Sergio Cavazos

Photo Credit: Mariana Munoz | Daily Texan Staff

After a group of Student Government representatives sought his removal, Chris Jordan, SG chief of staff, will be monitored by assembly members for compliance with SG policy and behavior.

At the SG meeting Tuesday, Jessica Sherman, external affairs committee chair, announced that there would be a new code of conduct and expectations implemented as a zero-tolerance policy to address the responsibilities and behavior of an executive member. 

The announcement came after members of the assembly attempted to remove Jordan from office. A draft of a document, titled “In Support of Chris Jordan’s Removal From Office,” called for his removal, listing reasons behind the assembly’s decision. According to Cameron Crane, College of Natural Sciences representative, the anonymously written document was supported by over 20 assembly members and was intended for internal sharing. Currently, no formal document is required to remove an individual from an appointment.

According to Crane, who said he did not contribute to the document, assembly members had been sharing and contributing to it over the past week. 

The document outlines claims of Jordan’s alleged misconduct, which include Jordan’s supposed failure to release interview notes for external and internal positions in April. The document claims his actions were intentional and that he was aware of the rules requiring the notes to be released. 

According to the document, Jordan has also “exhibited patterns of bullying and physical aggression.” In addition, it stated Jordan failed to communicate with his agency directors and other UT-related entities, claiming he did not file impact reports and poorly handled a proposed Austin City Council debate.

“I don’t think that he has been doing the duties outlined for his position,” Austin Ferguson, College of Fine Arts representative, said in an email. “His lack of transparency and initiative in ensuring that communication is upheld has been the thing that I have picked up on the most. This, in turn, has created some tension between the various branches.”

Jordan’s biggest concern, he said, is the behavioral accusations made against him, including a claim that he shoved Sergio Cavazos, College of Liberal Arts representative, at last week’s meeting. As a result, he notified the Office of the Dean of Students about the document.

“I want to feel safe and feel that I have the opportunity to defend myself because some of this is constructive criticism, and I’d be happy to sit down and talk about it, and we can go down the list, but some of it is just not true,” Jordan said.  

Members of the executive board and the assembly discussed the accusations with Jordan before Tuesday’s SG meeting. Crane — who was present at the meeting, along with Cavazos and Tanner Long, also a College of Liberal Arts representative — said the group decided to implement the code of conduct announced at the meeting once Jordan left. Crane said this compromise would best represent the assembly’s concerns and suggestions as a whole.

According to the assembly board, a group of six SG representatives that speak for the assembly — Braydon Jones, Melysa Barth, Jamie Nalley, Sherman, Cavazos, Chandler Foster and Shannon Geison — communication has been their biggest problem with Jordan this year.

“For the most part, the legislative branch has no knowledge of what agencies are doing internally and externally,” the board said in an email sent by Geison. “[Jordan] can absolutely fix it by apologizing and sharing how he plans to move forward.”

SG President Kori Rady said he stopped Jordan’s removal prior to Tuesday’s meeting in favor of the compromise announced at the meeting. Rady would like to see this code applied to other SG members, not just Jordan.

“I’m the leader of the organization,” Rady said. “And when I see that there is misinformation [and] miscommunication, it is my job to connect the different parties who are not aligned and [make] sure they are on the same page.”

Jordan said he walked into Tuesday’s meeting thinking he was going to be impeached after seeing the document. Although impeachment and removal from office are two different processes, Jordan said they send the same message. 

“What it is is that they don’t have faith in me to do my job and are removing me from my job,” Jordan said. 

Student Government approved governing document changes for review by an SG committee Tuesday. 

Sergio Cavazos, College of Liberal Arts representative, announced SG’s completion of the governing documents’ revisions. Cavazos said there were not substantial changes made, but noted title changes of officials and committees in the document and minor contradictions and grammatical errors between documents. 

“Previously, we had two different sets of governing doctrines,” Cavazos said. “We had our bylaws and our internal rules and procedures. The problem with these documents is they were amended and revised over several years at different times. So people may have changed them in one document but not in the other document.”

Braydon Jones, speaker of the assembly, said the document will be reviewed by the Rules and Regulations Committee for at least three weeks.

Cavazos also said the handling of interview notes will be done separately from the revising of the governing document. Cavazos said the rule requiring the release of interview notes for internal and external positions will remain in the governing document unless proposed as a bill at a later date. In August, the Office of Legal Affairs determined releasing the notes would violate federal studen privacy laws.

“We decided the best approach to take was leave that in the code for now, and, if anyone feels it necessary to amend it, it will be its own bill,” Cavazos said.

At the meeting, president Kori Rady submitted a proposal for student tailgating to the SG assembly. Rady said he has been working with other students, including members of Students for Texas Athletics, to look into issues such as funding, parking and locations.

Rady said he would like to see a trial version of the tailgate this season. The proposal was sent to the Student Affairs Committee for review.

“Promoting a student tailgate would also encourage fans to show up earlier to games to show their support and also take part in some of the University of Texas traditions,” Rady said.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell attended the meeting and discussed transportation issues in Austin, including Proposition 1 — a $600 million bond proposal for an urban rail line that will appear on the November ballot. The proposotion also includes $400 million in road improvements.

“[We’ve] got to be on the same team. We all want to know about transportation options,” Leffingwell said. “Now that the decision has been made, if we don’t get it done in November, I think it’s over.”

If approved, the proposed urban rail would make three stops on the east side of campus.

Ruben Cardenas, Moody College of Communication representative, led the proposal to extend the hours at the Belo Center for New Media from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays.

“This is an initiative that would not only benefit communication students but also other students at the University, like those who live in the area — Duren, Kinsolving, the Honors Quad and even West Campus.”

Cardenas and his peers have met with facilities representatives and are working out the expenses and details of the plan. This proposal was also sent to the Student Affairs Committee for review.

Student Government members will review their updated governing document at the SG meeting Tuesday.

The governing document has been in the revisal process since May to remove contradictions and add clarity.

Sergio Cavazos, College of Liberal Arts representative, who is in charge of making all proposed edits, said he finished making the changes this weekend and submitted them to the clerk of the assembly.

According to Cavazos, the document will be reviewed at Tuesday’s meeting and then given to the Rules and Regulations Committee to solidify the changes. Cavazos said he expects their review process to take two weeks because of the document’s size and importance.

“It’s not just another piece of legislation,” Cavazos said. “It’s something that is going to serve our organization for the future and that we need to ensure is something everybody agrees on.”

Cavazos said SG members will vote on the final document once it has been reviewed by the committee. He said, if it is approved with a two-thirds majority, the policies will be implemented and given to the Office of the Dean of Students for further review.

In August, the Office of Legal Affairs ruled that releasing interview notes for internal and external positions is a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Previously, the SG Judicial Court ruled the interview notes needed to be released, invalidating internal and external appointments made in April. The positions were officially refilled at an SG meeting last Tuesday. Cavazos said SG members decided to leave the current rule requiring the release of interview notes in the document and, instead, address the change in a separate bill.

“We agreed that, because this document isn’t made to necessarily change any functions of Student Government — it’s just made to provide us with a foundation to operate properly — if any changes are going to be made specifically to that process, it’s going to be made [into] its own bill in the future,” Cavazos said.

Cavazos said other changes include a more detailed description of the assembly’s role and the addition of an assembly review process. According to Cavazos, the assembly will also change the order of the agenda for SG meetings by moving SG reports to the end and new, unfinished business to the beginning.

Members of Student Government met Wednesday to discuss the handling of interview notes for external and internal appointments. 

The meeting was called by the Rules and Regulations Committee to discuss specific ways of altering the appointment process for internal and external positions to increase the involvement of SG assembly members, while still following rules under the Office of the Dean of Students.

The discussion follows an August decision from the Office of Legal Affairs not to release interview notes for internal and external positions under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act — a federal law protecting certain student information. The SG Judicial Court previously ruled in May that the notes should be released.

At the meeting, Sergio Cavazos, College of Liberal Arts representative, said SG should meet with UT legal representatives to better understand FERPA.

“I think that getting anything from legal specifying what information is protected or isn’t protected is something that we need to do,” Cavazos said. “Especially with everything that has come up in the past couple of months concerning what happened in interviews — things people have said.”

Cameron Crane, College of Natural Sciences representatives, said he had done research on his own and was confused about how students releasing information of their own accord would be considered a violation of the federal law.

“In my opinion, UT legal is just being cautious because they want to keep the University from a potential lawsuit, so they’re just going to say most things are FERPA related to prevent a potential lawsuit against the University,” Crane said.

Melysa Barth, Rules and Regulations Committee chair, said the committee discussed the possibility of creating a waiver for all applicants of internal and external positions that would allow the information to be reviewed by SG assembly members.

“The point of the checks that we wanted to have in there was that you understand by applying that your application is going to be released to these entities,” Barth said.

Another proposed solution from the committee was the inclusion of assembly members during the interview process.

“We were elected by students on this campus to vet the candidates that are being put up for appointment,” Cavazos said. “I think that, at that point, if we can’t get a hold of the notes or understand their credentials, then I think there should be an inclusion of assembly members in the interview or the assembly itself running the interview.”

SG Vice President Taylor Strickland said, while some limitations may need to be set, including assembly members in the interview process would help individuals not affiliated with SG to have more confidence in SG appointment decisions. 

Barth said the Rules and Regulations Committee will wait to propose a bill for the changes until the entire governing document has been reviewed for rule changes.

Student government assembly speaker Braydon Jones led the review over SG’s governing document at the Student Activity Center on Tuesday morning. SG representatives noted which rules they wanted to keep and alter for the new year.  

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Student Government representatives and advisers, including representatives from the Office of the Dean of Students, reviewed the tentative SG governing document at a meeting Tuesday.

SG assembly speaker Braydon Jones said SG has used its constitution, bylaws and internal rules and procedures as its governing documents in the past. Now, SG will combine its bylaws with its internal rules and procedures to form one detailed document — “The Code of Rules and Procedures.” Jones said this code will accompany SG’s constitution, which was simplified last spring.

All of the information discussed at the meeting, including the code of rules itself, will serve as a rough draft that will be subject to change as the review process continues, Jones said.

In the code of rules, Article 5 Section 5.8 says all interview notes must be made public. Liberal arts representative Sergio Cavazos said he thinks the sections should be removed and presented to the SG assembly as a resolution. 

“It’s a little more official,” Cavazos said. “That way, we can properly vet the situation and talk about federal privacy.”

In May, the SG Judicial Court released a ruling invalidating appointments to internal and external positions in the organization and required interview notes made by the SG Executive Board in the spring for those positions to be released to the SG assembly. However, the release of the notes was prevented when the Office of Legal Affairs determined in August that releasing the notes would be a violation of federal student privacy laws.

SG representatives opted to discuss the section in greater detail at a later date. Until then, the sections will remain in the code. During the meeting, SG representatives went line by line reviewing and discussing the rules. Jones said many of them were left in their original form, but other sections were added.

One of the proposed additions to the code is a 2.5 minimum GPA requirement for all agency members — the same requirement held for officers.

“If you put it in here, then you have to make sure every application you put out there gives [the Dean of Students] permission to check and verify that information on a regular basis,” said Cheryl Pyle, administrative services officer for the Office of the Dean of Students.  

The representatives decided not to add the section to the code for the time being but planned to review it at a later date.

Another topic of discussion was the enforcement of agency rules. Jones said agencies — which are smaller organizations within SG — should be required to host two events per year and host meetings at a consistent time and location every week. Jones said these policies were added to encourage student involvement.

“I really believe agencies are the vehicles that can be used — and should be used — to reach students on campus,” Jones said.

To make sure agencies are in good standing, Jones said there should be an agency evaluation process added to the code. Jones said the details of the process have not been solidified, but it would involve a standardized review of SG agencies every two years. Jones’ addition to the code would give agencies an “under review” period to meet the set standards before being removed.

Cavazos said he plans to update the governing document with revisions from the meeting. SG representatives will meet again to discuss policy before releasing the code for assembly approval.

A Student Government resolution calling for the resignation of UT System Regent Wallace Hall was taken off the SG agenda Tuesday because many students who originally sponsored the legislation felt that it prematurely accused Hall of being guilty. 

The legislation, AR 4: “Calling for the Resignation of Regent Wallace Hall,” was originally written by chief of staff Chris Jordan, finance and English junior, and administrative director Nosa Aimuyo, government junior, according to liberal arts representative Sergio Cavazos, the first sponsor of the legislation. Cavazos said he decided to pull his sponsorship after realizing he would not be able to help re-word the legislation. According to Cavazos, seven out of the eight assembly members who had originally sponsored the resolution pulled their names.

“I think all of us as Student Government representatives value due process,” Cavazos said. “We were not willing to support a resolution that specifically condemned Wallace Hall for his actions based on an investigative report which has not been proven in a court of law. … I voiced my concerns in several different conversations with several different members of the executive board and the none of the legislation changed. That’s where I drew the line and said progress isn’t being made and I can’t support it.”

The House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations has investigated Hall since July 2013 for potentially overstepping his duties as a regent. Earlier this month, the final report from the special counsel to the committee indicated Hall likely committed impeachable offenses during his time as regent. 

Cavazos said he would consider supporting the legislation again if it were reworded.

Although the resolution was tabled, the SG executive board signed a letter calling for Hall’s resignation. 

SG President Kori Rady said he thinks Hall’s actions have disrupted the daily operations of the University.

Seven former student leaders, including former Senate presidents, issued a similar letter Wednesday. 

“It is time to end the ‘witch hunt’ against President Powers and UT-Austin,” the letter said. “It is time you step down from your position as regent.”