Ian Davis

Alumni Randi Shade and Ian Davis discussed their experiences as political activists as UT students and in their careers in a panel titled “Moving Austin Forward” on Monday evening.

Photo Credit: Victoria Montalvo | Daily Texan Staff

Students should have a working knowledge of how to effectively advocate for their interests on the local level because so much of what the city does impacts the UT community, said Huey Fischer, Plan I honors government junior, before a Liberal Arts Council discussion.

The Liberal Arts Council hosted a discussion session Monday with UT alumni Randi Shade and Ian Davis, to discuss how to get involved in and begin a successful career in public service.

“Being able to connect the dots and being able to see something in one place and apply it somewhere else, I think is critical thinking and learning this through the College of Liberal Arts you are getting great knowledge for the future,” Shade said.

The alumni discussed city issues that were relevant to students, such as single member districts, traffic and parking and Capital Metro. They discussed how it is essential to get involved with these issues and to vote for what you believe is right.

“If [the city council members] don’t hear from you then they don’t think you care,” Davis said.

One major issue that was discussed was the future plan of changing elections from May to November. Shade and Davis encouraged elections to be moved to November due to the fact that students would be more likely to vote because school is in session.

“There’s only 60,000 votes that happen in May and there’s 50,000 students here,” Davis said. “A lot of students are not in the city due to summer internships in other cities, so obviously it would be a lot better to have voting in November.”

Shade agreed.

“November elections make a huge difference,” Shade said. “That will definitely affect the vote.”

Shade, a Plan II Honors graduate who later earned an MBA from Harvard Business School where she was awarded a Public Management Fellowship, served on the Austin City Council from 2008 to 2011.

“Shade has always been an active friend of the UT community, especially as a former Student Government president,” said Fischer, who was the discussion moderator. “As a former member of the Austin City Council, she brings to [the] discussion a unique perspective on the inner workings of city government.”

Davis, a Liberal Arts Council and SG alumnus, serves as senior regional field manager for the Texas Sierra Club and is an activist in local and state politics.

“Mr. Davis is an alumnus who is involved in city politics from an activist role,” Fischer said. “He has worked on several city council campaigns and brings to the discussion his knowledge on how to ‘get things done’ in Austin.”

The purpose of this event was not to advocate any particular agenda but was designed solely for informational purposes, Fischer said. He said he hoped students would walk away with two things: awareness and empowerment.

“Students need to be aware of the local issues that impact their campus,” Fischer said. “They need to be empowered with the knowledge of how they can effect change.”

Printed on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 as: Students encouraged to engage locally