columnist

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat speaks about the future of marriage in Mezes Hall on Thursday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Cristina Fernandez | Daily Texan Staff

The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat spoke Thursday about the evolution of marriage and the possible changes marriage could see in the future. 

Douthat said there are behavioral and ideological divisions among different types of American marriages today.  

“This divide around marriage has become one of the most vivid illustrations of class division in America overall,” Douthat said. 

According to Douthat, the behavioral divide is the difference between educated couples with advanced degrees who are getting married and working-class couples who sometimes have children but do not get married or get married and then get divorced. 

“Alongside that divide, you have the emergence of an ideological rivalry between different conceptions of what marriage is,” Douthat said. “This divide tracks pretty closely with religious beliefs. It travels some extent with political ideology, and it picks an older, more ‘traditional conception,’ which stress the interrelation of sex and marriage, and child rearing, and views gender complementarity as having something to do with the institution of marriage.”  

Douthat said he sees the role of marriage in American society moving in one of four directions in the future. 

The first scenario he discussed predicted an economic change and a return to antiquated gender roles. According to Douthat, this new model of marriage would be strengthened by steady wage growth for less-educated parts of cities. This would, in turn, structure families and marriages by following the education, then job, then children trajectory.   

The second scenario Douthat discussed depicts the role of marriage as more neotraditional and egalitarian. According to Douthat, this scenario is more realistic about sex before marriage in regards to gender roles, and these couples would be less likely to divorce. 

Douthat’s third scenario predicted the fading away of marriage. Douthat said scenario three stresses conscious coupling and uncoupling, in which more college educated people would have long-term partnerships that progress into raising children as a family. 

Douthat said the fourth scenario resembles current marriages. 

“Actually, things might not change that much,” Douthat said. “We might have reached a place that is a stable equilibrium for society as a whole, even though it is unstable for the personal lives and upbringings of a large segment of the poor and working-class America.” 

Economics graduate student Jane Ryngaert said she was glad the scenarios featured various perspectives. 

“I think he was pretty optimistic about all of it in general,” Ryngaert said. “It was nice that not all four of them were ‘doomsday.’”

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, begins her filibuster of Senate Bill 5, the original bill that led to House Bill 2, on June 25, 2013.

Photo Credit: Guillermo Hernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Correction: An earlier version of this column cited a quote from a National Review article that has since been corrected. It was, in fact, Cheryl Sullenger, of anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, who called Davis' abortions "alleged."

Editor’s Note: In state Sen. Wendy Davis’ (D-Fort Worth) memoir, released Tuesday, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate discusses her personal experiences with abortion in the ‘90s. Below, a guest columnist debates the merits of that decision and analyzes its implications. This is the third part of a weekly Point/Counterpoint series. To see the opposing viewpoint, click here.   

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, the Democratic candidate for governor, rose to international fame last year with her filibuster of an omnibus anti-abortion bill that would have closed down nearly all Texas abortion clinics. For nearly 13 hours, she shared stories from Texas women whom Republican lawmakers had tried to silence while the bill was in committee. But until recently, we had no idea how deeply personal the filibuster was for her. Last weekend, Davis chose to reveal in her new memoir, “Forgetting to be Afraid,” that she, like many women all over the state, has faced the intimate decision to end a pregnancy.

The specifics of Davis’ circumstances show how vital it is that women keep their right to make personal medical decisions without heavy-handed government intervention. In the book, Davis reveals that she lost two children in the ‘90s, one to an abortion induced to end an ectopic pregnancy she has discussed before, the other to an abortion carried out to save the fetus from a life of immense challenges. Ectopic pregnancies, though rare, are critically threatening to the health and life of the mother. Davis’ tragic discovery of severe fetal abnormalities that would have left her daughter in a permanent vegetative state — if she had even survived to term — dealt her yet another devastating decision. 

“While no woman should have to justify her decision, abortion in later pregnancy is rare, and is often due to the same sort of tragic and heartbreaking circumstance that Wendy experienced,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said.

Davis desperately wanted her children, but both pregnancies were troubled from the start.  She faced a gut-wrenching decision and chose the path that was right for her and her family: a path of compassion and one that kept her alive. Fortunately for Davis, she was able to do so with minimal governmental interference. Anti-choice politicians, and the laws they peddle, pile unnecessary barriers, guilt and shame onto women already in emotional circumstances.

Story-sharing can be empowering for people who choose to talk about their experiences. For those of us who listen, it fosters compassion and understanding — two things often in short supply when discussing abortion.

In the United States, one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Statistically speaking, it’s likely we all know someone who has made this decision. But the stigma that surrounds choosing to have an abortion keeps many women silent. It takes women like Davis coming forth to speak about their experiences to pave the way for others to follow suit.

Over the course of her campaign, Davis has shared many personal stories with us. She likes to remind us that she doesn’t share a story because it’s “unique” or “special,” but that she shares it “precisely because it’s not.” Her experience as a young mother resonates with Texas’ tens of thousands of teen moms. Her struggle to keep the lights on in her trailer hits home with any Texan who’s ever faced the difficulty of mounting bills and low-paying jobs. And now her deeply moving story of facing a decision to end two pregnancies reminds the one in three American women who have also ended a pregnancy that she is, in fact, one of us.

But already, right-wing pundits are attempting to take away Davis’ control over her own story. This isn’t anything new. Out-of-touch politicians are fond of labeling the women who seek abortions as careless and selfish while refusing to listen to their stories. The National Review, in an attempt to discredit Davis, called her tragic, personal story “unverifiable” and “convenient.” Cheryl Sullenger, of anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, seemed to question Davis’ abortions — going so far as to call them “alleged.” Republicans are choosing to question Davis and her family in sad attempts to use her story to score political points, rather than taking the opportunity to simply say, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

It’s easy to feel removed from government, especially in a state where the leading politicians are not nearly as diverse as the populace they represent. In sharing her story, Davis offers herself up as a role model for Texans who feel disconnected from lawmakers who cannot empathize with their struggles. We can relate to her, seeing her as someone who has faced enormous obstacles and overcome them with the help of her family, her community and her education. This sort of personal connection with the people of Texas is exactly what Greg Abbott should be afraid of.

When Davis took the Senate floor last summer, we saw a hero: a woman who would speak truth to power and give voice to the millions of people silenced by shame, stigma or even their own government. Her decision to share her own particular story more than a year later shows how personal those 13 hours on the Senate floor must have been for her. Her courage and bravery in revealing painful memories from her past are everything that Texas could want in a leader; her compassion and empathy are what Texas needs.

Since last summer, we’ve been wearing orange shirts proclaiming that we “stand with Wendy Davis”; this week she revealed that she’s been standing with us all along.

Adams is the communications director of University Democrats. She is a mechanical engineering senior from Dripping Springs.

Editor’s Note: A -30- column is a chance for a departing staff member to recollect about his time at The Daily Texan.

I first came to The Daily Texan two years ago as a senior fresh off my exchange to Brazil. During that trip I was asked by Hannah Jane DeCiutiis, then a reporter in the Daily Texan news department, to comment on sociology professor Mark Regnerus’ gay-parenting study and its potential effects. When I returned to campus, I realized I wanted to contribute further to the ongoing discussion around Regnerus’ study and the larger questions it raised. I wrote a guest column about the importance of personal parental sacrifice, the editors liked it, I applied as an opinion columnist and was lucky enough to be selected. I wrote, rushed, fretted and celebrated through two years of being a columnist because I wanted to join the local, state, national and global debates in which our University was involved. I was not disappointed. I was lucky to have two thoughtful editors, Susannah Jacob and Laura Wright, and a host of associate editors and fellow columnists who challenged me to make my columns more accessible and organize my sometimes muddled thoughts before they reached print.

When I was mired in self-doubt and anxiety as a writer, frustrated by a complicated story or simply tired of the weekly grind of the newsroom, I would remember President Theodore Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne expounding upon civic duties. He warned his audience against inordinate materialism and asked them to stay “in the arena,” where they could produce relevant knowledge for worthy causes. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, but I hope to have made some impact on UT’s conversation. But what does the UT “arena” look like?

Being a student-writer has been a privilege for me. Balancing my undergraduate thesis, and later my graduate work, while churning out columns was sometimes a pain. But consistent writing kept me on my toes and in tune with some of the happenings of our University that I normally wouldn’t have delved into. I got the chance to sit through and cover events ranging from workers’ rights in the Caribbean to environmental conferences. I was able to shed light on debates about appropriating the past, such as the meaning of Thanksgiving and the complexities of Holocaust comparisons. I got to cover key aspects of student life ranging from non-violent protest to our financial situation, to stories as ordinary as how to talk with someone who begs on the drag. Most interestingly, I got to “follow the money” of various UT centers, government scholarships, outside think-tanks and UT research to raise questions about what goes on “behind the scenes.” I thank all of those sources who contributed to my stories, on and off the record, to better inform my opinions and refine my message to our readers.

Without these sources, their patience, and most importantly their time, my stories would be nothing more than the frivolous statuses I post each second on Facebook or Twitter. I thank those sources with whom I disagree for sharing their views and expertise and for furthering the conversation. 

Institutions, UT included, must be pushed to do the right thing. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” the phrase on the UT Tower, is a warning against attaching the Longhorn logo to sub-standard distortions, misrepresentations and hidden agendas. Nevertheless, UT has shown itself willing to support sub-par research until the backlash creates a liability for the University’s “business brand.” Therefore, our job as student journalists is to create a liability for UT when it fails to properly vet the research it promotes, fails to rethink questionable partnerships on UT restructuring plans and fails to promptly speak out against abuse and misreporting, by its employees or others, of the University’s “core competency” of serious scholarship. As student journalists, we need to drive home the message that, at a time where the University is considered a business, we the students are not the “raw material” but rather, the stockholders, without whom the University’s mission is nothing but that of another nameless think-tank. As journalists, we should remember that although everyone is welcome on our opinion page, UT officials already have a megaphone and don’t need another pulpit. Instead, they need an adversary — a devil’s advocate. In short, we have responsibilities too.

As journalists, as students and as scholars, let us not be “cold and timid souls” afraid of the powerful and complacent in our privileges. Whether reaching a casual or avid Texan reader or employing a staff writer and occasional contributor, it’s my hope that The Daily Texan continues to strengthen its role as a serious voice “in the arena” of the University’s vigorous debate.

-30-

Knoll is a first-year master’s student in Latin American studies from Dallas. He has worked as a columnist and guest columnist since fall 2012.

Columnists Tolly Mosely, Sarah Stacey, founder Chris Perez, advertising manager Jane Ko and columnist Kris Waggoner are all part of the Citygram staff.

Photo Credit: Guillermo Hernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Chris Perez’s finger navigates the iPad, showing off the stop-motion, animated fashion editorial, the Instagram featured feed and the 360-degree movable shoe advertisement of the inaugural issue of Citygram, a blog/magazine hybrid crafted by Perez and a team of Austin bloggers.

Citygram is the newest Austin-lifestyle publication, boasting a gluten-free dining columnist and an inspirational columnist. The magazine’s repertoire of knowledgeable locals is not its sole claim to personalization, however.

The digital publication harnesses its iPad format to emphasize interaction between reader and writer by allowing readers to tweet or email writers straight from the app — utilizing communication Perez feels most magazines are lacking.

“Magazines are like ‘Hey, share this.’ But not ‘talk to the person who wrote this,’” Perez said. “I could tweet this writer and ask them what they would eat from this local
restaurant.”

Since the proliferation of tablets like the iPad, digital versions of print magazines have been lauded as the answer to the readership problems of the industry. Magazines such as GQ, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair all have iPad alternatives and the Atlantic announced recently that it would publish a weekly compilation of popular web content to an iPad app.

“Magazines have to adapt to the new kinds of ways of consuming content more than almost any other platform,” said Robert Quigley, a journalism professor in the College of Communication. “Because magazines are so visual, they’re really made for a tablet, as far as the reader experience.”

According to a study by the Pew Research Center in 2012, despite the innovations, only 22 percent of adults have tablets.

“The only thing that’s difficult about [Citygram] is that it’s specifically designed for the iPad,” said Joanna Wilkinson, Citygram fashion columnist. “I don’t know if everyone is wanting to get an iPad.”

Digital magazines now have some interactive features but mostly they’re just static, Perez said. Citygram fights to dismantle the deficits caused by a print-minded industry.

“With Citygram, everything is a button, but maybe doesn’t look like a button,” Perez said. “Being able to incorporate an Instagram feed or embed audio or video … My biggest challenge is overcoming the perception of a digital magazine.”

Citygram is also innovative in its use of advertisements, a useful skill in an industry that relies on advertisements to retain a profit — especially because Perez and his team plan to keep the issues free for now. The ads of the “glossy” magazine pages rely on the same philosophy as the rest of the magazine — engagement. Perez plans to make aesthetically pleasing ads with viewable photo galleries or click-through reservations.

The possibilities for specified analytics are promising and allow advertisers to pinpoint exactly how and where to use their money. Citygram will also be able to more firmly grasp its readers’ interests.

“Magazines can say this many people bought an issue, but we know how many people viewed this page or responded to a certain advertisement,” Perez said.
For now, Perez plans to keep his publication local, saying that Austin is more accepting of the digital era.

“I think people here aren’t scared of this,” Perez said. “And they go to this for a real people connection.”

Follow Taylor Prewitt on Twitter @TeeAaaPee

David Carr belives that the craft of journalism will switch from print to digital, but will remain strong. Carr is a columnist for The New York Times and was featured in a documentary titled “Page One.”

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

David Carr, columnist for The New York Times, said the world of professional journalism has drastic changes to make, but can survive the new digital age.

Carr, a media reporter for The New York Times who was featured in the documentary about the paper, “Page One,” spoke Wednesday at the Mary Alice Davis Distinguished Lecture Series, a series dedicated to facilitating talks about journalism and the direction it is heading.

“Mary Alice was a very feisty, independent person who really believed in journalism as a force for change in society,” Glenn Frankel, UT School of Journalism director, said. “The family feels very strongly that they want journalists who play that role today.”

In his lecture, Carr suggested the newspaper as his generation has known it is already obsolete.

“We’re built on scarcity in print,” Carr said. “You lose compression on pricing when you have no scarcity.”

Carr said the transition from the print to the digital model, where pieces of news fly in rapid succession, is going to be difficult. According to the Pew Research Center, industry-wide print ad revenue decreased by about $24 billion from 2003 to 2011, while online ad revenue increased by only about $2 billion in the same time period.

“Big news is still the killer app,” Carr said. “You’ve got to think of the journalism business as being in one hall and down here is this wonderful digital nirvana, but there’s this long dark hall in between.”

Carr said he still believes journalism will eventually find its way to remain profitable in changing times. He said his publication has already taken steps to that end, including putting up a pay wall for frequent readers.

“We say, ‘Good to see ya, how about giving us a little sugar here?’” Carr said. “Everybody said, ‘You’re drilling a hole in the bottom of your boat.’ ... Turns out we’re not drilling a hole in the bottom of our boat, we’re installing a new engine.”

Carr said he believes young people are willing to pay the convenience charge for coverage that sorts through the digital flurry of news. In a 2011 Growth From Knowledge Mediamark Research and Intelligence poll, 22 percent of people aged 18 to 24 read newspapers at least every other day compared to 40 percent of adults overall.

“A couple of years ago my colleague was doing a story about how young people consume news and one said, ‘If news is important, it will find me,’” Carr said. “If we get you thinking of us as an app and not a subscription, then we’re going to win.”

Printed on Thursday, October 25, 2012 as: Times columnist gives opinion on future of journalism, news

I am opinionated. And I love telling other people these opinions. And even further, I love to shock people with my opinions. If I happen to spark dialogue and evoke others’ passions in this process, then I’m even happier. Thus, working as a columnist for The Daily Texan this year, the ultimate soapbox for shoving my opinions in other people’s faces, was one of my favorite college experiences.

I have always loved writing, but somewhere between typing countless papers for classes and my Plan II thesis — don’t even ask — I had forgotten that love. Working as an opinion columnist, however, reminded me of how much I enjoy expressing myself on paper.

During my time at UT, or as I like to call it, the ol’ indoctrination mill, I cultivated many of my personal beliefs and learned new things about myself. Writing for the Texan allowed me to strengthen these beliefs. I also hope that during my time as an opinion columnist, I was able to serve as a voice for the underrepresented students. The things people do at this school are amazing and deserve to be known.

Believe it or not, one of the most important things I learned as a writer while working for the Texan was to understand and respect all sides of an argument. This important lesson came to me in the wee hours of the night as I sat writing my column and envisioning hoards of angry business students or frat brothers coming to take me down after a bad reaction to an overly-biased argument. I always strove to make my point intelligently while remaining open-minded to the other side, an important life lesson I will keep with me after leaving the 40 Acres.

Yet I did manage to get daring with some of my columns. I even managed to make a subtle joke about Rick Santorum’s surge from behind. I just made it again.

To Viv: None of this would have happened had you not encouraged me to apply to be a columnist, something I hadn’t even fathomed before this summer. I will always cherish our picture with Barack Obama and those awkward freshman year lunches. You’ve been an amazing editor-in-chief.

To Shabab: You were an incredible editor, and I probably owe all of this to you. Seeing an email from you telling me you thought my column looked great on the page or telling me not to feel bad about not knowing Occupy UT existed always made my day. If you need a fallback job, look into being a life coach — you’d be great. Thank you so much for all your help. Thank you to Sam as well for our time together. You were a lot more lenient with my topic choices than Shabab was, and I loved that. Good luck to you both next year.

To my ever-supportive friends: Thank you for taking the time to read my columns, and thank you for listening to me try to formulate arguments or come up with ideas every week. I liked when you left me positive and encouraging comments under pseudonyms, but I loved when you left irreverent, angry and accusatory comments to make me seem a more controversial and provocative writer.

To UT Alum, the constant commenter on the Texan’s opinion columns: Shockingly, you made this experience all the more enjoyable. You predictably left comments on many of my rather liberal columns debunking me and everything I stand for, and I loved it. If I managed to get you riled up, I knew I did something right. I’m not entirely sure where you get all of your free time to haunt The Daily Texan editorial section, but I’m glad you did.

To the University: You were great to me. And even during those times when you weren’t great to me, like when I had a bird poop on my head on three separate occasions or when I had to sleep on the ground of Reliant while studying for a test, I still loved you. I was happy to represent you while writing for the Texan, and I’ll continue to represent you when trash-talking OU in the future.

Hook ‘em and Hillary for president 2016.

Waliany, a Plan II and government senior, worked as a columnist in the fall and spring.

Graduation is here and, like most seniors will say, my four years flew by. They were marked by incredible experiences and lessons inside and outside of the classroom. And that is what my column is about — lessons. Those pieces of wisdom you gather through experience and store safely in your memory. It is now, at only three weeks until I walk the stage, that I pull them out and reflect upon them. Here is a lesson for each year at UT:

1. Study what you love or at least something you find interesting .

Everyone comes to college to study something, and we learn early on that our majors can define our experience on campus. Remember you are the one sitting in the classroom — not your parents or your friends. Study something that sparks your interest and helps you discover your role in a bigger process. I learned early on that my passion was to report about Hispanics and the Latin American region. I left certain majors to pursue others, and trust me, I never regretted it. Once you pinpoint what your passion is, go for it.

2. See the world.

College is the perfect time for adventure. Traveling is a global classroom that provides you with unparalleled lessons. You can study about culture, history and politics in a textbook, but it never compares to actually seeing it with your own eyes. UT has great study abroad opportunities for its students and if you search and apply, there is funding for you to participate. It was my study abroad experiences in Spain, Cuba and Israel that broadened my perspective and taught me lessons I never would have gotten in the classroom. Traveling also helps you come back to campus with a greater sense of purpose and a thirst to see more of the world. Don’t keep pushing back the date to hop on an airplane; if not now, then when?

3. Get involved.

With more than 900 organizations on campus, there is no excuse to not get involved at UT. From frisbee to cooking, there is a place for you. Organizations help you build a mini community and, in some cases, further mold your career plans. If you are the stable kind, get involved in a few and stick with them. If you like to dabble in different experiences, then sign up for many organizations. In the process, you will make long-lasting friendships and learn more about your community.

4. Dream big.

For many, college is the first time they are on their own and get to define the person they are and will become. Nothing is more instrumental to that identity than your dreams and aspirations. UT offers a multitude of opportunities that are sitting right at your doorstep. Only the limitations you put on yourself can stop you from going after them. For me, participating in the Archer Program in Washington, D.C., helped me expand my aspirations. I was surrounded by so many inspiring people who were doing amazing things that I, too, lifted the bar of what my dreams were. Don’t limit your thinking — dream big. Achieving your dreams really is much more possible than you think.

My four years at UT have truly been amazing, and this is in large part to the incredible people I met along the way. I was blessed to have extraordinary professors, staff members and friends who motivated me to always dream big, reach for opportunities and maximize my potential. Being a columnist for The Daily Texan had been on my bucket list since freshman year. It has been a joy to get to write for this publication and give my two cents on this campus and the world. May you also leave UT with memorable lessons you can cherish years after you leave the 40 Acres.

Macaya, a journalism and Latin American studies senior, worked as a columnist in the spring.

Photo Credit: Blair Robbins | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: Last week, 18 members of the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition protested the University’s affiliation with the Fair Labor Association, a group that monitors working conditions. The protesters demanded that the University switch membership to the Worker Rights Consortium. After protesting outside of President William Powers Jr.’s office in the Main Building for hours, they were arrested for trespassing by UT Police Department.

Point: Putting the demands into perspective

By: Kayla Oliver

Last week, 18 members of the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition occupied President William Powers Jr.’s office for approximately five hours before being arrested by UTPD. The group voiced its demands that UT join the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent labor standards monitoring organization, and produce all trademarked apparel according to its regulations.

The protest itself was rather lackluster. Throughout the afternoon, officials warned the small group of activists about the danger of arrest and trespassing charges and gave the students ample opportunity to leave voluntarily. There were a few shining moments of melodrama — a student read aloud Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and the protesters formed a hand-holding circle of solidarity in the minutes before their arrests — but the protest’s only discernible victory has been an opening up of campus dialogue about sweatshops and labor standards.

UT spokesman Gary Susswein stated that because of budgetary constraints, UT will not partner with the Worker Rights Consortium, but students and faculty alike are engaging in a debate that has raged for years within the economic development and human rights communities.

In 2009, Nicholas Kristof, author and New York Times columnist, set off a firestorm of controversy when he published a column defending sweatshops in developing countries. He advocates an expansion of manufacturing industries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, claiming, “Bad as sweatshops are, the alternatives are worse.” Sweatshops, according to Kristof, offer the poorest families “an escalator out of poverty,” while stipulating fair labor standards in trade agreements stifles trade, raises prices for consumers and drives companies away from poor countries.

Needless to say, Kristof’s pro-sweatshop stance was not well received by the left; to a self-proclaimed idealist, the notion that sweatshops should remain unchallenged simply because the alternatives are even more appalling does indeed sound abominable. However, even liberals must acknowledge some of the hard truths that Kristof presents, and we must also recognize the benign misguidance of the UT protesters’ intractable demands.

Objectively, sweatshop labor does provide a better-paying and safer environment than, say, scavenging through a dump or driving a rickshaw. Imposing immediate sanctions on substandard factories would only drive corporations into less labor-intensive industries or countries without strict regulations. The newly jobless workers might be freed from oppressive sweatshop conditions, but they would not be freed from the financial demands of daily life and would end up in even direr circumstances.

Vehement opponents of sweatshops also forget our own country’s history with unscrupulous labor practices. Millions of Eastern European and Asian immigrants worked in backbreaking conditions in the decades surrounding the turn of the century, and illegal immigrants are still exploited in low-wage, high-risk industries. Of course, “if it happens in America it’s OK” is not an acceptable justification for oppression and exploitation in developing countries; however, there are much more realistic steps toward labor rights that students can take closer to home. An impassioned battle for international human rights is, of course, much more glamorous than domestic advocacy, but activists should not neglect either.

UT should encourage the Co-op to produce at least a portion of its merchandise through manufacturers that guarantee fair labor practices, and it should further investigate allegations of corruption within its current labor rights partner, the Fair Labor Association. The $50,000 membership fee charged by the Worker Rights Consortium would make a negligible impact on the University’s budget, and by many accounts the WRC holds its member companies to much higher standards than the Fair Labor Association.

However, an immediate and radical shift toward sweatshop-free UT merchandise would only drive up prices and leave struggling factory workers jobless or marginally employed. Ardent students must mix a hefty dose of realism with their lofty goals in order to responsibly address labor rights issues.

Oliver is an English and sociology freshman.

Counterpoint: Stop hiding behind the UT hoodie

By: Zoya Waliany

Last week, a University student organization made major waves on campus when 18 of its members were arrested. The Make UT Sweatshop-Free coalition, the UT branch of United Students Against Sweatshops, hosted a campus-wide human rights event that led to students occupying President William Powers Jr.’s office in the UT Tower. The event promoted workers’ rights and brought to light flagrant human rights violations committed by factories that produce UT apparel.

These students were demanding Powers encourage the University to affiliate with the Worker Rights Consortium, a nonprofit labor rights monitoring corporation that conducts investigations of working conditions in overseas factories. Currently, UT is a member of the Fair Labor Association, a group accused of misrepresenting labor abuses.

The movement has the support of dozens of University and city organizations as well as numerous UT professors from a variety of academic departments. However, the movement has garnered criticism as well from opponents who misunderstand the UT student organization’s mission statement.

An argument made famous by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof states that “the denunciations of sweatshops end up taking jobs away from the poorest countries” and eliminates the manufacturing industry in these countries.

This obvious argument fails to correctly criticize the Make UT Sweatshop-Free coalition. This organization is not calling for the end of sweatshops. Shiyam Galyon, biology senior and USAS member, argues, “While our name is ‘Students Against Sweatshops,’ what we are asking for is a more transparent and legitimate monitoring organization.” This is where affiliation with the WRC comes into play.

The demands of these protesters are far from the radicalism many critics attribute to them. In fact, as many as 180 other American colleges and universities have already affiliated with the WRC, making UT the radical outlier in this situation. As influential public schools — including all 10 of the University of California institutions, University of Michigan and University of Houston — have joined the WRC, clearly this watchdog group does not pose a credible threat to the textile industries in these developing countries. The industries can comply with these parameters for improved conditions and still operate, ensuring jobs will still be available in communities.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division has given its approval of the WRC after researching the WRC’s methods and whether it produces anticompetitive effects. The department finds that the WRC’s proposals are “unlikely to lessen competition in the collegiate apparel sector. Moreover, the factories affected by the proposed licensing terms are likely to constitute only a tiny portion of the labor market, making significant anticompetitive effects in that market unlikely.” As the Department of Justice finds no reason to challenge the WRC’s initiatives, we find there are numerous reasons affiliating with the WRC would detriment neither the University nor textile industries abroad.

Some critics urge these student activists to focus on domestic rights violations as opposed to international rights violations. This obtuse and America-centric viewpoint not only detracts from the student activists who do champion domestic human rights issues but also fails to understand the impact UT has worldwide. As Galyon aptly frames it, “Our world is globalizing and we need to acknowledge the link between local and global. At UT, that link is through our collegiate apparel. We are in a position to act local and affect global. To say that we shouldn’t care how our local policies are affecting others far away is to promote apathy.”

We can no longer hide behind our UT hoodies and ignore the human rights violations of those producing them. As a flagship university and a historical trendsetter, UT has the responsibility to make tangible change by affiliating with the WRC, thereby promoting improved workers’ conditions in factories we have a direct influence in.

Waliany is a Plan II and government senior.

Gail Collins, author and New York Times columnist, spoke Thursday in the LBJ Library about the history of gender discrimination in the US. The speech was hosted by the Center for Politics and Governance as part of the center’s ongoing Perspectives@CPG series.

Photo Credit: Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

Over the course of a decade, changes in social opinion, contraception and the economy led to significant advances in women’s roles in society, said author and New York Times columnist Gail Collins.

At a lecture sponsored Thursday by The New York Times and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs Center for Politics and Governance, Collins said major societal changes between 1964 and 1974 allowed women to strive to be more than homemakers.

“This entire sex for the entire history of the world was regarded as an inferior class of being with less rights, with less opportunities, with no opening to venture to choose their destiny in life,” Collins said. “All of that changed in a 10-year period.”

The idea of fairness in the civil rights era was a key factor in women’s ascension into the public sphere, she said.

“It created a sensitivity to fairness,” Collins said. “If you can convince the country that something is not fair, you can win the battle.”

After those 10 years, however, women still had a long way to advance in society; they were ridiculed, harassed and laughed at for thinking they could do jobs formerly reserved for men, she said.

Even though women were allowed to receive an education they still faced prejudice in the work place, Collins said.

“It was totally possible to discriminate in the 1960s,” Collins said. “I found a case in the ’60s where the UT Dental School would not admit women because they said women were too weak to pull teeth.”

Collins said attitudes changed in the 1970s and 1980s when economics began to require two incomes to finance modern conveniences such as a home and a car.

“There was a moment in the ’80s, when the average little girl in this country thought about her future,” Collins said. “She thought not only in terms of who she wanted to marry, but what work she wanted to do. That’s the actual moment everything changed.”

Collins said the invention of the birth control pill was another factor that helped women advance even further despite their challenges.

“As soon as the birth control pill became available, the rates of applications of women to medical school, law school and other professional schools went through the roof,” Collins said.

Doctoral human development graduate student Brittany Wright said she didn’t totally grasp the enormity of the changes in this decade until hearing about the milestones in Collins’ speech and reading her book “When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present.”

“I don’t think I really appreciated it, although I am a woman,” Wright said. “By studying it recently, I’ve become enlightened.”

Human development sophomore Tyson Shores said she appreciates the sacrifices of women who fought through the barriers in the workplace and in academia.

“I’m not entirely sure what I want to be, but I do know I want to have a positive influence on the world,” Shores said. “It’s amazing to think what those women went through for me to have the right.”

Joanne Richards, a former member of UT staff, said she lived through the era Collins described.

“I went through everything Gail described,” Richards said. “It was real. It was worth it.”  

Printed on Friday, October 14, 2011 as: Columnist traces advances of women's rights

CANBERRA, Australia — A popular right-wing commentator was found guilty Wednesday of breaking Australian discrimination law by implying that fair-skinned Aborigines chose to identify as indigenous for profit and career advancement.

Federal Court Justice Mordy Bromberg ruled that fair-skinned Aborigines were likely to have been “offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the imputations” included in columnist Andrew Bolt’s two articles published by the Herald Sun newspaper in Melbourne in 2009.

Bromberg ruled out Bolt and his publisher’s defense under a clause of the Racial Discrimination Act that exempts “fair comment.” Bromberg said he will prohibit reproduction of the offending articles and will consider ordering the newspaper to publish a correction if it doesn’t print an apology.

Bolt, who writes opinion pieces for newspapers around Australia and hosts a nationally broadcast weekly public affairs television program, described the ruling as a defeat for freedom of speech.

“This is a terrible day for free speech in this country,” he told reporters outside court. “It is particularly a restriction on the freedom of all Australians to discuss multiculturalism and how people identify themselves.”

But Aboriginal activist Pat Eatock, who filed the court action, said Bolt’s two articles “were not professional journalism.”

“He set out to offend from the word ‘go,’” she said.

The judge said his orders would not suggest it was illegal to challenge the genuineness of people’s racial identification. Bolt and the newspaper broke the law because the articles “contained errors of fact, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language,” Bromberg said.

Printed on September 29, 2011 as: Australian courts: columnist guilty of discrimination