neither of those solutions would be easy to implement, and the former is ethically sketchy enough to risk endangering the University’s reputation.

Fixing registration, on the other hand, is a simple way to help push those in danger of graduating late back onto the four-year track.

Last year’s revamp reordered registration times based on a student’s degree completion percentage rather than their classification, helping seniors avoid the nightmare of getting closed out of a required course and having to put off graduation. But it created a lot of problems for underclassmen in the process. 

Because their degree progress largely depends on the number of credits they earned as high schoolers, there’s a huge variation among registration times for first- and second-year students, and those at the back of the pack can find themselves locked out of important requirements and prerequisites. 

Not only does that stall their progress toward graduating, it prevents them from getting earlier registration times in the future by curtailing their degree completion, driving them into an unavoidable doom loop of terrible course access.

The problem is even more severe for internal transfers, many of whom have accumulated an olympiad’s worth of hours in their previous majors without making any progress toward their new desired degree. Students who change their majors midstream already face an uphill battle toward graduating on time, and the new system does them no favors.

If the University wants to maximize its four-year graduation rate, it should structure the registration period such that the longest-tenured students (measured by the total number of enrolled semesters) get the first chance to design their schedules, regardless of the number of hours they’ve taken or how close they are to finishing their degree. 

Students in the same prospective graduating class can be ranked by the number of hours they’ve taken so that those who have already completed their general education requirements don’t wind up stuck in redundant or unnecessary classes. That kind of system would send a lifeline to those currently left behind without hurting anyone on the cusp of graduating. Its biggest downside is that it could disadvantage anyone who plans on graduating early, a problem that could easily be allayed through the academic advising offices of individual departments.

There’s no reason for a student’s MyEdu dream schedule to go as soul-crushingly awry as a March Madness bracket or a New Year’s resolution. If the University plans on boosting its graduation rate through institutional support, it should focus its efforts on the AP-less freshmen and major-switchers who could otherwise wind up stranded at school for half a decade. Offering benefits to students who choose to graduate of their own accord does nothing to help those who the registration system has left without such a choice.

Shenhar is a Plan II, government and economics sophomore from Westport, Connecticut. He writes about campus and education issues. Follow Shenhar on Twitter @jshenhar.

It seems that in the news lately, there has been a budding discussion about rape. With the accusations against Bill Cosby and the suspension of Greek life at the University of Virginia amid several allegations, the conversation seems more open now than ever before.

What is surprising about these recent developments is that they are not recent at all — Bill Cosby’s accusations go as far back as the 1960s, and the UVA allegations date back to earlier than 2010. We’ve reached a turning point in the discussion of rape and sexual violence. Whether the allegations are true in either case, their high-profile status has given new life to discussions that were often ignored or skipped over.

But in the wake of these developments, it is important to ask: Why now? This isn’t a new problem, and, unfortunately, allegations like the ones at UVA are commonplace.

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, one out of every six women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. According to the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, one in 20 women are sexually assaulted in college. There were 18 reported cases of forced sexual assault on UT campus in 2012, and two UT football players were suspended this year after accusations rose against them. 

The UVA case, however, is gaining national attention not because of the rape allegations, but because of the school’s decision to suspend Greek life until January. 

Although the school’s public action may contribute to the national conversation surrounding college campuses and rape, the discussion should not be restricted to only party and rape culture.

A lot of the discussions place rape culture and party culture hand-in-hand — and while this is sometimes true, rapes are not confined to the inside of a fraternity house or an apartment party. The discussion needs to go further: It needs to address rape allegations as a whole, not as a symptom of partying. 

Although the Cosby allegations — if true — are terrible, they are paving the way for people to stop brushing rape allegations under the rug. The plight of Cosby’s demise is making it OK for victims to come out against their aggressors, even if they are famous and powerful. 

One good thing that came out of the controversies surrounding Cosby and UVA is that they have the power to change the way we talk about and approach rape allegations. Students have the responsibility to take that power and make a change — a change that will stop rape from being put on the back burner. We can’t let rape be another topic whose 15 minutes of fame will eventually pass.  

The UT System Board of Regents’ increased involvement in UT affairs may be influenced by events at other universities, according to education analysts.

Controversies such as the 2011 sex abuse scandal at Pennsylvania State University and the University of Virginia Board of Visitors’ 2012 decisions to fire and rehire its president have shown how governing boards have both been left out of major events at universities under their purview and played a direct role in the governance of institutions. 

Richard Novak, executive director of the Ingram Center for Public Trusteeship and Governance, said the Penn State scandal made governing boards across the nation take a more cautious look at how universities release information and communicate with boards.

“It made a lot of governing boards very, very nervous,” Novak said.

In 2011, Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State assistant football coach, was indicted on 52 charges of child molestation on or near university property dating from 1994 to 2009. He was later found guilty of 45 charges and is now serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years.

Based on the findings of a grand jury indictment, several university officials resigned or were fired. Penn State’s Former President Graham Spanier, former Vice President Gary Schultz and former Athletic Director Tim Curley face charges of child endangerment, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and grand jury perjury.

A July 2012 report commissioned by the Penn State Board of Trustees and conducted by former FBI Director Louis Freeh found that Spanier, Schultz, Curley and former Head Football Coach Joe Paterno concealed evidence of Sandusky’s activities from the board.

Separate events at the University of Virginia in 2012 show an instance in which a governing board questioned the productivity of an individual institution’s administration.

In June, the university’s Board of Visitors voted to fire University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan, a former UT administrator, for perceived failure to address financial challenges to academic programs at the university, after she served two years of her five-year contract.

The board later reinstated Sullivan after receiving backlash from the campus community.

Michael Poliakoff, vice president of policy at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, said governing boards are becoming more active in order to respond to problems such as rising tuition and student success outcomes. He said this can sometimes result in boards overstepping as they may have at the University of Virginia.

“The key element to keep in mind is that an effective governing board is never a passive board,” Poliakoff said. “It’s not ceremonial, it’s not a group of cheerleaders, it’s a group of fiduciaries. That means an effective board is on occasion going to make people uncomfortable.”

Student survivors of sexual assault may find themselves wrapped in red tape if they choose to seek justice by reporting their assault to the University.

Because of UT’s interpretation of state and federal statutes on the privacy of student records, UT will not inform students sexually assaulted by another student if their alleged perpetrator has been reported for other instances of assault on campus and will not provide records on the status of a UT investigation to either party until its completion.

The Daily Texan published two opinion columns on these and other UT policies last month. A UT alumna and administrative researcher wrote about policies that frustrate and inhibit support for student survivors at UT. A member of UT’s Voices Against Violence wrote in response to alert students to the resources that are available for sexual assault survivors.

In the first column, Katelyn Sack said the University fails to provide a community of trust for survivors by denying them access to investigation records and valuable information about their reporting options.

Sack is a writer and political scientist at the University of Virginia researching administrative decision-making. She worked at the U.Va. Women’s Center from 2002 to 2004 and has had additional advocacy experience as a volunteer and teacher.

“Shame often keeps survivors silent,” Sack said in her column. “But the shame belongs to UT for its inadequate response to rape. UT’s moral imperative to assist injured students should be even more obvious when students are injured by other members of the same community of trust, but here, the University has dropped the ball.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, close to 44 percent of sexual assault survivors nationwide choose not to report or seek legal solutions.

In all investigations, the University’s interpretation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, FERPA, legally restricts the University from releasing records related to an investigation to students, including the students involved in the case.

Jeffery Graves, associate vice president for legal affairs, said the University’s policy was mandated by federal guidelines and not up for individual interpretation.

“There is nothing ambiguous about FERPA in this regard and thus nothing to interpret,” Graves said. “The disclosure may only include the final results of the disciplinary proceeding conducted by [UT] with respect to that alleged crime.”

In an interview with The Daily Texan, Sack said FERPA allows other possibilities for complaint response besides the policy now used by the University.

“All UT has to do under FERPA to ensure survivors can access their full complaint records is have both parties sign off on this disclosure prior to an investigation,” Sack said. “The institutional incentive to not give complainants and respondents alike this opportunity is again a self-interested one.”

Sack said the University reduces its liability by taking a broad interpretation of FERPA. For example, denying survivors and respondents access to records such as reports of previous sexual assaults by an alleged perpetrator reduces the chance of a lawsuit against UT for not punishing a repeatedly violent student.

Attempted and completed sexual assaults occur at a rate of 35 per every 1,000 female college students per year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Between 2009 and 2012, UT’s Voices Against Violence estimates that 2,625 sexual assaults occurred at UT, while only 76 were reported to the University.

“College rape is a multi-million dollar liability, particularly for a large institution like UT,” Sack said. “It’s actually astounding that no one has won a multi-million dollar settlement against UT relating to a rape complaint yet.”

Student survivors can use criminal or civil courts as well as an internal University system to report a sexual assault.

The Office of the Dean of Students does not inform students of civil court options, such as suing an attacker for damages, if a student reports to the office that he or she has been sexually assaulted.

Civil cases have a much higher conviction rate in sexual assault cases than criminal cases, partially because of the lower burden of proof required for conviction.

“Certainly students have civil options,” said dean of students Soncia Reagins-Lilly. “They are not elaborated in [University policy], but through Legal Services we certainly have that conversation with them and survivors understand they have an array of options.”

Reagins-Lilly said the Office of the Dean of Students refers survivors to Legal Services for Students, a branch of DOS that informs survivors of their civil options and provides free legal counsel to students. But Legal Services cannot counsel students sexually assaulted by another student because of a conflict of interest, said Raymond Schiflett, director of Legal Services for Students.

“If it’s an assault on one student by someone who is not a currently enrolled student, then we can provide that student with a full range of legal advice,” Schiflett said. “If it was another student who had allegedly committed this act, we would not be able to assist this student directly. We would refer them to another experienced civil court attorney.”

Schiflett said under state law, all students are potential clients of attorneys provided by UT, and attorneys cannot provide legal counsel to two of their own clients against each other.

UT’s Voices against Violence

Outside the Office of the Dean of Students, the University has a number of resources available for survivors of sexual assault through the Voices Against Violence program launched in the Counseling and Mental Health Center in 2001.

Jane Bost, associate director of the Counseling and Mental Health Center, helped start the program with University support when she acquired a grant for UT’s Voices Against Violence in 2000. Since its inception, the program has provided counseling and advocacy for survivors, as well as training for thousands of students and staff at UT.

UT’s Voices Against Violence does not have the ability to access criminal reporting records, but along with the University of Texas Police Department, it provides criminal, University and civil information for survivors in case they decide to take legal action.

Bost said that while successful civil conviction might provide a feeling of social recognition and safety, most students do not pursue a lawsuit as a response to sexual assault.

“When someone comes in who has been sexually assaulted, they just aren’t interested in a lawsuit,” Bost said. “With all the clients that the VAV specialists have seen in the last 11 years, there has only been one student who has gone the civil route, and it’s not up to us to convince students otherwise.”

Since its inception, the UT chapter of Voices Against Violence has provided training on sexual assault to more than 150,000 UT staff, students and others.

Bost added that it is hard for college students to acquire civil attorneys because attorneys are only likely to take a civil case if an alleged perpetrator has enough assets to make the suit profitable.

Economics and international business junior Sydney Wilkins, a member of UT’s Voices Against Violence and author of the second of last month’s columns, said in an interview with The Daily Texan that it was inaccurate to say UT does not provide resources to survivors.

While the system is never perfect, Wilkins said, there are many people at the University working to provide resources and community for survivors.

“There’s a lot of excitement for activists about students coming out and talking about this issue, and the impact that could have for this campus,” Wilkins said. “My hope is that people will read about these columns and hear that, yeah there are horrible things going on, but there’s a lot we can do and I want people to be optimistic about all the change that can be done.”

Editor’s note: The Daily Texan hopes to further examine the problem of sexual assault on campus next semester. If you are a UT student or former student who has experienced sexual assault at UT, we hope to talk to you. We can discuss options to protect your privacy. Please email enterprise.dailytexan@gmail.com.

Printed on Friday, December 6, 2012 as:  Policies may deter sexual assault survivors

The University’s Center for Students in Recovery will lead an effort to establish similar centers at the UT System’s eight other universities after the UT System Board of Regents approved $942,000 to expand the program over the next five years.

Founded in 2004, UT’s Center for Students in Recovery is one of 20 such centers at universities in the United States. With the regents’ vote to expand the program, System institutions will comprise almost one-third of all centers nationwide. The regents voted unanimously in support of the expansion during their regular meeting Wednesday at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler.

Collegiate recovery centers support students with alcoholism and drug addictions through educational presentations, twelve-step meetings and peer mentorship, among other resources. UT’s recovery center professional staff and volunteers will help establish unique programs for centers at each System institution.

During the meeting, Pedro Reyes, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the centers will help students cope with alcohol and drug abuse that leads to academic failure and sometimes death.
“[The UT-Austin center] is highly effective in helping students deal with alcohol and drug abuse,” Reyes said. “This item is on behalf of the students.”

Regents Steven Hicks and Robert Stillwell said the existence of recovery programs has become an important issue students take into consideration when deciding which college to attend.

“I talked to a girl who transferred from [the University of Virginia] specifically because of this program and the support she would get,” Hicks said. “This is something we’re leading the country in.”
Stillwell said recovery centers are also an admissions consideration for incoming freshmen.

UT President Williams Powers Jr. said the University’s program is student-centered.

“The students, even those who are nonrecovery, have gotten involved to help,” Powers said. “It’s very student-run, but we’ve supported it. We’re very proud of what’s going on, and we’re excited about helping in any way the other institutions need.”

UT’s center recently received the Best Practices in College Health Award from the American College Health Association.

The System will fund the implementation of the centers through the Available University Fund, allocations available to the regents through a state land endowment.

Hicks said the regents’ appropriation will only help implement the centers that will eventually become self-sustaining and require no additional funding.

Ideological differences divide stances on higher education reform

The latest post on Forbes' Center for College Affordability and Productivity blog features two policy makers suggesting that UT and Texas A&M sever ties with the state and become private institutions.

Setting our institute of higher learning loose upon the free market, the authors argue, would solve some key issues that public institutions are currently facing.

The post lists five advantages to privatization: freedom from the control of state appointed regents, freedom regarding tuition rates, freedom to set admission guidelines and freedom from government interference in research. The fifth advantage suggests the state funds that previously went to UT and A&M would be put to better use in supporting disadvantaged schools “that draw low-income and minority students.”

The authors of the post, Ronald L. Trowbridge and Richard Vedder, are affiliated with think tanks that routinely promote the restructuring and privatization of public universities.

Trowbridge is a senior fellow at the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, which published the controversial Seven Breakthrough Solutions for higher education.

The plan, which is supported by Gov. Rick Perry and criticized by UT, includes separating research from teaching, linking salaries to teaching efficiency and requiring tenure track professors to teach on average “three classes per semester and thirty students per class for the seven or more years.”

Vedder, an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, another conservative think tank, is the author of a book arguing that “competition from for-profit universities..., computer-based distance learning, and nonuniversity certification of skills can be a powerful force for needed change.”

While these authors believe they have the answers to the difficult questions public institutions face in the age of budget cuts, others who express differing views may have paid the price for their opposition.

In a situation that seems like an outcome from another possible universe where Bill Powers was pressured to step down by the UT System regents, the University of Virginia regents (or as they call them, the Board of Visitors) announced on June 10 that president Teresa Sullivan will be stepping down after two years into her five year contract.

Sullivan, a former dean of UT’s Graduate School, joined UVA in 2010 to become their first female president.

Sullivan’s top priority after taking office was to streamline UVA’s budget system, and her plan originally had the blessing of UVA’s Visitors. But, as the author of Friday’s Slate article on this scandal points out, “everyone bought in, that is, except for a handful of very, very rich people, some of whom happen to be political appointees to the Board of Visitors.”

Writer Siva Vaidhyanathan reported that Sullivan’s sudden and unexplained departure was demystified by an accidental mass email sent by Peter Kiernan, former board member of UVA’s Darden School of Business School, to supporters of the school.

In the email, Kiernan claimed responsibility for hatching the plan of Sullivan’s dismissal and assured the business school supporters that the head of the Visitorshas things well in hand.”

Demands for an explanation from UVA’s administration led head Visitor Helen Dragas to release this statement regarding Sullivan’s dismissal.

“The Board believes that in the rapidly changing and highly pressurized external environment in both health care and in academia, the University needs to remain at the forefront of change.”

Further explaining the dismissal in an interview, Dragas said “We had a philosophical difference about the vision of the future of the university.”

One thing is certain in this episode of academic drama: conflicting ideological views on a university’s direction during turbulent times are here to stay.

Could the events in Virginia be a portent of what public universities across the U.S. might face if they resist the pressure to adopt market based strategies to solve problems? Only time will tell.

An excerpt from a story that ran in May 1957 after it was discovered that Barbara Smith Conrad was removed from her role as Dido in the campus rendition of Dido and Aeneas because of her race. The article does not immediately address the incident after the initial paragraph, instead the reporter chose to cover other events that were “overshadowed” by the announcement. (Photo courtesy of Dolph Briscoe Center for American History)

Editor’s note: This story is the fourth in a series exploring race, racism and diversity on the UT campus.

In March, a racially offensive cartoon commenting on the media’s coverage of the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin motivated members of the University community to picket The Daily Texan and shined a spotlight on the coverage of race by the Texan in the modern era.

Journalism professor Robert Jensen said the most recent controversy at the Texan is the latest in a long line of incidents.

“These flashpoints at the Texan seem to pop up fairly frequently,” Jensen said.

The Texan has been the student newspaper of UT since 1900 and is a quasi-independent entity of the University, overseen by both the office of the vice president of Student Affairs and the Texas Student Media Board of Trustees. The editor-in-chief is elected by students and the paper is funded by revenue from advertising and student fee allocations from the Student Services Budget Committee. The policy of a University official monitoring the paper’s content was established in 1936 and was inconsistently enforced until 1971. In 2007, this policy of prior review was abolished after 36 years of use.

For the first 30 years of the Texan’s existence, it’s difficult to find an indication of a stated political stance the University held on segregation. Laden with details of campus celebrations and ceremonies, the Texan focused more on student life than state news or major issues.

The paper gradually grew to include news of a more serious tone in the ‘30s and ‘40s. The Texan openly voiced racist sentiments, including the publishing of a January 12, 1940 guest column in The Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper of the University of Virginia. In the column, the editorial board argued that pending anti-lynching legislation was a ploy by Republican lawmakers to garner more African-American supporters.

“Congress cannot legislate away the threat of mob violence with this ridiculous bill,” the editorial said. “Only education and enlightenment, directed by the thinking men of the South can wipe out the evil. It is our problem as a state, and if you look at the record, you will see we are doing a pretty good job. Let the Congressmen find some less distasteful method of garnering votes.”

Over the next 10 years, the push for integration grew stronger, and by the time Ronnie Dugger became editor of the Texan in 1950, publishing pro-integration editorials reflected the changing campus climate. Dugger, now an 81 year-old journalist in Austin, recalled the state of integration in an interview.

“The position at the University was that there would be no blacks there,” Dugger said. “This was 1950-51. Blacks were not welcome. I was, of course, for integration at The Daily Texan,” Dugger said.

Dugger said his election as a progressive editor of the Texan was a result of student support for integration on a campus where the University administration was kept from taking a pro-integration stance by ties to the legislature.

“You have to remember [the legislature was] literally for segregation at least through 1957, and therefore the administration had to be concerned about integration at UT because it would affect their appropriations,” Dugger said.

The Daily Texan supported the UT administration’s pandering to racist legislators in 1957 when Barbara Conrad Smith, who came to the University the previous fall as part of the first class of accepted African-American undergraduates, was forced to resign her part in an opera production after she won the lead role opposite a white male. State Rep. Joe Chapman insisted Smith, who had spent six months rehearsing for the opera, be removed.

The Texan criticized the selection committee that awarded Smith the part.

“Even if the girl chosen had the best voice, and we do not doubt that she did, it would have seemed only the better part of discretion and wisdom not to cast her in a romantic role opposite a white male lead,” the editorial board wrote.

Smith’s removal may have set minority students back, but change was on the horizon. In the 1960s UT saw an explosion of student activism, recalled alumna Alice Embree, who enrolled at the University in the fall of 1963 and took part in civil rights on campus.

The Texan didn’t delve into the problems driving the issues or produce much coverage of minority students’ struggles on campus, Embree said.

“The long term problem was that the Texan would ignore the problem until student activists made it an issue, and then they would cover what happened and begin to open up the dialogue,” Embree said.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the population of minority students on campus grew, and the battle for ethnic studies centers and courses allowed the contentious issue of race in higher education to continue simmering on the pages of the Texan before reaching two major flashpoints in the 1990s.

In 1991, the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust submitted to The Daily Texan a full-page advertisement contending the historical accuracy of the Holocaust. A unique policy of Texas Student Publications, now called Texas Student Media, required the members of the Board of Trustees’s advertising committee to publicly debate and vote on contentious ads. Once the press got wind of the possibility of the ad running, a passionate debate erupted across the state.

“At one point we had hundreds of letters coming in from synagogues in Houston, telling us not to run the ad,” said Geoff Henley, editor of the Texan in 1992.

A version of the ad eventually ran without the editorial board’s support after advertising professor John Murphy, a member of the TSP board who still works at UT, convinced the other student members of the board that the value of free speech outweighed the potential racist tone of the advertisement.

Students distributed flyers on the West Mall labeling him a racist and a barrage of other personal and physical attacks. Murphy said these allegations were not true.
Marketing administration professor Eli Cox symbolically resigned from the TSP board after the vote to run the ad was made.

“I did not think any reputable professional newspaper would have printed that ad,” Cox said.

After receiving much criticism, Henley said controversy at the paper died down. The peace did not last.

Toni Nelson Herrera was an incoming history graduate student at UT in 1997 who arrived on campus shortly after the Hopwood v. Texas ruling of the previous year that struck down the UT law school’s affirmative action policy.

In an April 18, 1997 editorial in the Texan, current law professor Lino Graglia wrote: “The only reason we have racial preferences, of course, is the fact that blacks and Mexican-Americans are not academically competitive with whites and Asians. Racial preferences is simply an attempt to conceal or wish away this unwelcome fact ... Racial preferences are the root cause of virtually all major problems on American campuses today.”

Herrera said she and other students of color decided to organize in response to professor Graglia’s comments. A rally of 5,000 people, including an appearance by Rev. Jesse Jackson, took place, Herrera said.

“I was targeted very specifically by The Daily Texan after I spoke up at the rally, saying something to the effect that I had low test scores,” Herrera said. “My SAT scores weren’t that great. Nevertheless I double majored and graduated from undergrad in three years. The point I was trying to make was that we should be looking at a whole range of factors to get into college.”

The Texan zeroed in on Herrera and fellow graduate student Oscar de la Torre, she said. Both student activists became the target of editorials, and de la Torre was depicted in a cartoon on horseback wearing a sombrero and carrying a rifle. After organizing demonstrations against the paper, Herrera said she and de la Torre took action against the newspaper’s racist actions.

“It was a formal complaint we filed with the newspaper,” Herrera said. “Unfortunately, not much came of it.”

Editor Colby Angus Black later received a 17-1 vote of no confidence from the staff of the Texan and was reprimanded by the Texas Student Publications board for allowing the cartoon to go to print and making personal attacks on students.

The outcome of the controversy wasn’t all bad however, Herrera said.

“The other side of it was that there was a section of students that worked for the newspaper who were more progressive and wanted to understand the movement and understand the struggles of students on campus so they could reflect that in their journalism,” Herrera said.

The Texan still faces criticism for its coverage and portrayal of race. In March 2012, the Texan once again published a racially-charged cartoon, this time labeling the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin as a “poor innocent colored boy.” The editorial board later apologized and decided it would not publish artist Stephanie Eisner’s cartoons for the rest of the semester.

Jensen said there are steps the Texan can take to improve coverage of minorities.

“To change, The Daily Texan will have to commit to the project of trying to transcend its racist past and the white supremacist culture,” Jensen said. “One thing that will have to happen is that the staff has to go through a brutal process of self-reflection,” Jensen said.

Since the cartoon’s publishing, The Daily Texan has taken steps to better address the needs and experiences of minority students on campus through its current and future coverage. A workshop with professors and local journalists, meetings with students from organizations that represent students of color and a series of stories spotlighting issues of race on campus, including this story, have been first steps.

“Hopefully, moving forward the Texan will have better coverage of the entire campus community and better representation of all of our students,” current Texan editor-in-chief Viviana Aldous said.