In its last Assembly meeting of the term, Student Government passed four resolutions, including a resolution supporting the removal of the statue of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis from campus.
“It goes without saying that [Davis’] legacy continues to affect us today,” Vice President-elect Rohit Mandalapu said. “This statue serves as a permanent reminder of the atrocities committed against fellow humans.”
The issue primarily garnered attention after Mandalapu and SG President-elect Xavier Rotnofsky made the statue’s removal a platform point during their campaign. The University has never taken action regarding the statue, which has been surrounded by controversy in recent years. Rotnofsky said the statue should be removed and students should be able to pick another statue to take Jefferson Davis’ place.
“We still see the unrest and the negative campus climate [the statue] causes,” Rotnofsky said. “As Larry Faulkner, former president, suggested, let’s put him in the Bob Bullock Museum, where history is preserved.”
A nearly unanimous vote approved the resolution.
The Assembly also passed resolutions in support of allowing UT System student regents to have voting privileges and in support of recognizing a Texas Indigenous Peoples’ Day. The Assembly lastly voted on a resolution in support of the Texas Dream Act, a law that would allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at universities.
The Assembly tabled one heavily debated piece of legislation — a resolution supporting the creation of a pamphlet, which outlines many instances of racism in the University’s history. The pamphlet is not yet complete, but some Assembly members expressed concern over the content of the pamphlet, which would be distributed in each course with a cultural diversity flag.
“[The pamphlet] incentivizes students to make negative opinions on their University based on what we see here,” engineering representative Edward Banner said. ”They should love their University, and I think this is the exact opposite.”
Magee said the pamphlet’s purpose should be to educate students about race issues at UT — not to boost student opinion of the University.
“The students that are oppressed and marginalized deal with [discrimination] on a daily basis,” said Amber Magee, director of the Diversity and Inclusion Agency. “I think that we are doing a good job, and we’re doing better than we were 75 years ago, but we are not there yet.”
Several Assembly members expressed concern about voting on the pamphlet before its content was finalized, prompting the Assembly to table the legislation. However, because Tuesday was the last Assembly meeting of the semester, the bill will likely be resubmitted to Assembly during the next term, instead of being sent back to committee.
Current President Kori Rady’s and Vice President Taylor Strickland’s term ends April 7th, and Rotnofsky and Mandalapu will be inducted the same day.
The SG 108th Assembly passed more than 35 resolutions during the 2014–2015 term.