Jasmine Kyles

First-year Interest Group mentors will now have to find a way to stretch their guaranteed weekly hour with their students into at least five hours a week if they want to get paid the full amount they were initially promised.

UT will now classify FIG mentors as employees of the School of Undergraduates Studies and require the mentors to turn in time sheets for FIG-related work.

Since the program started in 1998, student mentors have earned stipends of $500 disbursed in four payments throughout the semester.

The mentors are now paid $10 per hour for up to 19 hours per week and are paid every two weeks.

They can still earn up to $500 for the entire semester of work, but only two hours of payable work are guaranteed: one hour in which mentors meet with their FIG seminar, and the other in which they spend planning their FIG seminar with their facilitator.

The remaining hours, however, are up to the student mentors to arrange themselves.

Students enrolled in academic FIGs share classes and have weekly seminars that mentors lead with a faculty member.

With residential FIGs, students live together in the on-campus residence hall Whitis Court and also share classes with a weekly seminar, according to the School of Undergraduate Studies.

Residential FIG mentors can earn up to $600.

Lisa Valdez, the FIG program coordinator, said UT changed the pay structure for FIG mentors as part of several changes to the program, not as a reaction to how mentors have managed their groups in the past.

Valdez said the FIG program held a training course for pass/fail credit in the spring for new mentors to prepare them for incoming freshmen who choose to join an interest group.

The mentors will also be able to use information from MAP-Works, a survey filled out by incoming freshmen, to better guide FIG members through their first semester.

Biomedical engineering senior Elle Roensch said she found the preset payment system easier to deal with but does not mind getting paid more often.

“It is also inconvenient to have to go to the FIG office every two weeks when it is on the opposite side of campus from where I usually am,” Roensch said.

Roensch, a returning mentor for an academic FIG, said the two-week payments are more convenient, but being on the school’s payroll includes taxes on her checks that she didn’t have on the stipend.

“The amount of total hours required to complete as a mentor is the same, so the way I handle my FIG and the time commitment is no different,” Roensch said.

Broadcast journalism senior Jasmine Kyles, a first-time mentor for an academic FIG, said the time sheets are motivating her to plan events for her FIG.

“The wages give me more of an incentive to do the job and to have enough hours each week,” Kyles said.

“It’s smart to max out your salary.”

Kyles took the training course preparing her for this semester, because she wanted to give freshmen a better experience than she had.

She will be meeting her group of freshmen Monday for the first time.

“I was in a FIG and mine didn’t go so well,” Kyles said.

“I think I can help improve the program to what the students want. You don’t know how much attention your FIG will demand until you meet them and get to know them.”

Student government candidates Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara listen to Thor Lund and Wills Brown speak at Monday night’s debate. The Gardner campaign appealed to have its disqualification overturned, but the SG Judicial Court chose not to hear their appeal.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara will be unable to reenter the Student Government presidential and vice presidential race after the SG Judicial Court declined to hear their appeal of the Election Supervisory Board’s disqualification.

The Election Supervisory Board disqualified Gardner and Guevara on Wednesday for including Student Events Center presidential candidate Carissa Kelley in their promotional materials, which include pictures, fliers and media on their website. Gardner and Guevara appealed the decision Thursday night and claimed Kelley told them she had no intention of running when the media was produced on Jan. 21. With Gardner’s disqualification, along with the disqualification of Yaman Desai and the withdrawal of Ryan Shingledecker, John Lawler and Thor Lund are the only remaining candidates in the SG presidential race.

Students had until Feb. 12 to sign up to run in the campus-wide elections and could begin campaigning Feb. 15.

Alexander Jones, Gardner and Guevara’s campaign manager, defended the campaign on Wednesday and said the complaint filed did not have genuine intentions, according to the board’s minutes. Jones also said the board had approved the campaign materials before they were distributed, so the Gardner campaign had no reason to believe they were problematic. Jasmine Kyles, who supported former candidates Yaman Desai and Whitney Langston, submitted the complaint on Tuesday.

“Since the disqualification, all the Yaman and Whitney media [produced] under Kyles has remained up online,” Jones said, according to the minutes. “This is evidence of her continued loyalty and support of said campaign.”

Jones said Desai and Langston continue to publicly oppose the Gardner and Guevara campaign. He said although Gardner and Guevara knew about the violation beforehand, it would have been difficult to completely rectify the damage or remove the materials.

“We believe that this complaint is an attack intended to hurt our campaign, not to ensure universal campaigning fairness,” Jones said. “We admit that it was a mistake that Kelley is included in our media.”

In a statement, Gardner said the campaign believes the board made the wrong decision and will continue to pursue its goals for the student body.

“We believe that the ESB was self-evidently incorrect in their decision,” he said in the statement. “Our team is not satisfied but are so very proud of our effort. We will continue our campaign to Unite Texas.”

Kyles said she had removed herself from the Desai and Langston campaign and she filed the complaint because she found it to be a violation of the code.

Kelley said she does not endorse Gardner and Guevara publicly and she had no intent to run at the time of the photos. She said she participated as a friend and the alleged violation was not deliberate.

Under the Election Code, only the presidential and vice presidential candidates may campaign together and any association between candidates of any kind will not be tolerated and can result in immediate disqualification.

The board stated the complaint had been filed in a reasonable amount of time to justify disqualification. It also said Gardner and Guevara have been in violation since they began campaigning on Feb. 15 and have made no known effort to remove or distort Kelley’s presence in their media.

Board chair Eric Nimmer said he was not surprised the SG Judicial Court had chosen not to grant Gardner and Guevara the appeal because the board had already gone through the disqualification procedures correctly. The Judicial Court can only act in situations when the board acts improperly. They have no authority to reverse decisions or alter sentences based on the content of a case.

“Everything [we] did I deemed as reasonable,” Nimmer said. “You do not have grounds for appeal unless there was a procedural error.”

Lawler said it was unfortunate that the race had to come down to this point and offered sympathy for those who participated in the Gardner and Guevara campaign. Lawler said he feels the disqualification will have a negative impact on voter turnout and SG’s image for next year.

“It’s unfortunate SG had to face these scandals yet another year,” he said. “But we encourage student voters to look past the scandals of today and look forward to what the two remaining campaigns will offer tomorrow.”

Lund said the disqualification was unfortunate but he will continue to move forward with his campaign. Lund said he offered his best to Gardner and Guevara.

Printed on Friday, February 24, 2012 as: Court denies Gardner, Guevara appeal

Madison Gardner listens to his running mate Antonio Guevara speak at Monday night’s SG debate. Gardner and Guevara were disqualified by the Election Supervisory Board for associating their campaign with Student Events Center presidential candidate Carissa Kelley, but will be appealing the ESB’s decision.

Photo Credit: Andrea Macias-Jimenez | Daily Texan Staff

Update on Feb. 23 at 11:37 p.m. - The SG Judicial Court has declined Gardner and Guevara's appeal of the ESB decision. The ESB decision stands and Gardner and Guevara are officially disqualified from the SG presidential race. As of now, John Lawler and Thor Lund are the only remaining presidential candidates.

Update at 1:30 a.m. - Gardner said his campaign plans to appeal the decision. "Our friends and supporters agree that this is the right thing to do and that the next student body president and vice president should be decided by the students," he said. "I will be the first to recognize that we made a mistake but I strongly feel that the resulting disqualification was excessive."

Gardner said his campaign took the picture for his promotional materials on Jan. 21, at which time Kelley told them she did not have the intent to run. Gardner said he does not know when the hearing will take place yet.

Update at 11:45 p.m.- Jasmine Kyles, who filed the complaint against Gardner and Guevara, released a statement on her website reading she did not act with malice when she submitted the complaint. SEC presidential candidate Carissa Kelley declined to comment. ESB vice-chair Truc Nguyen said it was not clear whether Kelley would be disqualified as that case has not reached the ESB.

Student Government presidential candidate Madison Gardner and running mate Antonio Guevara were disqualified by the Election Supervisory Board for associating their campaign with a candidate in another race.

The campaign came under fire for including Student Events Center presidential candidate Carissa Kelley in their promotional materials and online website. Only the presidential and vice presidential candidates are allowed to campaign together, according to the Election Code. All candidates in the campus-wide elections must campaign separately and any violation of this can be subject to immediate disqualification.

Broadcast journalism junior Jasmine Kyles filed the complaint against Gardner and Guevara, and the Election Supervisory Board heard the case Wednesday afternoon. The ESB said the Election Code did not mandate an immediate disqualification, but under the circumstances the action was appropriate.

In the official opinion delivered by ESB chair Eric Nimmer, the ESB stated the complaint was filed in a reasonable amount of time and Gardner and Guevara had been in violation since their campaign materials began distribution.

The ESB also stated the Gardner campaign did not demonstrate an effort to remove the incriminating promotional materials and media after being made aware of the violation. Gardner and Guevara allegedly knew about the violation before the complaint had been filed, according to the ESB.

Gardner and Guevara claimed it would have been difficult to remove the promotional materials already distributed on their flyers and website. However, the ESB declared the lack of any substantial action taken to remove the item as justifying the disqualification.

Gardner and Guevara have not responded to requests by The Daily Texan for a statement.

“Its unfortunate that the campaign was disqualified. However our campaign will continue forward with a positive message - changing Student Government and producing results next year,” said presidential candidate John Lawler.

Lawler and candidate Thor Lund are the only presidential candidates left if the SG Judicial Court does not overturn the ESB’s decision as candidate Ryan Shingledecker withdrew Tuesday. Lund said it was unfortunate that Gardner and Guevarra were disqualified, but rules are rules and he wishes the pair the best in the future.

Nimmer said Kyles was part of the Yaman Desai and Whitney Langston campaign before that campaign was disqualified Monday. Nimmer said Gardner and Guevara were planning to appeal the decision.

“It’s one of the simplest interpretations of the rules. If you read the language it is very strong,” Nimmer said. “No association between candidates will be tolerated. I do not believe the decision will be overturned.”

Printed on Thursday, February 23, 2012 as: Madison, Antonio under fire

To unify the black community on campus, students need to take the time to get to know individuals, rather than make assumptions based on stereotypes, said education senior Cierra Campbell.

Campbell was a panelist at the Black Student Alliance’s Speak Week event Wednesday night. The event, Things You Want to Ask but Can’t, allowed students to ask questions of a panel of representatives from different social groups within the black student community.

“You should take your responsibility to get to know that person before you make assumptions because you don’t know their story,” Campbell said.

The alliance’s faculty advisor, Kyle Clark, said Wednesday’s event was planned to break up the more serious topics covered at other Speak Week events this year. Monday’s panel discussion addressed suicide in the black community and Wednesday’s focused on gender roles.

“Today is supposed to be more lighthearted and let them talk about things they wouldn’t normally talk about,” Clark said.

Students submitted questions in advance at the alliance’s publicity table in Jester Center, and the panel took questions from the audience of more than 80 packed into a classroom in the Jackson Geological Sciences Building.

Jasmine Kyles, the alliance’s freshman action team chairwoman and a journalism sophomore, said the group hosts Speak Week to bring the black community together and to address a history of black students not interacting with one another. Kyles said in the past black students tended to avoid each other because stereotypes and ignorance led them to look down on each other. She said Wednesday’s event aimed to bridge the gap between different groups within the black community.

“Just by being here we’re taking the first step to unifying the black community, which is understanding different social groups,” Kyles said.

In response to an anonymous advance question about perceptions of athletes as egotistical, Cokie Reed, a communications sophomore and UT basketball player on the panel, said she hopes the black community in general and black athletes can gain a better understanding of each other.

“I wanted to be part of [Black Student Alliance] because I wanted to be part of the black community at UT, not just some stuck-up athlete,” Reed said. “My goal is to combine the black community and black athletes and become a unified community.”