Susannah Jacob

Editor’s Note: This year four candidates are running for three available voting seats on the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees, which oversees The Daily Texan, the Cactus yearbook, the Texas Travesty humor publication, Texas Student Television and the KVRX 91.7 FM radio station. Three candidates are running for the two at-large seats and one student for the one open Moody College of Communication seat. Candidates were asked shortly after their certification to write two 500-word columns. The second column focuses on a topic of the candidate’s choosing relating to their campaign. Candidates who participated wrote their own headlines. Only light typographical corrections were made. Among the at-large candidates, the top two vote-getters will be seated. Jan Ross Piedad, the Moody College of Communication candidate, has written a column that is running here. She agreed to forgo print space. For more information on the candidates, please visit our candidate database here.

My first contact with the Texas Student Media Board of Trustees occurred about two and a half years ago. Susannah Jacob, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Texan at the time, had encouraged me to attend what she thought would be a “historic board meeting.”

During the meeting the TSM Board would discuss — and vote on — cutting the print media publications TSM oversaw. The drastic move came because for the first time in its one hundred twelve year history, The Daily Texan and its peer publications faced a six-figure budget deficit — a lingering effect of years of declining print advertising revenue.

So, thanks to Susannah’s encouragement, around 2:30 p.m. that Friday I trudged from my class across campus to the FAC where the board meeting was in full swing. 

As I entered and walked up to the third floor, I realized that the room to which I was headed was packed — full beyond capacity. A police officer stood at the door to keep people from entering and violating the room’s fire safety code.  

I was stunned by the turnout, to say the least. Suddenly hesitant, I decided to linger in the hallway for a moment, thinking: Should I enter? Do I even belong here? What if the officer turns me away?

Thankfully, I decided that since I had walked all the way across campus in the blazing heat to attend this meeting, I would enter that room. No officer would stop me. So I did. I mustered my courage, pretended as though I knew exactly what I was doing, and waltzed right in. I’m so glad I did. 

I opened the door to face some of the most impassioned students and alumni I had seen. These people had taken time out of their day — and for some their jobs — to defend The Daily Texan, Texas Travesty and Cactus Yearbook. They had come to save the voice of the students. They had come to keep print journalism alive. 

Thanks to their efforts, the Texan endured on that day as it has continued to do so in many board meetings since then. It’s only because of their effort and dedication — that of the hundreds of students who work at Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan — that the publications have endured. It’s these publications and these student interests that I will protect as a voting board member. 

A university as large, important and historic as UT needs a strong, independent student newspaper as much as it needs Student Government or Senate or college wide councils. It needs KVRX. It needs TSTV. It needs the Cactus, and it needs the Travesty. These publications in turn need representatives on the board that will protect them and the interests of the students who run them. 

In 1955, Daily Texan Editor Willie Morris wrote, “The Daily Texan is bigger than any one man … Protect it and its traditions [and] you will see your life here in much nobler focus.” He might as well have been talking about all five TSM publications — five publications whose publications and traditions I will protect on the TSM Board. 

Vote Amil Malik for TSM Board at-large on March 4 and 5.

Malik is a business honors and finance senior from Austin. She is running for an at-large seat on the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees.

Ehssan Faraji, biomedical engineering senior, speaks to students gathered in protest of Islamophobia because of an ad that appeared in Monday’s issue of The Daily Texan on Wednesday afternoon. The protested advertisement implied that Islamic violence was resulting in deaths.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

A group of students protested outside Texas Student Media on Wednesday demanding a public apology from The Daily Texan regarding an advertisement promoting anti-Islamic sentiments that ran on Monday.

The full-page advertisement ran on the back page of The Daily Texan featuring photos of six deceased women overlaid with images of rifle crosshairs. The images included explanations about the deaths, alleging that all were a result of Islamic violence. The ad was paid for by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a national organization that directly opposes “the radical left and its Islamist allies,” according to the organization’s website.

A group of students, unaffiliated with any one collective organization, gathered at the Cronkite Plaza outside the Hearst building where Texas Student Media is housed. The group held signs and listened to student and faculty speakers expressing disgust with the advertisement, ultimately demanding a public apology on behalf of The Daily Texan’s staff.

Saif Kazim, historian for UT’s Society for Islamic Awareness, facilitated several parts of the protest and led the group in chants between speakers. 

“Today’s gathering invokes a rallying together as a collective body of concerned students to send a powerful message that such bigotry has no place on our campus, or anywhere in the world,” Kazim said. 

Biomedical engineering senior Ehssan Faraji said the turnout of approximately 100 protesters was positive on such short notice. The protest was organized Monday night through a Facebook event, Faraji said.

“We saw the ad on Monday, and we were immediately concerned and very disgusted and we decided that night, actually, to hold some sort of protest,” Faraji said. “It was just some friends that got together.”

The Daily Texan’s editor-in-chief Susannah Jacob and managing editor Trey Scott addressed the protesters together. Jacob personally apologized for the offense caused by the advertisement, but said she commended the protesters for their outspoken stance against racism and hate on UT campus. 

Jacob published an editorial in The Daily Texan on Tuesday explaining how each potentially controversial advertisement is voted on by student editors and managers with the majority ruling on whether or not to run the ad.

“I think when we talk about the future of The Daily Texan and moving forward, there is room to grow and to build a dialogue to create a student newspaper that does not only function to keep hate out, but functions to directly combat these types of arguments and these ideas,” Jacob said.

Scott, who was one of the student editors who voted to run the advertisement, said he did so because he felt his personal disgust with its content was not enough to warrant holding the ad on First Amendment grounds. Scott’s explanation was met with booing by several members of the protest.

“I think that there should be an institutionalized response against an organization [whose] sole purpose is to institutionalize hate,” Scott said. “At the next Texas Student Media Board meeting in April, I am going to propose an absolute ban on any advertising from David Horowitz and his foundation.”

Published on March 7, 2013 as "Anti-Islamic ad incites protest". 

Newly elected business representative Sam Leonard and natural science representative Kenzie Spaniol celebrate their new positions.

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

Newly elected University and Student Government student representatives celebrated the end of their campaigns at the announcement of campus-wide student election results Thursday.

Election Supervisory Board chair Eric Nimmer announced the results of the campus-wide general election Thursday night in front of the Tower. Winners included Daily Texan editor-in-chief Susannah Jacob, Graduate Student Assembly President Michael Redding, board members for the University Co-op and University Unions, the student members of Texas Student Media’s board of trustees and Student Government’s University-wide and college representatives.

The elections for president and vice president did not go forward this week after former candidates Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara filed a lawsuit against the University on Tuesday to challenge their disqualification. A Travis County judge issued a temporary restraining order postponing the elections for at least two weeks.

Melinda Sutton, deputy to the Dean of Students and SG advisor, said SG did not know how voter turnout would be affected by the disqualification of two executive alliances.

According to the voter count totals provided by the Office of the Dean of Students, there was a lower turnout this year, but the count did not drastically decrease from last year’s election total votes, which included votes for executive alliances.

The voting system does not calculate the total number of students who cast votes, but it does show the number of votes each candidate and position received.

“We believed it could have gone either way,” Sutton said. “Sometimes bringing more attention to elections could increase voter participation or instead, some may not choose to participate.”

Newcomer JD Weinstein, communication studies senior, was elected as a University-wide representative. Weinstein said he was initially worried about voter turnout but knew it would not affect the results dramatically.

“Whether we were first or last on the list of the eight elected University-wide representatives, the voters still came out and gave us these results,” he said. “I think there are a lot of ideas that will be provided by the new team.”

Weinstein also said he was excited to help with the issues that the current assembly will leave behind and use student opinion to move forward.

One of the night’s winners, communication studies junior Robert Milligan, will serve as an SG representative for the College of Communication next year and said he will work with students and consider any suggestions they may provide.

“I want to work to close the gap between college representatives and students,” he said. “I will not use my platform as a checklist, but instead work beyond it.”

Milligan, assistant director of Hook the Vote, said he is continuing his work on an initiative for American Sign Language certification for students, which he began before running for SG.

Kornel Rady, government freshman and incoming liberal arts representative, said he was nervous about campaigning with his platform as a focus on a college-wide level.

“This was much different than the first-year representative election, which was essentially restricted to campaigning online and in Jester,” he said. “I was just hoping my message would be received by the student body in a sufficient fashion.”

Rady said he will continue his work in SG by lobbying the Faculty Council for a fall break through a resolution passed by SG last month that he co-authored. Rady also said he will work toward improving the University smart phone application to include SG newsletters and resolutions in order to improve transparency.

History junior Susannah Jacob was elected as editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan and said she is looking forward to working with the newspaper staff.

“I am excited to continue the tradition of excellence at the paper and welcome any new ideas,” she said. “I am prepared to work with Texas Student Media on any developments that may be brought up for the following year.”

There were no candidates for representative of the School of Undergraduate Studies, the School of Social Work, the College of Pharmacy and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. A representative was elected for each of the schools during last year’s election, but none of them received more than 300 votes.

The results of a tuition referendum attached to the SG ballot were also announced. Sixty-four percent of participating students voted in opposition of a proposed 2.6 percent tuition increase over the next two years and 71 percent of students voted against budgets cuts to University program and services. About 4,600 students participated in each vote.

John Lawler, urban studies senior and SG presidential candidate, was the main author of the much-debated referendum and said the results illustrated the official opinion of the student body.

“The results show that previous recommendations made by the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee on behalf of students were totally off-base,” he said. “I am not pointing blame at University administrators but instead at student leaders.”

Lawler said regents and administrators should use the results of the referendum to advocate for more state funding instead of increasing tuition or cutting any budgets.

Printed on Friday, March 2, 2012 as: Student election results announced

Editor’s note: The Daily Texan Editorial Board sent questionnaires to Student Government candidates running for executive alliance, University-wide, college-wide, University Co-op Board of Directors and Texas Union Board positions. We did not consider candidates who failed to return a questionnaire, and we did not endorse in uncontested races.

The Daily Texan Editorial Board endorses the following candidates:

The Daily Texan editor-in-chief

Two candidates are vying for The Daily Texan editor-in-chief position: Susannah Jacob and Shabab Siddiqui. The Daily Texan Editorial Board has decided not to endorse for this race, as both candidates are extremely qualified and the editorial board believes either candidate would do an excellent job as editor.

University-wide representative

Avery Walker:
As a current liberal arts representative, Avery Walker is familiar with many of the big issues that will face SG next year. Most notably, she helped develop legislation about a centralized internship database. Walker displays enthusiasm for proposals such as the Interactive Degree Audit that would positively affect many students in her constituency.

Crystal Zhao:
With her previous SG experience as a liberal arts representative, Zhao is the University-wide candidate that displays the most impressive knowledge of University issues. Though she displayed a troubling tendency to blame students’ “apathetic” attitudes for the shortcomings of SG, especially in relation to the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee, we feel that Zhao would be an excellent voice for the larger University population.


College of Liberal Arts representative

Kornel Rady:
Rady, a first-year representative in SG, has concrete proposals to improve student life at the University, including pushing for a fall break. He also hopes to increase the transparency of SG by improving UT’s smartphone applications.

McCombs School of Business representative

Aaron Fair:
As an appointee to the Faculty Council, Fair worked with administrators to improve the registration and admissions processes. He displays a commitment to representing minority groups, many of which are not typically represented at SG. His fundamental commitment to the future of McCombs shows the promise of success.

Ross Yudkin:
Yudkin has not been involved with SG in the past but has clearly thought about many of the issues facing the University. Yudkin believes, among other things, that TPAC meetings should be open and advertised to students and that the current committee structure is not representative of students. Specifically, his plan to publicize the services McCombs offers its students is a concrete, attainable goal that we believe would benefit students.

College of Communication representative

Robert L. Milligan:
Milligan currently works as assistant director for Hook the Vote, a Student Government agency that works to increase political awareness and encourage voter turnout. He pledges to involve more students in student governance by authoring more college- and University-wide referenda to include the student voice in a variety of issues, including tuition discussions.

College of Natural Sciences representative

Perry Pickei:
Pickei has no previous experience with SG, but to ensure he reaches out to constituents, Pickei says he will regularly meet with and tell natural sciences students about current projects he is working on. Specifically, he hopes to work to increase exposure to the Freshman Research Initiative, to push for a minoring program in the college and to improve bicycle safety on campus.


Cockrell School of Engineering

Kevin Yuan:
Yuan currently serves as an SG representative for the Cockrell School of Engineering and has supported resolutions in support of a fall break and in favor of increased support for electrical and chemical engineering students. If reelected, he hopes to bridge the gap between SG and the Student Engineering Council, improve the process by which students claim Advanced Placement credit and expand tutoring programs within the college.

Student Events Center president

Carissa Kelley:
Despite Kelley’s recent involvement in the disqualification of Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara, former executive alliance candidates, the editorial board believes she would be best able to lead the Student Events Center next year. Kelley’s platform is focused on making sure the rest of the campus is fully informed of activities and events sponsored by the SEC and improving the relationships among internal committees. Kelley has straightforward, specific goals, including changing the approach to SEC programming, introducing a mentorship program for new students involved in the SEC and exploring low-cost programming options in light of recent
budget cuts.

University Co-op Board of Directors

Stephen Tran:
Between working as a resident assistant and with the Faculty Council, Stephen Tran has a wide variety of experiences that would serve him well as a Co-op board member. Tran’s concrete proposals, especially one that would streamline the textbook ordering process, would update existing Co-op rules to benefit students.

Editor’s note: The Daily Texan editor-in-chief is elected by students each year. The election ensures that UT students get the newspaper they want and an editorial board that represents their interests. This year, two candidates are vying for the position: Susannah Jacob and Shabab Siddiqui. To better inform our readership, we asked the candidates to write a column on a topic of their choice. Vote online Wednesday and Thursday at http://utexasvote.com.

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Abigail Fisher’s challenge of UT’s undergraduate admissions policy.

Fisher objects to UT’s consideration of the race for applicants who fail to gain automatic acceptance through the top ten percent rule. By doing so, Fisher alleges UT violates her Constitutional rights to equal protection.

A 21-year-old white woman, Fisher, now a senior at Louisiana State University, applied unsuccessfully to UT in 2008. Then, as a Sugarland high school student, she earned a grade point average that put her in the top 11 percent of her class.

When the court hears the Fisher case in November, UT and its admissions policy will come under national scrutiny. The court will evaluate the intricacies of how UT students gain admission. Because the Fisher case will reflect on UT students, they should know the following:

*Fisher contends UT discriminates against Asians and white applicants, who are not underrepresented minorities and therefore have less of a chance of admission than non-top 10 percent applicants who are black, Hispanic or Native American.

*Fisher has not asserted a class action claim so she is asking the court to determine what damages only she, as an applicant in 2008, suffered, not what all the rejected UT applicants in subsequent years have suffered; Rachel Michalewicz, another rejected UT applicant, who initially filed the complaint as a co-plaintiff with Fisher, dropped out of the litigation.

*UT contends all that Fisher should gain if she prevails: the $100 housing deposit and application fees she paid.

*Fisher alleges she lost more including in-state tuition discounts as well as her constitutional rights.

* A 2003 Supreme Court case remains key to understanding the Fisher arguments. In that case, the court ruled against Barbara Grutter, a white woman denied admission into University of Michigan Law School.

In that decision, the court approved limited use of race in admissions to “further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” In response, UT began in 2004 to use race in its admission considerations of non-top 10 percent students like Fisher.

Long before Fisher though, UT, race, and admission policies drew national attention. In 1940s, the UT School of Law denied Heman Sweatt admission because he was black.

When Sweatt sued, alleging that UT failed to provide equal facilities (at the time there was no black law school at the University), UT hurried to open a black law school in Houston to meet Sweatt’s demands. But the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 1946 that the newly created law school was unequal to UT’s.

Fifty years later, the Supreme Court refused to overturn a lower court’s ruling in favor of Cheryl Hopwood, a white woman who alleged that affirmative action policies the UT School of Law violated her constitutional rights. By doing so, the court effectively barred what was then UT’s affirmative-action practices. In response, to maintain and achieve further diversity on campus, the Texas State Legislature passed in 2007 the Top 10 Percent law.

Throughout that history, UT students have voiced their views about the courts, race and admissions. During the Sweatt trial, then UT student body president Jim Smith led some 2,000 who gathered to protest the black man’s rejection. Supporters of UT’s discriminatory policy had predicted that white law school students would ostracize Sweatt if he gained admission. But Smith told the crowd, “Heman Sweatt is my friend now, and he will be my friend after he is admitted to the University of Texas!”

Will UT students again gather on the mall en masse? Will chants support Fisher or UT? Either way, take time to understand the nuances of the questions the Fisher case poses.

Jacob is a history junior.

Student government president and vice president candidates attend the debate moderated by The Daily Texan Editorial Board in the SAC Auditorium Monday night. Candidates were given the opportunity to answer questions posed by Editor-in-chief Viviana Aldous and rebut comments made by the opposing candiates.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Candidates for the upcoming campus-wide general elections introduced themselves and their campaign platforms during a forum moderated by The Daily Texan Editorial Board.

The Office of the Dean of Students. During the first hour of the event, contenders for Student Government University-wide representative positions and the two candidates for Daily Texan editor-in-chief each had two minutes to pitch their platforms. The second hour consisted of a debate between executive alliance candidates.

Some campaign promises were nearly universal among the candidates vying for SG University-wide representative positions, including commitments to promote safety, improve the UT shuttle system and increase student involvement in SG. Manuel Ramirez is running on a single issue — the DREAM Act, a bill that would qualify undocumented students for citizenship.

Candidates for Daily Texan editor Susannah Jacob and Shabab Siddiqui each used a distinctive approach to pitch their candidacies.

Jacob briefly described her background in journalism and offered her vision for how the Daily Texan can have a greater influence on and off campus.

“The Daily Texan is strongest when people from outside of the University have felt that if they did not take The Daily Texan’s opinion into consideration, then they were going to have the wrath of UT students on the main mall,” Jacob said.

Siddiqui addressed the audience in verse. Reading a poem he claimed to have written just minutes before, he said “You may ask why I stand here and simply question, no closer to an answer, not even a suggestion. But the job of the Texan is not to serve solutions on a plate, but rather to host your discussion and debate.”

After Siddiqui spoke, four of the executive alliance pairs took the stage to answer questions concerning how they would influence tuition increases, budget cuts and their stance on the proposed smoking ban.

John Lawler and Terrence Maas, the first pair to address the crowd, said they differ from other candidates by running on specific reforms rather than repackaging vague campaign jargon.

“What we want to avoid as much as possible is just simply relying on the buzzwords,” Lawler said. “Things like ‘transparency,’ ‘safety’ and ‘affordability.’”

Each executive team also claimed to have specific plans and offered unique proposals for how they would carry out their positions.

Candidates Thor Lund and William Brown said UT should have a 24-hour library system. Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara said they would have regularly have breakfast with other campus leaders. Lawler and Maas said they would hold weekly “office hours” at the main mall and would raise revenue for the University by working with the University to start selling beer at football games.

The subject of state funding was discussed by the candidates and each team put forth strategies for interacting with Texas lawmakers in the case of election.

“We will be at the Capitol every day from January to May,” Gardner said. Guevara, his running mate, said, “I have lobbied to the secretary of state and got 6 million dollars pledged to my scholarship fund.”

Lawler reiterated the importance of a student presence at the legislature.

“We will have to, from the moment we get elected, start to lobby the Texas legislature,” Lawler said.

Lund said he would use the power of numbers and mobilize the student body to pressure lawmakers.

“It’s one thing for me to go talk to the legislature, but it’s another thing to get the whole student body behind this,” he said.

After the debate, Lund said he thinks the debate did not really change the campaign.

“It doesn’t change the campaign that much because all these people up here are talking about all these different things,” he said. “What we really need to do is get out and talk to students.”

Lawler said he thinks the debate did impact the race because it revealed more about the candidates.

“I think [the debate] showed who is and who isn’t knowledgeable of the issues, who is and who’s not passionate about fighting for the students, and who has proven results in their background,” he said.

Presidential candidate Yaman Desai and running mate Whitney Langston participated in the debate before rescinding their appeal of a disqualification ruling from the Election Supervisory Board and effectively removing themselves from the race.

Printed on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 as: SG debate introduces candidates

Editor’s note: The Daily Texan editor-in-chief is elected by students each year. The election ensures that UT students get the newspaper they want and an editorial board that represents their interests. This year, two candidates are vying for the position: Shabab Siddiqui and Susannah Jacob. To better inform our readership, we asked the candidates to write a column addressing the following questions: What do you think the role of The Daily Texan should be on UT’s campus, and how should it work to fulfill that role? Students can vote online Feb. 29 and March 1 at http://utexasvote.com.

We’ve blown out the candles. The Daily Texan celebrated its 111th birthday this past October.

The Texan’s history is a storied, eventful and proud one. Nearly as old as UT, the paper helped make the University the place it is today by striving for more than a century to give UT students a voice. As it faces a changing newspaper business, the Texan retains a key and constant advantage: By focusing on UT, the Texan gives its readers news they can’t obtain elsewhere. Throughout the Texan’s existence, that advantage has defined the paper’s role.

When UT students read The Daily Texan, they should identify their sentiments and concerns within its pages and feel a sense of ownership of the paper.

The Texan is the oldest student newspaper in the South and continues to be one of the largest in the country. Until 2009, the paper owned a printing press in the basement of its campus building. At its start, it employed women, and its alumni include Walter Cronkite and Bill Moyers.

But the most constant and significant thread in the Texan’s history is its struggle against censorship. The Texan’s opposition to censorship distinguishes the paper because its editors recognized that when UT Regents, administrators or Texas legislators attempted to stop the paper from publishing stories, they did so because what the Texan printed mattered.

Perhaps the most famous example of an attempt to censor the paper occurred in 1974. According to “The Daily Texan: the First 100 Years,” after several months of mounting tensions among UT Regents, administrators and The Texan, then-UT President Stephen Spurr called for UT’s journalism school to appoint the editor-in-chief of the Texan because he wanted to increase “professionalism” of the newspaper’s staff. Then-editor-in-chief Michael Eakin called the recommendation “absurd,” adding “If the Texan is to be a free newspaper, it must have an elected editor, not one which is appointed by a board that is half appointed by the president.” At the same time, UT Regent Frank Erwin, also less than fully supportive of the paper, moved to stop funding the paper. In March of 1974, Erwin persuaded the Board of Regents to end funding of both the Texan and UT Student Government. The March 18, 1974 edition of The Daily Texan ran a blank front page, except for a textbox with Erwin’s quote: “We do not fund anything that we don’t control.” That nearly blank front page served as a bold message about students’ free speech rights, and it eventually led to a protest on the South Mall, 3,000 students strong, and a petition, 30,000 signatures long, demanding the Regents reverse their decision.

The Daily Texan becomes most significant, powerful and useful when it speaks for UT students. Its editors and reporters strive to do this every day. But considering some Texan history underscores that in order for the newspaper to continue to be relevant and influence the University, students must remain vital stakeholders in the paper. Student groups and organizations must know they have a shot at getting portrayed fairly in its pages, and they must know how to be considered; columnists must write about subjects students care about, and The Daily Texan editor-in-chief must remain available and ready to listen. As the UT student body grows in size and influence, these challenges for the paper become more difficult but even more important.

Jacob is a history junior.