Horacio Villarreal

Only five of the 14 commencement speakers since 2000 have been women— most recently Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Although the University has hosted numerous commencement speakers since its first commencement ceremony in 1884, during the past 24 years only about one-third of those speakers have been female.

Horacio Villarreal, former Student Government president, said diversity is one of many factors that influence the decision for commencement speaker.

“I don’t know exactly why that happens,” Villarreal said when referring to the lower percentage of female speakers. “A lot of it just has to do with the current time and with what’s going on in the world. We try to pick someone relevant to UT, who has gone through challenges, and who will be motivating to students.”

Andrew Clark, former Senate of College Councils president, said many different student groups provide input toward selecting a commencement speaker. 

“Student leaders from the Senate of College Councils, the assembly and Student Government get together with the [University] president to decide who the speaker is going to be,” Clark said. “We make a rough list of initial names from input we get from our constituents, and then we vet them and the list gets narrowed down.”

Several factors, such as alumni status and recognition, influence the choice for commencement speaker, according to Clark.

“Being a UT grad is always a top priority,” Clark said. “Then, we want someone well-recognized — particularly if they have national recognition around the time of commencement.”

Clark said speaking ability is also a priority.

“We look for someone we think would be captivating for students to hear,” Clark said. “It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for us to pick someone who’s going to put people to sleep.”

Villarreal said he thinks more students should be involved in the selection of a commencement speaker.

“Every student should have a say in sharing their opinions,” Villarreal said.

The last female speaker the University chose was Sanya Richards-Ross, a gold medal Olympic sprinter and Texas alum who spoke at the 2013 commencement ceremony. Since 2000, five of the 14 commencement speakers have been female. 

Michael Morton, former Senate of College Councils president, said the University chose Richards-Ross because of her accomplishments and alumni status.

“The students selected her because she [was] a leader at the top of her profession who achieved success through integrity and hard work,” Morton said in a statement released by the University.

Clark said diversity was still a main goal in choosing commencement speakers. 

“UT has a lot of diverse graduates,” Clark said. “There are a lot of people who have gone out there and, as the University motto says, ‘changed the world.’”

UT Student Body President Horacio Villarreal (right) and Vice President Ugeo Williams ended their terms at the Studet Government meeting Tuesday night.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

As newly-elected Student Government President Kori Rady and Vice President Taylor Strickland were sworn into their respective positions Tuesday, outgoing executives Horacio Villarreal and Ugeo Williams concluded a year of platform points centered on inclusion, safety, service and accessibility.

Rady and Strickland ran their campaign on over 22 platform points, including an extended Thanksgiving break, expansion of the uRide program and creating a basketball game at Gregory Gym. 

“Hopefully, we can push Student Government to be a positive light on campus,” said Rady, a government and corporate communication senior. “I think, with the platform points, the way we’re delegating our platform points and meeting with administrators, we can do
great things.”

Strickland, a corporate communication junior, said she hopes to expand the uRide program to transport students safely home from downtown on the weekends. The program was created by Villarreal and Williams in the fall to give students rides home from the Perry-Castaneda Library.

Strickland said the first things she will begin working on are a campus safety phone application and expanding branding on campus. She said she also plans to continue the programs Villarreal and Williams created, such as upper-division tutoring, a cultural showcase and intramural sports games against Texas A&M University.

Villarreal said creating the Intramural Lone Star Showdown was one of the things he was most proud of during his tenure. The intramural football and basketball event was designed to continue the rivalry with Texas A&M, and, according to Villarreal, attracted between
80-100 players.

“That was something I really liked because it strengthened the relationships between a lot of different parties, and it showed Student Government can really reach out outside of its realm,” Villarreal said.

Villarreal and Williams split some of their platform points at the beginning of the year to complete more of their goals. Villarreal established upper-division tutoring at the Sanger Learning Center, and Williams created a cultural showcase in the fall to display student diversity. Williams said outside of just achieving their original platform points, he was proud of staying visible to the student body throughout the whole year.

“I wish we could have achieved more outreach, but, again, we were present and visible a majority of the time,” Williams said. “Staying visible throughout the whole year can be hard to do because there is so much going on.”

Villarreal said he was confident that Rady would be able to take over the position of SG president because of his experience as external financial director on the executive board.

“I’m going [to] be rooting for them every step of the way with their platform,” Villarreal said. “I just want to see them continue to be genuine, be in it for the right reasons and continue to get things done that benefit our campus.”

Elected students in University-wide representative and college representative positions were also sworn in Tuesday to the 108th SG Assembly.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Student Government elections at UT have never drawn a large turnout, and this year’s competition for Student Body president and vice president will likely be no exception. Presidential candidates Kori Rady and Kenton Wilson, flanked by vice-presidential candidates Taylor Strickland and Caroline Carter, respectively, are members of the same fraternal organization and are both members of traditional spirit groups. Much of what we saw from both campaigns was almost identical, including their campaign videos, which were nearly the same frame-by-frame. With such similar resumes and styles, many students may think it’s pointless to cast a ballot. However, following interviews with the candidates, a debate co-moderated by Daily Texan Editor-in-Chief Laura Wright and long conversations about the teams’ respective qualifications, this editorial board has teased out enough key differences between the candidates to endorse Rady-Strickland. 

Our reasoning? First off, Rady demonstrated a better understanding of how SG actually works, recognizing limitations to legislation and the importance of relationships with administrators, indicated by his commitment to the uRide program and the student scholarship initiative. 

On the other hand, there is no doubt that Wilson and Carter have run the better campaign. They have been on more organizational listservs, the subject of more Facebook statuses and at the front of more meetings. They also campaigned on more innovative policy points — particularly the presidential council (a committee gathering student leaders from organizations around campus) and their plans to pursue a student activity center on East Riverside Drive. Miles away from the traditional core of UT’s campus, East Riverside has become a hub of affordable student housing, and a student activity center would be hugely beneficial to the growing number of Longhorns who live in the area. 

But the idea of tackling such a massive project — one that would likely need the support of a major donor, the UT System Board of Regents and the UT president — is, quite simply, unrealistic. While we appreciate the effort to be forward-thinking and innovative, we can’t help but prefer Rady’s realistic, achievable platform points that will concretely improve life on the 40 Acres in the short-term, and we were disappointed in the Wilson-Carter campaign’s inability to admit the difficulty of achieving one of their main platform points. 

It was also frustrating, however, that the tensest exchange of the debate came when Rady and Wilson sparred over the effects that a fall break would have on fraternity and sorority recruitment. The two candidates went back and forth for several minutes, longer than they did on any other issue. Considering the fact that the Greek community’s concerns pale in comparison to other campus groups’ concerns over the initiative — particularly the possible impact that an extra day off would have on natural science lab schedules — this focus on Greek candidates was disconcerting. 

Both Rady’s and Wilson’s previous experiences are key to their understanding of the role of the president. Wilson’s position as speaker of the assembly allows him to stand at the helm of the assembly and required him to know all the rules and keep order. However, the position also makes being involved in actual legislation much more difficult. The speaker cannot be involved in legislation itself and would have to move out of the position temporarily and have another SG member replace him in order to jump in and have a say in the proceedings. This may be the reason Wilson has focused on making initiatives happen without legislation. Rady, as external financial director on the executive board, worked closely with the current alliance headed by Villarreal and Williams. Rady has repeatedly cited his experience and shadowing the alliance, which has given him the edge on understanding how to push forward SG initiatives at the executive level.

Both teams have proven themselves to be incredibly well spoken, knowledgeable and interested in student issues. But, at the end of the day, we are more confident with Kori Rady and Taylor Strickland’s realistic platform, experience with SG procedure, relationships with administrators and engagement with underrepresented groups on campus. Students can vote for the SG executive alliance along with the other campus representative positions at www.utexasvote.org Wednesday and Thursday. We encourage you to vote Rady-Strickland.

The Interfraternity Council decided not to endorse candidates this year after receiving criticism last year for an email sent to the leaders of the council’s 24 fraternities endorsing current Student Government President Horacio Villarreal and Vice President Ugeo Williams’ executive alliance campaign.

“We got backlash from [last year’s email]. People’s biggest concerns were his use of the word ‘endorse,’” said Edwin Qian, Interfraternity Council president and management information systems and economics senior. “What [the council] meant was for it to be an informational email, not an endorsement.”

The council held a meeting Wednesday to allow all candidates running for SG positions to discuss their platforms to the leaders of the council’s fraternities. After the meeting, the council sent an email informing council fraternities about the candidates who spoke at the meeting, but did not endorse any of them, Qian said.

“While the IFC is not endorsing any candidates in this SG election, we appraise these candidates for showing strong pro-Greek interest and thank them for taking the time to speak to IFC leaders,” the email said.  

According to Qian, the council’s role in SG elections has been inconsistent in the past. Qian said he will urge candidates running for the executive alliance, Texas Student Media, University-wide representative positions and the Co-op Board of Directors to discuss their platforms with fraternity leaders.

“This year we’re still trying to promote the election because our ultimate goal is to get more students involved and informed about the election,” Qian said. “The only thing that’s really changed is that last year’s email didn’t really include any platforms, but this year we want people to know why they’re running and what their plans are.”

Villarreal, a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and Williams were endorsed in last year’s email and won with more than 53 percent of the vote.

Villarreal said he did not see last year’s email as a big issue and would expect other organizations to endorse candidates who are members of their organization.

“It’s a tricky thing for someone that is involved in the community such as myself,” Villarreal said. “I didn’t see it as an incredibly big issue, especially if whoever was running was involved in another organization.”

According to Qian, if a member of the council chooses to endorse a candidate, the endorsement would be personal and not a council endorsement. He said individual fraternities are still entitled to endorse anyone they want.

The candidates for the executive alliance are not a part of a fraternity. Caroline Carter, the vice presidential candidate running with presidential candidate Kenton Wilson, is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, a sorority in the University Panhellenic Council.

Wilson said he thought it was great the council would not be sending out an email endorsing a particular candidate.

“It will keep us on our game to make sure we reach out to all students instead of just relying on some electronic form of communication,” Wilson said. “We’re getting more of a chance to explain ourselves because [Greek members] know the email is not coming out, so they can’t just sit back and wait on it.”

Taylor Strickland, the vice presidential candidate running alongside presidential candidate Kornel “Kori” Rady, said the change would give students an opportunity to learn about each platform. 

“I don’t think it affects the turnout as much, as it will really urge people to go out and be informed voters, which is all we can really hope for as candidates,” Strickland said.

Despite promotion from Student Government, four new upper-division tutoring sessions at the Sanger Learning Center amounted to a small percentage of the center’s total upper-division tutoring in the fall semester.

Sanger Learning Center offers undergraduate students at the University five free tutoring hours per semester through scheduled or walk-in tutoring.

Student Government President Horacio Villarreal requested more upper-division courses be offered for tutoring after gathering statistics from the Office of the Registrar to identify large upper-division courses that showed disproportionately high failure and drop rates. 

Before this change, Sanger primarily provided tutoring for lower-division classes with high enrollments and six upper-division courses. 

“I’ve had some rough upper-division classes and friends that I’ve know have had trouble with those classes too,” Villarreal said. “I called Sanger and said these classes obviously need tutorials too.”

Four more courses were added after Villarreal proposed the change. Sanger program coordinator Edward Fernandez said Sanger already offered tutoring in Organic Chemistry and Matrices and Matrix Calculations, two of the courses in Villarreal’s proposal. Fernandez said more tutors were hired for those courses because of the information Villarreal gathered.

The four classes added to Sanger’s tutoring services were Foundations of Finance, Cell Biology, Introduction to Medical Microbiology and Microeconomic Theory.

“I think this is the first time we’ve changed regular course offerings, but it works into an existing system that was always designed to react to student needs,” said Michelle Jewell, director of the Sanger Learning Center.

Of the 1,963 students who enrolled in Microeconomic Theory from spring 2010 to fall 2012, 15 percent of students received a letter grade of “D,” “F” or dropped the course, according to Villarreal’s data. Fernandez said students came in for 62 Microeconomic Theory tutoring sessions during the fall 20l3 semester, making it the most popular of the new offerings. Only eight came in for tutoring in Cell Biology.

According to Fernandez, 141 of the new sessions were completed during the fall semester. This amounts to 10.2 percent of the Sanger center’s 1,389 upper-division tutoring offerings, which in turn made up 14.3 percent of all tutoring — upper- and lower-division — sessions.

“The fact that we’re helping a lot of students, and they’re continuing to use the service definitely shows that it was a successful initiative,” Villarreal said.

Fernandez said Sanger plans to continue to provide tutoring for the piloted courses. There are currently 180 tutors at Sanger, most of whom are undergraduate students who pass competence exams in their preferred subject.

“We anticipate that the number of completed sessions will increase as more students find out about this service,” Fernandez said.

Sanger’s appointment tutoring has a 90 percent satisfaction rate from student evaluation responses, according to Jewell. She said the upper-division classes would be reviewed at the end of the spring semester.

“At the end of every year, we review everything we’ve done to see how we can optimize providing services to students to help them master these core concepts and how our tutors can use these transferable skills,” Jewell said. “I can’t make any promises because there are a lot of factors, but it’s certainly on the table.”

Villarreal said there are no concrete plans to add additional courses.

“I wanted to give it a full semester to see how these courses did,” Villarreal said. “If they keep going the way they did last semester and how I predict they do this semester, I’d make a case for adding more courses to the list.”

President William Powers addressed Student Government about concerns over affordable housing for students on Tuesday evening. He believes students who live on campus for their first two years are more likely to have successful academic careers. 

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

President William Powers Jr. addressed affordable housing and the future of the Dell Medical School at a student government
meeting Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of challenges on the campus,” Powers said. “[SG] faces them to try to make the University a
better place.”

Student body president Horacio Villarreal said Powers attends at least one SG meeting a year to thank the students for their leadership and service on the campus.

After government senior Cortney Sanders raised concerns about more available affordable housing for students at the University, Powers said he thinks freshmen and sophomores who live on campus are much more likely to be successful in their
academic careers.

“More beds have been added in West Campus than ever before, but one unanticipated consequence of that is that it’s almost all high-end housing,” Powers said.

Newer complexes in West Campus have been increasing rates by 6-7 percent each year for the past 10 years, according to Richie Gill, real estate broker at LonghornLeasing.com, who spoke to The Daily Texan in the fall. The University will be talking to American Campus Communities — which built The Callaway House, an off-campus residence hall in West Campus — to create a more affordable dorm.

“We do not want our low-income students living out away from campus because it’s more affordable,” Powers said. “We want that choice to be theirs.”

With Clay Johnston in place as the inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School, Powers also told SG he hopes to make sure the medical school stays relevant as health care goes through rapid change.

“This is the chance to design a medical school without the ossified past,” Powers said.

To stay on top, he said the new medical school must have the right kind of people to keep
that attitude.

SG also voted 25-1-1 on a bill that would amend the organization’s election code. The new amendment would require candidates to disclose the names of all students working for their campaigns. Most changes made to the amendment would not affect this
year’s candidates.

Villarreal, who is in his final semester as student body president, sent out surveys to gain feedback from students in SG about where they hope to see the direction of organization to head. He said the results showed that students hoped to see it involve itself more in academic services.

“We don’t know exactly what that will look like,” Villarreal said.

Villarreal and student body vice president Ugeo Williams will discuss these plans Wednesday.

This Spring semester student government president Horacio Villarreal plans to influence more students to join student government. Villarreal also hopes to continue promoting school spirit by creating an intramural basketball season against Texas A&M.

Photo Credit: Marshall Nolen | Daily Texan Staff

Though Student Government president Horacio Villarreal and vice president Ugeo Williams have not set concrete plans for the second half of the school year, Villarreal said the pair will maintain their platform goals of inclusion, safety, service and accessibility.

Villarreal said they will maintain programs such as upper-division tutoring and continue attempts to engage students in spring athletics and student life overall.

The duo created a cultural showcase during the fall semester to show the diversity of students. Williams said he plans to continue educating students on cultural diversity by getting them involved in discussions surrounding social justice.

A social justice program was mandatory several years ago for incoming freshman at orientation, but was switched to an optional program. Now, the mandatory campus safety course at orientation covers dating violence, academic stress and various other obstacles of college life, but Williams said there are other things the University could touch base on such as a cultural component.

“You may know one thing about a particular culture, or one particular sexual identity, but that doesn’t mean you know them all,” Williams said. “It is a growing process that everyone will learn and interact with as they grow in the world.”

Villarreal also promoted upper-division tutoring through the Sanger Learning Center. He said he plans to continue this program in the spring and make sure it is
running smoothly.

Biology junior Benjamin Choy said he went to one-on-one tutoring at Sanger for his lower division classes and has since used it for upper division genetics.

“If you’re having trouble in your classes or understanding a concept, you don’t have to just go to office hours or the TA because Sanger is open all the time,” Choy said.

Another platform goal of Villarreal and Williams’ campaign was to promote school spirit. Williams said they plan to work with the marketing and athletics office to encourage more students to attend spring sports, such as basketball, tennis and track.

To encourage school spirit, Villarreal created the Lone Star Intramural Showdown. This program allowed students in intramural flag football to continue the age-old rivalry against Texas A&M. Villarreal said he plans to continue the program for intramural basketball season in the spring.

“There’s a different twist to intramural sports,” Villarreal said. “You never really know what you’re getting yourself into.”

According to Williams, one of the duo’s main goals is to see more students gravitate toward being part of student government. Williams, who wasn’t in student government until his junior year, said he hopes students will not give up if they aren’t in the organization their first year.  

Several representative positions are available for student applicants until Friday for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the board’s committees, which influence public policy in Texas.

UT is looking to nominate five students for the non-voting student representative position and two students for each of the five advisory committees, according to Marilyn Russell, deputy advisor to Dean of Students. 

At each university, student government nominations are sent to the president, who then sends it to the governor. The governor will ultimately appoint the student representative. The advisory committee representatives are selected by the committee members. The student representative serves for one year, while the advisory committee representatives serve for two. 

Student Government President Horacio Villarreal said funding has increasingly become a priority as the state makes cuts to its budget. He said he would like to see student representatives speak on behalf of college students across the state to increase funding to higher education institutions.

“I know UT-Austin has been under a tight budget, as well as other public institutions across the state,” Villarreal said. “I think the student representatives to both the committee and the boards need to possess a strong will to increase funds for UT and other schools and translate that to the others on the coordinating board on behalf of the students.”

In addition to focusing on financial resources for the University, Villarreal said he hopes to see transparency from the student representatives surrounding policy making.

“I hope the student representatives are visible on campus so others can voice their opinions and wants, so they can relay those onto the appropriate people,” Villarreal said.

Texas A&M University student Alice Schneider, a current student representative, said her position has afforded her opportunities she would not have had otherwise.

“Being in this position allows me to have dialogues with presidents of community colleges [and] state senators on higher education committees [and] to hear different opinions,” Schneider said.

Schneider said being on the board and shaping public policy on higher education while being a student was a new experience.

“There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, policy-wise,” Schneider said. “There was a steep learning curve. In the legislative session this spring, I had no idea higher education policy-making was so intensive.”

Since the positions opened in 2008, Russell said seven UT students have served as representatives on advisory committees, but not one has served as the student representative on the board.

“We always want our students in leadership roles, and any representative from this institution would have access to this student body,” Russell said.

The application can be found online at the Dean of Students’ website and must be submitted to the Dean of Students office in the Student Activity Center 3.104 by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8.

History lecturer Van Herd fills up his water bottle at a water bottle filler station outside of RLM on Monday afternoon. The multi-level fountain is one of 13 locations where students can refill bottles.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Eco-minded students will have more hydration options around campus with 13 new installations specifically designed to refill water bottles.

The installation project, which was initiated by Student Government and Staff Council and started in early September, has taken existing water fountains and created a space to accommodate water bottles. The project will be completed next week with the last two water bottle fillers being installed in the Communications Building A.

Shannon Hanney, project planning and production control manager, said he thinks the installations will be well-received because of the student initiative behind the installation.

“Facilities that have those water fountains installed and have the monitoring feature [to track usage] have shown to be popular with students,” Hanney said. “We’re certainly glad to support it.”

Hanney said Staff Council and Student Government worked together to identify the 13 water bottle filler locations. He said the project cost to date, including materials, is $1,437, which was funded by the UT Green Fee Committee. The Green Fee account includes the $5 fee added to every UT students’ tuition during each long semester.

Collaboration between the UT Green Fee committee and Student Government resulted in an outdoor water fountain project that implemented a multi-level water fountain and water bottle filler station outside the RLM building.

Mike Debow, associate director of Project Management and Construction Services, said the fountains will help make the campus more environmentally sustainable.

“We’ve installed what I call the upside-down J fountain,” DeBow said. “Someone can take a personally-owned water bottle and fill it up, which cuts down on trash and [disposable waste].”

Student body president Horacio Villarreal said the project was undertaken as part of an effort to have more accessible water options across campus.

“We’re very excited to see the hard work of Student Government members come to fruition after the long, dedicated work that each put in,” Villarreal said.

Villarreal said he hopes the water bottle fillers will influence student health and wellness. 

“By providing these bottle fillers, we certainly hope that more students are utilizing these services so that we may continue to implement water bottle fillers across campus,” Villarreal said.

Villarreal said there are not any plans right now to implement more fillers, but Student Government will monitor the frequency with which the fountains are being used.

“If we see a high demand, then we will certainly make a case for more water bottle fillers,” Villarreal said. 

Photo Credit: Marshall Nolen | Daily Texan Staff

At Tuesday night’s Student Government meeting, John Brown, a government sophomore and a College of Liberal Arts representative in the Student Government Assembly, stood and announced that members of the assembly were considering writing legislation that would eliminate the Student Government Executive Board’s stipends, with a possible exception for members of the executive board who demonstrated financial need.

Though the resolution has yet to be written or introduced, it has already caused a stir among those familiar with the hallowed institution that is UT’s Student Government.

At first glance, reallocating the money spent on Executive Board stipends to other initiatives sounds like a no-brainer. Serving as Student Government President is, or at least is supposed to be, first and foremost a position of service.

But removing the stipends is problematic for more reasons than one, the most important of which is that it potentially limits the ability of disadvantaged students to serve on the executive board.

Though the supporters of this legislation claim that they’ll be able to adequately address this issue, at present, we remain skeptical.

Currently, the seven-member executive board, which includes the president, vice-president, chief of staff, communications director, internal and external financial directors and the administrative director, receive stipends ranging from $6,840 per year for the President to $3,420 per year for the remaining five members of the board.

Student Government President Horacio Villarreal and Vice President Ugeo Williams also receive limited tuition allotments. These would not be affected by the planned legislation.

“We’re not aiming to get rid of their tuition being waived, we’re not even looking into touching their tuition,” said Kallen Dimitroff, a supporter of the planned legislation. “I think everybody’s basically of the conclusion that they deserve to have their tuition waived.”

However, Dimitroff and others feel that the stipends provided to the executive board could be put to better use if the money was reallocated to the many registered student organizations that look to Student Government for appropriations.

That argument makes sense, but it doesn’t take into account the value of those appropriations to the students who currently serve on the executive board. Student Government Chief of Staff Braydon Jones, for example, works 20 hours a week, and is required, like all members of the executive board, to submit a fiscal report to the Chair of the Assembly’s Financial Committee. That’s where the process, admittedly, gets a little murky.

The Chair of the Finance Committee is required to review the reports and must approve the release of the stipends to executive board members.

“We usually write up, usually close to a page, not even double-spaced, a pretty lengthy monthly report,” Villarreal said of the process.  “That we send to Chris Jordan, the Head of Financial Affairs Committee … we pretty much tell them almost anything and everything that we did this month, for example, ‘I met with Rec Sports on a regular basis ... I’ve also gone on a cop ride-along to discuss student safety issues, I’ve approached the student services budget committee, we got 78 new followers on social media,’ stuff like that, tangible things that we’ve done, as well as little things that we’re prepping for.”

If members of the Student Government assembly besides Jordan are interested in reviewing the Executive Board’s work, they haven’t as of yet shown any interest in doing so; according to Jordan, not a single member of the assembly has asked to see the stipend reports since last May.

Jordan, who also works as a Daily Texan Columnist, is in support of keeping the tuition stipends. “The amount of time that the people on the Executive Board work doesn’t give them time to work any other jobs. What those stipends really are is the overhead cost of having an executive board,” Jordan said.

And while some members of the executive board say that they would be able to hold their current positions even without their stipend — Villarreal said that his family “would have to make it work,” — Jones said that three out of the seven executive board members would be unable to do their jobs without the stipends.

Dimitroff and other supporters of reallocating the supplements, admittedly, have attempted to confront the possibility that getting rid of the stipends could prevent economically disadvantaged students from participating in Student Government. However, Dimitroff said that the group authoring the legislation hasn’t yet “ironed out” the mechanism by which they would do so.

“We want to include a clause that if you are on financial aid, or in a special circumstance situation, that you can apply for a stipend through the financial aid office or through some other entity.” Dimitroff said. “Because if it's someone that needs something, then that we can do, but if it’s someone who comes from an affluent background that doesn’t necessarily need that money, I’d rather see Best Buddies, I’d rather see University Democrats, I’d rather see College Republicans get that money.”

However, limiting the stipends to just students who are receiving financial aid is problematic in that there’s a strong possibility that doing so would violate the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, which protects a student’s personal and financial information from the pubic. Were the stipends only to be given to students with financial aid, which members of the Executive Board received aid would be readily apparent to anyone who looked at Student Government Budget, which would include all members of the finance committee and any interested member of the public, a clear violation of FERPA.        

Moreover, if candidates for Student Government were given the option to turn down stipends, we’re concerned that they would be pressured to do so during the election process, whether or not they could actually afford to keep the job once in office. More alarming, disadvantaged students may not run for elected office at all, knowing that voters may look poorly upon their financial need.

It’s true, yes, that other legislative student organizations, such as Senate of College Councils, do not receive stipends as large as Student Government’s. Villarreal said he didn’t see this as problematic.

“I know that the other two [legislative student organizations] put in a ton of work, but we focus more on the campus-wide ... In my view, we cover a far bigger umbrella, so that takes a little bit more effort, a little more time to budget that time.”

Of course, all of this fails to address the elephant in the room, which is the unspoken assumption that Student Government leaders tend to come from advantaged backgrounds. We’ll quote “Joe,” an anonymous online commenter, who left the following thought on a Daily Texan news story on the possible legislation:  “Hell yes it should be cut.. Most of the rich frat boys and sorority girls probably don’t even need it.”

What “Joe”— and those who want the stipend cut — fail to realize is that the stipend is one of the few institutional features of Student Government that works toward a more equal student representation. If students feel that riding along with cops and attending administrative meetings doesn’t warrant a salary paid for by student fees, we’d remind them that students get exactly the Student Government president that they elected. Cut stipends, and the field of possible candidates ­will only be narrowed, ensuring that a job that is traditionally bashed as “just a resume item” will now be a resume item only available to those students wealthy enough to afford it.