Taral Patel

I wish to commend and strongly endorse the opinions expressed by guest columnist Taral Patel in Friday's Daily Texan encouraging students to run for positions in UT Student Government. Long before most of your readers were probably even born, I was an undergraduate at UT in 1983. At that time, we had NO student government at all as it had been abolished. Those of us who believed in the importance of active representation worked hard to successfully restore it. It would be disingenuous to suggest that we did not want to highlight our efforts on our resumes; we definitely did. But that takes nothing away from our sincere efforts to restore an important tool that had been taken away in the late 1970s. Those who are curious can read all about our efforts via your archives, but the bottom line is — as a good friend of mine once opined — "Those who think things can't be any worse demonstrate a profound lack of imagination."

So good luck, be grateful for what you've got, try to improve it, and may the best candidates win!

— John Stephen Taylor, government alumnus, in response to Patel’s Friday column titled “Student Government a great way to effect change at UT.”

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The Perry–Castañeda Library is no longer the only study spot on campus to be open for all-nighters. 

On Wednesday, Student Government President Kori Rady announced in an email to students that the Flawn Academic Center will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the rest of the semester. The FAC previously closed at midnight on weekdays. The plan to extend the hours has been in the works since the start of the semester, when Rady co-authored a resolution with other SG members in support of the initiative. 

“Initially, I was confident that it would get done this semester, and it did,” Rady said. 

This is not the first time SG has worked to open a UT facility for 24 hours a day. In 2012, SG worked with administrators to open the PCL on a 24/5 schedule. Since then, the PCL has run on a 24/5 basis each semester, beginning around midterms.

According to government senior Alexander Dickey, who originally brought the idea of a 24-hour FAC to SG, having multiple study spaces open all day and night on campus is long overdue. 

“If we’re going to cultivate young minds of the future, then we’re going to have to accommodate their odd times of sleeping, especially in the college environment where you’ve got cramming sessions all night,” Dickey said. “The PCL 24/5 is great, but why not make it all year round?”

Taral Patel, an author on the resolution to keep the FAC open on a 24/7 basis, said administrators and the FAC building management staff were supportive of having an around-the-clock study facility.

“As it came closer and closer, the administration really thought this was a vital thing that students needed,” Patel said.

Patel said he has also seen support from UT students for the 24-hour building.

“A lot of students have been wanting this option too, so I think it’s a perfect time for the FAC to be open 24/7 because finals are coming up,” Patel said.

To keep the building secure, Patel said they selected a security plan that hires three UTPD guards at $35,000 each per year.

Rady said they had to make few other technical changes to keep the building safely operating 24/7.

“We have security guards this semester that are going to be making sure students are safe,” Rady said. “There’s not too much too different in terms of logistic use. You just have to keep the lights on. And, of course, there are student proctors that are being trained to help students at the FAC when it’s 24 hours.”

Rady said the 24/7 FAC is in a trial phase, but if it is successful, it could become permanent.

“Everything is kind of a test in this kind of a situation,” Rady said. “You want to make sure people are using it, but of course, if no one is utilizing the extended hours, things could change. I’m confident people will.”

Student Government President Kori Rady speaks about extending the FAC’s hours at a meeting Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Chris Foxx | Daily Texan Staff

The Student Government Assembly approved resolutions at a meeting on Tuesday regarding the city’s proposed urban rail route and opening the Flawn Academic Center on a 24/7 schedule.

The assembly also passed a resolution in support of the city’s Proposition 1. If approved by voters, the proposition would dedicate $600 million in bond money to an urban rail route, which would run from East Riverside to ACC-Highland. The route would stop three times on campus along San Jacinto and Trinity streets. The proposition also requires to city to acquire $400 million toward road projects and corridor studies. 

University-wide representative Taral Patel said the rail would give students who live off campus more transportation options. SG passed resolutions in April and October 2013 in support of the line running by campus on Guadalupe Street.

“By bringing this infrastructure, we have the option to reach out and explore the routes that we do want,” Patel said.

The assembly unanimously passed a resolution in support of the University operating the FAC on a 24/7 basis. Patel said the plan to implement the change is ahead of schedule and the project may be funded sooner than originally anticipated.

“It’s really important that this happen so we have a solid 24/7 study space on campus like a lot of universities do,” Patel said. “I have a lot of friends at other universities [with] exams going on right now, and they are very happy that they get to stay on campus all night. Well, I mean they are not happy about the tests, but at least they have a place to study for it.” 

SG President Kori Rady said he anticipates the new FAC hours may start by next month.

“I don’t want to get too much into detail or make any promises too early on — but potentially before November,” Rady said.

The Perry–Castañeda Library will begin operating on its 24/5 schedule Sunday at noon.

Also at the meeting, Melysa Barth, Rules and Regulations Committee chair, said the SG’s code of rules and procedures was still under review in committee. The code is being formatted into a single, detailed document that clarifies SG rules, removing contradictions and adding compliance with the Dean of Students’ office.

“We recalled the vote per a few requests, and it is still in committee, which is why we are not hearing it tonight,” Barth said. “There were a few edits that were brought to our attention that were not brought to the last meeting, which is why we recalled the vote.”

In a fast-track vote, SG members also approved a resolution standing by Relationship Violence Prevention Month, hosted by Voices Against Violence. 

“It’s finally becoming a mainstream conversation where people are coming together and saying that we will not stand for sexual assault or domestic violence,” Patel said. 

A new resolution was proposed at the meeting that called for equal access to all course materials. The resolution proposed that students registered with Services for Students with Disabilities have access to course materials that accommodate their needs. 

Student Government President Kori Rady speaks at a debate on February 25. Three of the Rady’s male student nominations for the Student Government Executive board are currently in the spirit group Tejas.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Of the five nominees for Student Government Executive Board made by SG President Kori Rady and Vice President Taylor Strickland, four are men, and three are members of Tejas Club — a spirit organization to which Rady belongs — leading some SG members to express concerns about the board’s diversity.

The SG Judicial Court issued a decision requiring Rady and Strickland to make their appointments for the board public before 7 p.m. Sunday. SG representatives will vote to confirm or deny Rady and Strickland’s nominations for executive board positions Tuesday. These positions include internal financial director and external financial director and are voted on by the assembly.

University-wide representative Taral Patel said he was concerned about the lack of diversity on the executive board.

“I have a lot of friends in Tejas, but I think the executive board should be very diverse because they are going to be reflecting not only the platform point of the Rady-Strickland campaign but working on executing those platform points of a very diverse student body,” Patel said.

Patel, who is serving his first term on SG, said he is the only non-white University-wide representative and said he has heard complaints from students who want to see more diversity in the organization.

“I want to make sure those concerns are addressed and everyone is included in the conversation, not just folks that have been involved in SG,” Patel said. “We need to broaden our horizons and get more students involved.”

Liberal arts representative Tanner Long said the fact that a majority of the candidates are in Tejas did not concern him as much as the lack of diversity on the board.

“That shows that [Tejas] has something working, and I want to translate what they’re doing into other student organizations that don’t necessarily have the representation they need in Student Government,” Long said. 

Long said he plans to thoroughly question the nominees during the Q&A portion of Tuesday’s meeting to determine how he’s going to vote. 

“It’s really going to come down to how effectively they can communicate their ideas,” Long said. “I don’t think it should be an easy process for them to be appointed and be on the executive board.” 

Philip Wiseman, former chief justice for the SG Judicial Court, said a rule implemented in 2011 to increase transparency requires SG to make agendas public.

According to the court’s decision, Rady and Strickland were advised to make interview questions and application materials public to the assembly. Wiseman said all information was sent in Sunday night except for transcripts of the interviews, and it will be up to the assembly to decide if this affects their ability to make a decision.

Rady said he has made an effort to make everything public for the assembly for the benefit of the newly elected representatives. 

“I think [the judicial court] felt the need to make sure all the representatives who are relatively new [are] able to understand what the entire process was,” Rady said.

Clarification: This story contains a quotation that is not completely accurate. There are two non-white University-wide representatives: Taral Patel and Shannon Geison.