Danny Zeng

Student Government president and vice president candidates Kori Rady and Taylor Strickland listen to their defense given by senior Kent Kasischke to the Election Supervisory Board regarding a complaint filed by finance senior Danny Zeng.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (3:10 p.m.): Thursday afternoon, the election supervisory board released an opinion to dismiss the complaint brought against the Rady-Strickland campaign. At a hearing Wednesday night, Danny Zeng, finance and government senior, accused the alliance of committing privacy violations by sending him unrequited emails.

The board dismissed the complaint on grounds that there was a direct connection between Zeng and Rady-Strickland worker Joshua Tang, a history major.

Tang and Zeng both said they had a direct connection to each other through their involvement in Up To Texas, a case competition to raise awareness about the national debt deficit.

According to the opinion released by the board, “the executive alliance acted within campaign guidelines when collecting the plaintiff’s e-mail.”

Updated (11:40 a.m.): Thursday morning, the Election Supervisory Board determined the Villarreal-Wilkey executive alliance in the Graduate Student Assembly elections was guilty of sending of unsolicited emails and ordered the alliance to cease all campaigning until 5 p.m.

According to the board's opinion, “the worker, though ignorant that her actions were in direct violation of the Election Code, was found to be the source of mass emails sent to multiple, substantial academic listservs within graduate departments.”

The board determined the executive alliance committed a Class B violation and must remove all campaign material and cease all campaigning until 5 p.m.

The board released opinions on three of the four complaints it heard late Wednesday night. A resolution regarding the Rady-Strickland hearing in Student Government executive alliance elections has not been released.

ESB chose to dismiss the second complaint involving the Villarreal-Wilkey campaign. Their opposing candidates accused Villarreal and Wilkey of using platform points that were not their own. The board dismissed the case stating there was not enough proof to make a decision.

“We concluded that we could not determine any possible similarities between the platforms were a result of coincidence or not,” the opinion stated.

The board also dismissed a complaint against University Co-op Board of Directors candidate Ben Tillis in a case involving destruction of campaign property. The board determined there was not sufficient enough evidence.

Polls close at 5 p.m. Thursday and results are announced at 6:30 p.m. at the Main Building.

Original Story: Late Wednesday night, after the first day of voting, the Election Supervisory Board heard four allegations of misconduct, including one that the Rady-Strickland executive alliance campaign had violated students’ privacy by adding students to an email listserv without permission.

The hearings, which began at 10:30 p.m. and continued on past 1 a.m., also addressed two charges filed against Graduate Student Assembly executive alliance Villarreal-Wilkey including allegations they were campaigning on platform points that were not originally their ideas. The board also heard complaints from two candidate for the Co-op board of director position who claimed an opponent had torn down their fliers.

Danny Zeng, finance and government senior, accused Student Government presidential candidate Kori Rady and running mate Taylor Strickland of unauthorized use of his email address.

“I really don’t know the scope and reach of this operation,” Zeng told the board. “I just know my privacy is being intruded from the negligence on their part.”

History senior Joshua Tang and Kennon Kasischke, a biology and psychology senior, represented the Rady-Strickland campaign at the hearing. Tang, who is registered as a worker for the Rady-Strickland campaign, said he was not speaking in any way in his capacity as SG administrative director.

Tang said Zeng was added to the campaign’s listserv after Rady and Strickland asked their agents and workers to contact the leaders of the student organizations in which they held membership. Tang and Zeng both said they had a direct connection to each other through their involvement in Up To Texas, a case competition to raise awareness about the national debt deficit.

“The emails that I submitted were sent to people I know are engaged on political matters on campus,” Tang said.

Kasischke, a Rady-Strickland agent, said he felt the campaign team was selective in choosing whom the emails were sent to, and kept well within the boundaries of the guidelines about email messaging in the board’s code.

“If your team is using the directory to email someone you know, you need to have someone on your team to have a direct connection to him,” Kasischke said. “We developed a list of 668 emails.”

Zeng said he felt the campaign should not have assumed he wanted to get the campaign email.

“I appreciate what they said, but in this country, with mass marketing, we have an opt-in system rather than an opt-out,” Zeng said.

Tang asked the board to have the case dismissed. Board Chairman Ryan Lutz said the board was required to release a resolution and would have the response within 24 hours.

The board also addressed two separate complaints filed against Graduate Student Assembly presidential candidate David Villarreal and running mate Brian Wilkey. Their opponents, presidential candidate Frank Male and running mate Virginia Luehrsen, filed a complaint against executive alliance Villarreal and Wilkey over “misleading campaign activities.” Luehrsen said the duo claimed other candidates’ platform points as their own.

“Misrepresentation of facts and the work involved is damaging to our campaign and to the Graduate Student Assembly,” Luehrsen said. “If students did this in my class, I would report them to Student Judicial Services.”

Villarreal said he was alarmed by the lack of specifics the opposing candidates brought forward.

“We fundamentally believe it is our job to campaign for ourselves,” Villarreal said.

A second hearing was called to address allegations against Villarreal and Wilkey concerning an economics graduate coordinator forwarding an email to several departments endorsing their campaign.

Economics graduate student Anna Klis accused a worker of sending a Villarreal-Wilkey endorsement email to the economics graduate coordinator, which was then passed along through graduate departments in the College of Liberal Arts. Klis said she believed the email could be confused by graduate students as an endorsement by the college.

“In a case like this — this is almost cause for disqualification,” Klis said.

Villarreal said the worker had been his close friend for several years, and said she was likely unfamiliar with UT student election codes. Wilkey said if his team had been aware of the worker's plans to send the email, he and Villarreal would have prevented her from doing so.

“We apparently have a rogue agent — we are upset about this,” Wilkey said. “There may be no way to rectify this.”

The board also addressed allegations made by business senior Alexander Bryan and undeclared freshman Christian Trudeau, both candidates for the Co-op board of director position. Bryan and Trudeau claimed that finance sophomore Ben Tillis, who is also running for the position, removed their campaign fliers in the McCombs School of Business.

Bryan said he and Trudeau could not offer proof Tillis had torn down the fliers because they did not have video camera footage, but said he knew of at least nine fliers that had disappeared that were at one point clearly visible in McCombs.

“It seems like somebody was directly targeting [Trudeau] and I’s campaign,” Bryan said.

In response, Tillis said his fliers were also removed from their original locations and encouraged the board to check security footage. ESB chairman Ryan Lutz said he would consult with McCombs representatives Thursday.

At roughly 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning, when the hearings ended, Lutz said the board would release resolutions for all four allegations within 24 hours. Student election polls will close Thursday at 5 p.m.

Additional reporting by Bobby Blanchard

Electrical engineering freshman Salini participates in the Gun Forum open discussion at the Student Activity Center Monday evening.  

Photo Credit: Austin McKinney | Daily Texan Staff

Students debating on whether concealed weapons would create a safer environment at UT revealed the deep discord over the benefits of concealed handguns on campus.

Law professor Sanford Levinson and Sherri Greenberg, director of the Center for Politics Governance, moderated the “Gun Control, Mental Health, and the Law” forum Monday, where students discussed the impossibility of finding an effective solution to the issues surrounding gun control laws. 

The introduction of a bill in the Texas Legislature to allow concealed handguns on campus has almost made “guns on campus” a loaded term, Danny Zeng, the vice president of College Republicans, said.

“I don’t think we’re really introducing anything new here,” Zeng said. “Guns are, in a way, already on campus. If you’re a licensed CHL holder, you’re allowed to carry your gun on public streets like Dean Keeton and 21st Street.”

Only 5 percent of CHL carriers fall in the 18- to 25-year-old category, Zeng said, making an influx of guns on campus unlikely. 

Educating students on mental health services available may provide better protection than allowing concealed handguns on campus, undeclared freshman Rishi Singh said. 

“I can understand the logic of wanting a CHL but I can’t understand why a student would need a handgun,” Singh said. “While I’m in a classroom, safety shouldn’t be a main priority, safety should be left up to the University. So it shouldn’t be up to a student to protect themselves or to protect the lives of other people in the classroom.” 

Gun owners’ constitutional rights are not threatened by any proposed gun control law, Levinson said.

“None of [the gun control bills] raise constitutional issues,” Levinson said. “All raise interesting issues of policy on which reasonable people can disagree.”

No legislation will eliminate gun crime, however it is important to focus on legislation that can make a difference, Greenberg, a former member of the Texas Legislature, said. Greenberg also said the biggest debates concern magazine size, and the gun show loophole as big as the “Grand Canyon,” referring to the fact that guns can be purchased at gun shows without a background check.

“If you can even prohibit a few people — who may not be of sound mind — from getting these guns and committing atrocities, then you have helped,” Greenberg said.

Greenberg said the issue of doctor/patient confidentiality complicates regulation regarding individuals who have mental health issues. Greenberg said many of the mass shootings on campuses occurred after signals of the shooter’s ill health were noted but not acted upon. 

“From a public policy standpoint, I think that we need to do more in the United States,” Greenberg said. “Get people the health care they need when it comes to mental health.”

In newspapers and on TV screens, Republican Party leaders are analyzing what went wrong with their most recent presidential bid, but members of UT’s College Republicans chapter are focusing on the future rather than the past.

While members offered different theories to explain the Romney loss, communications director Danny Zeng attributed the Obama victory, which he said was larger than he expected, to a failure by the Republican Party to shape its public image.

“I don’t think we did very well in defining our narrative, and we let the Obama campaign define who we are as Republicans,” Zeng said.

Zeng also said Republicans have been unfairly portrayed as a regressive party.

“We’re painted as this anti-progress party, but when you look at our organization, we have one of the most diverse officer boards of any party organization,” Zeng said.

According to data released by the New York Times, President Obama carried 93 percent of the black vote, 71 percent of the Hispanic vote and 73 percent of the Asian vote.

Chief financial officer Ben Mendelson said the loss was primarily because of a low Republican voter turnout.

“The party is a little bit behind the times in how it communicates with people on an individual level,” Mendelson said.

Republican pollster Michael Baselice, a guest speaker at College Republicans’ meeting Thursday, offered a similar perspective on Romney’s loss.

“We got schooled in 2008 by Obama in terms of social marketing effort, youth and getting out the vote,” Baselice said. “That’s what hurt us again.”

Yet even with the presidential loss, Zeng said there is reason to be optimistic.

“We’re focusing on connecting our people with internships. Republicans control the state Senate and the House, so there are lots of opportunities and a lot of individuals our members are really passionate about,” Zeng said.

Zeng said the club’s focus now is the new legislative session, which begins in January. Additionally, the club will continue to host its weekly speakers. It has already heard from speakers like Texas Comptroller Susan Combs and state Rep. Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) this year.  

Environmental science freshman Mitchell Riegler said he thinks the club has already moved on to focus on current events.

“Politics is fast-paced,” Riegler said. “We have to move on past the election. We shouldn’t be too glum.”

Printed on Friday, November 16, 2012 as: College Republicans look to future 

This year the Young Conservatives of Texas announced that they’re bringing back their ‘professor watch-list’, which attempts to bring attention to professors that teach with either a conservative or liberal bias, and either discourage or openly reject dissenting opinions.  It’s a noble cause, of course, but as my colleague Larisa Manescu pointed out in a recent column, “The fact that an inherently biased political organization considers itself the architect of a watch list to identify and eliminate bias is suspicious. This concern would be just the same if the University Democrats proposed the same project.”

It’s important to address biases, especially in the classroom and in the media.  From my experience, my professors do an excellent job of welcoming diverse opinions.  But Danny Zeng, communications director of College Republicans of Texas, thinks the media is liberally biased, asking me, “For instance, how many conservatives write for The Daily Texan?”  My own observations of this semester’s group of weekly columnists tells me there are few.

The reason is actually rather simple.  At the beginning of the year, Kayla Oliver, a Texan associate editor, did actually invite members of both the College Republicans and the Young Conservatives to apply for a spot on the paper, though only two expressed an interest in applying.

As a libertarian, I often feel like my voice is left out.  Realizing this, I applied to be an opinion columnist.  I reached out to the College Republicans and the Young Conservatives for this column, like I did for my last three columns, to no avail.  Danny Zeng of the College Republicans did contact me for this column.  The Young Conservatives, however, have not yet replied to a single interview request — for this column or any other.  Perhaps the issue isn’t some ‘liberal’ media bias, but rather a lack of cooperation.

“Bias in media is not simply how one phrases certain things, but more importantly, what topics are chosen to be covered,” Zeng said.   However, the College Republicans refused to participate in the recent Hook the Vote election debate, claiming, “CR officers re-evaluated the whole situation and saw absolutely no benefits for us to stage a dog-and-pony show, putting our members through debate prep for a group of maybe 20 highly partisan college students.”  I asked Zeng if the group regretted their decision after the debate attracted more than 100 attendees, as well as media coverage.  “Short answer, no,” Zeng said, “I have to ask if any significant number of that “[more than] 100 attendees” did not have their minds made already prior to attending the debate.”  Maybe there is a bias that affects which topics are chosen, but removing yourself from a publicized debate is not a great way to help your case.

But how do others see bias?  Journalism professor Robert Jensen noted that, statistically, people with higher education levels, including journalists, are typically more liberal on social issues than the general public.  So, he says that “there is a kernel of truth” to the alleged bias, but it’s a very small kernel that’s been exploited by the well-funded right wing.

Plan II student Colleen O’Neill is a little uncomfortable with what she considers the media’s liberal bias, as are many other students I talked to.  Agreeing with Dr. Jensen that the entertainment industry has a very clear liberal bias, O’Neill told me, “Teens and young adults see these young, relatable and successful celebrities supporting the liberal party, and they see that being a part of the liberal party is the popular thing to do. At our impressionable, young ages, it is only natural for us to latch onto something that the crowd is doing.”  To see O’Neill’s point, one only has to compare the many celebrity endorsements of Obama to the fewer celebrity endorsements of Romney.

It is important to note, as Dr. Jensen did, that sometimes the supposed ‘liberal bias’ of the media is simply a ‘bias’ toward fact.  While supporting a woman’s right to have an abortion is subjective, pointing out facts is not. When Missouri Congressman Todd Akin infamously said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” the media called him out for his blatantly false statement — and rightly so.  Akin, however, claimed that the media attention was an unfair attack from the ‘liberal elite’ and the ‘liberal media.’  If a bias against stupidity is considered unfair, we have a significant problem.

Luckily, from the students I’ve talked to, our professors on campus do a good job of teaching without any significant biases.  Even Zeng told me, “I have personally not experienced much bias from the professors. My liberal professors are very balanced with their teachings, so are my conservative professors.” Exercise science junior Caroline Betik said, “All of my professors like to keep quiet about their views and allow students to decide for themselves.  I think the bias comes from who your friends are, roommates and what groups you associate yourself with, like certain sororities or other organized groups on campus.”  Seconding that point, Pierre Rochard of the Libertarian Longhorns noted, “Neither the city of Austin nor the University are monolithic, homogenous entities,” so we can’t make blanket statements about local biases.

So, really, the only thing I’ve concluded is that, with my libertarian bias, I can’t properly address whether or not there is a dominant bias in the media or on campus.  But there was one thing that everyone I interviewed agreed upon: it’s important to learn, discuss, and engage the ideas and views of all sides of the political spectrum.

McCann is a Plan II freshman from Dallas

College Republicans opted out of a Wednesday debate with University Democrats, citing a lack of organization and communication by Hook the Vote, despite debate organizers’ assertions that the debate was planned well in advance.

Earlier this semester, College Republicans and University Democrats agreed to a debate Wednesday hosted by Hook the Vote. Hook the Vote, which has hosted College Republicans/University Democrats debates in previous semesters, is a nonpartisan SG agency that aims to register students to vote and to educate them on issues in the election. Longhorn Libertarians President Jose Niño said his student organization agreed to debate in place of the College Republicans.

Danny Zeng, College Republicans communications director, said his organization felt Hook the Vote did not communicate or publicize the debate early enough in advance. Zeng said Hook the Vote was slow in getting a moderator, making a Facebook event and reserving a room. Zeng said before last week, all College Republicans knew was the debate’s date.

“CR officers re-evaluated the whole situation and saw absolutely no benefits for us to stage a dog-and-pony show, putting our members through debate prep, for a group of maybe twenty highly partisan college students,” Zeng said in an email.

Hook the Vote director Billy Calve said that University Democrats and College Republicans were informed of the debate’s date and format throughout the semester.

“All of the organizations participating in Hook the Vote have been made aware of the debate, and they were sharing the information with the members,” Calve said. “That covers a wide area of campus.”

More than 30 political, social and other student organizations are partnered with Hook the Vote.

University Democrat Leslie Tisdale said this move by College Republicans is detrimental to both the debate and political conversations on campus.

“I think it really hurts their cause and their club,” Tisdale said.

Calve said by dropping from the debate, the College Republicans hurt Hook the Vote’s efforts to inform students about issues from all sides of the political spectrum.

“The purpose of this debate is to inform students about the issues both parties are promoting,” Calve said. “If we don’t have one of those sides represented, students are not hearing about all the options.”

The debate will be at 8:00 p.m. Wednesday in Gearing Hall, room 105. Susannah Jacob, The Daily Texan’s editor-in-chief, will moderate the debate. Both University Democrats and Longhorn Libertarians will have three students represent them at the debate.

Published on October 24, 2012 as: "Longhorns Libertarians step in for Republicans"

Students in organizations representing both sides of the aisle hope U.S. Senate candidates Ted Cruz and Paul Sadler will address the cost of higher education and health care reform during their first televised debate Tuesday night.

Republican Ted Cruz, former solicitor general of Texas and former UT law professor, is competing against Democrat Paul Sadler, a former state representative, for the seat occupied by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is not seeking re-election.

Sadler served in the Texas Legislature from 1991 to 2003, including 10 years on the House Public Education Committee. He sponsored bills including the Ratliff-Sadler Act in 1995, a comprehensive education reform bill that removed the responsibility of appointing the commissioner of education from the State Board of Education and gave it to the governor, and established the State Board for Educator Certification, among other reforms. The bill was signed into law by then-Gov. George W. Bush. Cruz served as state solicitor general from 2003 to 2008 and argued nine cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Leslie Tisdale, president of University Democrats, said she hopes the candidates will focus on student loans and tuition rates.

The Department of Education released numbers Friday showing that 9.1 percent of the 4.1 million student loan borrowers who began repayments between Oct. 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010 defaulted before Sept. 30, 2011. According to a Sept. 26 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 19 percent of households owed student loan debt in 2010, averaging out at $26,682 per household. The Texas Tribune reported that the average cost of attendance at UT for fiscal year 2012-13 is $9,794.

Tisdale said she hopes the candidates will also discuss the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and that students will watch the debate.

“These are the issues we’re going to inherit, and that’s why it’s crucial to stay informed and participate in elections,” she said.

Tisdale said she believes Sadler is a more qualified candidate for the U.S. Senate seat than Cruz because Sadler has served in the state legislature and is more attuned to the legislative process.

Danny Zeng, communications director for College Republicans at Texas, said he also hopes the candidates will discuss the rising cost of attending college. Zeng said the increasing costs are dissuading potential students from attending college.

He said Sadler displayed bipartisanship during his time in the Texas Legislature, but voters may not be looking for those qualities in a candidate.

“We’re not looking for politics as usual,” he said. “We’re looking for someone to represent the views of the people of Texas.”

He said he hopes the candidates will also address the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and how to fund entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Assistant government professor Bethany Albertson said she has seen no evidence that political debates help voters decide which candidate to support, but evidence does show that voters are more informed after watching debates. She said voters often think the candidate they supported going into the debate won the debate. 

“Given that the average American doesn’t know much about politics, debates are a great opportunity for learning,” she said.

Calls and emails to both campaigns were not returned by press time.

The debate will air at 7 p.m. on TXCN and can be streamed at WFAA.com.

The candidates have agreed to another televised debate in Dallas that will air at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 on KERA-TV.

Printed on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 as: Students anticipate Cruz, Sadler debates

As part of its effort to increase student voter turnout in November, Hook the Vote will deputize volunteers with the ability to register voters for the first time this semester Thursday 6:00 p.m. at the Student Activity Center in room 2.302.

Hook the Vote, which started in 2008, is a bi-partisan Student Government agency that works to inform and register students before elections. This year, Billy Calve, the agency’s director, said Hook the Vote is working to improve its previous efforts.

Along with its event Thursday, Calve said Hook the Vote will have a presence in the West Mall every week leading up to the registration deadline to remind students to register. People at these booths will have voter registration cards, be able to register voters and explain the process of registering to vote.

Calve said the main event is Oct. 9, which is Hook the Vote’s registration rally and concert at Gregory Gym Plaza.

“At the event, we are going to have guest speakers, free food, t-shirts, prizes and it is going to be a really cool party,” Calve said. “The reason it is on Oct. 9 is because that is the deadline. That is the very last day to register to vote, so we will actually be out there registering people to vote till midnight.”

In order to host these events, Calve said Hook the Vote is sponsored by six student organizations and has partnered with 31 other student organizations. Two of those organizations are University Democrats and College Republicans, who will have a debate about the election hosted by Hook the Vote later this semester.

“Part of Hook the Vote’s mission is to educate voters,” Calve said. “We want students to register to vote, but we also want them to know what is being voted on.”

College Republicans spokesperson Danny Zeng said the debate has been a good starting place for students trying to figure out the issues in the election.

“It is a conversation starter. It is important for us to put forth what we believe, and it is important for the Democrats, the Libertarians and for everyone to put forth what they believe,” Zeng said. “Hopefully putting the opinions in front of an audience will stimulate a deeper look into the issues.”

Zeng said an average of 100 students attend the Hook the Vote debate, and a video of the debate is recorded and posted online.

Leslie Tisdale, University Democrats president, said an exact date has not been scheduled yet but will be soon.

Calve said when early voting starts, the FAC will be used for voting on campus. During those times, Calve said Hook the Vote will have a presence across campus encouraging and reminding students to vote.

Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: Hooking UT students on voting

Although the Supreme Court decided Thursday to uphold key parts of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, including extended coverage for child dependents until age 26, many around the state are questioning how Texas will go forward with a Medicaid expansion.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a comprehensive health reform act signed into law March 2010 by President Obama, includes an individual mandate requiring individuals to purchase insurance if they are not insured by an employer or public insurance plan such as Medicare or Medicaid. The Supreme Court initially ruled the mandate to be unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause, as proposed by the Obama Administration, but voted to uphold the mandate as a tax in a 5-4 ruling last week rather than a penalty fee.

Danny Zeng, government and finance senior and communications director for UT’s College Republicans chapter, said the provision of the bill that allows child dependents to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26 seems like a positive change but may have detrimental long term effects on younger generations.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, approximately 2.5 million dependents nationwide gained private coverage between September 2010, when the provision was enacted, and June 2011.

“It sounds good from the surface, and as young people, it’s hard to say that we don’t like the provision,” Zeng said. “But I think we believe in the long term that the provision doesn’t really encourage us to go proactively and find a job and go out there and look for health care on our own.”

Zeng said the split vote between justices made the ruling very interesting since Chief Justice Roberts, a conservative, sided with the court’s four more liberal justices.

“I personally was really surprised with the decision because I thought Chief Justice Roberts would side more with the conservative block,” Zeng said. “I think he did that to protect his own legacy. It’s controversial and probably one of the biggest decisions he’ll get to make.”

The ruling also upheld the federal expansion of Medicaid requiring states to increase the number of eligible citizens covered with the help of additional federal funding. The states are granted the choice to implement the expansion or to instead exempt themselves from the additional funding.

Josh Havens, spokesman for the governor’s office, said Gov. Rick Perry will be working with Attorney General Greg Abbott as well as other state agencies in the coming months to determine the appropriate course of action for the expansion of Medicaid. He said Texas is continuing to find a way to stop the health care bill entirely.

“Gov. Perry will stand up and do what is right for Texas, based on the priorities of fiscal responsibility and the best interests of Texas taxpayers,” Havens said. “As the governor has previously made clear, he has no interest in fast tracking any portion of this bankrupting and overreaching legislation. We will continue to call for the full repeal of the bill.”

Another provision of the bill includes the 80/20 rule, or Medical Loss Ratio standard, which requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of consumers’ insurance premium payments on medical care, leaving only 20 percent for administrative costs such as company salaries and advertising. In a statement, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said this rule will result in $1.1 billion rebates nationwide. Rebates in Texas will amount to $167 million, averaging $187 per family, according to healthcare.gov, a website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Huey Fischer, government junior and president of UT’s University Democrats chapter, said adapting to the Medicaid expansion is the most fiscally responsible course of action for Texas.

“We’ve got to do what’s affordable and sustainable for the state,” Fischer said. “Right now with the legislature having cut so much the last session, those are funds we desperately need and something that Texas should definitely take advantage of. It’s the responsible thing to do.”

The Supreme Court handled the case in a respectable way, Fischer said, and their decision should be respected regardless of a person’s individual views.

“I’m grateful that the court’s outcome was the way it is,” Fischer said. “It was a very politically-charged case. It was brought forth with very politically-charged intentions by those who opposed it. I honestly feel like the justices were able to keep their politics out of it at the end, even though it was a 5-4 split.”

Gary Freeman, government professor and department chair, said despite the finality of the ruling, the end of the political battle over the Affordable Care Act is nowhere in sight.

“You could say the court upheld the constitutionality of the mandate, but they have not settled the disagreement over it at all,” Freeman said. “In a way, they have made it kind of worse. We’re in for a long and nasty fight.”

Freeman said the Affordable Care Act will have far-reaching effects for years to come and potentially be used as a gauge for the positions of future Supreme Court justices.

“I expect the issue to be heated for a long time,” Freeman said. “The next time a justice dies or resigns from office and there’s an appointment, the big issue will be whether the candidate does or does not believe Obamacare is constitutional. Similar to how abortion was a few years ago, Obamacare will be a sort of litmus test.”

Senior government major Paul Theobald moderates Hook the Vote & UT Votes Debate Wednesday evening in Mary E. Gearing Hall. University Democrats and College Republicans debated different issues at the meeting.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

University Democrats and College Republicans faced off Wednesday night in a debate on issues that influence
students most.

Hook the Vote, a nonpartisan agency of Student Government, hosted the debate and posed questions concerning voter identification, undocumented immigrants, the D.R.E.A.M. Act, the sonogram bill and contraception. Those issues were chosen because they are the topics most relevant to students, said Dana Henning, agency director and government junior, in an email.

“The debate serves as a way for us to educate students not only on the issues that concern them most, but also to familiarize them with varying viewpoints surrounding those issues,” Henning said.

Three students spoke for each organization. The College Republicans were represented by treasurer and government junior Jordan Nichols, finance junior Danny Zeng and Plan II junior Benjamin Mendelson. UDems communication director and sociology junior Andre Treiber, public health junior Sandra Ogenche and electrical engineering sophomore Pat Donovan debated on behalf of the UDems.

The debate opened the question of whether voter identification legislation is justified and how it affects students. Both sides agreed that preventing voter fraud was important, but UDems representatives claimed that the legislation damaged democracy by barring disproportionately racial minorities and students, whereas College Republicans argued that it protected the democratic process.

“Conveniently, [voter ID legislation] disenfranchises people like students and minorities, people that vote Democrat,” said Treiber, after citing studies that concluded widespread voter fraud is nonexistent.

Republicans countered that voter ID was not a matter of race and argued that a single fraudulent vote was enough to warrant the legislation.

Mendelson said voting has nothing to do with race, but is an issue of ensuring every single person has one vote.

His teammate Nichols added, “Any single fraudulent vote that we allow is canceling out someone’s legitimate vote.”

College Republicans said the D.R.E.A.M. Act will do nothing to fix problems in the United States’ immigration system.

“These are what we call magnet policies,” said Nichols. “Things like the D.R.E.A.M. Act encourage people to come over here and have anchor babies.”

College Republicans said the real solution to issues surrounding immigration is to secure the border. Donovan, of University Democrats, dismissed their position as xenophobia.

“I’m not really sure there’s an impact to this argument other than nativist chest-beating,” Donovan said. “The real solution is obviously comprehensive reform.”

College Republicans were then asked whether legislation mandating that women have sonograms prior to an abortion was consistent with their party’s platform of smaller government.

Mendelson said the legislation does not alter abortion procedures in a major way and that the bill is mainly symbolic.

“It was a very symbolic bill,” said Mendelson. “Doctors are going to do a sonogram anyway.”

His teammate Nichols said he has not paid very much attention to the legislation.

“This [the sonogram bill] isn’t really doing anything I’ve paid attention to,” he said. “I don’t know anyone that’s getting a sonogram anytime soon.”

The debate concluded with both sides urging students to vote and then offering their closing remarks.

Treiber said students become Democrats because the party appeals to their political intuition.

“I think that the way a lot of us decide to become Democrats is to follow politics and then develop a sense that the Democratic Party makes more sense than the Republican Party,” said Donovan. “The Democrats are a party of ‘we’ and the Republicans are a party of ‘me.’”

Zeng summarized the Republican position and said the U.S. was at a pivotal moment in history that required a long-term vision.

“We believe that our country is at a crossroads,” he said. “What we do this year will determine where we go in the 21st century.”