Taylor Metting

Ron Paul supporters within the Libertarian Longhorns are endorsing and supporting local candidates, but they do not identify themselves as traditional conservatives and their issues focus more on ending military growth and the Federal Reserve, said Libertarian Longhorns vice president Taylor Metting. Metting said Ron Paul is the “13th floor of politics,” in other terms, a topic that no one wants to talk about, and libertarians are concerned about his lack of coverage by the media.

Libertarian Longhorns has currently endorsed David Simpson for state representative, district seven, and Dr. Laura Pressley for Austin City Council. The libertarians will also be participating in a peace rally on April 13, two days before tax day, to raise awareness about the recent passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, legislation enacted in December that set the budget for the Department of Defense. The NDAA “infringes on the liberties of Americans, continuing a trend of decreasing freedom that has been ongoing since 2001,” Metting said.

“Austin was rated the most libertarian city in the United States,” said Caitlyn Bates, president of the UT chapter of Young Americans for Liberty. “I think that the last time Ron Paul came here, around 2000 people showed up to hear him speak. I think that while the city is traditionally very vocal in being liberal, there are some definite libertarian undertones.”

Andrew Kaluza leads the Founding Fathers Zombie Crawl to the capitol Friday evening. Participants dressed as zombie-like founding fathers to protest government policies that they believe infringe on civil liberties.

Photo Credit: Allen Otto | Daily Texan Staff

People marched through Austin dressed like bloodied and undead figures from the 18th and 19th centuries on Friday as part of the Libertarian Longhorns’ Founding Fathers Zombie Crawl.

About 50 people covered in white, green and silver face paint and fake blood marched from the West Mall to the State Capitol to protest government policies they believe infringe on civil liberties and the Founding Fathers’ ideals.

Libertarian Longhorns’ vice president Taylor Metting said the demonstration appeals to deeply rooted American values that cut across political parties.

“The ideas are quite universal, whether you’re a classical liberal, libertarian, conservative, Democrat,” Metting said. “They may have a different ideology, but I think they agree that civil liberty and equal rights, these really
are important.”

Metting said the protest promoted a weekend of events, including the third statewide conference of university libertarian organizations hosted by Students for Liberty on Saturday and a “campaign bootcamp” hosted by the UT chapter of Young Americans for Liberty on Sunday.

Jackson Bradford, a member for Young Americans for Liberty at Texas State University, said the protest had an impact despite its small size.

“Even though we didn’t run into hundreds of people, people saw it and people will remember it,” Bradford said. “You don’t forget about zombies walking down the street.” 

82nd Legislature

Jamie Schanbaum gave a tear-filled testimony before the Texas Senate Committee on Higher Education on Wednesday, recounting her sophomore year at UT, when bacterial meningitis left her hospitalized for seven months.

She told senators how she felt flu-like symptoms one day that escalated to be life-threatening by the next. Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, filed a bill that would mandate all incoming students receive a meningitis vaccination prior to being able to register.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bacterial meningitis is a contagious infection that causes inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. It can have severe effects, including brain damage, hearing loss, loss of limbs and death.

Current law, passed last legislative session and inspired by Schanbaum’s experience, only requires incoming students who will live on campus to get the vaccine.

“Now, I’m here pleading for those who don’t live on campus,” Schanbaum said. “For those who disagree, maybe they just don’t realize what you go through.”

Davis said her motivation to file the bill came after the CDC released recommendations that college-aged individuals — those 17-21 years old — get a meningococcal vaccine because they are most at risk to contract bacterial meningitis.

New language added to the bill last week would add exemptions for students enrolled only in online courses and those over 30 years old. Davis said after discussion with UT, she also added leeway for students to have until the 10th class day of the semester to comply.

“Within this year, [a] student at Texas A&M, Nicolis Williams, passed away after contracting bacterial meningitis,” Davis said. “There’s a unique vulnerability between ages 17 to 21. Students entering a concentrated population have a unique vulnerability to the disease.”

There was some opposition to the bill. Along with several other community members, American studies senior Taylor Metting said that the law would infringe on the rights of those who want to attend college.

“While this bill may have good intentions, it is advocating forced medication without people’s consent,” Metting said. “This is blatantly disregarding individual liberty. This piece of legislation is unjust.”

Davis later stressed that the bill allows students to opt out if they have a religious reason or have documentation from a physician that the vaccine is harmful to the student.

The Williams family also testified and said the 20-year-old’s death was preventable. His health deteriorated over the course of three days, they said.

“The current law is incomplete and leaves thousands of students across the state who live off campus at risk of contracting the heinous disease that mutilates or kills within hours,” said Nicolis’ father, Greg Williams. “If [it] becomes law, no college student or their family will be subject to the devastation this disease causes. Untold lives will be saved.”

University Health Services offers the vaccine for current and admitted students for $127. Associate UHS vice president Jeanne Carpenter said that staff have begun meeting to discuss the implication of the possible legislation.

“Most likely, beginning spring 2012, a health bar will be placed on incoming student’s records that would prevent them from registering for classes until they have complied with the legislation, showing documentation of the meningococcal vaccination booster during the five years prior to enrollment,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said the law would serve UT as a preventative measure because it has not been a widespread issue in the past.

“We’ve had some exposures in the past,” she said. “[We’ve had] students who were attending an event where one person at the event came down with bacterial meningitis within a few days. The number of students that contract meningitis disease is very small.”