Celena Mondie-Milner will be the next director of New Students Services, the Office of Student Affairs announced Tuesday. 

As director, Mondie-Milner will oversee UT orientation and such programs as Longhorn Welcome and the Start Fresh Organization Fair. Mondie-Milner said she hopes to enhance the overall student experience and increase graduation rates. 

“Students come to college with apprehension, excitement and expectations,” Mondie-Milner said. “We need to create a welcoming environment where students and families can gain helpful resources, information and support in order to start working quickly for success.”

New Student Services serves roughly 10,000 freshmen and transfer students each year, according to Joshua Cook, assistant director of the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

“We guarantee [new students] have everything they need to successfully transition to campus life,” Cook said.

A committee composed of faculty, staff, undergraduate students and transfer students conducted a national search before selecting Mondie-Milner. 

Soncia Reagins-Lilly, senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said the committee sought someone who understood college transitions, the first-year experience and how to make the large university feel comfortable.

“Milner’s energy, enthusiasm and intelligence was very inspiring to those that interviewed her,” Reagins-Lilly said. “She is innovative and creative. Change is imminent based on her vision and partnership with various offices.” 

Mondie-Milner was the director of orientation and new student programs at Clayton State Universtiy in Georgia for eight years. Mondie-Milner said her experience at that school taught her to encourage feedback in order to understand student development and create new initiatives. 

“We are going to look at what is happening in 21st-century higher education, take a look at what’s been done, and then find a balance of bridging what currently exists with new initiatives and ideas,” Mondie-Milner said. 

A former track and field athlete, Mondie-Milner trained in Austin for the 1996 U.S. Olympic trials. While living in Austin, Mondie-Milner served as a tutor and mentor to Texas football players.  

“[Her] biggest challenge will also be her biggest opportunity — reuniting with the Longhorn family and identifying all the ways to build on the success that has occurred since she was last on campus,” Reagins-Lilly said. 

Mondie-Milner will take up her post June 1.

According to the Dean of Students office, Texas Fiji’s “border patrol” theme party held on Feb. 7 did not violate any University rules. Fiji will not be penalized primarily because the party was held off campus, but the Dean of Students office will work with the fraternity to increase Fiji's cultural sensitivity.
Photo Credit: Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

Texas Fiji’s “border patrol” theme party held on Feb. 7 did not violate any University rules and will not result in any penalty for the fraternity, according to Soncia Reagins-Lilly, senior associate vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.

Though the party was intended to have a “Western” theme, according to Fiji President Andrew Campbell, several party attendees said the party theme was communicated as “border patrol.” Many attendees wore sombreros, ponchos and construction hats with names such as “Jefe” and “Pablo Sanchez” written on them. 

Reagins-Lilly said the fraternity did not violate any rules, primarily because the party was held off campus, but she said the Dean of Students office is working with the fraternity to increase its cultural sensitivity. 

“Civility, diversity and citizenship are integrated into the fabric of the University of Texas at Austin,” Reagins-Lilly said. “‘There is ongoing work integrated in everything we do.”

Over 20 complaints were sent to the Campus Climate Response Team following the party, and a report released to the Associated Press found that the Team received one complaint about a similar party Fiji hosted in January 2014.

“While the behavior doesn’t mirror UT core values, it’s within students’ right to freedom of speech at private off campus event,” the University tweeted from the official UT-Austin Twitter account.

Reagins-Lilly said February’s party is just one example of cultural insensitivity on and around campus, and she said the Office of the Dean of Students is using the event to promote better cultural practices at UT. 

“It’s not limited to any particular community,” Reagins-Lilly said. “These are opportunities to talk about and learn from.”

Rocio Villalobos, a program director at the Multicultural Engagement Center on campus, said the events at Fiji are part of a larger problem of poor communication about issues of race.

“To the members of Phi Gamma Delta and their guests, having a ‘border patrol’ themed party and dressing up in construction gear was nothing to think twice about,” Villalobos said at a protest at Fiji’s fraternity house Feb. 12. “We are not a joke. Our lives are not a joke.”

Amber Magee, public health junior and director of Student Government’s Underrepresented Students Agency, said at the protest that action needed to be taken. 

“This is just one drop in a bucket that’s been going on way too long,” Magee said. “This has to stop now. We can’t just expect for investigations for things to go through the normal channels. We have to take action as a student body.”

Volunteer soccer coach Kristine Lilly notched 352 caps for the US Women’s Nation- al Team, scoring 130 international goals in route to two World Cup Championships and two Olympic Gold Medals.

Photo Credit: Texas Sports

The Texas athletic program has seen some great athletes switch to coaching after calling it quits on their playing careers. Football defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, track and field head coach Mario Sategna and assistant baseball coach Tommy Nicholson had solid collegiate careers, but none of them were considered the best in the history of their sport.

Volunteer soccer coach Kristine Lilly, though, has a legitimate claim to that title. The former stalwart midfielder notched 352 caps for the US Women’s National Team — the most in the history of the sport for men or women — scored 130 international goals and won two World Cups to match her two Olympic Gold Medals.

“That’s the best player in the world,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “From [FC Barcelona forward] Messi on down to [Brazilian women’s national team star] Marta, there isn’t a player on the men’s or women’s side that wouldn’t have the utmost respect for Kristine Lilly, and that’s awesome.”

Lilly’s addition to the coaching staff is especially significant for the players who grew up seeing her on television.

“I feel like everybody watched her,” junior goalkeeper Abby Smith said. “Its just a great opportunity to have one of the best players to come coach.”

In 2010, Lilly played her 23rd and final season for the national team and began to think about coaching soon after her retirement. She interviewed for a spot on the Longhorn staff in 2012 but was hesitant to commit to the job so soon after the birth of her second daughter. By August of 2014, though, Lilly and her family were ready to move to Austin so that she could begin her coaching with Kelly, Lilly’s collegiate teammate at North Carolina and the godmother of her youngest child. 

The transition from pitch to sidelines for the first-year coach has already changed her perspective on the game.

“It’s a lot easier to be a critic when you’re watching,” Lilly said. “When you’re in the game, it’s not as easy because its moving so quickly. You have to have the patience and realization to share that with them.”

She will continue that progression Friday at 7 p.m. when the Longhorns (7-5-2, 2-2-0 Big 12) travel to TCU (7-5-3, 0-2-3 Big 12).

But there’s also a balance Lilly has to see. Paid professional athletes can focus all of their attention on getting better, but most collegiate athletes will never make it to the pros and have to balance their academic pursuits with staying fit for elite competition. The dual commitment required to be a student-athlete is not lost on Lilly.

Lilly gave birth to her first daughter during her career, then returned to playing and had the monumental task of balancing motherhood with World Cup aspirations.

“If you want to play soccer, you’ve gotta do the other stuff,” said Lilly while glancing over her shoulder to watch her two toddlers kick a soccer ball back and forth with Kelly. “On the national team now, I think there’s two moms. You can do it.”

The new coach is most concerned with making sure her players enjoy the game that has given her so much.

“I like to see the response of the players. I like to see them get it,” Lilly said. “It’s been fun for me, and that’s what I want them to realize. It can be fun. You can work hard, but it can be fun.”

Gubernatorial candidates state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, and Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and their student supporters have settled on equal pay and wage discrimination as the next key issue of the 2014 campaign.

Abbott said that as governor he would veto a state version of The Equal Pay Act or Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Davis has attacked Abbott’s position by arguing that existing equal pay laws are insufficient. The Equal Pay Act was a federal law signed in 1963 to prevent wage discrimination based on gender. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was a federal statute which amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and stated that a person has 180 days to file a lawsuit for pay discrimination from when they received their paycheck.

Abbott said the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the Texas Labor Code and the Texas Government Code have adequate provisions for equal pay already.

“If there are ongoing issues about equal pay, I don’t think the question is whether we need more laws. The question is whether those laws just need to be enforced better,” Abbott said in a statement. 

Amy Nabozny, history sophomore and College Republicans vice president, said she thinks current equal pay laws are sufficient because it’s already illegal to discriminate based on gender.

“It’s a waste of our legislature’s time and resources to be passing redundant legislation,” Nabozny said. “If there’s any issue in how the federal courts process these claims, then they should be looking to improve it there.”

Nabozny said she supports Abbott’s decision to veto additional legislation addressing equal pay in Texas.

“We already have laws protecting discriminatory action — period,” Nabozny said. “Right now, I am ashamed how Wendy Davis is victimizing women in order to gain ground in this race.”

Michelle Willoughby, government junior and Students for Wendy Davis community outreach director, said she thinks employers should offer paternity leave. Willoughby said if employers offer benefits for their male workers, they will stop viewing maternity leave as a downside to hiring women.

“If employers thought that young male employers were equally likely to take six to eight weeks off after starting a family and possibly drop out of the workforce for some amount of time, then they would be more likely to hire and pay women entering the workforce at the same rates they do with their male counterparts,” Willoughby said.

The Davis campaign could not be reached for comment.

Sarah Melecki, graduate research assistant and former chair of the Feminist Policy Alliance, said she thinks gender equality requires a combination of policy and social change.

“If a woman in Texas experiences wage discrimination, she has to take it up on a federal level,” Melecki said.

Melecki said increasing wage equality for people of all socioeconomic, gender and ethnic backgrounds requires that state or federal governments increase paternity and family leave, provide affordable child care and increase the minimum wage.

Melecki said although she thinks the Lilly Ledbetter Act was important and necessary, it does not address the needs of many women, such as those lower income or gay women.

“The people who are affected by [the Lilly Ledbetter Act] are mostly white women who have had the educational opportunities and have gone into a field that allows them to do that,” Melecki said. “Lilly Ledbetter is great and it’s necessary, but it’s necessary to look at women on all sides of the spectrum.”

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Hours before graduate public affairs student Gene Vela, a member of the Senate of College Councils’ Leadership Team, was involved in an armed standoff with police officers, the Senate’s Executive Board convened at his house for a scheduled meeting.

Though multiple board members referred The Daily Texan to the Senate’s faculty sponsor, Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly, for comment, Reagins-Lilly denied any knowledge of the meeting in a statement. Reagins-Lilly was unavailable for an interview.

“We are unaware of any Senate of College Councils organizational or business activity scheduled on the evening in question,” Reagins-Lilly said in a statement. “Our priority in this matter remains the safety and well-being of our students.”

Senate President Andrew Clark said Senate board meetings are regularly scheduled events and are occasionally held off campus, as the board meeting was on Nov. 10. 

“We meet every Sunday at 7 p.m., whether it be Leadership Team or the Executive Board of Senate,” Clark said. “We meet every single Sunday, and sometimes we do meet off campus, but I don’t know how often.”

Clark said Reagins-Lilly would provide information and said despite the board meeting at Vela’s house, the standoff is not a Senate issue.

“Gene was a member of Senate and obviously was a contributor to the organization, but beyond that, this is something that’s kind of transcended the scope of Senate,” Clark said. “So that’s why it’s Dean Lilly’s responsibility. In any student conduct related matters, or legal things, it’s Dean Lilly’s role to take on.”

On Nov. 10, Austin Police Department officers arrived at Vela’s North Campus apartment, close to St. David’s Medical Center, after Vela called a friend and hung up abruptly. Police said the unidentified friend was concerned enough to call 911. 

When the police arrived, Vela aimed a handgun at them through his window, according to police department Assistant Chief Raul Munguia. After officers fired bullets into the corner of the window, Vela retreated, at which point police heard what they believed to be Vela loading and discharging more firearms.

Vela returned to his apartment window and pointed his laser-equipped handgun directly at the officers’ chests, and officers Leo Cardenas and Adrien Chopin fired, Munguia said. Vela was hit in the left torso and fell back. 

Clark said he was not aware Vela, who is a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq in 2002, kept weapons in his apartment. 

“Gene is a veteran, we all knew that,” Clark said. “All I know is what’s been reported in the papers. I had no idea that he had weapons or any sort of anything else.”

Clark denied any further knowledge of what might have caused Vela to aim a handgun at officers that night. 

“I had no idea about any of the stuff that went on after the fact,” Clark said. “All I know is what’s been reported in the papers.”

In the days since the standoff, multiple members of the board have denied comment completely or referred to Clark and Reagins-Lilly for comment. 

Student Government President Horacio Villarreal said he was surprised at the seeming lack of transparency, but said he felt certain circumstances require private handling.

“This does somewhat surprise me,” Villarreal said. “In dealing with the Senate Executive Board this year, they’ve been incredibly transparent — but I trust them, they’re good people and I trust they’re making the right decision.”

Vela, who is being held in the Travis County Jail, has been charged with aggravated assault against a public servant. Currently, his bond remains set at $100,000.

Clarification: Soncia Reagins-Lilly, dean of students, was contacted for an interview but released a statement instead.

Victims of pranks in West Campus often lack legal recourse to seek justice through judicial outlets, but the University provides additional avenues for students who feel they have been wronged.

UTPD chief of police David Carter said pranks in West Campus typically fall outside the criminal spectrum, which hinders police action. The less severe the offense, the less police are able to do with it in terms of investigation and interrogation.

“Once we establish that there’s no crime, then there wouldn’t be anything the police can do with [a case],” Carter said. “It’s really hard to prosecute lower offenses. That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be
administrative action.”

Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly, who has primary authority and responsibility for the administration of student discipline, said administrative action is a viable option if there is a breach in UT’s institutional rules, on or off campus.

Unlike UTPD, University administrators’ jurisdiction extends well beyond campus.

“Any time something happens — something is thrown from a balcony, for instance — whether it be West Campus, Riverside, North Campus or Far West, two litmus tests determine whether or not and how Student Judicial Services will engage off-campus behavior,” Reagins-Lilly said.

“Student-to-student” incidents are the University’s first litmus test. Reagins-Lilly said the judicial process begins with information gathering and proceeds into an investigative phase. Conduct violations occurring during UT-sponsored activities — the second litmus test — are also included in the University’s jurisdiction.

“If we are in Spain, and the trip is a University-sponsored trip, and we have student-to-student violations, those parameters [will allow us to] begin our process,” Reagins-Lilly said.

According to chapter 11 of UT’s Institutional Rules on Student Services and Activities, the University’s expectations for student conduct are grounded in the University’s Code of Conduct and Student Honor Code. Reagins-Lilly said her office will refer to chapter 11 any time they engage a student or gather information specific to a situation, and she encourages students to contact Student Judicial Services if they feel an institutional rule has
been violated.

“The beauty of our administrative process is that we’re focused on the development of students,” Reagins-Lilly said. “What’s most important is that students have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and conduct. It’s not punitive, punitive, punitive. We want to have constructive conversations and help
students reflect and think about their behavior.”

History junior Anne Pennington chairs the Student Conduct Advisory Committee, a group of students that provides student perspectives on matters of student conduct and academic integrity. Pennington said Student Judicial Services wants to address concerns that are relevant
to students.

“I wouldn’t discourage anybody from calling the SJS if something offends you or makes you feel unsafe,” Pennington said. “They can more likely help you than not, and that’s their goal. Their process is extremely constructive. They want to know if something is wrong, and they want to take action.”

Photo Credit: Ploy Buraparate | Daily Texan Staff

Joining the ranks of Facebook and Twitter, UT is launching its own social network to help connect students to organizations and resources on campus.

Called HornsLink, the network allows students to create their own profile using their UT EIDs to receive customized recommendations about events and organizations matching their interests. Although many students are currently on other social media websites, UT officials say HornsLink is different because it specializes in helping individuals and organizations connect with each other on campus.

After students create a profile, they can contact organization leaders, receive weekly updates about events on and off campus and create a resume that lists the organizations and volunteer hours they have completed.

HornsLink will officially launch Aug. 19, but students can already create profiles and more than 600 students have already signed up.

Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly said the purpose of HornsLink is to help students make connections that will help them get through their college career.

Reagins-Lilly said making connections early helps keeps students in school and graduate in four years, a top priority for UT.

“We know that there are all different types of students that come here,” Reagins-Lilly said. “The question is, how do we provide them with a pathway and how do we customize their experience?”

Although the service is targeted at first-year students, UT officials are encouraging all students to sign up because students might find new interests by interacting with the variety of organizations at UT on HornsLink.

UT students had a key part in developing HornsLink, officials said. Students explored other university-based social networks at different schools and helped develop the current structure for the platform. Reagins-Lilly said UT purchased a software package for HornsLink, but claimed the exact amount spent developing the network was not available since the software will be used on other university projects.

Connor Hughes, a biochemistry and Plan II junior, is currently working to promote HornsLink and said he hopes students come to see the outlet as a cool way to connect with people on campus.

“There are a lot people who go to class and they don’t really know what else to do with their time, so I feel this could be a really good opportunity for them,” Hughes said. “I hope it will get more students to explore their interests and branch out and see what they’re into.”

Forrest Wolfe, an incoming freshman from Houston, said he believes HornsLink will make new students feel more at home.

“Most of us have no clue about the student organizations at UT besides the Greek life, and we really don’t know how much there is to offer out there,” Wolfe said.