Lee Lueder

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) submitted an amendment to the House budget which would place university organizations, including fraternities, under close watch. 

The amendment — which applies to all student groups but singles out sororities, fraternities and athletic teams — would require universities to report on- and off-campus cases of gender, ethnic or racial discrimination to the Higher Education Coordinating Board, a multi-faceted state board that oversees state university operations.  

The Board would collect any information regarding occurrences of discrimination universities report and relay the findings to the legislature. 

The amendment is a response to nationwide cases of racial discrimination by fraternities, according to a report by The Texas Tribune.

The House is set to start their discussion on the proposed House budget Tuesday. 

Although the University cannot comment on specific pieces of legislation, University spokesperson Gary Susswein said officials support a welcoming campus.

“As with all legislation that could impact the University, we will review it closely,” Susswein said. “And I just also want to emphasize that, in general, the University works to make the campus as welcoming and supportive of an environment for all of our students as it can be.” 

Lee Lueder, Interfraternity Council president, said he does not know how effective the amendment will be. He said its impact would depend on what it does with the collected information after universities have reported it. 

Nationally, fraternities have been facing scrutiny for racial discrimination in the past months. 

UT’s chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, known as “FIJI,” hosted a “border control” themed party at an off-campus fraternity house in January. At the party, many attendees donned sombreros and ponchos. The University did not penalize the fraternity. 

“While the behavior doesn’t mirror UT core values, it’s within students’ right to freedom of speech at private off-campus event,” the University tweeted from the official UT-Austin Twitter account in February.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon stirred national controversy when members were recorded participating in chants containing racial slurs while traveling on a bus.  

Lueder said he thinks it is fair that the policy be enforced both on- or off-campus. 

“All of these organizations are registered with the University — are University organizations, so at least pertaining to sororities and fraternities,”Lueder said. “So I think it’s only fair that [the policy] be for all registered student organizations, whether it be … on- or off-campus.”

Rep. Martinez Fischer could not be reached for a comment.

Party-goers enjoy music at the Texas Fiji house on Saturday night.
Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

At the 85th annual RoundUp weekend, over 15,000 people congregated in West Campus for big-name performers, parties and crawfish boils despite facing limitations because of the city’s new sound control ordinances.

During RoundUp weekend, many UT fraternities host parties and performers at their houses. Musicians Riff Raff, Shwayze, Travis Porter and many others made appearances this year. Sororities often use the weekend to host charity events for their philanthropies. To read about the weekend's philanthropic events, click here.

Lee Lueder, Interfraternity Council president and Plan II and finance senior, said IFC sold an estimated $25,000 worth of wristbands to non-UT students for $10 each. RoundUp is free for UT students.   

Zack Fernandez, mechanical engineering senior and member of Acacia fraternity, said his fraternity had no problems with Austin’s noise ordinances, which the City implemented last fall. These ordinances place restrictions on amplified music and music played outdoors in residential areas.

“We’ve gotten all of our permits in order, and everyone’s been having a good time,” Fernandez said. “The truth is, as long as you keep it under the limits of what [Austin Police Department] tells you, … everyone can have fun.”

Lueder said he hasn’t heard any complaints about the weekend, though several parties were disbanded. 

“A lot of parties got shut down, which was disappointing, because we didn’t know what to expect with the new sound ordinances,” Lueder said. “But I think it went pretty well.”

Sullivan said some parties moved inside following sound ordinance violations. Attendance was lower at certain events because smaller indoor capacities limited the number of people that could be admitted.  

“It honestly might have been a little bit smaller because of sound ordinance stuff,” Sullivan said. “RoundUp is never going to be the same.”

Ryan Sullivan, IFC philanthropy chair and supply chain management junior, said the proceeds from the weekend will go partially to Friends and Family Community Connection, an organization that hosts food packaging events for those in need. The IFC and University Panhellenic Council will hold an event in September during which students will package meals to be shipped out to impoverished people in Haiti.

“All of us are very focused on our own personal philanthropy stuff, which I think it is great, [but] something like [this event] that brings everybody together helps us give to similar causes,” Sullivan said.

Another portion of the money raised will go to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Sullivan said. A final portion will be allocated to the fraternities themselves to fund fixed costs of their future philanthropy events.  

Fernandez said he feels philanthropy events should be the takeaway from the weekend, although the parties are the main draw for students.

“When you’re going to a RoundUp party, you’re going [because] it’s the biggest party of the year,” Fernandez said. “The other side that you have to see is all the philanthropy going on. That’s the big thing that you have to take away from this, is with all of the sorority events and food events, a lot of this is going to charity.”

Check out our slideshow of the best photos from RoundUp 2015 below.