Daniel Hung

You recently ran a story calling for a full repeal of both the top 10 percent rule and affirmative action in admissions. In short, the author, Daniel Hung, essentially believes UT Austin can improve its rankings by “just admit[ting] better students.” I find the author’s position challenging, because what could be better than finding the most efficient and creative ways of diversifying the state’s highest-ranked public university?

In other words, what Hung is suggesting is this: Let’s bring only the elite from private schools across the country, even internationally, and place them in Texas’ flagship institution. I mean why not, that’s what state tax dollars are for, right? To make sure public research institutions represent the demographics of the elite and not the state. Wrong. 

The real issue is probably the fact that Texas’ K-12 public school system is infused with segregation, leading to predominantly white school districts being able to secure the most funding to teach to a couple of tests, the same tests which can determine a student’s ability to receive a well-rounded education from a global perspective. This is unfair, to say the least. (The fact that Texas even needs the top 10 percent rule is probably a poor reflection of our educational budget, along with electoral zoning deficiencies.)

I believe UT has created an admissions system that is effective at rectifying past wrongdoing, and has been deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. Unfortunately, with a competitive admissions process, not everyone will be accepted, including the elite who only have academics to fall back on. UT seeks well-rounded students with more to offer than their GPA and racial background. The factors include socioeconomic status, family background, languages spoken in the household, first-generation students, etc. 

If race-based affirmative action is the largest factor in admissions, then why is the black/African-American UT population merely 4 to 5 percent every year when the state’s demographics for black/African-Americans is approximately 12 percent? We, as black students and alumni, should be asking why more people are not supporting affirmative action and the modified top 10 (now top 7) percent rule, especially when we aren’t the only ones who benefit from affirmative action.

Overall, the continued use of affirmative action would foster a more diverse environment and create better learning experiences. This would more likely contribute to an increased ranking, rather than admitting “better students.” Increased funding for minority support centers and programs would likely have a similar effect. 

And if it works, then maybe for once, minority students could actually feel welcome on campus without “historic” fraternities and sororities singing about hanging us from trees, mocking our culture and making sure we are excluded from parties and serving up margaritas after a “border crossing.” Not to mention the other students who drunkenly throw bleach bombs from the overpriced West Campus apartment balconies and host affirmative action bake sales. 

— Jasmine Kyles, 2013 graduate of the Moody College of Communication, in response to Daniel Hung’s Monday column titled “Nix the top 10 percent rule, affirmative action.” While an undergraduate, Kyles advocated for the University through a partnership between the Black Student Alliance and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.

As a proud alumna of the University of Texas, I am disappointed in the article published by The Daily Texan, written by Daniel Hung, which I would argue misconstrues the role race plays in the top 10 percent admissions policy. African-American and Latino students currently account for roughly 24 percent of the student population at UT. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, African-Americans and Latinos are 51 percent of the Texas population. Furthermore, African-American and Latino students represented 59% of high school graduating seniors in the state of Texas. If race is an admissions factor, it is certainly not disproportionately benefiting the races and/or ethnicities Hung mentions. 

The source that Hung utilized to quote UT as being ranked 17th is U.S. News and World Report. In researching the methodology used by the publication when ranking universities, I discovered that several factors are considered. The range of academic offerings, cost and availability of financial aid, activities and sports, “feel of campus life” and the school’s mission are a few of the variables evaluated. To simply attribute the University’s ranking to the top 10 percent rule, or more specifically, Latino and African-American students admitted under this rule, is not only a misuse of deductive reasoning, but a gross generalization Hung fails to support. 

While retention and graduation rates are a factor, I would like to draw attention to the accountability report released by UT, which highlights that it currently has the highest four-year graduation rate in the state at 55 percent, the highest ever in the University’s history. Given this, I’d like to think we are a positive contribution to the university’s numbers.

— Ashley Hickson, alumna, in response to Daniel Hung’s Monday column titled “Nix the top 10 percent rule, affirmative action.”

Irma Rangel was the first Latina elected to the Texas Legislature and the architect of the state’s top 10 percent rule. As a graduate research assistant for the Irma Rangel Public Policy Institute, I feel that it is my duty to defend the principles of equity and fairness from attacks like Hung’s.

Hung’s attack on the merits of Texas’ top 7 percent rule is woefully misguided for multiple reasons.

Hung unfortunately misunderstands the meaning of “underrepresented” minorities. Underrepresented can mean a variety of people, not just Latinos and African-Americans, as Hung’s simplistic portrayal suggests. 

Hung glosses over the fact that the top 7 percent rule also makes room for students from rural high schools who can be of any race, but of whom many are white. That said, a study last year by Lindsay Daugherty, Paco Martorell and Isaac McFarlin found that, contrary to popular belief, “students in the top 10 percent of their high school are more likely to be white and females and less likely to be low-income than their peers.” 

Second, in making the case that the University should admit “better students,” Hung points to the fact that those admitted under the top 7 percent rule have an average ACT score of 28, whereas those admitted outside the program have an ACT score of 30 — hardly a gulf!

One of the more troubling elements of Hung’s argument is that he compares the maintenance of the top 7 percent rule to the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, the decision to uphold the “separate but equal” regime. To compare the suffering of African-Americans in the Jim Crow South to the “plight” of middle- and upper-class students of today is at best naïve and at worst insulting to the descendants of those who suffered under the racial violence of that time.

Lastly, Hung peddles the same misguided conception of racism used by the “reverse discrimination” crowd. Hung, much like U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts himself, considers any and all consideration of race as racism without understanding the fact that racism is a system that considers race for the purpose of replicating and reinforcing hierarchies of power based on racial differences. 

How one can argue that it’s racist to let in racial and ethnic minorities who earned a spot at a great public university like UT in spite of structural inequalities like underfunded urban schools or underserved rural schools is beyond me. 

— Alvaro Corral, government graduate student, in response to Daniel Hung’s Monday column titled “Nix the top 10 percent rule, affirmative action.”

Editor’s Note: The candidates for Student Government college representatives were judged based on their responses to the Daily Texan Student Government Candidate Questionnaire. The response rate for each college is included below. Only those candidates who completed the questionnaire were considered. Candidates’ responses can be found in our candidate database here. Voting takes place Wednesday and Thursday at utexasvote.org.

Architecture —  No responses

Business — 3 spots, 100 percent responded

Micky Wolf is a business and Plan II freshman. He has what it takes to be an excellent McCombs representative. His language for change is strong and demonstrates a strong desire to be proactive and take initiative in his role as a college representative. He’s looking to further civic engagement in SG and listen to the voices of the students he represents by means of open forum. We strongly recommend Wolf.

Ben Norton is a business honors freshman. If elected, Norton promises to throw himself in the “trenches,” so to speak. A supporter of the title “servant leader,” Norton promises to be a face in the business school as opposed to a name only a select few know. We recommend Norton.

Communication — No responses

Education — No responses

Engineering — 3 spots, 50 percent responded

Gregory Ross is an engineering and Plan II sophomore. He stresses the importance of dependability, communication and cooperation in a student leader. Ross has met with faculty members in a variety of fields to discuss expanding the Freshman Research Initiative (popular within CNS) to allow Cockrell freshmen to get involved in research. We strongly recommend Ross.

Fine Arts — No responses 

Geosciences — 1 spot, 33 percent responded, no endorsement

Graduate School — No responses

Law School — 1 spot, 50 percent responded

Daniel Hung is a first-year law student and Daily Texan columnist. Hung served in Student Government as the director of the Students with Disabilities Agency from 2011 to 2012 and served on the Parking & Traffic Appeals Committee from 2013 to 2014. He feels strongly about amplifying law students’ voice and increasing their involvement with the rest of the campus. His previous experience in Student Government and concern for an often-ignored population on campus would make him a good Law representative. We recommend Hung.

Liberal Arts — 4 spots, 100 percent responded 

Tanner Long is a government junior running for re-election who has already proven himself as a dedicated workhorse for student interests. When all too often, students with big ambitions in SG will say lots but do little, Long is a breath of fresh air that follows through on his promises. On issues as diverse as the sound ordinance, campus carry and voter ID, Long has consistently stood up to the city and the state on behalf of his fellow students. He has also shown initiative in campus issues, such as a recent proposal to limit Friday classes.  We strongly recommend Long.

Jenny McGinty is a Plan II freshman. She possesses a valuable mixture of a positive reputation around campus and clear, succinct goals if elected. Specifically, we were wowed by McGinty’s dedication to and seriousness about creating a greater sense of community within the College of Liberal Arts. All too often, the college is seen as the “other” school in this University, where the entire miscellany is lumped together. McGinty, more than any other candidate, appeared to understand this and be willing to work hard to address it. Her proposals regarding transparency were also positive. We recommend McGinty.

Connor Madden is a Plan II and business freshman. He impressed this editorial board with his unmatched attention to detail in his platform and candidate questionnaire. Madden undoubtedly understands the complex nuances of the position he is running for, but we also found ourselves very supportive of his campaign goals. If elected, Madden pledges to shy away from the petty bickering, reminiscent of a junior high school cafeteria, that SG devolved into a few times this past year. He also has a novel plan to increase public visibility of SG and improve their relations with other organizations on campus. We recommend Madden. 

Natural Sciences — 5 spots, 75 percent responded

Cameron Crane is a human biology senior running for re-election and has many lofty yet attainable goals for the College of Natural Sciences. The specificity of his initiatives is what makes him an excellent candidate. He seeks to expand upper-division class offerings to include a Monday/Wednesday sequence instead of solely MWF and TTH sequences. He also wants to partner with McCombs’ Alumni Relations to increase CNS Alumni gifts in order to improve facilities, provide scholarships and increase the number of classes that are video recorded. He hopes to create a liaison program between the Dell Medical Center and our pre-med students, as well as explore dual enrollment possibilities for CNS students and establish joint research opportunities. We strongly recommend Crane.

Laura Zhang is a neuroscience sophomore who is actively involved in the College of Natural Sciences as well as UT at large. We like her goal of promoting more funding for technology and lab equipment, more scholarships for underrepresented minorities (as well as all students), and more opportunities to utilize student passions to inspire others — especially female students — to get involved in STEM. As an advocate for collaboration, she told us she “constantly want[s] to see progress and find ways to mediate differing opinions to form the best idea.” We recommend Zhang.

Rebecca Sostek is a neuroscience freshman who may be young, but is certainly ready and able to take on the role of a Natural Science representative. While experience may not be her strong suit, she is motivated and cites her desire to learn as the catalyst for running. She wants to increase the sense of community at UT. She believes if the “students at UT or the Natural Sciences came together and worked hard to make a sea [of] orange into a group of people with varying strengths, an unlimited amount of good and improvement could come out of it.” We recommend Sostek.

Mukund Rathi is a computer science junior who has written numerous op-eds for the Texan. He believes that communication between students and official organizations are disconnected and his goal is to resolve this issue by making the SG Assembly more vigilant and engaged. He includes in his platform a pledge to stop budget cuts and tuition hikes, prevent sexual assault and end racism. While we do not agree with the substance or tone of all of Rathi’s positions, he has worked tirelessly for student interests since he arrived on campus and would not hesitate to challenge administrators when they needed it. We recommend Rathi.

Social Work — No responses

Undergraduate Studies — No responses

Cold weather may decrease voter turnout for the House District 50 runoff election between Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle on Tuesday.

After state Rep. Mark Strama, D-Austin, resigned from the House seat in June, a special election was called for November. In the special election, around 60 percent of voters chose one of the three Democratic candidates, while about 40 percent chose VanDeWalle. No candidate received a majority of the votes, so Tuesday’s runoff election will determine the representative. House District 50 consists of parts of North Austin, Pflugerville and areas just west of Bastrop.

University Democrats President David Feigen is a volunteer coordinator for Israel’s campaign. Feigen said he has been working to increase voter turnout, but he is concerned the cold weather will discourage people from voting. 

“Probably our biggest opponent has nothing to do with our opponent and nothing to do with our candidate, but it has a lot to do with the weather,” Feigen said. “It’s an extraneous variable — we don’t know what that will do to people that might think, ‘Oh, she’s got it in the bag. We don’t need to show up.’”

Feigen said he thinks grassroots efforts are especially important in this
election because people may not be informed about the race.

“It’s a January special election where it’s the only race going on,” Feigen said. “Spreading the word and making sure everyone understands how this works is more crucial than ever.”

Daniel Hung, president for College Republicans at Texas, said it is difficult to predict the outcome of the election.

“It’s hard to say because it’s a runoff election, and there’s going to be low turnout,” Hung said. “It’s going to be very cold,
especially tomorrow.”

Feigen said Israel has provided many opportunities for University Democrats to participate in her campaign.

“She showed a belief in us,” Feigen said. “She’s assured University Democrats that we have a friend in the Capitol whose door will always be open to us.”

Feigen said he thinks Israel’s goal to expand the district’s Democratic
electorate is important.

“What was once a 58 percent Democratic district can become more like a 65 percent Democratic district, which doesn’t mean a lot for the person running in that seat, but it means a lot for [a candidate] running statewide,” Feigen said.

Hung said the outcome of the election may signal which political direction Texans will vote in November general elections.

“This district will be a bellwether as to which direction Texas as a whole will blow in 2014,” Hung said. “If VanDeWalle wins, then it would really show that Texas is not moving to the Democratic direction.”

Feigen said he thinks Israel’s previous state government experience will help her reverse cuts to education spending and ensure that teachers’ salaries are more in line with the national average.

According to Hung, many campaign promises may remain unfulfilled in the first few years in office.

“Whoever wins, they’ll be a newly elected state representative,” Hung said. “They’re going to be a freshman in a chamber of 150 legislators, with most of [the legislators] with more seniority than [the newly elected one].”

The Taiwanese American Students Association presents the 10th Annual Night Market in front of the Gregory Plaza on Friday night. Students get to experience traditional Taiwanese culture through performances and games.

Photo Credit: Haipei Han | Daily Texan Staff

Students experienced the atmosphere and taste of a Taiwanese night market Friday evening after standing in lines for traditional food, painting lanterns, playing a Taiwanese ring-toss game and participating in other cultural activities.

The Taiwanese American Students Association organized the 10th annual Taiwanese market in the Gregory Gym plaza. The event replicated the atmosphere of a traditional Taiwanese night market to educate students about Taiwanese culture.

“What an actual Taiwanese market is, you walk into a street and there are just vendors everywhere selling clothes, selling food, and it’s a really overwhelming experience,” Douglas Wang, the association’s financial director, said. “The food and everything is all blended so well together.”

Wang, a finance sophomore, said an actual Taiwanese night market promotes businesses, whereas the replicated event at UT promotes the culture of Taiwan to students. He said the market was filled with vendors from other Asian cultural organizations that were also invited to promote unique aspects of their cultures.

Plan II senior Daniel Hung, the association’s president, said the event had more food, entertainment and tabling by organizations this year than ever before.

“To me, it’s just nostalgic being here,” Hung said. “It reminds me of Taiwan and being at the night market in Taiwan. For me, it’s just bringing back the old memories. That’s the best part.”

Hung said he thinks the best part of Taiwanese culture is the food. At the event, students got to try Taiwanese cuisine for free. Students stood in long lines that stretched from the south side of Gregory Gym plaza to the north side. When it was announced the green onion pancake line was moved, students ran to form a new line.

The night was filled with a variety of entertainment, including a mochi-eating contest, a Chinese yo-yo performance and singing. Biochemistry freshman Kevin Chan sang a popular Taiwanese song titled “Kiss Goodbye” acoustically. Vendors and students attending the event sang along in Taiwanese. He said the song is one of the more popular songs of the current Taiwanese generation.

Students also played “Tao Chaung Chaung,” a game similar to ring toss, at the Taiwanese International Student Association booth.

The event was a success because they were able to share the unique culture and identity of Taiwan with more people this year, Hung said.

Hung said, “I think the best way to express that is through our culture, through our food, through our games, which is why the night market is such a big deal for us.”