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May 05, 2005

Ajai Raj on his Arrest

By Byron LaMasters

After an email exchange with Ajai Raj I received an official statement regarding his arrest. You can read it in the extended entry. Regarding the post on Urban Grounds, Raj writes:

"The quote they use from that Party Campus article is a fiction. I embellished those stories to make them more interesting- I am not nor have I ever been a drug dealer, but it's more fun to read that way, I think. (I had Party Campus remove just in case something like this happened, but too late I suppose)"

Raj has written an open letter which I have posted in the extended entry.



Open Letter to Anyone Who Gives a Shit About Justice

I’m writing this in response to the spectacle that occurred in the LBJ Library on Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005, when Ann Coulter, a diabolical, ignorant, but nevertheless charismatic right-wing pundit, came to speak at UT. Ms. Coulter- yes, Ms, I’d personally think such a vocal female conservative would be making Bubba a meatloaf instead of addressing a politically-minded collegiate audience, but whatever- is the author of relentlessly mendacious anti-liberal books, such as Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right and Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. She’s famous for having an ass that stores so many lies it makes clown-car designers envious. Like her or not (and if you do, I’m surprised you can read) she’s a Big Fucking Deal.

The title of the front-page story covering Ms. Coulter’s in the Texan was “Arrest Made at Coulter Speech”. You could also have caught it on CBS or in the Austin-American Statesman. The general idea is that some jackass made a scene, and Ann Coulter was also there.

I am Ajai Raj, and I am a jackass.

In his article, which I enjoyed and commend him for, Mr. Sampath quoted the former president of the Student Events Center, the organization which arranged the event. He wrote:

"The person had been disruptive the entire event," said Matt Hardigree, former Student Events Center president. "He took the opportunity to say something lewd and offensive and then made masturbatory gestures as he exited."

And what do I have to say in rebuttal? Not a goddamn thing.

Matt Hardigree got it spot-on! From the beginning I was yelling obscenities along with my friends, roaring at Ms. Coulter’s right-wing bullshit festival the way no one else had the balls to. Mr. Sampath writes in his article that (and this is my take) the protestors were told to be good all along. They were told to sit in the back and hold their signs and leave quietly. No wonder hippies get such a bad rap nowadays; protestors today might as well be ornaments on the Rightmobile. When I want someone to know I’m pissed off, I’m going to throw down and give them a good shit-ruining. I wanted to show Ms. Coulter that people are down if she wants to hold a circle-jerk, but we’re not gonna do it her way. Not me, at least.

So yes, the Q&A session came around, and it was pathetic. Her slack-jawed fans got up and licked her face so she could pat them on the head- one schmuck offered to be her bodyguard, and she smiled, doubtlessly making a mental note that she wouldn’t touch his nether regions if she were King Midas; liberal protestors posed well-intentioned but woefully timid questions and got shot down in a hail of ignorant shitfire from the She-Dragon. Standing in line awaiting my turn, I watched her send a moderate Republican, who had questioned the sheer incendiary magnitude of her rhetoric, walk away in tears when she tore him apart for daring to question her.

So yes, I saw my “opportunity to say something lewd and offensive.” And I took it.

She had just said something about gay marriage, the typical rightwing bullshit spiel that is still convincing people that the Bible is really the Constitution. Knowing that taking the time to say something insightful, specific, or even slightly critical would get me a lame comeback and a ticket back to my seat, I realized that the only way to win this battle was to fight fire with fire. Or bullshit with bullshit. So, as reported in yesterday’s Texan, I fired:

"You say that you believe in the sanctity of marriage," said Ajai Raj, an English sophomore. "How do you feel about marriages where the man does nothing but fuck his wife up the ass?"

And the crowd fell silent. Ms. Coulter stood stunned atop her stage, unprepared for a jackass to say something so utterly crude and to the point. Her pompous and mean air is enough to stump questioners into timidity, I wasn’t about to let her stop me. The audience members looked at me with raw disbelief; later, even friends who know me well admitted that they’d been surprised at how vulgar I’d been. The others in line for Q&A, mostly liberals, looked at me like I’d set their cause back forty years.

Did I give a shit? No. If I had a message, it’s that the whole thing was a joke- hell, our whole political scene today is a fucking joke. Everyone’s out to either pat themselves on the back for being right or whine about how they’re being wronged without ever lifting a finger to fight for it.

So rather than dignify anyone else, I “made masturbatory gestures” as I exited. Again, bingo! I danced a jig and set my hand a-jerkin’ at crotch-level, sneering for the crowd and letting them know I was ready to roll. I yelled to my friends that we were gonna split and made for the door.

Two cops approached me. I figured they were going to tell me I had to leave, so I said “You can’t fire me, because I quit!”

“You’re under arrest.”

It was my turn to be shocked. I tried to ask them what for; saying “fuck her in the ass”” at a college isn’t a crime, last time I checked. They apparently mistook my inquiries for aggression, and grabbed me roughly and slammed me into the door. Within seconds the backmost two or three rows was surging forward, following the scene as the cops dragged me out the door. They yelled and chanted; my friends were more outraged than I’d ever seen any of them before. As they pushed me into the car, I heard my good friend Jeffrey Stockwell scream, “THIS ISN’T A JUSTICE SYSTEM! YOU CALL THIS PROTECTING AND SERVING?!” The crowd took up a chant at the UTPD officers: “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

Shame is fucking right. When I asked the cops why they thought I needed cuffing, they told me that they didn’t even see anything that happened, they were just doing as told.

As a good friend pointed out to me, it’s a scary thought that people who are given weapons and the authority to forcibly detain people can act without knowledge of a situation.

I’m writing this at 7:15 A.M. Wednesday, having recouped over a few cigarettes and some coffee after being released from jail around 3 A.M. I had a party waiting for me- twenty or so friends and supporters, who showered me with gifts such as a card, sodas, cigarettes, food, and a Blondie CD (go figure). Several civil rights-interested associations approached me, offering pro bono legal representation and showing their support.

I have no regrets. Was I jackass? Yes. Oh Christ, yes. But here’s the question people ought to ask themselves. Did I deserve to be arrested? Did the cops need to rough me up for saying bad words at what was at least masquerading as an open dialogue? Do the people of Texas- hell, of America- feel that “potty mouth” belongs on the list of punishable crimes along with “aggravated assault” and “armed robbery”?

As stated in the Texan article, I am charged with Disorderly Conduct, which is a Class C Misdemeanor. Other Class C Misdemeanors include DWIs, possession of drug paraphernalia, and speeding tickets. Without getting into the justification for all of those, were my naughty words and crude hand motions as imposing a danger?

This isn’t about politics anymore, however it might have come about. Either you think it’s an absurd outrage or you think swearing is a crime. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are Republicans, for Christ’s sake. Raise your hand if you watch South Park.

This is about drawing a line in the sand. It made me proud to see people standing up and calling bullshit when bullshit needed to be called. All politics aside, people ought to ask themselves, how far should our representatives of “justice” be allowed to go? Do the American people believe in censorship rights for the rich and famous?

I know I didn’t slay the insidious evil that is Ann Coulter, but I did give her pause. She can easily go to another college or hoedown or whatever and spew her tired rhetoric without worrying about me. But I’m not the only one who feels this way. Other people will call her on her shit.

And hey, Ann, don’t come back to UT. We’re better than your bullshit here. And I can think of at least one jackass here who can dish it out better than you.

Posted at 01:56 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Filibuster Frist on your campus

By Byron LaMasters

As far as student protests go, I've been absolutely fascinated with the Princeton students protesting Sen. Bill Frist with their Filibuster Frist project. Ann Coulter can yack about how college liberals are dumb, but this is one of the most brilliant protest ideas that I have ever seen. I would encourage our readers to make a donation to their $5000 fundraising goal if you are able (and add $0.01 to it) - I just sent them ten bucks.

Finally, I know that it's final exam time, but you can help filibuster Frist on your campus. Campus Progress has the details. Are the UDems up for it?

Posted at 10:57 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

University Democrats on the Ann Coulter Event

By Byron LaMasters

There's another Daily Texan story on the Ann Coulter event. Here's what they write on the arrest of Ajai Raj:

Ajai Raj, an English sophomore, was released from Travis County Jail around 3 a.m. Wednesday after being arrested for disorderly conduct during political commentator Ann Coulter's speech at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library auditorium on Tuesday.

According to the police affidavit written by an arresting officer, Raj was arrested for using "profane and vulgar language" and performing an "obscene gesture." Disorderly conduct is a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500. Other offenses considered Class C misdemeanors include: minor possession of alcohol, public intoxication, noise violation and simple assault.

Later in the Daily Texan article, the University Democrats Vice President made a statement on the situation which I agree with:

University Democrats Vice President Ali Puente said even though she finds Coulter's speeches offensive, the method Raj used was wrong. However, she felt that the arrest wasn't necessary.

"I'm saddened that actions of a few individuals make people with progressive causes look bad," Puente said. "He could've chosen a more civil method of protest that would've achieved his goal."

I agree with Ali, and the decisions that the UD's made on this matter.

Update: Urban Grounds investigates... and calls me "unhinged". Me? Unhinged? Never!

More: For a history lesson, check out Booman Tribune.

Posted at 02:26 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

May 04, 2005

Ann Coulter on Hannity and Colmes

By Byron LaMasters

I've been amused that the post about the arrest made at the Ann Coulter event last night has garnered over 50 comments today (thank you, Wonkette). I had no idea that this story would get so much coverage, but it's emerged as a national story within a day.

My position on this incident is pretty clear. The comment that the student arrested made was entirely inappropriate, and he should have been escorted out of the building because his actions were very disruptive and lewd. That would have been the appropriate response. I'm pleased that the University Democrats chose not to participate in the protest. The question asked only served to make those of us who think that Ann Coulter is a crazy right-wing nutcase look bad.

My problem with arresting the student is that it sets a slippery slope pattern. If someone physically attacks or threatens someone, then I have no problem with them being arrested, but I don't believe that lewd or disruptive comments meet that threashold. It's a slippery slope, because where you draw the line is so subjective and very open to interpretation. Should someone get arrested for saying "f*ck" or should it depend on the context? What about "f*g"? Should you get arrested for saying "a*s", or what about compound explitives?

I've forced myself to turn on Hannity and Colmes on FOX News tonight, because Ann Coulter is set to appear on the show. It should be interesting to watch.

Update: Matt Hardigree adds his thoughts here.

Posted at 07:58 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Student Regent Bill Amended

By Byron LaMasters

On Monday, the House Higher Education committee amended the student regent bill, HB 1968. The bill co-authored by Reps. Eliot Naishtat (D-Austin) and Patrick Rose (D-Dripping Springs) would allow for a voting student regent on the boards of regents of public Texas university systems. However, a version of the bill that would only allow a non-voting student member was substituted at the House Higher Education committee. The Daily Texan reports:

House Bill 1968, left pending in the House on Monday, was filed by state Rep. Patrick Rose, D-San Marcos, in late March. The bill originally called for a change in the Texas Constitution to allow a student appointed by the governor to serve one year as a voting member on their university's board of regents. [...]

However, on Monday Rose presented a substitution to the bill that would take away the student regents' power to vote.

Rose said the governor's office and some of his colleagues have been "very hesitant" about having a voting student regent, but with changes under the substitution, Rose said, "I think we have a shot."

Historically in Texas, student regent bills have not passed final legislation. Thirty-nine states currently have students serving as regents, 29 of which are voting members.

Rose said the amended bill has support from everyone on the House Higher Education Committee, whereas the original bill did not.

He said a non-voting student regent is not perfect, but it is "a step in the right direction."

I would agree that something is better than nothing, but a non-voting student regent would have no power to actually influence the board's decisions. Governor Rick Perry still might veto such a bill though:

Former Student Government President Brent Chaney said there was "strong opposition" from the governor's office toward having a voting student regent.

"A regent position is one of the most highly coveted appointment, probably the most coveted, that the governor makes. It became fairly clear from the governor's office that the governor would like to keep it the same [as] it's been done in the past," Chaney said.

Gov. Rick Perry's office could not be reached for comment.

The senate side is also working on a voting student regent as well.

Currently, there are three student regent bills filed in the Texas Legislature.

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth's, R-San Antonio, Senate Bill 934 was identical to Rose's bill prior to the amendments. Wentworth, who previously served a year on the Texas State University System Board of Regents, said he would prefer a voting student regent, but will support the amendments to the bill because it is an improvement to the current system.

State Sen. Elliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, also filed a student regent bill that would allow a student to serve two years on the board, with the first year serving as a designate member and the second year as a voting member. Shapleigh could not be reached for comment on whether or not he planned to change his bill.

While most of the SG leaders felt this to be an acceptable compromise, the Daily Texan editorialized that the compromise offered little to students:

A non-voting student representative on the UT System Board of Regents is not a student regent. He or she will be little more than an audience member.

The non-voting representative may have more time than the average student to voice concerns and complaints before the board. He or she might be invited to swanky fund-raising events and have the chance to show off his or her new business attire.

But the student will be seen as redundant with the student-advisory mechanisms currently in place at the system level. And, without a vote, regents will not be forced to consider student interest or opinion on contentious issues.

On the UT System Board of Regents, no vote will likely mean no voice. For UT students, this compromise offers little change from the status quo.

Posted at 08:19 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Student Arrested at Coulter Speech

By Byron LaMasters

What can I say? Welcome to Austin, Ann. The Daily Texan reports:

Incessant heckling and shouting culminated in an arrest Tuesday night during a speech by Ann Coulter, an extreme right-wing pundit, at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum.

Shouts became so pervasive during the question-and-answer session that Coulter informed the organizers she would no longer take questions if the hecklers were not silenced. For a time, the shouts were considerably lessened, until the issue of gay marriage was broached.

Coulter said she supported the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman on the basis that a good woman civilizes and inspires a man to strive for something better, leading to a question that was met with a stunned silence.

"You say that you believe in the sanctity of marriage," said Ajai Raj, an English sophomore. "How do you feel about marriages where the man does nothing but fuck his wife up the ass?"

UT Police officers approached Raj to arrest him, resulting in a mass exodus of protesters chanting, "Let him go."

"The person had been disruptive the entire event," said Matt Hardigree, former Student Events Center president. "He took the opportunity to say something lewd and offensive and then made masturbatory gestures as he exited."

And for those of you wondering how much of our student fees were paid to that b*tch, the Daily Texan has the answer:

The $30,000 event was co-sponsored by the Texas Union Student Events Center and Student Endowed Centennial Lectureship Committee.

Update: There's a Kos Diary on the event.

More: In the Pink Texas blogged the event as well.

And More: The Smoking Gun has the police report.

And another: Some good posts also over at West Campus Insider. The story also made the Drudge Report and Wonkette (thanks for the linkage!)

Finally, Ann Coulter will be on Hannity and Colmes tonight. I'll update on this thread.

Posted at 07:54 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (69) | TrackBack

May 03, 2005

TSP Report

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

For those of you here that care about the Daily Texan and whether it's editor remains elected or gets moved to an appointed process, here is a report from the last meeting (even though I don't understand it all, a lot of you Exes and Alumni will). I tend to favor elections personally, but don't really have much of a dog in this fight as of yet. But for now it looks like the decision to move to an appointed editor or not will go up for a student referendum.

What follows is a brief summary of the Board's action at our most recent meeting:

1) The Board voted to ask the UT System to hold off on implementation of the revised Operating Agreement, which was initially intended to be a replacement for the Declaration of Trust. Legal questions regarding the nature of the current document should be resolved over the summer. At that point, we will move forward with either a revised trust instrument or a version of the Operating Agreement.

2) The Board voted to formally ask the UT System Office of General Counsel for an opinion regarding the viability of the Declaration of Trust. In the case that the document is considered to constitute a trust, we would want to know if certain provisions (including prior review and the elected editor) are conditions of the trust or merely amendable provisions of the document. We would also ask who the beneficiaries of the trust are: students or TSP entities?

3) The Board voted to ask for UT's approval to hire outside counsel to consider these issues as well.

4) Per my recommendation last month, the Board voted to rescind its March 4 vote regarding the elected editor. Though the Texas Open Meetings Act does not adhere to most actions of TSP, we want to be as open as possible in conducting our business. We rescinded this vote because some people believed that the March 4 agenda was not sufficiently clear to indicate that the editor selection process was under consideration.

5) The Board voted to continue to study the editor selection issue and to pursue a student referendum to determine how students at large feel about appointing the Texan editor. We are currently discussing the implementation of this process. The Board itself took no position regarding whether the editor should be elected or appointed. The issue will, however, be picked up again in the Fall.

6) The Board voted to ask the University to cease its practice of prior review.

Posted at 10:05 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

For those of you Attending the Ann Coulter Event

By Byron LaMasters

I'm not particularly interested in listening to that b*tch, but for those of you attending, come armed to force her to defend some of her more outlandish statements.

If anyone attending the event would like to write a guest post about it to post on BOR, please email me at: Byron AT BurntOrangeReport DOT com.

"If you don't hate Clinton and the people who labored to keep him in office, you don't love your country." - George, July 1999.

"Liberals become indignant when you question their patriotism, but simultaneously work overtime to give terrorists a cushion for the next attack and laugh at dumb Americans who love their country and hate the enemy." - Liberalism And Terrorism, May 26, 2004.

Phil Donahue: "I just want to make sure we got this right. Liberals hate America. They hate all religions except Islam. Liberals love Islam, hate all other religions."
Ann Coulter: "Post 9/11."
Donahue: "Well, good for you." - The Phil Donahue Show, MSNBC, July 19, 2002.

"When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors." - address before the Conservative Political Action Conference, Jan. 2002

“Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do. Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America like liberals do. They don't have the energy. If they had that much energy, they'd have indoor plumbing by now." - Slander, p. 6.

"I think there should be a literacy test and a poll tax for people to vote." - Hannity and Colmes, Aug. 17, 1999.

"I think [women] should be armed but should not [be allowed to] vote. No, they all have to give up their vote, not just, you know, the lady clapping and me. The problem with women voting -- and your Communists will back me up on this -- is that, you know, women have no capacity to understand how money is earned. They have a lot of ideas on how to spend it. And when they take these polls, it's always more money on education, more money on child care, more money on day care." - Politically Incorrect, Feb. 26, 2001.

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war." - September 13, 2001, National Review Online.

"Liberals become indignant when you question their patriotism, but simultaneously work overtime to give terrorists a cushion for the next attack and laugh at dumb Americans who love their country and hate the enemy." - July 3, 2002.

Sources: AntiCoulter and Dkosopedia.

Posted at 05:15 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

UT Los Alamos Forum

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Wednesday, May 4th
ART 1.120

Come join President Faulkner, Chancellor Yudof, Chairman Huffines and others in a question-and-answer style information session on UT and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The forum will be moderated by SG President Omar Ochoa. An informal reception with refreshments will follow the event.

Panelists include:
Dr. Robert Barnhill,
Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology Transfer, UT System

Dr. Charles Sorber,
Special Engineering Advisor to the Chancellor, UT System

Dr. Juan Sanchez,
UT Vice President for Research

Dr. Roy Schwitters,
Sid W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair In Physics #4

Dominique Cambou,
UT Watch member

Katie Naranjo,
BOR Reporter!

Posted at 05:06 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ann Coulter and the Socialists

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Ann Coulter is doing her little shindig tonight on campus (you'd need a pass to get in which are out now). University Democrats has agreed not to protest because it serves us little purpose to do so. In most cases, after the reporting is said and done, it hurts the protesting organization's credibility and the firing lines in the campus paper are not kind.

Of course, even with our efforts to limit any disruptive action, leave it to the International Socialists on campus to create some. An e-mail follows...

As most of you know, Ann Coulter will be speaking tomorrow, May 3rd, in the LBJ School Auditorium on UT Campus. Ann Coulter is a notorious right-winger who is intent on purging the US of all immigrants, Arabs, and the left in general. We, as progressives and leftists, need to be there to counter her racist lies and make it known she is unwelcome at UT or in Austin. The plan for the protest is as follows:

Meet at 6:45pm at the fountain just south of the LBJ Library (see this map)
The ISO will bring signs and banners, but feel free to bring whatever signs or displays you wish.

Protest outside the entrance to the LBJ Auditorium from roughly 7:00 to 7:45, we will be chanting and trying to engage possible supporters and bring them into the protest.

We want to get as large a crowd as possible, so please tell any friends or organizations you are involved in or have contacts with. This is a golden opportunity to stand up to the right and make a statement for peace, justice, and equality.

In solidarity,
Matt K. and Jon B.
International Socialist Organization

PS: For more information e-mail mattkorn@gmail.com or bougiej@gmail.com; or call Matt at 914-9226 or Jon at 799-3861.

Some of Coulter's gems...

-- Her anti-Muslim rant after September 11:

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and
convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about
locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We
carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war.
And this is war."

-- Her admiration of McCarthyism and her call for a new round
of intimidation against liberals and the left:

"The myth of "McCarthyism" is the greatest Orwellian fraud of
our times. Liberals are fanatical liars, then as now. . .
McCarthy was not tilting at windmills. He was tilting at an
authentic communist conspiracy that had been laughed off by the
Democratic Party."

"When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once
again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We
need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically
intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be
killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright

Her call for more racial profiling:

"Like many of you, I carefully reviewed the lawsuits against
the airlines in order to determine which airlines had engaged
in the most egregious discrimination, so I could fly only that
airline. But oddly, rather than bragging about the charges, the
airlines heatedly denied discriminating against Middle Eastern
passengers. What a wasted marketing opportunity! Imagine the
great slogans the airlines could use:

"Now Frisking All Arabs -- Twice!"
"More Civil-Rights Lawsuits Brought by Arabs Than
Any Other Airline!"
"The Friendly Skies -- Unless You're an Arab"
"You Are Now Free to Move About the Cabin -- Not So
Fast, Mohammed!"

--Her immigrant bashing (characterizing the INS as too

"Foreigners were relentlessly staging raids on our border,
which was defended by a hapless bunch of incompetents[LINK] at
the Immigration and Naturalization Service."

--Her threats against everyone who disagrees with her
politically (beyond the fact that anyone who considers the NY
Times to be a raging leftist paper has got some serious

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the
New York Times Building."

Posted at 04:50 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 30, 2005

Ann Coulter to Speak at UT

By Byron LaMasters

This should certainly provide some fireworks on campus. I'm not particularly pleased that my student fees are being spent to bring this lunatic to campus, but then again, I'm sure that many conservative students felt the same way about Michael Moore. If anyone has an idea on how progressives on campus should respond, leave your thoughts in comments:


The Student Endowed Centennial Lectureship (SECL) and the Student Events Center Distinguished Speakers Committee (DSC) are pleased to invite UT Austin students, faculty, and staff to a lecture with Ann Coulter, political columnist and best-selling author. Ms. Coulter will speak on Tuesday, May 3, 2005, at 7:30 p.m. in the LBJ Auditorium. Passes are free and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis to those with a valid UT ID (students, faculty and staff) beginning at 8 a.m. Monday, May 2 at the Student Events Center front desk, located at the north end of the 4th level of the Texas Union (UNB 4.300).

Passes do NOT guarantee admission. For the sake of gaining quick and easy admission to the LBJ Auditorium, please arrive early. Be advised, all bags are prohibited and, to maintain a safe environment, all persons are subject to search.

Coulter is the legal correspondent for Human Events and writes a popular syndicated column for Universal Press Syndicate. She is a frequent guest on many TV shows, including Hannity and Colmes, Wolf Blitzer Reports, HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, The O'Reilly Factor, Good Morning America and has been profiled in numerous publications, including Time, the Guardian (UK), the New York Observer, and National Journal.

Coulter clerked for the United States Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and was an attorney in the Department of Justice Honors Program for outstanding law school graduates.

After practicing law for a firm in New York City, Coulter worked for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. Following her tenure with the Senate, she became a litigator with the Center for Individual Rights in Washington, DC, a public interest law firm dedicated to the defense of individual rights with particular emphasis on freedom of speech, civil rights, and the free exercise of religion.

A Connecticut native, Coulter graduated with honors from Cornell University School of Arts & Sciences, and received her J.D. from University of Michigan Law School, where she was an editor of The Michigan Law Review.

For questions about passes, please telephone the Student Events Center at 512-475-6630.

Posted at 09:42 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

April 27, 2005

Texan: Dems should act like Dems

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The Daily Texan takes some shots at the state Democratic Party in today's editorial. Some of the choice lines...

The only surprise is that 18 Democrats voted for the ban; 16 didn't vote at all. Less than half of the state's Democratic reps actually voted against the gay marriage ban, an appalling statistic.

Monday's vote underscores the fact that Texas has no liberal party. The state's Democratic party is centrist, at best. They just look liberal compared to state's overly conservative population.

The "yes" vote from Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, is particularly distressing. Rose, 26, went to UT Law School. If you can't count on a young Democrat from UT to support gay marriage, who can you count on?

In addition, in a separate story, the Texan seems to like me as after yesterday's front page photo, I get this quote in today.

Karl-Thomas Musselman, a government junior and representative with the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies Affairs Agency in Student Government, said there were more important things for the state to worry about than maintaining the status quo and preserving “the second-class-citizen standing of a group of people.”

“This legislation was created out of fear,” Musselman said. “This regulation is completely unnecessary to the function of the state.”

Posted at 02:17 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 25, 2005

Texas Union not my Friend

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I'm not happy with the Texas Union right now. University Democrats was there tonight working on making some T-shirts for our silent protest of HJR 6 (join us in the gallery Monday morning at 10 AM, look for the shirts that say "Hate is not a Texas Value" on them, and come wear one). Some manager person came over and asked us to please removed our pizza boxes, because we had ordered some from Austin's Pizza for the volunteers.

Why did we have to remove them? Because the Union apparently has some contract with Mustachio Pete's (also not a Union vendor) and can only allow their pizza to be eaten in their common dining area. We could eat it, the man said, if we ripped the tops of the boxes off with the competitor's labels on them. It was about the most ridiculous reason I can possibly think of to kick us out of the Union. Mr. Union Board Representative James Burnham has a blog, so if this is an issue or policy that he might have any control over, I'll be sure to let him know about this entry. So leave your comments. I hope it isn't against the rules to drink Starbucks or eat dorm food, or anything else that I might be eating while working on homework, socializing with friends, or meeting non-UT people for any particular reason. So much for a Student Union.

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April 21, 2005

Kinky Comes to Campus

By Byron LaMasters

Kinky Friedman was on campus yesterday, yet for some reason I didn't notice.

Two bits of the Daily Texan article caught my eye:

Friedman said problems in education are linked to uncaring legislators who know little about education. [...]

Friedman fielded questions from students on city-wide smoking bans (which he opposes), education reform (which he encourages) and tuition deregulation (which he heard about for the first time yesterday).

Ok, so Friedman blames our problems in education on legislators who know little about education, yet he admits ignorance to one of the most important higher education issues in this state. Ok.... next.

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April 19, 2005

Burnt Orange Report from the Floor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Agenda Here

Major Bills this Week:

AB1: The Election Improvement Act of 2005
AB2: Election Reform
AB3: Improving Student Government Operations
AB4: Internal Rules

7:15- This week we are in the Gregory Games room, in an attempt to appear "Open" and more Connected to students. Of course this happens every year so unless this is repeated more than once or twice, I'm not going to sound the bells for free and open government quite yet. The fact that KVR-News (new awesome website!) is here broadcasting the meeting and taping it for later in the week if far more productive to open government in my opinion. Though granted there are a few more non-SG people in the audience tonight, meaning more than Tim Allen (liveblogging), Director Kennedy, and the people who lost their way to the Vending Machine and stumbled in.

7:22- I'm so loving the rolling rrr's by El Presidenta Omar Ochoa of representative's names. Rrrrowwrrr!

7:23- The KVR camera gal behind me keeps talking on her headset and is upsetting many of us trying to listen to the President's Report.

7:29- Woot, Vice President's Report. Brummett rocks the house but kills the mood by mentioning the dreaded phrase "sign-up sheet". It gives me shudders every time.

7:30- Business Rep. Grant Stanis is just loving the cameras. I can't imagine how much more annoying it will be this meeting because of that. Maybe cameras are a bad idea after all, and to think that he has legislation up tonight, good grief!

7:40- Lots of cheering about SG getting a slot in the Orientation session over the summer. Are they mad?! More exposure, and to freshman... that should be helpful for building earlier ties to next year's SG campaigns.

Honestly I have a hard time blogging anything in the Exec reports. Especially considering I'm SOOOOO hungry.

7:43- Mmmm, Rep. Stanis suspends the rules! I'm sure that freaked out some of the KVR viewers that don't know it's standard procedure to do most anything. Of course, that would assumer there are people watching this (which would include me, Tim, and Director Kennedy if we weren't here).

Now up for approval to 2 Year at Large is Morgan Rucker. She's a freshman, coordinated the Jester dorm GOTV effort for Connect, lists Executive Director Dan Paschal as her reference, and just got approved without opjection or debate. Because asking questions, any questions might not look good on camera. Though I just realized that in SG elections, freshman drive the vote, but in reality are totally getting used by the upper-classmen that actually are on the ballot. A point to ponder.

7:52- Reps at the Mic. Smile for the cameras! E. Brummett sure is...

8:08- So I just got finished speaking at the mic, giving one of my few reports of the year. Plus I'm just a media whore like 80% of the people in the room. I hear I was subdued, though it's really just because I got the look from E-Brum (my new nickname for the VP) who I think was watching the clock. Hey at least mine wasn't as long as Elliott Reep's.

On to AB 1. As Tim has already noted, SEC has requested that the Union Board office be separated issue is now out of the bill. Rep. Stanis has an amendement to change wording related to solve the stacking issue that happens to fill the end of tickets. It's quite confusing to me so I'm not going to think about it.

Well, they tabled it for 20, so yay for getting that out of my mind.

8:35- I've been talking with Jennifer Harris (University policy Director, one of the new positions created by Omar) by aim, because we committee and agency chairs are totally about flouting the unwritten rule about AIM in the meetings. I'm glad to have helped her out with extending her battery life as she attempts to survive this meeting. I would support a resolution to have more plugs available for all of SG during meetings. Tracking down the best plugs are about the only reason I show up early most of the time.

8:49- Still not paying attention. This is why I wanted to just get rid of tickets, less talk about this kinda crap. I'm going to grab some food instead.

9:01 Yay for voting down moving the iPod raffle forward. People should have to suffer 5 hours of this if they really want it. Plus maybe no one will stay and SG can keep it and thus, make money off of it for having had not to give it away. And then give it to me.

9:45- And Tim and I are back from JCL to get food. The body was in the same debate as when we left, a motiong by Rep. Stanis to strike Section 3 from the Bill (which eliminated ticket labels from just the ballot). That of course, after all that debate we missed, failed.

Then the vote on AB 1 was up, and it passed 22-15. Hooray for watered down election reform. There was little fanfare.

AB 2 was withdrawn. AB 3 is now in debate. Why, I have no idea. But Director Chris Kennedy (ITECH) is not looking thrilled.

10:05- AB 3 passes. There was much rejoicing. I think because we got another piece of legislation behind us.

Talking now about the TSP resolution which is going to be tabled according to the author? I'm confused. Oh well, no matter.

Announcements time. This is the point where everyone talks but nobody listens. Compared to the meeting where everyone listens, but nobody cares.

I think the best part of tonight were the various attempts to move the iPod drawing to the next item on the agenda! The only remaining announcement will be the iPod winner which I will make in comment form.

10:20- I thought there would be nothing better, but someone is bringing up the fact that they might bring up a resolution next week complaining about the word "Blacklist" in the webmail system and that it should be changed to a more acceptable word like "Block". I know that here at BOR we use MT-Blacklist to deal with spam and you know what, it does a hell of a good job and you know what, it has nothing to do with blacks or negative connotations. Taking PC too far methinks.

The iPod. First went to Grant Cohen who wasn't here. Then it went to James Burnham, Connect's Union Board Rep which caused a bit of consternation and led me to motion that the UB people not be eligible which was denied I guess for not having a clue what kind of motion it was. Sorry, but it was far too much fun to argue about.

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April 18, 2005

John Lewis at UT

By Byron LaMasters

Civil Rights leader, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) will be at UT next week. Here's the info:

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, (D-Ga.) will be the featured speaker at the 19th annual Heman Sweatt Symposium on Civil Rights, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The symposium, April 25-29, will feature a week of activities at The University of Texas at Austin and is free and open to the public. Lewis’ keynote address will be given at 7 p.m., Friday, April 29 in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Auditorium, 2315 Red River St.

Preceding the talk, Lewis will sign his book, “Walking with the Wind,” at 6:15 p.m.

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Ivy League Grad Students Strike

By Andrew Dobbs

I don't know how many Ivy Leaguer's read our website (my guess, very few), but I wanted to show our solidarity with striking teaching assistants and all other workers seeking to organize in a union.

One line in the story gave me pause:

University administrators say the strikes should have minimal effect on classes. The number of strikers was not immediately available because graduate students teach classes at different times throughout the day.

"All the classes and sections scheduled today appear to be covered, either because the grad student involved is not participating in the strike or because the faculty have made other arrangements," Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said.

Many Ivy Leaguers probably grew up in a family without union member parents. My father was a representative of something pretty close- he was the spokesman for the Richardson Police Officers Association (which could not strike). A reminder of strike ettiquette is in order. Unless you are a big fan of the Bush Administration, whose anti-union National Labor Relations Board refused to recognize the union last year, you should refuse to attend any scab-taught classes. Also, you should never cross a picket line. These are the basic rules of showing support for striking workers.

And a message to any scab TAs at an Ivy League college- you are among the lowest scum in my opinion. Your colleagues are putting their livelihoods on the line in order to fight for better benefits and pay for you. When you refuse to join them, and in fact side with an administration that is fighting to keep your wages low ($18,000 a year in Boston doesn't go very far) and to deny your family members health care, you are demonstrating your lack of courage and self-respect. Undergraduates should stand tall with striking TAs by declining to be taught by pusilanimous scabs.

Just thought I'd throw my two cents out there-- the University of Texas and Burnt Orange Report stands in solidarity with striking grad students.

(BTW- I haven't talked to our other authors, but we are all pretty strong union supporters, so I can't imagine that they'd differ. If you all do, let me know)

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April 16, 2005

Liveblogging Kerry at UT

By Byron LaMasters

John Kerry is at UT today, and we have several thousand people packed into the Rec Sports center for his town hall meeting. I'm sitting next to Jim in the press section, and we'll be taking pictures and writing on the event. Sightings so far include U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), State Rep. Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) and the Margot Clarke campaign greeted everyone with Margot flyers. Just what I need...

10:17: God I feel like it's Fall of 2004 again. Bruce Springstein is on in the background. It's kind of sad, actually. Back in the days when I actually believed that John Kerry would be the next president of the United States.... *sigh*

Jim takes over the keyboard

10:36: Sightings of city council candidates Jennifer Kim, Lee Leffingwell, 2002 state rep. candidates Jim Sylvester and Lulu Flores, and Sheriff Greg Hamilton.

10:38: And Bruce Elfant.

10:38: Looks like it's game time...

10:42: Senator Kerry gets a wild reception. A salmon tie? With polka dots. Boldness.

10:45: Rep. Doggett gets a few words in about this democracy thing.

10:47: Doggett does introductions. Notices Reps. Naishtat and Dunnam (Byron: "I thought I saw Jim Dunnam"), constable Elfant, family, etc. etc.

10:48: Lloyd: "Austin to Boston connection". Introduces Kerry in full.

10:48: Kerry: "I kinda expected I'd be in Washington and Bush would be back here in Texas..."

10:52: A few well-phrased swipes on Tom DeLay and the theocons = crowd goes wild!

Byron takes back his laptop

11:02: Kerry took a brief shot at Tom DeLay, and there was more wild applause. Wow, we're all on message, we're running against the Tom DeLay congress in 2006.

Kerry noted that he won won almost half a million more votes in Texas than Al Gore? I didn’t know that. Let's do some research here:


George W. Bush/ Dick Cheney(I) - 4,526,917 - 61.08%
John F. Kerry/ John Edwards - 2,832,704 - 38.22%

George W. Bush /Dick Cheney - 3,799,639 - 59.29%
Al Gore /Joe Lieberman - 2,433,746 - 37.98%

Ok, more like 400,000 votes more than Gore (not mentioning that Bush increased his Texas vote by over 700,000).

Ok, moving on. Kerry notes the disgrace that 11 Million kids are without health insurance in this county (one of four children in America). He talks about values and that Republicans value millionaires more than they value children.

Back to Jim

11:15: Dr. Garcia from down the street is talking about the lack of access to medical care for children without health insurance. It's a familiar tale, but one which bears repetition.

11:16: Kerry: "You see how personal it gets..." And it's true!

11:17: Kerry is opening up the floor for questions...

11:18: "On my campaign we never required anyone to sign in." (apparently, a swipe at the heavily-scripted Repulican 2004 campaign).

11:19: Takes a question from an Iraqi immigrant and former Massachusettian about missing money from CPA Iraqi Reconstruction.

11:20: Kerry: Will try to get Armed Services committee to look into it. Says a few words about Iraq. Says goal is to get American troops home.

11:22: Takes a question about Wal-Mart not providing health care to its employees. Incidentally, you can tell the Senator is from Massachusetts when he says "Wal-Maaaht." Talks about small businesses.

11:24: Takes a question from a woman who doesn't think she has health care insurance. Asks what can be done for middle class people. Kerry: "Great question!" Mentions guest who, ironically, could not be here because her child was sick. "The middle class in America is constantly under siege."

11:27: Kerry makes mention about Pell grants going down. Actually, I have a few thoughts about that. Will post later.

11:27: "Things didn't stop on November 2nd!"

11:29: Kerry talks about tax fairness, minimum wage, job creation. Hmm...

11:31: Fields a question about childhood obesity. Kerry: "soda pop machines in schools are crazy." And back to child immunizations.

Trying hard to keep the focus on health care.

11:32: Kerry says he's writing a book, "wants to change the language on the environment." Starts going off on a Lakoffian rant about framing of air quality issues, etc.

(HAHAHAHA, I'm sure Greg'll just love that!)

11:34: Kerry says parents can't take kids fishing in 28 states (or parts of 28 states?) because of poor water quality?!?! America is doomed.

11:35: Kerry talks about deductibles and co-payments, mechanics of the Kids First bill. Minus 20 points for excessive wonkery in a public forum (wink).

Byron Again

11:42: Kerry, “if it weren’t for the unconstitutional redistricting in Texas, we would have won” seats in Congress in 2004. Although he stretched things a bit by blaming retirements for the Senate losses, and noting gains in Colorado, New Hampshire and Montana as reason for hope. Ok, I guess it got someone energized, though. My friend in the row behind me started stomping his feet rather loudly in the bleachers as Kerry got another standing ovation.

11:43: Gosh, I never saw this one coming... questioner, "how can we help"? Kerry, "visit JohnKerry.com". Well, Kerry at least learned on thing from the campaign. Direct people to your website, and do it right. As long as no politician ever sends people to the wrong fact check website again...

11:48: Kerry calls on the guy in the Boston Red Sox cap. Someone came prepared.

Jim takes the keys

11:50: Questions about mental health parity, and the bankruptcy bill.

11:53 Byron, "There's Katy Hubener", HD 106 Democratic nominee in 2004.

11:56 Back to Congressman Doggett... Thanks Kerry for "inspiring thoughtful leadership."

11:57 Kerry takes his last question about health care for illegal immigrants. This is not sitting well with a lot of people. Managing to keep the hall togeher, Kerry says immigration system is "broken" and it needs to be compassionate. "We're a country of laws." Says we need "comprehensive reform" and "earned legalization." Diplomatic response with a dash of artful dodging maintains peace between pro- and anti- immigration attendees. Feel the love, America.

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April 12, 2005

Burnt Orange Report from the Floor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Live, from the basement of the SSB, it's Burnt Orange Report from the Floor! Updates rolling on this exciting Student Government coverage in the extended entry as always... Tim Allen is liveblogging as well.

Oh, and if anyone wants to bring me food down here, leave me a comment or IM me at howarddean13.

The mood in the room is a bit chipper today, though it's still a bit empty as many of the appointments havn't been made yet for the Agency and Committee side of the room.

As Tim has already mentioned, Deputy to the President: Dr. Charles Roeckle is here, meaning it's a good time to take a nap, considering I had 2 hours of sleep last night. And by the way, he is soooo going over his 2 minute speaking limit for Open Forum if I remember correctly. (ed. 10 min now, thanks for reminding me Tim) BORFTF continues to wait for Vice President Elizabeth Brummett to entertain a motion to extend his speaking time.

7:30- Now Daily Texan Editor Ben Heath *swoon* is up to give an update about the propsal to remove Texan Editor Elections. I wish there was more to report at this point, but I think the big show would be the actual TSM board meeting where this would be discussed/voted on. Though it's interesting that no one in the Assembly really had questions, issues, stances on this that they want to question Ben about, beyond Director Chris Kennedy.

7:42- VP Brummett-"I'm entertaining and you can motion." You bet you're entertaining Ms. Brummett! You can entertain my motions at any time. Suspend the rules! Move appointments to the next Agenda item! Suspend the rules again! Move AB 1 to the next item! AB 1 is "In Support of Free and Open Source Software Awards" which was written by someone outside of the Assembly, Vlad Codrea, and is totally awesome! How often do you here "Mozilla Firefox Web-browser" in an SG meeting? So in that spirit, go download it (and Thunderbird for an e-mail client).

Just read the bill, it's awesome.

Whereas the use of Free and Open Source Software has already saved money for individuals, private businesses, and governmental agencies such as the cities of Munich, Germany and Bergen, Norway.

Whereas the governments of several third world countries including Brazil are switching from costly Non-Free Proprietary systems to Free and Open Source systems in order to provide disadvantaged children and low-income families with wider access to computers.

Approved by acclamation.

7:51- Henna Tayyeb, last's week's nominee for Internal Financial Director, is back up for a second time aften being rejected last week. Omar's looking on from the Exec table nodding as she notes "so long as Omar keeps bringing me back for appointment...because I know I can do this job". She had a largely pre-written speech answering point by point the charges leveled against her last week. I seriously hope that Reps continue to question her this week, as I personally don't know how much has changed.

Henna Money quote in response to Rep. Jack Waite's question..."No, I personally havn't taken any accounting classes, ...but I love Excel!"

I sense blood in the water though, which should make the actual debate period interesting in my opinion. Whoops, it seems that there will be no debate. Ok, that was really sad, voice vote. (Though Mr. President was certainly smiling.) Well, this should be a fun year. I'll hope for the bet, but I'm already missing the old Exec.

8:11- More appointments. Here is the list, if there is anything exciting, I'll mention it.

Alumni Relations Director – Jennifer McCook
Community Messages – Clayton Falls, Elgene Hernandez

8:20- VP Brummett is being snarky with her speaking power.

Student Forum Agency – John Norton, Amanda Johnson

8:25- John says, "Getting it done, snap, snap, snap." This has to be one of the more entertaining candidates. And Amanda Johnson is of course just awesome. *should be in the Assembly, cough, cough*

Underrepresented Recruitment and Retention Agency – Devin Fletcher, Yvette Garza

8:30- I find it a bit ironic that these people were not here, I daresay, they were 'underrepresented'.

Member Coordination Agency – George Hinchey, Nancy Almanza

8:34- Love Fest time! Approved.

Campus Safety – Elliott Reep, Bethany Huddleston

8:44- Rep. Grant Stannis attempted to amaze us with his Parlimentary skills (or by proxy prove how much larger a penis he has than the rest of the Assembly). He accomplished one of them, he did prove that he was a being a big dick. =) Love ya, Grant.

Bethany was being all "Oh I love Student Government, I'm so excited" like. I give that about two meetings before her soul is crushed.

Oh, the Underrepresented Appointees have now arrived (as has more snarkier commentary on my behalf).

Historical Research – Danny MacDonald

-not here

On and Off Campus Housing Agency – Madhavi Kasbekar, Colton Brugger

8:55- BORFTF Awards tonight for best hairdo/outerwear acessorizing go to Madhavi and Colton.

It should be noted at this time that I have completed my salad and am still quite hungry. I feel that I need more food...

Students with Disabilities – Lee Bagan
Student Services Agency – Steven Hargis, Amanda Surman
Student Services Fee Committee – Grant Stanis

9:27- Now we get to debate Stanis being on the SSFC. If I was president (which I'm very much not) I would not consider appointing conservatives to the most powerful committee in regards to student funds. *sigh* There is a lot of questioning, and it just reminds me how awful a Stanis Presidency would be in SG. I would totally resign.

Thanks to Director Kennedy and Former Arch. Rep. Mary Donaldson for asking Grant about his waltz-out last month, which didn't square with other comments he made. I personally worry that Stanis is going to represent himself, maybe the business school, and not really the rest of the student body when it comes to funding. It's a thing we always worry about in the Hill Country for local office, "personal agendas".

Oooo, it looks like we might move back out into debate after getting "this" close to voting. After some people learned this appointment only needed majority approval, not 2/3, they may have thought it was possibly to kill it. *Thanks to whomever was thinking that*

Grant attempted to appeal the ruling of the VP to send him out of the room during debate of his appointment. It failed. Now he's giving a very long winded speech. Sidenote, why do we seem to keep awarding people who walked out of the Assembly, with appointments? Two of them are on Exec, one of them (Grant) is now up for SSFC.

Time for debate!

11:07- And boy was there debate, there is a very good chance that the Assembly could knock this down. But after a short recess, Grant motioned to move to the next appointment, to allow some of his friends from Business Council to come. So we did, and moved back to allow them to speak. Unfortunatly the first speaker made some very true statements, that also brought up some of the very point why people would vote against Grant, i.e. representing the Business Council sooo well, and is always there for the Business School, and is against Flat rate tuition, and etc. The issue many people have is that as an appointment to a body where he would be representing the entire student body, he would still be only representing himself or the Business Council.

I must say this, I'm a bit startled by, and proud of, the Assembly's willingness to bite into some of these appointments (because we havn't gotten to bills yet so this is all I have to go on). Real debate is a nice change, though I am beginning to miss some of the personalities of the old Assembly. But I think that would happen next year as well.

And the Assembly passed it 19-14-1. I think I may be going home soon. I don't really have much of a reason to stay. I'm not sure if it will be worth it to try to hang out for the Reform Bills for discussion.

Survey Research Agency – Regina Dombkowski
Transportation Agency – Jim Kachelmeyer
External Appointments Director – Lauren Gilstrap
Freshman Leadership Organization – Seth Hayes
Transfer Student Agency – Taryn Dusek, Weston Carls
Outreach Agency – Christie Mechler, Carina Sahni
Faculty Council – Clare Richardson
Texas Student Media Board – Brandon Chicotsky
International Education Fee Scholarship – Lindsay Fitzpatrick
Medical Services Fee Advisory Committee – Sapan Shukla, Nicole Capriles
Student Health Center Advisory Committee – Clay Barnett, Saranya Chinnappan
Study Abroad Committee – Katy Castleberry, Charrisa Grubbs
UTSEES- Katherine Fillmore
VSLC Liaison – Alexandra Baer

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April 10, 2005

SG Expanding?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

A very interesting post over at the West Campus Insider, the blog run by James Burnham, (Daily Texan columnist, Union Board Representative from the Connect Ticket). Seems that the SG president needs an assistant. My own side question is whether this will be a paid spot or not? Let's hope there aren't any blue dresses around as well.

Rumor has it that new SG President Omar Ochoa has created the new position of "personal assistant." Apparently, there has never before been a need for the SG president to have his own personal assistant until this year, sort of a curious manuever. Perhaps I underestimate the tremendous workload of the student body president but it seems that a personal assistant is a tad excessive.

Also sort of amusing, the few people I know who have been approached about filling this (undoubtedly vital) role are all pretty attractive girls. I guess SG president has perks beyond getting to hobnob with UT bigwigs and being the biggest dog at the SSB.

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April 05, 2005

UDems Webcam

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

This University Democrats have built a shack on campus for the Habitat for Humanity Shack-a-Thon and it survived tonight's rainstorm (since it's made of plastic campaign signs and wood. They also have a webcam out there so you can see what is happening, a project that we may expand to meetings and beyond.

View Webcam here.

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Burnt Orange Report from the Floor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Picture of me kayaking on Town Lake after the UDems Endorsement Meeting. Now, on to the report....

It's the first meeting of the new Assembly. After a short open forum, it's appointment time. (Updates continuous, keep refreshing the extended entry). Tim Allen, SG fly on the wall, is also liveblogging here. It's his birthday!)

First up is Executive Director: Nominee is Dan Pascal, the External Financial Director on the last Exec. The Reps seem fairly quiet (timid) as far as wanting to ask questions or ask many real questions. Let's not kid ourselves here, Dan was the major campaign manager for Connect and this appointment to me smells a bit like a political favor. Props to 2 year at large Rep. Matt Ross (one of the primary proponents of the Election Reform bill) for asking some real questions. It's as if everyone here knows what people are trying to ask but no one wants to do that. Approved by acclamation.

2 Year at Large (Omar's now open seat): Danielle Rugoff! The queen of the at large reps on Ignite, she represents to me why the electoral system at UT is broken. She belonged in SG to begin with, and it's sad that this is the route she ended up having to go to be seated. Approved by acclamation.

Internal Financial Director: Henna Tayheb, one of the current 2 year at large reps. This will open up another Rep seat. Question from Rep. Hart on whether this position lets students down that voted for her last year as a 2 year Rep. Rumor had it that she was asked not to run on Connect in exchange for an Exec spot... surprise, surprise, look who's up for approval !!! And as an Agency whose budget is controlled by her, I'm going to keep the following statement in mind: "I don't think we should cut funding from Committee & Agency budgets at all..." At least the questioning is getting a bit more aggressive. Hart is asking that since she was a Rep last year, why didn't she get involved with the appropriations process when the last IFD put out the call.

More below the fold, continual updates.

Ooo! We are actually going to debate this one, there is a line of people on the No side, Rep. Hart, grad Rep. Pekker, 2 year at large Rep. Ross, 2 year Rep. Rodrigo Interiano. On the yes side was Director Chris Kennedy, and amazingly, Omar Ochoa (plus others). We now have members of the Assembly asking the outgoing Internal Financial Director how much experience plays into a successful term as the manager of all monies for Student Government; Jessica Rice doesn't answer directly, but intimates that she had taken all steps possible to gain the experience necessary to carry out her task. She also answers in the negative when asked whether or not the applicant ever contacted her or asked to meet with her to discuss the position and the responsibilities it entails.

(Elliott Reep Reporting: People from the floor begin to ask who else applied for the position, without a response. Representatives Heart and Ross state that this will significantly influence their vote. One new rep speaks from the floor to the affect that if anyone has a doubt that Henna is not the best person at this University for the job, then they should not vote for her. Advocates counter with examples of Henna's exemplary service in the MIC, her sorority, and other organizations. However, these still do not counter the arguments that when it come to experience for THIS position (which controls roughly 80,000 dollars for next years SG, plus all of the Committee and Agency money) Henna has not demonstrated in the past the same enthusiasm for this position that she claims to at this time. Henna is a wonderful person, but she does not seem to be as well prepared for the position of Internal Financial Director as the current holder of that office was when she applied a year ago. There seems to be a significant concern among a least a small portion of the assembly to this effect.)

Personally, I love the fact that this is being debated. The sooner the Assembly starts thinking for itself, the better for SG. A 3 minute recess was called and we reconvened for roll call. 2/3 majority needed (29 votes).

FAILED! 21-14-1 (Yes, No, Abstain). This is the first time I've ever seen the Assembly vote down a nomination (though there have been no votes cast before in the case of Brian Ferguson's appointment last year to TSP Board). I find it interesting that a lot of the no votes were holdovers from the last assembly, 2 year at larges, or the 9 member of the Ignite ticket. And Jessica Hart and Courtney Livingston (one of the Ticket Splitters) have gained a few points in my book for having the chutzpah to question appointments.

Moved out of business to talk about AR 1. It's voted on next week. Back into the flow to talk about appointment for Secretary which is Stephanie Weaver, an outsider to SG who's on top of her game according to Rep. Livingston. Secretary doesn't need to be close to SG (like IFD should be). Approved by acclamation.

Clayton Stewart, former Liberal Arts Rep. (and Ticket Splitter) is up for External Financial Director. I missed some of the discussion; it seems to be about Ring Sales and whether he knew the people in charge (i.e. Wes Carpenter who is in the room). Although there are some questions here, I'm not all that sure there will be any opposition for this. (Clayton reminds me of Dan in style, think southern drawl and a cowboy hat, if that was SG dress code...)

But wait, Rep. Matt Ross asked the hard question about him leaving last week, which presented a bit of discussion from the other people that walked out. But everyone voted to approve him anyways.

Communications Director: Nominee Stacey Torres, from the Multicultural Information Center. My first gut reaction, political payoff to the MIC/Latino community which basically elected President Ochoa's ticket. Of course, she seems qualified as well so I don't have a problem with it. But the Exec board, like in any year, is usually made up of political appointees, part of my personal complaints of the Ticket system. I'm going to ask her a question about her thoughts on an SG blog.

And I'm happy with her answer. Better online communication is my big issue with any Comm. Director and I hope that we can work to integrate that into the SG website. Approved.

Matt Stolhandske just came in and officially submitted his resignation from International Student Affairs. Matt's tried to work for reform in SG and I think is tired of being beaten back. I am proud to call him a friend and will be sad to see him leave.

University Policy Director: Jennifer Harris. Hasn't missed a single SG meeting in the last 2 years. Rep. Stanis brought up the question of whether we can just make up this office out of thin air and appoint someone to it without adding it to the SG bylaws yet. It's ok apparently. (but let's not forget to add it in later people). Approved.

Associate Communication Director: Jamie Baker. If talking a long time was a qualification, he should be the Director, not the Associate. Oh, he just mentioned the GLBTAAA! Approved.

Legislative Relations Agency Co-Directors: Daniel Becka and Sam Laine. Folks, I'm getting to the point where I don't have much to write about the nominees, so if I can't think of anything, I might just write who they are, pardon me. Approved.

Election Supervisory Board: Danforth Dougherty, a friend of mine from Liberal Arts Honors, and a current member of the Board (as well as a member of Tejas, which has lots of people in SG, including the past ESB chair and President Chaney, though that is a discussion for a different time.) Publicly against abolishing Tickets, and so called "impartiality" may be one reason he was selected before Ali Puente, who was the legal representative for Ignite to the ESB. Approved.

Campus Fusion: Bradforth Howard, Alyson Parchman. Approved.

Judicial Commission: Ali Puente. I'm so proud of her. Approved without objection! Sweet justice. Sweeter if it had been ESB Chair, but nonetheless, sweet.

Points of Interest: 15 Senators on board for the Student on the Board of Regents bill. I've heard that Tax Free textbooks is more of a dud issue now that the fiscal note on that increased by about $10 million.

Props for VP Brummet for running a really good meeting. The return of smooth parlimentary procedure makes me happy.

New Comm Director says the Assembly should go to Players afterwards. A University Democrats tradition for the last year or two, (going to Players) so I rose to make a comment about it, as well as say they cold join the "save players" facebook group, as it has been said that it will be knocked down to make way for the new UT Alumni Hotel.

Posted at 07:18 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Left-Wing Academics, etc.

By Jim Dallas

There's been much fuss about the supposed left-wing takeover of academia, which would be slightly amusing if it wasn't such a threat to academic freedom.

As I understand it, there's two premises which critics have. The first is that "the left" has taken over college campuses. The second is that this is somehow bad because it warps young minds.

For decades, college graduates have, in fact, been atleast as conservative than the general population for decades (which is a simple fact which has been shown over and over again, and not just for those baccalaurates who have grown up and "learned about the real world," although the effect gets amplified the older people get), which ought to disprove both points. Moreover, the liberality of post-grad degree holders has held statistically steady for decades, and possibly fallen. Both facts, I think, disprove at least one if not both of these premises. Crosstabs below the fold.

Ratio of Liberals to Conservatives among Young People
(18-30 year olds)

Decade All 18-30/N College/N Post-Grad/N
1972 - 1982
1.81 / 2943 1.94 / 375 2.28 / 149
1982 - 1992
1.03 / 3628 1.01 / 514 1.33 / 198
1.05 / 2911 1.02 / 505 1.38 / 180

Source: General Social Survey. Cross-tabulation of POLVIEWS and DEGREE, controlled for black oversamples, selection filters are AGE(18-30) and YEAR([decade]), except for all, which is just a cross of POLVIEWS. Ratio is number of respondants slightly to extremely liberal over the number of respondants slightly to extremely conservative.

N is number of persons. The share of self-described moderates (2002,1992,1982) was 0.26,.21, 0.23 for post-grads; .21, .28, .28 for college grads, and .39, .40, and .38 for all 18-30 year olds. Incidentally, I do not find it a coincidence that college grads and graduate students are more ideologically polarized than their peers; ideological awareness and rigidity positively correlates with education. Consistently, about 5 percent of those with a high school diploma didn't know where they fit on a seven point scale. Only about 1 percent of college graduates could not do so. (Again, something we all knew already, I am sure.)

As I noted a few weeks ago, the overall population has not drifted towards conservatism, but it's clear that 18-30 year olds did - in a big way - in the 1980s, and hasn't really shifted back.

Posted at 07:07 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 02, 2005

SG Special Session: A Bust

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

In yet another abdication of duty, a number of Student Government Voting Representatives did not show up for today's special session to discuss the three remaining bills that were on the Table for this Assembly to deal with. 17 Reps did show, though 26 were needed for a quorum.

Tim has a mini-liveblog record of the event here.

Your President-Elect Omar Ochoa waltzed in after the meeting was over, and I have yet to hear if VP-elect Elizabeth Brummet showed at all. Both are also current Reps. Grant Stannis, lead quorum buster, wasn't there either. Luckily, Rep. Laura Gladney-Lemon asked for a roll call of those that were there, so as soon as I have my hands on that I can do a better post. It's sad, because this means that election reform is most likely dead. The next assembly isn't interested as far as I know. I can't wait to read Monday's Daily Texan which should have a nice piece on this with a twist, since the new Assembly is seating on Tuesday (and sworn in tomorrow if I'm correct).

Posted at 09:11 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 31, 2005

Ticket Splitters: Go to a Vote

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

List of E-mails of All Reps

Normally Ticket Splitting is a good thing in reference to SG. But a fellow Burnt Oranger here came up with a good name for the 5 people who purposefully left this Tuesday's meeting in order to kill any possible vote on Election Reform bills AB 18, 19, and 20.

The Splitters are-

Grant Stanis- Business Rep.- Grant.Stanis@mail.utexas.edu
Courtney Livingston- Lib. Arts Rep.- livingston@mail.utexas.edu
Henna Tayyeb- Two Year at Large- hennat@mail.utexas.edu
Clayton Stewart- Lib. Arts Rep.- cstewart@mail.utexas.edu
Jason Smith- Lib. Arts Rep.- Jsmith@mail.utexas.edu

Three of those are Liberal Arts reps, even though the other three Lib Arts Reps stayed to represent their college. Arguements were made by Clayton that the input he heard, from the Liberal Arts Council, was that they didn't like it. I'm sorry to say, but the LAC is not the Liberal Arts College at large. I'm in Liberal Arts, Ali Puente is in Liberal Arts, quite a few of the actual speakers at Tuesday's meeting were in Liberal Arts, most of the people I've talked to that are in favor were from Liberal Arts.

I'm sorry Clayton, Livingston, and Smith, but leaving without voting disables you from representing me or anyone else you claim to be representing. Though your vote no for the sake of the LAC seems misguided in my mind, your absence on Tuesday (and any absence on Saturday) is more than misguided, it's a mistake.

I encourage everyone that is a student to drop them a line along the theme of "Go to a Vote".

Here is the Daily Texan Op-Ed piece. My letter is below the fold.

List of E-mails of All Your Reps

Dear SG Representatives,

Some of you are my reps, some of you are not. Some of you were at Tuesday's Meeting, some of you were not. Sadly, some of you simply left Tuesday's meeting will the intent to kill a simple vote.

This Saturday, at 8 AM in the Glen Maloney Room, you have been called to attend a Special Session to discuss and vote on AB 18, 19, and 20. I would hope that you would give the students you claim to represent what they voted for a year ago- representation.

Vote yes, vote no, but whatever you do please show up and Go to a Vote. It's the least we deserve.

Karl-Thomas Musselman
College of Liberal Arts

Posted at 11:30 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (18) | TrackBack

SG Meeting Called for Saturday

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Here is the e-mail from President Brent Chaney calling a special session of SG for this Saturday at 8 am to hopefully discuss and vote on the election reform bills. This is from the "secretive insider listservs" that I think some have claimed in the Texan, meaning, the representatives and committee/agency listservs.

Dear Student Government Members,

After watching our assembly debate last night for over six hours I do not personally agree that our assembly and Student Government members have all of the information needed to vote, but I will never be the one to stop a vote from taking place. Therefore, I am calling a Special Session for this Saturday at 8 AM in a location that will be sent out very soon (Glen Maloney Room, basement of the SSB as always).

I need every Representative to do more research until the meeting. It is obvious from the e-mails and calls I have received there are many different points of view among our student body. Many of them believe we are rushing this through at the last second. Student Government took one of the worst PR blows I can remember today. Everyone is responsible.

In comparison to most bills in the Assembly, it had more time for members to find out about it, do research, attend forums, etc. than other bills they complain are rushed. Is there any bill in the Assembly that has some level of controversy that isn't decried as being 'rushed'? If Brent went to more than one meeting on the Bill, and if general members actually showed up to the who knows how many different meetings on this bill, maybe they would be more informed.

Oh heavens, there are differnt points of view from the student body! Sound the "must not vote on legislation alarm" because we aren't all singing Kumbyah as we unanimously approve it by voice vote! Get serious Representatives, you use the same damn excuses for every piece of legislation that comes before the assembly that someone, usually Grant Stannis, doesn't like. I can't even think right now of one piece of legislation this year that was actually voted on if it was contested, and was instead tabled into non-existance without any vote up or down at all. If you don't like legislation, vote it down. Don't 'not deal with it' or worse as the case was this week, leave with your ball because you don't want to play.

The rest of the e-mail below the fold.

I encourage the authors of AB 18 to work with Representatives and students that still have unanswered questions and problems with the bill. The purpose of many of the changes to the way we conduct meetings this year are to ensure that nothing like last nights meeting happens. Take time outside of meeting to ensure that the meeting runs smoothly on Saturday. Please be conscious of the feelings of other people.

This will be the last meeting for this bill to be discussed our term. Whatever the outcome of the Special Session I hope that everyone will look beyond the outcome of one bill and celebrate the great many things we have accomplished this year. Please let Amber know if you will be unable to attend.

It has been a pleasure serving with you.


Posted at 09:27 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 30, 2005

Quorum Break Kills Ticket Bill

By Andrew Dobbs

Since no one had put up a post describing the ignominous death of AB 18 and the final meeting of the current Student Government, I figured I would.

According to the Daily Texan, the debate lasted six hours and ended not with an up or down vote, but rather with a quorum break coordinated by the bill's opponents (or, as I will now call them, the "Ticket Splitters"- i.e. they split as soon as the ticket bill came up...).

After six hours of heated debate, members of the Student Government assembly found themselves one representative short of a quorum necessary to vote on a measure to eliminate tickets from student elections.

Around 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, a motion to indefinitely table the bill failed. Several representatives who argued against the bill left the room, effectively blocking the legislation from a vote.

Supporters of the bill immediately criticized those members, calling their actions a "political maneuver."

"This shows the assembly should take a serious look at its procedures," said Matt Ross, a two-year-at-large representative, and sponsor of the bill. "I've never been this ashamed to be a part of SG."

Grant Stanis, business representative, defended his decision to leave, saying it was an issue the next assembly should handle. "We thoroughly discussed the issue, but we see too many issues and problems with the legislation," Stanis said. "We didn't feel like this was something that needed to be voted on now."

Now, I have said too many nice things about the Killer Ds to decry the action in and of itself, but I can say that I am disappointed. The Killer Ds split so they could protect the representation of Texans who would be otherwise de facto disenfranchised, Grant Stanis and his crew split to preserve a broken system. AB 18 was the best thing that could have happened to SG- internet voting means that there is no investment of time, effort or money in casting your vote. When people don't have anything invested, they are less likely to do the research needed to make an informed decision. Instead of picking from all the tickets for the most qualified candidates, they stick with one ticket for whatever reason. Some good people are elected, a lot of bad ones are too. Making everyone run as an independent means everyone has to do a lot of research and people will be chosen for their skills and their qualifications, not the fact that they are on the right ticket.

Furthermore, the system as it stands locks most people out of the process. In the real world we have two well established "tickets" and a host of smaller ones. Anyone who meets the legal requirements for office can run in any party's primary. Thus everyone has a chance to serve in public office. Under the ticket system, a handful of people who are at the top of the ticket- maybe 4 or 5- pick all of the candidates for all of the offices. If you aren't chosen, you can try another ticket (who are just as unlikely to pick you), or run as an independent (which means you will likely be defeated). Only the elect has the ability to run a race with a chance of winning, meaning well-intentioned and well-qualified candidates are locked out of the process. Under AB 18 this wouldn't have been a problem.

The good news is that the SG might call a special session for Friday morning to resolve these bills. But chances are the Ticket Splitters will just refuse to attend that meeting as well. I'm not sure if the executives can compel attendance, but if they can, they should. Whether this bill passes or not is of less importance to me now- it is simply time for it to get a fair hearing. Dozens of people showed up on Tuesday night to stick up for this bill. Their voices deserve to be heard.

Posted at 02:58 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 29, 2005

Burnt Orange Report from the Floor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Yes folks, it's the last SG meeting for those elected last spring before the new one is seated next week. I'll be live blogging it, updates marked with ----- lines (and yes Byron, I'll "extended entry" it after it's over in a few hours).

UPDATE:: I'm still updating but I'm sticking it into the extended entry. So just open it up and keep refreshing.

The room is crowded, with more people than I have ever seen at an SG meeting all year long (appropriations being the runner up now). Time for roll call.

Open Forum time: A funny presentation on the life and times of Brent Chaney (with powerpoint baby pictures!) I wish I could only put it into words. Here are some selected quotes... which were followed by a audio montage of quotes, and some singing by his fellow Tejas buds???

...endorsement deal with cabbage patch kids

...a particular affinty for clowns arose after his return from a place called neverland

...though the role of Dorthoty may have been more fitting

...women have proven useful to Brent in other ways as well

Flying Stress Stars being thrown by the Executive Board to the audience!!!

Tim Allen spoke briefly in favor of AB 18.

A Mr. Dale(?), spoke about being possibly the only person in the room who was upset with the display just seen but he left with the comment of "Promoting ideal government should be the paramount objective of Student Government." Hear, hear to that.

A speaker from the Comm Council, and another I missed.

Next speaker: best quote: "If you are comfortable with this system then you need to re-evaluate what SG is about."

UT Watch members spoke in favor of the Top 10% plan in regards to diversity. In short, they are supporting SB 333 and SB 936 and are opposed to SB 320 and SB 1546.

After David Strauss of UDems and the Travesty, we were interrupted by 4 people chanting "where's our pool" dressed up in blue butched paper, carrying foam noodles, and spraying him with squirt guns. Beach balls were bouncing about the room. Oh heavens, it may be the last meeting, but this is not really professional. It's a joke, kinda like SG many might say...

Katie Herbeck, member of the ESB this year, is speaking on behalf of AB 18. You may remember her name from the Daily Texan photography scuffle the night of election results (where the Texan made a stink about their constitutional right to shame and harass candidates that were crying in the name of "free speech").

A motion by Matt Stolhandske to move some of the Exec reports after the debate over the bills failed. Normally motions are made when there are big things on the menu to push debate forward, but incoming VP Elizabeth Brummet spoke against it on the point that after seeing the ridiculousness of the first part of the meeting she wanted visiting students to see that SG wasn't just all "fun and games". No kidding, this place shouldn't be about fun and games, it should bore you OUT OF YOUR MIND, so that you NEVER COME BACK!!!!

Sorry, where was I?

Time for Executive reports...

President- Discussion about the latest on Top 10% reform over at the leg. Talk to Brent Chaney if you want more info. Tax Free Textbooks Bill update. Thanking Exec for all they have done this year. Thanks to Reps, thanks to Agencies (swoon, be still my heart!), LLAs, etc.

VP- OMG it's more gladhanding!!! Matt Hardigree (current president of the SEC on campus) , whom I'm IMing with right now, says that they should be playing "Time of your Life" by Green Day. That is sooo true.

Executive Director- Amy Chiou, gives her Academy Awards Acceptance Speech. And binders, don't forget the amazing binders and the new office space (which is awesome though).

Internal Finace- Jessica Rice in the House! Whoa, like, an actual report. The first one so far today! And she just looked over at the Agengy directors, and she looked at me, like right at me!!! And she gave props to the gender neutral bathrooms, saying she's going to keep working on them going forward. I <3 Jessica Rice. She's now moved into her Al Gore-esqe speech (but I really liked that speech too...)

External Finance- Dan Paschal, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Attorney General- Last AG report eva! (since the position has been eliminated) Some random stuff. Tone for the rest of the meeting: chill.

Secretary- Andrew Lara talks about an SG banquet. And he said Serrano's with a rolled R. Mmmmmm. And what was that about Brittney and Boy Bands in the SG office?

Time for Representatives are Privileged, oops, I mean Representatives Privilege. Really, there is not much of interest here.

Rep. Grant Stannis brings forth an issue of parlimentary procedure. He appealed the decision of the VP to make the passage of a Bill set at 22 votes, 50% + 1 of the 43 Assembly seats, even though there are about 3 empty seats from people who have resigned in comparison to the total number of representatives who are present in this meeting.

I would normally agree with his point, but this is obviously a political move to raise the bar for passage for tonight's bills. Nice try Stannis, but I think the Assembly is going to shoot this down.

Well it was killed by a about a 20-13-1 margin. Maybe a test vote for the later Bills tonight? A good sign if so.

Committee and Agency Reports- I get to speak!!!

(Matt H Reporting From in the Closet, Rick Perry is nowhere in sight) Karl is following Danielle, that's rough, she's more entertaining than Stolhandske yelling out "Point of Order" every ten damn seconds. Just to prove that he's hardcore Karl's got his laptop on him and he's liveblogging and checking his email while he is making a presentation.

Karl Opens with a joke "I'd like to thank the Acadamy" and it fails like the Stannis Point of Parlientary Information. Okay, i just lost track of what is happening he just said more acronyms than I can keep track of. Something about the BLT and the GBA and maybe an HIV and a PSP. Man I want a PSP. Oh, something about a picnic! I love picnics. And Colby just yelled "K Tizzle" and I thought she was from SOUTH Tyler.

Thanks Matt, and my joke was funny, I swear!. Now for a 5 minute Recess.

And we are back. Time to talk about AB 18. Or maybe not, since Stolhandske is offering up an Amendment, but people want new copies of the bill which has been updated for some reason from what people have. But we are going to debate an amendment for changes in how much each type of candidate can spend.

Rep. "Amendment to your Amendment" Stannis proposes now to eliminate all spending caps. *eye roll* Voting: what's that I hear, No's all around... HAHAHA. 34-2 smackdown.

Limits, Limits, Limits. Keep them low, whatever. Just vote people. Oh, and another amendment to the amendment by Laura Gladney-Lemon! It failed miserably. Then another amendment by Elizabeth Brummet to index college level Reps to $50 a rep, with a $100 floor for any school. I'm mixed on this one, $75 a slot might be better but I don't have a vote. Whoops, Stolhandske just pulled it out from under us, added it as a Friendly amendment, and now we are moving on to the general, original Amendment, which has been whored out too much tonight. And it passes with one vote against!

Onto the general bill. Laura Gladney-Lemon (LGL) is making some confusing amendment about candidate pairings, which no one understands and will vote down I think. The Committee gave it's "negative report" which was silly because in the commite it was a tied vote, 1 for (Chris Kennedy) 1 agains (Grant Stannis) 1 Abstain (E. Brummet), and the chair, Omar Ochoa broke it with a no vote. Let's see, the two people who benefited by the system because they are going to be here next year, voted no or not at all. So I'm not taking the committee report for anything, considering I was there.

And Gladney-Lemon's 1st Amendment ramblings are really driving me bonkers because I don't think it has anything to do with this bill. If there is a problem, I'm sure someone will figure it out. Not a reason to fear the bill.

LGL's Amendment to remove pairings of all types actually passed. But not soon after was an amendment to reinstate all of that PLUS adding back into the mix college level coalitions! Can we say, undercover tickets and changes the intent of the bill? This would fall under the Brent Chaney Baby Steps plan. Ali Puente, UDems VP and SG gadfly gave a slap down of SG being weak and got a standing ovation from the back section where I'm sitting. We totally overclapped VP Rachel McGinity who is the chair of this meeting.

Oh NO! Another LGL Amendment! And people are falling asleep on the floor back here. And a motion to make all votes standing or roll call votes which passed!

I can't even tell what we are debating on anymore. LGL cried after getting attacked by another Rep on her continious amendments. Her amendment failed and now we are on something else. I'm so confused.

And now we have a motion to move out of AB 18 and go to AB 24 because the author has homework. Don't we all, don't we all.

AR 24 passes! On to AR 20! And it passes as well! (After Stannis slowed things down by having them explain the bill. gasp!)

Back to AB 18, LGL's last amendment failed. Call to question failed. Back to debate. Motion for 10 min. of debate total. Now for the impassioned speeches.

Arguements against include regulation of cookies on the west mall. I don't like this, there seems to be a bit of a long line.

Chaney now wants to just not vote on this. This is absolute bullshit Brent. Let the Assembly vote and stop threatening us with the next assembly overturning it. I'd like to seem them try and deal with the press coverage.

Now, there is a motion to table indefinitly. That is even more insane. Let it come to a vote. Stop copping out. This is why I hate Student Government sometimes.

Matt just had a good point, this is more than a political manuever, it's political manure. Motion to Table failed 22-7.

Grant Stannis has left the building along with Courtney Livingston breaking quorum.

Posted at 09:32 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Open Letter to SG (plus e-mails)

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I'll keep this one short, I just wanted to post the letter I sent to SG Reps today. Included is an easy to copy list of all the SG reps if you only have time for a copy and past job.

To: GymQueen7@aol.com, ByronLongAtLarge@yahoo.com, lamanda@mail.utexas.edu, karawong@mail.utexas.edu, ebrummett@mail.utexas.edu, elsalvrod@mail.utexas.edu, chrisken@mail.utexas.edu, omar.ochoa@bba02.bus.utexas.edu, bella@mail.utexas.edu, matt_ross@hotmail.com, matt.stolhandske@bba02.bus.utexas.edu, hennat@mail.utexas.edu, mary.donaldson@gmail.com, jess4ut@mail.utexas.edu, revisorer@mail.utexas.edu, Grant.Stanis@mail.utexas.edu, mfullerwigg@mail.utexas.edu, lyndsay@mail.utexas.edu, wonder.rios@mail.utexas.edu, sfdave@mail.utexas.edu, mercury42t@aol.com, mwindle@mail.utexas.edu, coachsil@aol.com, lgladney@mail.utexas.edu, yamissette@mail.utexas.edu, cesarmartineze@mail.utexas.edu, sarabearut@mail.utexas.edu, DilenK@aol.com, timliu@mail.utexas.edu, clivingston@mail.utexas.edu, Jsmith@mail.utexas.edu, cstewart@mail.utexas.edu, justinbroyles@mail.utexas.edu, stacygurevitz@yahoo.com, michazel@mail.utexas.edu, AugustusPerez@mail.utexas.edu, andreacarter@mail.utexas.edu, LKarchmer@mail.utexas.edu

Dear SG Reps,

Hopefully I'll be seeing you all at the meeting tonight, I'll be back
over on the right side in the corner as usual. And I'll be blogging
about the SG meeting for burntorangereport.com as well.

I want to encourage you to vote YES on AB 18 & 19 tonight. Though by
no means in depth and comprehensive, I want to present you with two
pieces of commentary on Tickets that have been posted to the Burnt
Orange Report already today (we have a daily readership of about



I've talked to a lot of students about this issue in casual
conversation, people who are so far removed they will never show up at
a meeting and I've talked to people that loyally vote every year, even
if they don't feel that it makes any difference at all. And both
groups of people have been almost 100% behind the concept of moving
out of a Ticket based system. Yes, for some it's just in the hope
they won't have to bombarded with fliers. But even that is telling of
the fact that the current system is turning off a great segment of our
student population. For many others, it's because they wish they felt
that their vote was going to make a difference.

Students are not connected to SG, as hard as we try, because they are
not connected to the individuals in SG. Had you had to run last year,
focused entirely on your college, or in a way where you had to
interact only with your voters, (and not get them for other people on
your ticket), then students might have a tighter bond with you, as a
Representative. As it is now, students are tied to a ticket name, a
party that doesn't even live beyond 2 weeks each spring. Students are
at best tied to a semi-anonymous entity, hardly individuals, and
those, blame the entire body, and worse, the entire SG process and
apparatus anytime something "stupid' happens. And any credit at best
is given to the SG president or the body at large. Tonight you have a
chance to match accountability to good governance and a chance at
making Student Government about connecting with Students and real

There has been many opportunities in the past 3 weeks to express
concerns and input on this bill, believe me, I've been at many of
them, and there were still ones that I missed. If you personal issue
with any part of the bill tonight hasn't been addressed, please be
cordial about it, as there has been many chances before tonight to air
it. Of course, don't hesitate to bring up an issue, that is of course
what debate is all about.

Please don't let this issue die tonight out of fear of the unknown,
out of a concern that candidates and voters won't be able to figure
out a new system, or out of loyalty to a system that you feel you owe
something to. Step boldly tonight, let your last meeting, your last
votes (for most of you) be about stepping boldly forward and trusting
students, and giving them a reason to trust SG again.

Karl-Thomas Musselman
GLBTAAA Co-Director
University Democrats Webmaster

Posted at 05:47 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Let the Ticket System Burn

By Zach Neumann

Tonight Student Government will be voting on a bill that would fundamentally alter the nature of SG Elections here at the University. I am very much in favor of this proposal and here is why. (I apologize for grammatical errors, I’m writing this in a hurry.)

1.It makes student government considerably more democratic than it is today—

Right now to be a student government representative, you have to be a participant in one of a few organizations on campus. These include spirit groups (like the Orange Jackets and Tejas), Fraternities/Sororities (See Chi- Omega) and mainstream political organizations (like the University Democrats). In other words, tickets recruit students to run for office based on who can gain the most support from the biggest organizations on campus. While this is sound political strategy, it is very harmful to the development of a democratic SG. Students not plugged into the SG pipeline of Greek, Spirit and (to a lesser extent) political organizations have no opportunity to serve or even participate (before you angrily comment, realize that I am aware that anyone can volunteer for campaigns or apply for appointments). Thus, instead of having an intellectually and economically diverse assembly, tickets instead tend to be composed of suburban, upper middle class students with fairly moderate political views (and if I might add, a penchant for towing the administration’s line). The abolition of the ticket system would allow students from underrepresented parts of campus to take part in the decision making process. Something they have long deserved.

2. SG needs new blood-- The narrow and highly discriminate stratification of SG leadership among certain groups on campus has led to the election of several weak (although popular) presidents. As I said before, if you do not have strong affiliations with several spirit groups and the Freshman Leadership Organization (the slave labor force for SG campaigns) you will not be SG president. As a result, hopeful candidates for SG president do not spend time developing contacts at the capital or developing their advocacy skills but instead spend most of their college careers cultivating other suburbanites in campus based social clubs. While this cultivation is understandable, it leads to exceptionally weak leadership. Though presidents have, in the past, overcome such obstacles, such instances are rare. The elimination of the ticket system would allow students of a political persuasion with strong skills to make viable campaigns for office. This would lead to stronger recruitment in all positions as students would be forced to rely on raw political talents instead of their club friends. Not only would this lead to a wider array of legislation, but it would also make SG a much more formidable advocate for student interests. Though people like Matt Stolhandske, Jordan Buckley and Andrew Dobbs will never be elected SG president as long as the ticket system persists, their candidacies would gain real weight if they were allowed to take on other candidates without the presence of a large ticket apparatus. This would give SG the opportunity to develop some solid leadership.

3. The Need for Ticket Unity— Opponents of the bill (like Omar Ochoa and Grant Stanis) have argued that tickets need to be united so they can achieve certain goals within the context of the assembly. This argument is irrelevant. As most SG presidents will tell you, the assembly is fairly worthless. Though they can pass all the resolutions they want, these heavily debated pieces of paper do very little in achieving student interests. Lobbying by the executive and members of the assembly goes much further in getting things done both on campus and at the capitol. Eliminating the ticket system would allow for politically talented students to be elected, improving the efficacy of SG even if it is at the cost of unity. However, in my opinion, relative SG unity is a given. If you compare platforms from the past several years… gasp… they are almost exactly the same. Is this because SG people lack original thought? No. It’s because student interests are unchanging. Everyone wants lower tuition, more student services, greater access to parking and a better answer to diversity issues. Since platforms are fundamentally similar, elections tend to come down to who will do a better job representing these limited ideas in office (at least hypothetically-- in actuality it seems that people vote for their friends or fellow club members). By eliminating the ticket system, student government elections will become a contest for who has the best political skills (given that all ideas are about the same). People who have better political skills also tend to be better at harassing the administration and lobbying the legislature, qualities that are desperately needed right now. Before I close my SG unity rant, allow me to also point out that SG unity has resulted in some of the most unoriginal and mundane legislation (not to mention a lack of it) over the past two years.

Ok guys, I have to write a paper, so I’m going to leave it at that. I invite all comments. Good luck at the meeting tonight everyone.

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Ticket Voting and "Baby Steps" Chaney

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The Texan has an article up today on tonight's Student Government meeting where a couple of issues will be voted on in the name of SG Election reform, the big one being the elimination of large Tickets for campaigns.

I'll harp on some comments made by SG President Brent Chaney first.

SG President Brent Chaney, whose Focus ticket swept the 2004 election by 100 percent, said though he believes the election process needs reform, SG needs to take "baby steps" toward change.

Oh please, enough with baby steps in Student Government. If you want to know why people feel SG doesn't get anything accomplished it's because it's baby stepping around all the time. Want to know when they are recognized for actually doing something? Big, single issue, clear moves: Increasing Webmail Space, Student on the Board of Regents, Tax Free Textbooks. And seeing that Mr. Chaney is responsible in large part for 2 of those 3, one would think he understands the nature of bold moves.

However, the English senior said one weakness of running individually was a possible separation of the president and the assembly, who could be pitted against one another if not sharing the same basic goals.

Oh heavens, like Washington, DC, or Austin? Maybe there would be more discussion and student imput and lobbying of Student Governement if it was more like an actual government instead of a jolly glee club where everyone can pat each other on the back because they are all so awesomely the same.

He said the main focus of the elections should be to increase voter turnout and to educate voters.

Well, SG seems to keep failing in this category. Beyond the fact that voter turnout was up because of online voting, it fell back down by 5 points this year in what everyone thought was a more contested election. And as far as educated voters? Well I know the 8 people on the Daily Texan Panel were but I dare say that more than a quarter of those who voted actually cared enough to cross ticket lines or have some real grasp on what they were voting for. Maybe it's because individuality has been squashed by the current system where 40 candidates become swallowed up by a Party label that has no meaning and dies as soon as it is elected.

Until the structural system of SG elections changes, I feel we will never reach a point where we increase turnout and voter education. It's not in anyone's best interest as a Ticket. If we leave the current system in place, I'm in favor of pushing turnout down to the point where it favors those people that actually make a discerning choice between candidates, not parties.

If you are available tonight, come to the SG Meeting at 7 pm in the basement of the SSB. Give your opinions in the Open Forum at the beginning. If you want a summary of the bills, SG fly on the wall, Tim Allen has AB 18 here and AB 19 here.

An e-mail listing of all Representative is located here, should you want to just drop them a short, "I'm in favor/opposed to XX Bill" e-mail. I'll be there tonight for a BOReport from the Floor of course.

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March 27, 2005

Texan Editor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

There has been some discussion of late here on Campus about the recent move to eliminate elections for the Daily Texan editor, one of the last college newspapers to elect it's editor. Current editor Ben Heath seems to be behind the the push, incoming editor AJ hasn't taken a side on it yet to my knowledge.

The editorial board has already written in favor of eliminating elections here. James Burnham, who I don't usually agree with, makes some good counterpoint in arguing for keeping the elections.

In the extended entry are some comments from John Economidy, Editor back in 1966-67.

As a former editor of The Daily Texan ('66-'67), I seek your help as a student leader to save the freedom of the Texan. Your help is sought to stop the effort by the Texas Student Publication's Board to change the Texan's editorship from an elected position to an appointed position at its 3 p.m. Friday, April 22, 2005 meeting.

Students created The Daily Texan for students, and did so decades before there was a Department of Journalism. Through its history of over 100 years, The Texan has editorially advocated the best interest of the students of The University of Texas at Austin. Also throughout its history, the Texan has had to fight for its editorial freedom. In the early 1960s, Regents Chairman W. W. Heath tried to kill the Texan's editorial freedom by converting the Texan editor position to an appointed position. At that time, student government (then called the Students' Association) rose to the challenge and under the leadership of SA president Gregory O. Lipscomb challenged the change and was successful in getting the elected editor position reinstated.

Now another Heath, current Texan editor Ben Heath, takes the Quisling
position that the Texan should surrender its editor position and be appointed by a handful of faculty and student representatives on the Texas Student Board of Publications. He does not trust democracy. He does not trust the student body.

Both Heaths were wrong. Ben Heath's compass is terribly askew. I need not go into the long history of the Texan's successful fight for freedom, as that history is well documented at http://www.godwinslaw.org/weblog. Just as the Republic of Texas was born with a fight that resulted in great sacrifice at the Alamo, the editors of the Texan in the past have fought the cause of freedom of expression for the students with great sacrifice and with continued attack against its freedom.

The Texan has two major positions: editor and managing editor. The editor handles the editorial page and is elected by the student body. The managing editor handles the news side (hard news, sports, entertainment, budget) and is appointed by the TSP Board. Mixing the two leads to mischief.

The elected editor has to get out of the Texan's basement office and meet the students, make his or her positions known over a campaign of weeks, and prove his or her mettle. An appointed editor would have to prove his mettle in a 15-minute interview and otherwise prove that he or she is the fair-haired star of the TSP Board.

At least 25 past editors are currently developing a campaign for the Texan to keep its editor elected. Hopefully, the Texan will run our collective letter to the editor. The Texan has already run the highly informative letter advocating election from former editor ('69-'70) Mark Morrison, now managing editor of Business Week magazine:
In 2001, the former editors successfully fought a move to convert from an elected to an appointed position. See our then position.

Time is short. The TSP meeting is set at a late hour on a Friday just before final exams, so as not to incur significant opposition. As a student leader, please take effective action to stop the conversion of the Texan editor position from an elected to an appointed slot. In the past, student government has risen to the challenge by passing resolutions and ordering surveys. The freedom of
the Texan is now in your hands. Act to save the Texan's freedom.

JOHN M. ECONOMIDY, Texan Editor, 1966-67
Attorney at Law
San Antonio
(210) 521-7843
E-mail: economidy@att.net

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March 24, 2005

Justice for All at UT

By Byron LaMasters

The anti-choice national organization, Justice for All is at UT this week. They found three UT students to charter the organization to allow for a demonstration where they put up disgusting 15-foot high pictures of aborted fetuses. The Daily Texan reports. I think that the response to the organization in 2002 was the best. That year, when I was PR Director of the University Democrats, I worked with Voices for Choice to raise pledges for the Lilith Fund - a pro-choice organization that helps fund abortions for low-income women. We asked other students disgusted by the JFA presentation to pledge to donate a small amount - ten or twenty-five cents an hour for every hour that JFA held up their presentation. By the end of the week, we raised several hundred dollars. I would highly recommend that other progressive organizations use similar tactics. Yelling and screaming are easier, but using right-wing organizations as a fundraising tool is much more effective.

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March 22, 2005

Burnt Orange Report from the Floor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Coming over the next couple of hours, after a looooong break, the Burnt Orange Report from the Floor, live here on the Student Government floor bringing you the latest happenings. Be prepared for updates!

First one, Brent Chaney tells us about movement on the Student Board of Regents bills, which is really moving forward, and of course, finding out that Gov. Perry "is making calls" on behalf of the effort doesn't hurt.


Now we have a representative (e-mail jboots@ku.edu if you need to ask him questions SG reps) from the University of Kansas (and he's a hottie) speaking about their Student Government election systems, since that is the hot topic tonight. Here is their website as far as candidates go (their election is later this spring still). They have about 28,000 students and 57 seats in the Assembly. I'm not sure how productive the questioning in this format will really be tonight. There are a couple proposals in our very own assebly to me talked about tonight, the main bill being AB 18, the move away from Tickets, plus some election reform cleanup in general, AB 19.

More below the fold...


SG Rep. Yamisette Westerband announced that we have gained two more gender neutral restrooms on campus, in Gregory Gym, which is awesome. She's been working on this project all year and there may be one more gender neutral bathroom coming.

Rep. Stannis just spoke about attempting to block Rep. Chris Kennedy's impeachement resolution of do-nothing rep Rodrigo Interiano. Kennedy has stuck his neck out on this one. I personally do not support avoiding the issue just to 'save face' since there isn't much face to save when it comes to SG in most cases. People here are worrying too much Press Coverage (which there is going to be anyways now) and I feel is just another example of SG not wanting to vote on sensative issues.


I missed a bit of typing since my computer spazzed out on me.


Now in discussion of tabling indefinatly the Impeachment of Interiano. Personally, and I spoke to this breifly (it wasn't an impressive presentation, granted), I think this is partially tied to election reform. For someone who's had 2 years in the Assembly, why do we have to wait around and hope things improve? Then again, maybe this legislative action will accomplish it's end without having to have a successful vote of impeachment cast. I don't really care if the actual impeachement gets voted down, but to silence it now, seems more like "insider political coverage" than "clearing his name".

Best quote so far... "we can talk about how we feel all day long..." Oh boy, ain't that the truth. It's been about an hour now discussing the Tabling motion, and we havn't even gotten to the Election Reform package yet.


Omar Ochoa, incoming SG president and current 2 year at large Rep just voted No to table the impeachment proceedings which caused a bit of tittering in the crowd.

The vote to table the Impeachment resolution is 15-14. One more vote and this issue would have moved on to be discussed next week. But now it's dead. Tally another point in the SG protecting it's own category. Seriously, I think many were suprised to get to 14 votes on this one. Then again, Interiano got to vote on that motion though the legislation affects him. I'm not sure if that conflict of interest disbales him from voting, but if it does, that puts it at a 14-14 tie, and in that case, doesn't the motion fail? Something to investigate Constitutional guru Kennedy.


Apparently the discussion about Election Reform will not be tonight, but rather, during the forum this Thursday March 24, @ 8pm in Welch 2.246.


AR 23, a resolution to reaffirm UT's commitment to ending sexual violende and support Sexual Assault Awareness Month, was voted to be fast-tracked and passed without opposition. Not sure why there would be any, but whatever.

Also, if you want to apply for SG offices or appointments, be sure to use this application (buried on the SG website and why oh why havn't each of the SG campaigns sent this out to their thousand person listservs??) and turn it in before this Friday.

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March 14, 2005

Public Service Announcement.

By Jim Dallas

Those credit card company folks are trying to make money off of you you.* As Amanda at Mouse Words writes:

The credit card companies want nothing more than to have the students paying off a lifetime's worth of debt by the time they graduate and it's sick. I know people who are in their mid-30s still trying to catch up with charges they rang up before they turned 21. That's all this bankruptcy bill is about, making sure that nothing even slows down the process of transferring the wealth of the nation from the hands of the many to the hands of the few and getting us on track to being feudal as soon as possible.

You probably knew this, but like some messages (e.g. "Don't Do Drugs," "Stay in School," "Watch Where You Put Your Hands, You Don't Know Where They've Been") it bears repetition.

* I would use more incendiary words like "scam", "parasite", "financially raped", etc., but after all what kind of laissez-faire liberal would I be if I automatically presumed that you didn't enjoy that sort of thing? We're all big girls and boys 'round here.

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March 08, 2005


By Byron LaMasters

Jonathan Horak, one of the guys that went to New Mexico with UT Students for John Kerry the weekend before the election, has started Bloghorns, a blog for UT related posts. It's modeled after Austin Bloggers. In order to have your UT related post shown on Bloghorns, simply send a ping to: http://www.bloghorns.com/post/ping/

I've made the necessary administrative changes so that all BOR posts under the category "Around Campus" will automatically ping Bloghorns, just as all BOR posts under the category "Austin City Limits" automatically ping Austin Bloggers.

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Another Poll

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

No, this one has nothing to do with city council so you don't have to send people over here to push it in your favor (cough, Gregg Knaupe and Mandy Dealey campaigns, cough). For all of you UT area readers who always bitch about parking, here is a short questionaire for you by the Parking and Transportation Services people. So please take it if you want to see things improved before you graduate.

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March 04, 2005


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

OK, Get ready for a series of posts this afternoon in reponse to Daily Texan coverage, Student Government elections, and other local happenings. I needed a day to collect my thoughts and after reading and hearing some reactions today, it's time to comment.

Today's first post will be in regards to this Texan opinion piece titled "Shameful Display on West Mall", written by none other than Connect Union Board winner James Burnham. (At least it wasn't his compadre, Eric Weiner, infamous on the Texan panel for getting orange juice and eating a bagel in the middle of an interview question, who was also just elected as well to the UB, though that discussion is for another post.)

It's nice to see that he has an opinion on this topic, even if he couldn't come up with a stance on how he would have voted in the Taco Bell decision the Union Board made the week before the election.

After some speeches and displays, the energy level of the crowd increased, and people horded around the table to accost the students from YCT who were quickly realizing their brownies would offer scant protection. The crowd proceeded to spend almost two hours (no exaggeration) yelling and screaming at the YCT members hurling unanswerable questions and vicious insults.

At one point, I managed to wrestle my way to the front of the crowd and was hit in the back of the head by candy. Yes, candy. The "peaceful" protestors who will simply not stand for violence or hate had taken YCT's candy and baked goods and were literally pelting the members with them. I even got to hear one charming girl yell at the YCT chairman, "Why won't you fight me? I came here to fight. I want a fight."

(KT- A fight? Kick-ass. I think we should arrange a match up with YCT Chairwoman Lauren Conner and say, the UDs President or SG president? I'd go to the west mall for that.)

It was horrific; it was mean spirited. It was the mob.

Not wanting to make a snap judgment, I asked some of the protestors why they were so incensed about an event that never happened. All everyone could agree on was that there had been an e-mail, to someone, though nobody knew who, declaring YCT's intention to have an Immigrant Hunt. Allegedly, it was also discussed at their meeting two weeks ago.

First, don't buy the YCT innocent defense or "we never planned to have such an event" garbage. They talked about it two week ago, kept trying to land a date, and were discussing it the day before with officials in the Student Services Building. They used Texas Independence Day as cover. I remember last year when they were planning Straight Pride day (also around this time) that the date kept floating when we were trying to nail it down.

That said, it is sad of course, that the noisy protest drowned out the silent one which the University Democrats had a greater hand in, with their Hate is not Activism theme. But as media is prone to do, silence wasn't making a stir.

But it did make for a very humourous Firing Line...

This letter is in response to the story I read in the Texan about YCT's Texas Independence Day celebration that was overshadowed by a group of reactionary leftists. Why do you cowardly students fear the ideas of YCT so much? Why do you attempt to silence them by intimidating and harassing them? Are you threatened by their ideas so much that you will label them racists, Nazis and KKK supporters? Instead of shouting and name-calling, why not go to their table and debate their ideas?

Oh wait, I forgot, in the market place of ideas, socialism failed. I guess that is why the left uses such tactics to silence its opponents. Well, guess what; YCT and groups like it are the wave of the future on college campuses. So, get used to it and come up with some better ideas than collectivism and P.C. drivel. You are going to need it, because you cannot stop the onslaught of right-wing activism now, or in the future.

Brendan Steinhauser
UT alum 2004

Pul-leese. Onslaught of right-wing activism? Yeah, 3 people against 300. Really massing the troops, eh?

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March 02, 2005

SG Elections Split, Heavily favor Connect

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I'm tired tonight and you can bet on some post-election analysis from me tomorrow, but I wanted to at least update people with how things turned out tonight. Omar Ochoa and Elizabeth Brummet of Connect won the top spots, including a Connect sweep of all the at-large spots, not all of which they deserved in my opinion (I'll get to this tomorrow). Ignite managed to take 8 seats total in the Assembly, Connect 31, and Jack Waite of the LBJ School won his Independent bid. Of course, there are still 4 hold-over 2 year at large seats from the Focus Party, one of which is Omar's seat which he will be able to appoint a replacement to. Here are the full results.

My only commentary and advice tonight? If I were Omar or the Connect structure, I would give some serious consideration to appointing Ignite Presidential candidate Jessica Rice to the seat or Danielle Rugoff who once again is a vote leader in her second try at an At Large seat (if memory serves me). Since there will actually be other members in the Assembly to deal with, it could be a step toward unity.

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SG Results Announcement

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The Results of the 2005 Student Government Elections will be announced Wednesday, March 2 at 8:00 pm on the Main Mall. In the event that the weather does not permit the announcement on the Main Mall, the alternate location is UTC 2.112A.

via Mathew Hargrow, ESB Chair

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Byron's SG Endorsements

By Byron LaMasters

I admit that I have followed the SG elections with little interest. I’ve held a rather skeptical view of student government for several years now, but having said that, I always take my responsibility as a voter very seriously. For that reason, I carefully read the opinions of Karl-Thomas and Andrew (here at BOR) in addition to reading the summaries provided by Laura Gladney-Lemon (the progressive slate), and Chris Kennedy in the Daily Texan. Upon reading their summaries in addition to reading the questionnaires I received, I offer these recommendations:

Jessica Rice – President, Ignite
Colby Hanks –VP, Ignite.

Rice seems to be the consensus progressive choice for President, so that choice was easy. The VP race, with two Republicans was a bit more difficult, but I was impressed with Hanks’ answers to my questions, and of the analysis that Karl-Thomas gives her.

2 yr – at large
Devin Fletcher, Ignite
Anjali Fleury, Ignite
Michael Windle, Connect
Stephen Hardt, Connect

Fleury and Fletcher were automatic additions to the list as members of Laura Gladney-Lemon’s progressive slate. Karl-Thomas’s and Chris Kennedy’s remarks on Michael Windle give him my third vote. My fourth vote goes to Stephen Hardt based on his thoughtful response to my questions and plugs from Karl-Thomas and Chris Kennedy.

1 yr – at large
Danielle Rugoff, Ignite
Kumal Das, Connect
Jessica Fertitta, Connect
(No Endorsement)

Rugoff and Das were the easy additions. Rugoff is a member of the progressive slate. Das is a successful online small business owner who would bring an innovative approach to the assembly. Jessica Fertitta gets plugs from Karl-Thomas, Chris Kennedy and Andrew – knowing little else about the candidates, that’s good enough for my vote. For the fourth slot, I’ve decided not to cast a vote. Hart, Hortz and Jan all are admitted conservatives / Republicans, and I did not know enough about the other candidates running to make an informed decision. Considering that all candidates for one-year at large run on the same ballot, and the top four vote-getters are elected, I would rather have my vote for the three candidates I endorse with confidence to have the most effect.

Liberal Arts Reps:
Katie Naranjo, Ignite
Nawal Abdeladim, Ignite
Clint Adcox, Ignite
C.J. Ginn, Connect
(No Endorsement)

I know Katie Naranjo through the UD’s, and along with Abdeladim is part of the progressive slate. Andrew and Karl-Thomas suggest a vote for Adcox, and Chris Kennedy and Karl-Thomas suggest a vote for C.J. Ginn. I’ll follow their suggestions. Again, I don’t know enough about the remaining candidates to make an informed decision, so I will only cast four votes (of five) for liberal arts reps.

SEC President:
John Grube

The UD’s endorsed him. They had a better opportunity to analyze the candidates than I did, so I trust the UD endorsement.

Referendum 1: Funding for a recycling pilot program
Vote YES

How can any good Democrat oppose that?

There was another referendum regarding a change in the SG by-laws. I voted for it based on the limited research provided in the form of the link to the SG website. I almost left it blank, but decided that SG should be allowed to make changes which they deem necessary to make SG run more efficiently. Thus, I voted for the referendum, but I do not have enough information to make an endorsement on the issue.

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SG Survey Questions

By Byron LaMasters

I decided to send out questions to SG candidates for President, Vice President, One Year At Large, Two Year at Large and Liberal Arts Rep., last week as a means of helping me make my decisions on how to vote today. I received responses from 11 (9 Ignite, 2 Connect) candidates on relatively short notice. Perhaps that is due to the perceived bias of this blog towards Ignite (at least from Karl-Thomas's posts), or perhaps the Ignite ticket is just more responsive. I don't know, but I will use the answers received to inform my vote today. I'll post my choices after I vote.

1) Are you currently, or have you ever been a member, and/or officer, of any campus political organization (i.e. Campus Greens, College
Republicans, International Socialist Organization, Libertarian Longhorns, University Democrats, Young Conservatives of Texas, etc.). Please note your current and previous memberships and officer status.

2) Do you consider yourself a Democrat, Republican, a member of another political party, or unaffiliated? Have you participated in the primary election of either party? If so, which?

3) How would you characterize your political views in a word or two:
(i.e. very liberal, liberal, progressive, moderately liberal, moderate,
moderately conservative, conservative, very conservative, etc.)?

4) Do you support allowing race to be a considering factor for admission to the University of Texas?

5) Do you believe that the current “ten percent rule” should remain in
place regarding UT admissions, or should it be changed? If so, please

6) What was your position on AR 1 regarding the UT bid for Los Alamos?

7) What was your position on AR 2 regarding pay equity at the University
of Texas?


Jessica Rice – President, Ignite

1) No, I am not currently a member of any campus political organization.

2) I am a Democrat and have participated in the primary elections of the Democratic

3) My political views are both liberal and progressive.

4) Yes. I believe that race can affect a person's life experiences, and that any quality institution will seek out diversity in experiences. Having a diverse student body is the only way that the University of Texas can educate citizens of the highest quality. It is through interactions with people of varying backgrounds who have experienced different things in life that we grow personally. If college is all about learning, exploring, and educating yourself, then the best environment to do so is one in which there are multiplicitious ideas. How an institution creates this diverse environment is
a lot more complicated.

5) I believe it should be changed to provide for a cap between 50-60% of the entering freshmen class, while students from underrepresented high schools should continue to be automatically admitted if they are in the top 10% of their graduating class. I also support Senator Royce West's bill (SB 333), requiring that students must not only be in the top 10% of their class but also have graduated under the recommended plan in order to receive automatic admission to a state institution.

6) I was against UT's bid for Los Alamos and supported AR 1. I only wish the Assembly had voted on the bill and taken a stance on the issue instead of tabling it.

7) I supported AR 2 in reference to pay equity at the University, not only because it is an important issue, but also because the University should set the standard for all students and faculty that walk this campus when it comes to matters of social justice and equity.


Colby Hanks – VP, Ignite

1) No current or past involvement in these groups, however I would indeed like to see their efforts and opinions addressed more frequently in Student Government. Members of our ticket were able to visit with some of these groups during the campaign speaker circuit to discuss issues and as expected, these were some of our greatest discussions of UT issues. Student Government needs to initiate a closer relationship with these groups that is ongoing. We're all here for the same purpose, why not combine those efforts!

2) Republican. And no, I have not participated in the primaries.

3) Moderately Conservative

4) Yes, and this should be one item in a list of many qualification factors.

5) I definitely support lowering the percentage, rather than capping it. The original purpose was to compensate for a public school system where unequal opportunity is high, and as a result of top ten percent there is more representation of districts now than ever before. If the 50% is decided by wholeistic review, and there is still disgression needed to determine who to cap, why have the rule to begin with? By lowering the percentage, you are still able to ensure districts are respresented. Keeping the idea around at all is definitely something we must keep up a fight for, especially considering Senator Wentworth's support of the Board of Regents bill, because it should be kept in mind that he also wants to do away with the top ten percent rule all

6) Personally, I saw Los Alamos as a great opportunity for the university. regardless of my opinion on the issue, I am a strong supporter of open forum and discussion, which is what this particular legislation recommended and am in full support of that. This bill, written by UT Watch, is one that I strongly feel should not have been tabled by Student Government. While the subject was controversial, discussing the issue is something that should happen.

7) I support the bill. UT needs to work to ensure we're supporting this type of equality at the University level.


Danny Davidson -- 2 yr @ Large, Ignite

1) I have not been a member of a Campus political organization

2) I consider myself a liberal. I loosely support the Democratic Party—but only because a better alternative does not exist on the national level.

3) Liberal

4) I support race being a considering factor for admission. I do not,
however, think it is right. I believe that student assistance and aid in higher education should be based on income, not on race. Unfortunately, minority citizens make up a large portion of the United States lower class. Race should be considered in admission until a time when the lower class of the US has an equal distribution of races. Education works slowly to bring equity, and many years of affirmative action is needed so that race does not mirror one's economic class and one's economic class does not reflect one's race.

5) I think the rule should be changed. I believe that the "ten percent rule" inhibits high school students from pursuing more challenging coursework while in high school. By making GPA such an important admission criteria, students choose coursework that will get them the best grade, not coursework that will be most beneficial to them. In addition, different schools offer different levels of competition, and many students must focus entirely on schoolwork in order to make it into the top 10%. This means that many students that come to UT have never had jobs, been active in extracurricular activities, or been active in their communities. UT prides itself in training leaders, but its admission practices ask for students to neglect leadership opportunities in high school just so that they can be admitted to
UT. Admission should be based more on test scores, extracurricular activities and volunteer work and less on GPA.

6) UT is a great research University. I support most of the projects that UT staff and students conduct. In regards to the Los Alamos bid, I am strongly against it. The price for the bid is far too high and the needs of the Los Alamos facility far too great for UT to be involved. Focus should be on curbing increasing tuition and not on adding more liabilities to the UT School System. The SG resolution to have an open dialogue in discussing the Los Alamos bid was a good decision and I support it.

7) I strongly support AR 2. All people working in the US deserve pay equal to their occupational peers. There is statistical research showing that women and many minorities do not receive equitable pay, but there is not any statistical research showing that their performance is sub-par. All employed persons of the US should be paid based on their value to an organization, not based on their sex or race. I support the SG resolution that asks for more research into University pay equity. Once the research results have been completed, and if the research points to inequitable pay at UT, then it is the duty of SG to take all necessary steps to remedy the problem.


Devin Fletcher – 2 yr @ Large, Ignite

1) NO

2) no affiliation

3) Moderate

4) I don't support race being a deciding factor in UT admissions, however with that being said I believe that there are other options to ensure that the University has an adequate amount of representation from all races, and putting the effort into finding what it would take is what is lacking and by default race would be an easy way out.

5)I believe that the top ten percent rule was a noble idea when it began and I feel as though it has run it's course. I think that this rule affords opportunities to a number of students within the state to have the opportunity to attend top notch institutions, especially students coming from areas that might be categorized as having sub-par academics. I feel that this was a necessary rule in that it gave everyone a somewhat equal chance for success, however I also believe that it has it's downfalls. High school success does not necessarily represent college success or high school failure does not equate to college failure, however I believe that students coming in from areas in which their academics were up to par have an upper-hand, which is at the fault of no one but our public education system. I whole-heartedly believe that a program like this is necessary in order to bridge the gaps that the educational system in our country has left, but the top ten percent rule is not that program in my opinion. It is leading to an overcrowding of institutions by automatically admitting students in the top 10 percent of their class, and without a more stern filter the overall well-being of the student collegiate experience in this state could be in jeopardy.

6) I am not totally familiar with the Los Alamos proposal, but from what I gather I would need to have more information before making my decision. I can see the benefits of acquiring Los Alamos, but I can also see possible long-term detriments as well. I would like to hear pros and cons from individuals who are directly related to it in some shape of form so that I could make an educated decision.

7) On the resolution to support pay equity I stand behind it 100%. I believe that this is information that the University should share and should hold themselves accountable. I believe that if their are indeed no pay disparities then the University would not have a problem making this information know. However, I think that the information should be compared to averages around other Universities and things such as experience, research, etc should be taken into account in order to ensure that the information is not biased in the way it is presented.


Will Fowler – 2 yr at Large, Ignite

2) I would say I am more of a Republican than a Democrat, however I have liberal leanings toward some social freedoms. No, I have never participated in the primary election of either party.

3) I would say that I am moderately conservative fiscally, and like I said above, liberal toward social freedoms.

4-5) I do support race being a considering factor during admission to the University. However, I also beleive that if we are to institute it into our policy for admission then we must let go of the top 10% rule because they are both geared toward helping the same population.

6) My position on this is that we as student government needs to take action towards creating a task force of students and faculty to watch what Los Alamos is doing on our campus. It seems like Los Alamos has operated their organization in questionable ways in the past and we need to make sure this is watched.

7. I feel like it is a good initiative to make sure the University is knowledgeable and conscious about the pay inequity of women.

Stephen Hardt – Connect 2 yr @ Large

1) I have never been a member of any political organization at UT. Since I arrived at UT, my political views have changed rather dramatically. I have gone from a Conservative to a Liberal in just over a year and a half and have therefore always seen any political organization as a limiting factor to my growth and enlightenment.

2) I have never participated in the primary election of either party. I think I embody in nearly every sense the impact that college can have on one’s political affiliations. I grew up in a small, conservative town of roughly 2,500 residents. While I loved my childhood and would not trade it for anything in the world, I was relatively sheltered throughout my adolescence. When I came to UT, I was in culture shock to say the least. As a right-winged, conservative freshman I found myself in constant political arguments over things such as welfare, abortion, civil unions and gay marriage, the war, etc. It got to the point where I associated the word “diversity” with “anti-white.” In addition, I was one of the most homophobic people I knew. I had never truly spoken with a homosexual, nor did I desire to.

However, as my freshmen year went on and I exposed myself to different aspects of campus and different peoples, I grew to embrace diversity in every sense of the word. Not only did I make friends with people I never would have previously spoken with, but I began to actively seek out situations that would stretch my thoughts and question my beliefs. My role as an Orientation Advisor last summer did this more so that any other experience in my life. I was constantly challenged and questioned by my peers in an effort to make me grow.

It worked. At the end of the summer, I reflected on just how much I had changed. I understood that I went from a homophobe, to having some of my closest friends be homosexuals. I went from someone who resented the word “diversity” to someone who seeks it out. I changed my views on gay marriage, abortion, the war in Iraq, welfare, affirmative action, and many other issues. That is not to say that I am insecure with my beliefs; believe me when I say I have arrived where I am only through much struggle and am thus secure in my convictions. Rather, I say these things to illustrate just how much a person can change during their years in college.

So when I am asked where my political identities lie, I tell the person I am an objectivist. I look at each situation as objectively as possible and rule on it accordingly. I feel that on the national level there are far too many problems with each party to limit myself to an “either-or” game. Rather, I would most closely identify with the Libertarian movement. As for the role of these convictions in my decision-making as an SG rep, I answer with, “A leader is but a trusted servant.” It is not my position to vote based solely on my own beliefs, but rather to seek out the opinions and feelings of the student body and act accordingly. I think SG is there to serve the students….and it should do just that.

3) Objectively Moderate

4) I think the University of Texas has an obligation to this great state in which we reside to more accurately embody the diversity of this state. Thus, I think UT should do everything in its power to make sure the diversity of the student body of UT is increased. In short, yes, I would like to see race included as an admissions factor. However, that is only the beginning of the steps the University should take to ensure UT continues to be a model for higher education.

5) I believe it should be altered, though not completely revoked. That is, it should remain in place for underrepresented high schools in an effort to motivate students from those schools to attend UT. However, in the case of the majority of applicants to UT, I think a more holistic review of applications should be considered. Thus, I would like to see the top 10% rule capped at 50% of admissions. After that, other factors such as race, SAT score, GPA, essays, personal statement, etc. should be considered.

6) While UT placing a bid on Los Alamos may help in the University in some minor ways (such as increased funding), I think overall, Los Alamos is something UT would do well to stay away from. In addition to the security and liability risks involved in taking over such a project, the University of Texas has no place involving itself with operations such as Los Alamos. Rather, it should concentrate its time and resources on projects that are less controversial, less risky, and more likely to benefit the University as a whole, rather than a specific department.

7) The University of Texas is one of the foremost higher education institutions in the world. As such, it is viewed as a model for other institutions of all kinds. This role puts UT in a spot light under which it has little option other than to treat its employees in such a manner that other institutions may copy it. Even if this were not the case, I feel organizations should always treat their employees fairly and equally. Thus, I fully support the spirit behind the said SG resolution.


Jessica Hart – 1-yr @ Large, Connect

1) NO
Organizations I am involved with:
Student Government-active member- Fall '02 - present- ITAC and current business rep, Orange Jackets- active member- Fall '04-present- current tappee, Texas Lonestars- active member- Fall '02- present- officer for 2 years, Disch-Falk Diamonds- currently inactive- Fall '02-Spring '04 - officer for 1 year, LEAP- currently inactive member- participant Spring '03, mentor Spring '04, FLO- active - member Fall '02- Spring '03, active -mentor Fall '03- present, Camp Texas Counsler- active member Fall '02- present, San Jacinto RHA - inactive member, Fall '02- Spring '03, HBA- honors business association- Fall '03 to present, Dance Marathon- active helper- Fall '02- present

2) I would consider myself a Republican.

3) I would consider myself a moderate conservative

5) I believe the rule should be changed. Revising the Top 10% rule- the number of students accepted by the top ten percent role has been dramatically increasing over the last years, because of this there are other factors that are being overlooked and the top ten percent rule should be revised. CONNECT ideas---to cap the top ten percent rule at 50%-60% of the freshman incoming class will be automatically admitted with the top 10% rule. The other half of the freshman class will be done using normal admissions standards. This will help ensure that well-rounded students come to the University.

6) I am a current SG rep (for the business school) and have worked a long time on issues pertaining to UT's bid for Los Alamos. I found this piece of legislation to be irrelevant at the time because the government had not even given the rfp (request for proposal) when the rep's presented this resolution. I believed that we should have waited until the rfp came out which outlines the bid for the lab before I decide if I believe UT should bid for it. At that point in time we did not have all the information and would not have made an educated response. I did work during this summer and at the beginning of this year trying to put together a forum for the UT students to hear both sides about the bid. We were working to try to get students, faculty and regents talk about both sides. Then UT decided to not make the bid and this forum became irrelevant.

7) I fully support pay equity at out university, but i did feel this resolution did have a lot of faults. One big issue that FOCUS ran on last year was to only concentrate on UT issues and not get into national issues. To stay true to this promise I felt that this piece of legislation crossed this line. The wording of thei resolution talked about national statisticsn and did not talk about specific data pertaining to UT Ex. Whereas according to an analysis of data in over 300 classifications provided by 015| the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics in 2001, women earn less in every 016| occupational classification for which enough data is available, including
017| occupations dominated by women (e.g., cashiers, retail sales, registered nurses 018| and teachers); and

I talked to the author and sponsors of this resolution and told them my problems with the bill and told them I would support any pay equity resolution at UT if it pertained to UT. I felt more research needed to be done to make this pertain to UT.

Legislation I have worked hard on this year:
AR 13- A resolution calling on texas legislature to allocate more
funding to higher education
AR 12 - A resolution to support the implementation of the LA 101 class
AR 7 - A Call to implement Vending Machine Bevo Buck Service
AR 5- Ensuring Adequate Storage Space for UT Email Services
AR 3 - A resolution supporting high density, affordable, student
oriented housing in close proximity to the University of Texas campus.
AB 1: Measure to Increase Student Government Assembly Member's
Accountability By Publishing Voting and Attendance Records


Bekah Hortz – One yr @ Large, Ignite

1. I have never been a member of any campus political organization.

2) I consider myself a Republican. I helped campaign this year for President Bush.

3) I am moderately conservative.

4) I think that doing so allows guaranteed representation for these groups. I am moderate on this issue because I agree with both sides of the issue. I understand that allowing race to be a factor for admission could prevent other people who score better in areas such as GPA, SAT, and extracurricular activities to possibly not get in. It would be frustrating to be one of those people, but the University needs to be representing the population, so I think it is important to recognize these groups.

5) I think it is unfair for students who have lower GPA and credentials to get in over someone who meets and goes beyond UT admission requirements just because they are in the top 10%. I understand that it allows a more equal representation, but I do not think it is necessarily the right solution. I have several friends who had outstanding GPAs, SAT scores, and amazing resumes in terms of community service and extracurricular activities in high school, but were denied admission because they were not in the top 10%. Other applicants who had lower GPAs, SAT scores, and average resumes were given priority over those people simply because they were in the top 10%. Several factors should be taken into account when looking at these 10% applicants. They could have attended a very small high school, or their scores may not have been high in comparison to other non top 10% applicants. I feel that other factors should be taken into account during the admission process. It is an automatic shoe in for some people. We need to analyze this more closely.

6) It is obviously an enormous undertaking and risk to deal with this nuclear weapons research facility. I think that the stance taken was an appropriate one. We should be concerned about this. When it revealed that “the University of Texas System has not supplied satisfactory assurance that the University System will not be held accountable in the event of continued environmental problems, poor security, and cases of mismanagement,” I was deeply concerned. A lot was brought to my attention, and I think SG expressed itself very well here. It was important to voice an opinion that many students have. I think writing AR1 was necessary.

7) Again, I agree with this position. Because the University of Texas is one of the largest schools in the nation, we set examples for other universities. It expresses well that we demand pay equity for our professors. The statistics provided completely back up the argument, which make it very credible.


Tiffany Jan – 1 yr @ Large, Ignite

1) No

2) I consider myself unaffiliated. In the past 2004 Election, I voted for George W. Bush. However in the past, I have supported more Democrats. The issues which determine my support and vote each election are unaffiliated with either party.

3) Moderately conservative

4) In short, my answer would be “not entirely.” I believe that in theory, brining more diversity into a university is something that is definitely important. However, I do not think that using race to be a considering factor should work against certain groups. I believe that race should only be used as a lightly weighed factor for admissions.

5) I believe there should be some changes to the “ten percent rule.” Coming from a large city with very many 5A high schools, there were plenty of students from outstanding high schools with great grades that just did not make the 10% cut. Someone who perhaps is at the top 11% of their class, very involved, may have comparable grades to one who is in the top 10% who is not involved at all, yet the former will have much more trouble receiving admission to UT. Too many students are being accepted under the top 10% rule, resulting in a great difficulty and obstacle for other students to apply. This places diversity in another direction if most students were accepted under this rule. I believe that there should either be more restrictions on the top 10% rule (decreasing the percentage, for example), or adding conditions to the top 10% rule.

6) I was against the UT bid for Los Alamos, and I definitely believe that something of that nature and of such great effect should be brought directly to the students and faculty.

7) Being a woman, I definitely would be a proponent for pay equity. However, I think that the actual legislation proposed by student government is a bit extreme in requesting statistical information regarding “Average Faculty Salaries and supplements” with all positions on campus. Qualities based on merit are usually subjective, and it would be difficult to pinpoint an equality discrepancy. Even two people with the same position could have unequal levels of qualification and merit. I believe that requesting statistical information would only bring about an unnecessary over-analysis of pay equity.


Danielle Rugoff – 1 yr @ Large, Ignite

1) I am a member of Texans for Israel and University Democrats.

2) I consider myself a Democrat. I have not participated in the primary election, however I did attend the DNC and really enjoyed it! I even ran into K-T.

3) Socially liberal, more fiscally moderate.

4) Wow this is rough. I think that diversity is important.. I'm not sure if affirmative action is the correct answer or the top 10% rule or what.. I'm not well-read enough on the issue. I am a supporter of having some sort of system in place to ensure diversity--> it adds both to the cultural climate as well as enhances the academic experience within the classroom.

5) I think that it could be decreased to top 5%. Once again, I don't know how this would directly affect the diversity on campus, I would like to see more research on this issue.

6) I was against the bid for Los Alamos.

7) I fully support the bill and commend LGL and FW and Karchmer for authoring such wonderful legislation. This is one of the types of legislation that SG should focus on!


Katie Naranjo – Liberal Arts Rep, Ignite

1) I am a member and Secretary of University Democrats.

2) I am a Democrat and i voted in the Primaries and I voted this Nov.

3) progressive

4) I have heard arguments on both sides of allowing race to be an issue for admissions and I support a socioeconomic base for admissions, not merely color based. i think that in itself is well a form of internal/reverse racism. I also feel it is an insult for many of the African Americans who are well educated and meet the requirements to admissions.

Posted at 08:25 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Vote Today

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I'm bringing this back up to the top of the page since it's day 2 of voting here at UT. -KT

Following is my personal Endorsement List following ballot order, from my panel work. UT students may cast their ballots online here today 8AM-5PM. College level endorsements below the fold.

Websites: Ignite and Connect

IGNITE- Jessica Rice

IGNITE- Colby Hanks

*Two Year At-Large*
IGNITE- Anjali Fleury
CONNECT- Michael Windle
CONNECT- Steven Hardt
IGNITE- Devin Fletcher

*One Year At-Large*
IGNITE- Danielle Rugoff
CONNECT- Jessica Fertitta
IGNITE- Tiffany Jan
CONNECT- Kunal Das

IGNITE- Lane Sealy

CONNECT- Grant Stanis
CONNECT- Maria Rivera
IGNITE- Paul Albrecht

IGNITE- Amanda Johnson
IGNITE- Amy Salek

CONNECT- Rebecca Frankel

CONNECT- Mario Sanchez
IGNITE- Chris Wayman
IGNITE- Jessica Bradley

*Fine Arts*
IGNITE- Henry Baker

IGNITE- Mike Schofield
CONNECT- Marina Del Sol
IGNITE- Alex Pekker
IGNITE- Charlotte Allmon
CONNECT- Chris Seaberg

IGNITE- Chris Lee


*Liberal Arts*
INGITE- Clint Adcox
IGNITE- Nawal Abdeladim
CONNECT- Meg Clifford
IGNITE- Katie Naranjo

*Natural Sciences*
CONNECT- Toyin Falola
IGNITE- Kim Skrobarcek
CONNECT- Nicole Trinh
CONNECT- Eric Longoria

CONNECT- Nicole Capriles

*Social Work*
IGNITE- Jan Carroll

*Union Board*
IGNITE- Wes Carpenter
IGNITE- Fallon McLane

*Student Events Center President*
Julio "JV" Vela

Posted at 07:30 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 01, 2005

UT YCT Chair Lauren Conner Emails

By Byron LaMasters

Shocker. It's another YCT (Young Conservatives of Texas) controversy. There's some speculation regarding what the UT YCT chapter will be doing tomorrow. An email has been sent out stating the following:

Well, the YCT (Young Conservatives of Texas) are at it again. This time they've organized a so-called "Immigrant Hunt" for this Wednesday, March 2nd on the West Mall on campus-- they have reserved the space from 11:00am-1:00pm. They recently organized a similar event at the University of North Texas (http://www.yct.org/illegal.htm) and appear to be emboldened by the post-9-11 anti-immigrant climate. They plan to wear color-coded anti-immigrant shirts and "hunt for immigrants" who will be YCT-ers dressed in brown for Latina/os, yellow for Asians, etc. and offer rewards.

A counter-demonstration is planned by a multi-ethnic coalition of student organizations in response at the same time. Folks are asking for a huge turnout, and that people wear black shirts and white bandanas if possible, and bring signs and chants-- some folks will be linking hands in silent protest, others will be vocal and hold signs and pass out flyers outlining a progressive position on immigration. Please pass this information along to all your listserves. Thanks.

Apparently, this information was incorrect. The current UT-YCT Chair responded with this lovely email:

The information you received is false. Somebody made
this shit up, and I'm extremely pissed off. We're having a friggin' Texas Independence Day Celebration tomorrow....AND THAT'S IT!!! Cakes and Cookies and Lemonade!!! I got a hold of the original email that I'm guessing you received, and it was all lies. Email whoever sent you your information, and ask them to research their information before they sent it ALL OVER THE UNITED STATES!!!

Lauren E.Conner
Young Conservatives of Texas - UT Austin

Apparently, this email has caused the chair some negative publicity for the organization. These emails from Lauren Conner have also been sent tonight via the YCT listserve:




AND... this

YCT: I didn't mean to sound like a dictator when I sent out that email about not talking to the press. The reason I sent it out bold and to the point is because I wanted to make sure that everybody read it. We've had some press problems in the last 24 hours. I retract my last email and am sending this one instead:

Just a reminder: Please remember that only members with express authoritzation from me can speak on behalf of YCT to the press. This is a policy put in place to protect the organization. I trust all of y'all, but we have had problems in the past when folks commented to the press without knowing all the facts of what YCT was doing. I don't want to hog the limelight, though. If you would like to speak to the press, please consult with me so we can make sure we are on the same page and everyone knows all the facts. But until that has happened and you have my expressed approval, I have to ask everyone to avoid speaking to the press for the protection of the group. Thanks for your cooperation and I look forward to seeing y'all tomorrow at Texas Independence Day!

Well... something is up! Will YCT-UT join YCT-UNT in a racist "Capture the Illegal Immigrant Game"? It wouldn't surpise me. Their chair, Lauren Conner is quite defensive.

Posted at 08:57 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

A Blue Beacon...

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

...of hope in a sea of red.

That's what the Think Blue Blog says of the University Democrats who are selling their blue wristbands on campus. If you want one, stop by the West Mall table and purchase one for $2 or get one from me if you see me around.

Also, don't forget to vote in today's campus elections!

Posted at 02:45 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Voting Ignite unAmerican? Please...

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

This is what I get for staying up late at night. Earlier on Connect's website was a flash video that called any vote for the rival Ignite campaign UnAmerican. In the case it is removed from the site (which it now has been), it's original source can still be found here for viewing.


Transcript is below. Screenshots in the extended entry of key frames.

Vote Connect!!! Directed by The Rookie

(Black) Rookie: What's up, y'all? This is the Rookie. Hey, Uncle Sam, who you voting for tomorrow?

Uncle Sam: Most definitely Omar and Elizabeth, Rookie! To vote Ignite would be unAmerican.

R: Yes, indeed. CONNECT's primary focus is to connect the Students to Student Government.

US: Ask not what Omar and Elizabeth can do for you, but what you can do for Omar and Elizabeth.

R: And CONNECT will ultimately do a heck of a lot more for you than those peeps in the Black Tees...

US: SO, VOTE CONNECT MARCH 1 & 2! Come on, Rookie, let's go show em how it's done.




This is uncalled for. Through the interview process I was assured that the highest levels of the Connect campaign did not authorize any destruction of Ignite campaign materials. I would like to know how high up the chain approval for this video goes. As a Democrat who has had this charge personally leveled against me before, I take great offense to this action and believe it reflects poorly on the character of people I would otherwise have thought would be 'sensitive' to these issues.

Posted at 08:07 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

February 28, 2005

SG Debates Tonight

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Tonight at 9:30, I'll be on the local tele since I was a panelist for the KVR cable news debates for the Student Government elections. Plus you can watch the rather bizarre lightning round which lead today's Texan coverage.

You can watch it online here when it gets posted later on. But if you live in the Austin area, it's Channel 16 on Cable, Channel 15 in the dorms, and Channel 9 for Antenna at 9:30 pm tonight, and again at 9:00 pm tomorrow night.

Posted at 03:47 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

My SG Endorsements

By Andrew Dobbs

So Karl-T and the Daily Texan have spoken, now its time for the guy who almost got into this mess to speak up about who should be in the new Student Government. I'll only make endorsements in the races I can vote in- President, VP, Two-Year At Large, One-Year At Large, Liberal Arts, Communications, Union Board and SEC. I'll also throw in some info about a few other people that should be supported.

President- Jessica Rice, Ignite.

This one was the toughest for me because I think that they would both be decent presidents, but for different reasons. Omar Ochoa is a natural politician and can schmooze legislators and other powerful people with the best of them. Furthermore, he is a staunch Democrat and SG would be a good foot-in-the-door for a future elected official. He's tough and knows about organizing, so he wouldn't be a bad choice.

But I choose Jessica Rice. To be honest, part of it is because she is a friend of mine and has always treated me well, even when I worked against her last year. But a larger part of it is that she is just as smart as Omar, perhaps not as experienced or tough, but she is much less prone to the mendacity that Omar has demonstrated to me. He showed up, uninvited, to a party my friends were holding and when I asked him later who had invited him he lied to me without blinking, without pausing for a second. A good skill for a politician perhaps, but only for the wrong kind of politician. Jessica Rice is a better person, and in the end, that is all that matters.

VP- Colby Hanks, Ignite.

This one was tough as well, but very similar to the Presidential race. Elizabeth Brummett is a tough gal, smart and well-organized. Hanks' strength is in her almost unlimited charisma. But Brummmett has a couple of things that make me say no. First, I have the unique distinction of having been severely beaten by Elizabeth Brummett in last year's election. That didn't figure into this at all- I knew I was going to lose and if anything her popularity makes her a good choice. But one thing she was a part of in that campaign did- the effort to portray me as a sexual harrasser and misogynist. A friend of mine later hung out with one of the girls who filed the charges and she confirmed what we had always known- they put on an act to make me look bad so that we would lose. They pretended to be all upset and to speak a lot of jibberish to ruin my reputation. When charges of sexual harrassment are politicized, it makes it infinitely harder for real victims to get a fair hearing. Elizabeth Brummett is a part of that shame.

But she is not someone I dislike, I understand why she did it. A much more pertinent reason to vote for Colby is that she is truly an independent with no baggage. Brummett has a lot of committments to some special interests that I think get too much money from students- namely the Multicultural Information Center and other bottomless pits of irrelevance that suck down student fees. I like Colby because she'll take these people to task. Finally, Colby has guts. Brummett is the type to vote for inane resolutions because she is afraid of hacking off various leftish interests on campus. Colby leaned towards me and told me during one meeting when I asked her if she would support such nonsense and said "That's why I'm running- to stop this stuff." That gets my vote any day of the week.

Two Year At Large:

Michael Windle, Connect
Courtney Livingston, Connect
Anjali Fleury, Ignite
(No Endorsement)

I only ensorse three out of 4 spots because I don't know who any of these other people are, though many seem like they have some great ideas. Many of them are from the same handful of groups that dominate these sorts of things- spirit and greek organizations. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it just seems to promote the student council mindset of student government- an unwillingness to take responsibility. So I'll go with the three I endorse.

Courtney Livingston is a rock star. From the first time I met her when she was a freshman with about 3 classdays under her belt she impressed me. She is tireless, devoted, driven and has big ideas. She will set the world on fire some day and she will bring the kind of strength and leadership SG needs.

Michael Windle is a good guy as well. He is one of the smartest guys in the Assembly and has a lot of great insight into issues important to students. He knows how to get things done and he'll be a great leader for students.

Anjali Fleury I don't know. But from what I've heard she is a great environmental activist that seeks ways to make the university more sustainable and environmentally aware. Perhaps a single issue focus, but you need that from time to time and I think she'll be a good conscience for the Assembly.

One Year At Large:
Kunal Das, Connect
Jessica Fertitta, Connect
Bekah Hotze, Ignite
Danielle Rugoff, Ignite

Kunal Das I don't know, but he sounds like a great person to have in the Assembly. He started a successful online small business here at the University and has some great ideas about how to improve funding for student groups with a single application. Leadership and vision, that is what we need and this guy's got it.

Jessica Fertitta I don't know either but I've read enough to know that she has at least some level of expertise in activism regarding the legislature and tracking important legislation. That is important in this session so she gets my vote. Plus, she's a Terry Scholar like me and poor smart people gotta stick together.

Bekah Hotze is a friend of mine and I think that she would be a great leader in the Assembly. She is friendly and charismatic with a history of family activism in Republican politics, she knows how to communicate with legislative leaders. She is a good person and deserves the position.

Danielle Rugoff is a very dear friend of mine and is one of the most impressive people I know. A tireless activist for Israel and other important issues, particularly in the Jewish community, she has interned in Washington DC and has a lot of friends here in Austin. She is an organizer, and someone that will be an important person one day. She ought to be in the Assembly.

Liberal Arts:

Katie Naranjo, Ignite
Clint Adcox, Ignite
Andrew Solomon, Connect
(No Endorsement-2)

I only endorse three people out of five slots because I don't know many of these people and a quick look at their qualifications make me think that they are simply going to be part of the problem.

Katie Naranjo is one of the most impressive people I've met in a long time. She came to this university this year and set it on fire. An officer in the University Democrats, an intern for my old boss Rep. Jim McReynolds (D-Lufkin), someone with enough charisma for 10 people she is going to be someone someday. She also let me use her tire iron once and I've broken the law with her so I think I owe her.

I don't know Clint Adcox or Andrew Solomon but they both sound like great candidates. Anyone who says he doesn't care what his unelected college council says, he's going to vote his conscience gets my vote- so go Clint Adcox. Andrew Solomon is a Terry Scholar. Other than that I don't know, but once again T-Scholars gotta stick together!


Amy Salek, Ignite.
Amanda Johnson, Ignite.

Freshman year it was funny- every single organization I was in, Amanda Johnson ended up being in also. Terry Scholars, UDs, Student Government, Communication Council- we were always around one another. She is smart, charismatic, unflappable and driven. She will provide great leaderhip in the Assembly and will be an independent voice for Communications students.

Amy Salek is probably among the most specificially qualified people on the ballot. She's on the Dean Selection Committee for the College of Communications, meaning she will personally know and in fact have some leverage over the new Dean of the Communications school. She is also active in many other organizations in the college making her an effective and representative voice for the students of the University.

Union Board-

Wes Carpenter, Ignite.
Fallon McLane, Ignite.

Interestingly enough, I looked over the pages for the Connect candidates and while both of them seem like good enough guys, neither have ANY experience with Union facilities listed. So I figured I'd vote for the people who know what they are doing. Wes is an old friend and has worked with the Distinguished Speakers Commmittee, Fallon is apparantly on the African American Culture Committee- the chair in fact. So they get my vote. Still, I would like someone who is going to kick out Taco Bell for their atrocious labor practices, but I suppose that's wanting too much.

SEC President-

John Grube

The UDs endorsed him, Zach says he knows him and is voting for him, that's all I need in a race I'm not too informed on. Julio Vela looks impressive and I've been told that the opinion of one other whose opinion matters most to me in this regard (who will remain nameless) is supporting Vela. So Grube or Vela- vote twice if you can.

So that's everything. Just one last note- I'd vote for Grant Stanis of Connect and Paul Albrecht of Ignite if I were in the Business School. Grant is a rock star- someone who doesn't take shit from anyone and who has a passion that makes SG more effective. Paul is a great guy who knows the needs of business students. I'd vote for Jan Carroll in the Social Work school for her work on GLBT issues. Mario Sanchez for Engineering Rep wants to get rid of the ticket system, a cause near and dear to my heart. He's running on the Connect Ticket. Finally, Jack Waite is an independent in the LBJ school. Independence is a good thing and seeing as the small and graduate college reps on the big tickets are usually just placeholders who do nothing, a guy who is psyched enough about SG to start his own campaign is clearly going to be a good representative.

Other than these, check out the other endorsements from people more knowledgeable than me and don't forget to vote!

Posted at 01:32 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Texan Splits- Endorses Rice / Brummett

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

An interesting combo defined more by weaknesses than strengths which are all explained online here in the Texan's full list of endorsements.

Plus the awesome chart of the Panel's decision is avaiable here (just for today) on page 5 (PDF).

All of the panelist's individual commentary is located here. Laura Gladney-Lemon has a Progressive list she put together in hers as well.

As a service that I hope the Panel does not mind, I have uploaded all the candidates who returned the Texan Questionaires to a central organized location. Information is power, so here is some more.

Posted at 08:05 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

February 25, 2005

SG: Fun with Facebook!

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

No, this has nothing to do with me and facebook, but rather, funny things I have found on Facebook related to SG.

As far as group membership goes at this point...

Connect: 425
Ignite: 385
Don't Pollute the Innocent Facebook With Sg Crap: 9

That last group had a very clever picture which I've posted here.

In addition, I found it slightly amusing that one of the few Connect "groupies" was none other than Jessica Rice, Ignite's Presidential Candidate. (being a group's groupie means you have x number of friends in that group but you aren't in it yourself). So all the connect supporters that log in to view their group page, see this most every time. (pop-up)

And not to forget the SEC President Race!!!

Voting Justin Burniske For Sec President: 1 (himself)
I'm voting for John Grube for SEC President: 89
Vote for Joy!: 10 (with Justin Burniske as a groupie)
JV Offers You His Protection: 24

I don't know how much this says about the SEC race momentum wise, but I would say that it seems like Mr. Grube is in a good position. Joy seems to be very popular in the gay community for some reason (must be our natural attraction to black women?) and Justin is winning in the "I have the most overexposed pictures of myself on my posters" category. (Does anyone else find those slighty disturbing besides me?)

Posted at 08:22 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Equal Time

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

First off, look for Daily Texan endorsements on all the student elections on Monday. The Texan editorial board issues it's own endorsement, separate from the panelists, though we'll be on our own page. (I'm looking forward to the 12 hours of interviews we have tomorrow, I kid you not!)

After today's little scuffle noted in the Texan, both campaigns have since sent out e-mails to their listservs, so I have posted the relevent info in the extended entry.

Oh, and Dusty Mangum, UT's hot Rose Bowl kick winning Kicker will be appearing at the Ignite Rally on Sunday 8 PM on the main mall. Daron Roberts, former SG president four years ago, will also be an invited guest according to one of the thousands of SG ticket related flyers I've run across this week. I've had no word yet on the level of 'campaign activites' that Connect will be hosting this weekend as I'm sure everyone is still sorting out today's ruling.

So with that, to the extended entry!

First, a short note from Ignite.

Last night our opponents were found in violation of several Election Code provisions by the Election Supervisory Board, an independent body, and have been banned from campaigning until Tuesday at 12:01 am. This means they will not be allowed to campaign anywhere. They cannot ask people for their vote or even for their support, promote their platform ideas, or speak to organizations--the only thing they are allowed to do is wear their t-shirts.

IGNITE will be the only presence on campus today and on Monday, and we need you now more than ever. If you have a shirt, make sure it gets on a body. If you don't have a shirt, stop by and grab a button from our tables. Wear these with pride because they represent the ethics that have been behind this campaign from the beginning. Come by our tables, even if it's just for a few minutes, and join us today and Monday as we continue towards elections!

Jess, Colby, and the IGNITE family

Fairly short, professional, and self-explanatory so I'll move on to Connect.

There was an ESB hearing tonight and a decision was made against us. We were filed on because we reserved Banner Space on Speedway and in the Business School under organzations that we were a part of. This is a typical thing done by campaigns and has always been done in the past.

We were found to be guilty of violating a SALD (CCI) rule as well as a ESB Advisory Opinion. The penalty we recieved is that we are not allowed to campaign on Friday or Monday. This means no tabling, no speaker circuits, no putting up signs, no saying Vote.

You need to know we did nothing wrong and that we are appealing this decision. Here are the details:

The first is that both campaigns originally reserved Banner Space under organizatons. SALD found out that the Ignite ticket was doing this and they removed their banner reservations. We were never told by CCI or the ESB that this was a direct violation. The first time that we heard about this was a violation was when the Advisory Opinion #3 was issued yesterday.

We are confused and appalled by this decison. This alleged violation is not written in any University code including the ESB code. The advisory opinion given by the ESB Chair was given after the banners were up and therefore we had no formal knowledge of this rule until that time and as soon as we did know about it we quickly removed the banners.

We are appealing this decision and hopefully it will be resolved before Monday so that we can camapign. We are both working dilegently to ensure that our campaign is not penalized for things that we did not know about. We need to work a hundred times harder to make sure this doesn't affect our campaign the way many are hoping it will. We are planning events for the weekend to make sure we can make up for the lost time. Stay strong and let's all stick together, we need to remain CONNECTed now more than ever.

If anyone else has comments or a response that's in addition to what was already said in the last post, please post them.

Posted at 07:49 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Connect Ticket Faces 2 Day Ban

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Whoa. This is huge. The Texan article explains it, but it seems the Connect ticket (which was challening my panel status yesterday) is now banned from campaigning entirely until elections start next Tuesday. And this is a result of new charges, not any of the ones filed last week from what I can gather.

I've got class so I'll comment more later.

Posted at 08:38 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 24, 2005

A Question of my Panel Status

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Submitted in response to a charge against me by one of the tickets.

As one of the Student Government involved students on the Daily Texan Panel, it would be irresponsible to state that myself, the two current SG Reps, or SG Executive member are blind to the individuals and personalties that this year's Student Election Tickets consist of. My work and experience with members of the Assembly and various Committees and Agencies has allowed me to become familiar with many of the candidates that are already running and view this as a strength for each of the SG involved students on this Panel.

In regards to recent concerns made by one of the campaign's members with whom I've worked in the Assembly:

Questions were asked about my membership in regards to particular "The Facebook" groups. My membership in these groups was made early in the campaign season as I was invited to join them and being one interested in the promotion of Student Government as an entity and Elections as a practice for democracy. Had I been invited to join any other related SG or SEC or Union Board or Co-op Board election groups I would have been more than happy to confirm them, especially due to their lower visibility. This follows with my philosophy of elections and is why I am in such groups like "If You are a City Council Election Ballot, I Will Fill You Out" and "I Love my Constable". Any such groups I have joined have been due to invitation only.

To alleviate any such concerns over the "appearance of corruption", I have removed myself from all Election related groups, even those that are unrelated to tickets but may contain candidates. Being a panelist, I would rather have the option of being invited to all the groups in order to keep up with campaign news and activities to make a more informed decision. In fact, I have been on the Connect campaign listserv a full week longer than the Ignite campaign listserv. I take making an informed vote seriously and less information makes that more difficult, but if either campaign has a problem with this action, they may remove me from their lists.

As the University Democrats Webmaster, I am charged with notifying our membership of any endorsements made by the collective membership at endorsement meetings. My notification to the UDems members listserv of the body's vote to endorse Ignite and Grube for SEC president was made as part of my job description as outlined in the UDems constitution which is available on our website, www.udems.org. Nothing more, nothing less. I notified the two leaders of each campaign about this action before the vote was held, and such action would have been taken if UDems had decided to endorse Connect.

As a blogger for the Burnt Orange Report, I have been covering SG politics since last August. My recent coverage of the SG campaign season is nothing new, as I reported on it last year as well. I notified both of the leaders of the campaigns of my coverage in that publication with the understanding that I would report and comment on the race, positive or negative for either ticket, and viewed coverage of SG politics and the promotion of the institution through that venue as nothing but beneficial to the Body as well as my readers, many of whom vote at UT. Neither side has responded with any complaints to this outlined statement.

Every day this week I have been visiting the campaign tables, at both the West Mall and Jester. I have talked with various people from each ticket, about the SG election, as well as socially as I have friends campaigning for each ticket. I do not feel I have to explain my presence or conversation with any particular candidate or person and my presence spent at either table should not be taken or viewed as an endorsement of that particular campaign or platform. Knowing that the Panel will be spending MANY hours reviewing applications and interviewing people, I wished to get a bit of a leg up in advance so as not to have to scramble at the last minute developing opinions in one 24 hour period.

As a result of the great deal of work and self-education and research I have made to date, I, as I am sure other active panelists, may hold certain leanings in particular individual contests, any of which are by no means set, as the next 2 days will see an explosive growth in our collective knowledge of this year's election. But this is not a result of any one of us trying to influence or "stack" the panel, but rather a natural result of being actively involved participants on par with the thousands of students who have educated themselves and joined a campaign to date. To have a Panel of 8 truly unbiased, independent, non-opinionated members would be nearly impossible to assemble- for any such people, at this point, would have to be so far out of the loop or anti-elections to begin with, that the recommendation of any such panel would be meaningless.

I am sorry that my active involvement in this effort has been taken as an indication of subversion or impropriety. I will work to correct this misconception while working to produce an educated "bi-partisan" opinion in the Panel's efforts this weekend.

Respectfully submitted,
Karl-Thomas Musselman

Posted at 04:31 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

UDs Endorse Ignite for SG / Grube for SEC

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

At tonight's University Democrats meeting, the membership voted to endorse in campus elections.

Student Government
The Ignite ticket won the UD endorsement.
The Connect ticket placed second.
Both choices by far outweighed votes to not endorse in the race.

Student Events Center
In the initial vote, there was no candidate with a majoriy. The order of strength was...
Justin Burniske
John Grube
Joy Phillips
Julio "JV" Vela

The top three candidates were closely bunched, reflecting the otherwise "non-stand outish-ness" of any particular candidate in regards to UDems.

In the Run-off, John Grube went from being one net vote behind Justin, to one net vote ahead, and won the endorsement of the University Democrats. Who says one vote never counted.

The announcement of UDems endorsements has been sent out to the 1600 people on our listserv. I will not announce my personal choice for the SEC race as I believe those of us on the Daily Texan endorsement panel (yes, I'm on it) will also be reviewing the SEC candidates this weekend along with all those on the SG tickets.

Posted at 06:52 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 22, 2005

Campus Election Links

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Student Government Campaigns
Vote Ignite
Vote Connect

Student Events Center President
Justin Burniske
John Grube
Joy Phillips
Julio "JV" Vela

I forgot to mention the other day that the Ignite ticket has already 'won' one seat in the assembly due to Connect's Engineering candidate Melvin Ike being removed last week for some unknown reason.

Posted at 11:18 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

SG Campaign Misconduct?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Say it ain't so!

Part of the annual tradition of Student Government campaigns is to try to one-up your opponent when it comes to legal charges, which can result in opposing campaigns losing the right to campaign or at worst, removing candidates from the election. Ignite has UDems Vice President Ali Puente as their legal point person (who learned a heck of a lot last year when she worked for RepreZent). I don't know who Connect's legal person is, but Ali is formidable.

Last year the Focus ticket did a fairly good job at disgracing the RepreZent campaign in the Daily Texan thanks to the actions of our very own Andrew Dobbs, which of course were blown out of proportion but such is the nature of the beast. But it was effective in lining up internal SG support at the time and killing the little momentum that RepreZent had.

This year, it seems that the first wave of effective 'misconduct' charges are against the CONNECT ticket according to today's Texan coverage. My commentary is in between...

Ignite is accusing Connect of violating election rules regarding vandalism. According to Ignite, Connect members illegally advertised themselves in chalk on bathroom and room signs in the business school.

"The fact that the University has vandalism in the same section as violent crime shows that this is obviously something the University takes very seriously," said Ali Puente, the legal advisor for Ignite and government junior.

At a hearing Monday night, Connect confirmed the allegations, and the ESB has prohibited Connect from campaigning in the business building on the first day of elections, March 2.

Ok, names on chalkboards are pretty silly, but it is important to note that the first day of elections is March 1, not March 2 as well as the fact that not being able to campaign in a building on election day is significant. Since campaigns usually set up mobile voting centers in building on election days (online voting on laptops), giving turf to the other campaign gives a point to Ignite in this case.

In another complaint, Ignite notes significant damages to their West Campus A-frames. A hammer was left at one site.

Angela Rose Courtney, security officer at the Kappa Delta and Sigma Delta Tau sorority houses, personally witnessed one act of vandalism.

"You see these signs being vandalized and everything, but you don't see Connect signs being vandalized," she said. "You don't see nothing happening to Connect."

Connect filed a complaint that what Ignite calls A-frames are in fact billboards, since they are clearly professionally designed and are not made of wood. Ignite replied that there aren't actually any requirements in the ESB code that the A-frames be either hand-painted or wooden.

Besides the use of a double negative in that quote, this is the kind of actions that turns people off. And as far as I know, no one is using true "A-frames" but rather big boards that lean, as you can see from Connect's pictures or Ignite's pictures. I can only guess that this is an Election Code wording argument.

Regardless, having any of your supporters destroy large scale campaign signs in West Campus should not be acceptable, I don't care what campaign you are. If I was CONNECT I wouldn't be arguing about the definition of "is" when I should be condemning any such destructive actions. I believe this is the most visible and potentially damaging of the allegations in this article to regular Daily Texan readers because it's not something that could be accidental like chalkboards or signs on kiosks or something, which can be forgiven.

Connect also accused Ignite of failing to properly report the cost of their Web site, citing that it was credited to a professional company entitled Astonish Designs. Dilen Kumar, Plan II senior and campaign manager of Ignite said Astonish Designs is run by business school student Tim Hamilton, economics junior, who designed the Web site as a personal favor to Ignite vice presidential candidate Colby Hanks, a finance senior.

The Ignite Web site had been riddled with attacks, according to Ignite. Before campaigning began, an unidentified hacker altered profiles, putting in several profane and slanderous remarks about Ignite candidates.

I happen to believe in proper and honest reporting of campaign expenditures. After digging around in Texas Ethics Commission data last fall, I believe that if you are going to go ahead and allow in-kind gifts of any kind, they should at least be made clear and reported. So if Ignite was trying to cover anything here, shame. Chris Kennedy has some thoughts on that.

At the same time, hacking someone's website, if true, is petty and shows bad taste. And so I will take this opportunity to comment on their websites. Ignite's is very professional, like their signs, and many of their candidates in my opinion. It would help if they could have duplicated their campaign logo online as well. CONNECT's has gotten better over the past week, but when first launched was more reminiscent of a student council campaign quality operation. And that Lime Green and Blue color scheme, ouch. I'll agree with Chris Kennedy on that one in saying it hurts my eyes. And Chris has website recommendations you can read!

I'll skip the Texan's comments on whisper campaigns because unless someone's going to say what's being whispered, I've got nothing to say.

Ignite has been campaigning illegally in the Jester dormitory, according to Connect's final accusation. Ochoa said that only dorm residents are allowed to campaign in dorms, and even then only on their own floor. Ignite said that one of the campaigners resides on the 12th floor of Jester, so their actions were acceptable. However, Dan Paschal, campaign manager for Connect, was quick to point out that the campaigning, in fact, occurred on the 4th floor, making it illegal.

If this is the best charge that Connect can lob at Ignite (other than the website reporting) then Ignite is either running a clean campaign or Connect is lacking the legal or public relations team to put charges forward. Since I doubt it is the latter, I'll argue the first until proven otherwise.

But if we are going to make an issue out of campaign signs in dorms (which I wouldn't have had a clue about had it not been for this article) then it makes me wonder about the legality of the three CONNECT signs that are posted on boards in hallways here in the Honors Dorms (two of which are not even close to being near actual student living quarters). So I took pictures, which you can see here, here, and here.

In short, I would agree with Chris Kennedy that coming into this, Connect has the advantage from an organizational standpoint. With the support of FLO (Freshman Leadership Organization), the production line for SG candidates and volunteers in past elections, Connect does have an advantage in visibility. But today’s Texan article takes some wind out of their sails, giving Ignite their first ‘real’ opening, since neither side won any points with the Texan coverage of the platforms yesterday. I agree that the platforms are not going to move many votes, and this election will be won on personality, turnout, endorsements, and social networks.

Posted at 08:19 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 21, 2005

Man of the House; How Embarrassing

By Zach Neumann

I don’t know if any of you have been following this, but on Friday the Burnt Orange is going to be looking pretty bad. Why you ask? Because the administration decided that it would be in the best interests of the University to allow Tommy Lee Jones and Cedric the Entertainer to film a movie centered around the UT cheerleading squad. Though I haven’t done much plot research, I get the impression that the story is as follows: 1. UT cheerleaders witness a crime (a murder I think) 2. They are being threatened because they are witnesses 3. A gruff, yet kind hearted Tommy Lee Jones is assigned to protect them 4. Hilarity ensues. I know this provides publicity for UT, but at what cost?

Posted at 09:22 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

SG/Senate Issues Again!

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I got the greatest letter today from SG President Brent Chaney, one of those so called "inside circle" memos that the Texan talked about last week. It is in regards to the Voting Student on the Board of Regents issue which was been discussed here and here before.

The letter is awesome (Brent could be a blogger) and I suggest you read it in full if you like UT stuff.

Hey Everyone,

The last UT System Student Advisory Council Meeting was held on Friday and Saturday before making our recommendations at the May Board of Regents Meeting. It is important you know what happened because students were poorly represented again.

Day One:

I arrived Friday afternoon having already sent in the Voting Student Regent letter to all of the members receiving only an e-mail from Nick saying it looked good. The meeting had been going on for three hours and Nick [Staha, Senate of College Councils chair] still had not shown up leaving UT Austin represented by only me. I finally called him and he said he was sleeping. Nick came to the meeting only to block the letter from leaving his committee. I was glad I called to remind him of the meeting while he was sleeping.

The current Chair and Advisor for UTSSAC moved the letter away from my committee and gave it to Nick’s committee. Of course I had a problem with this and protested, but they insisted citing that Nick’s committee had very few recommendations (They actually had the most recommendations). Nick’s committee dropped the letter. I was not allowed there or to have any say.

Then nominations for next years UTSSAC exec begins. The UT Tyler President and I were nominated for Chair. Nick was nominated for Administrative Assistant and Vice Chair. The problem with two UT Austin students getting recommended is that next year there would be no new members from UT Austin because there can only be two representatives from each component school. I shared with Nick that I would resign if we both were elected because I believe there needs to be new blood on the council every year. He disagreed strongly and said we can both serve without a problem.

Day Two:
The committees give their reports to the greater body to be voted on. Everything went smoothly until the Student Regent recommendation came up. Once again Nick spoke out against it, at one time calling it “crazy.” I offered to fix wording if needed, but Nick continued his crusade against it. The time for voting comes and the adviser deems a student body president ineligible because he is doing an internship in Austin and is not full time at his University. He also disqualifies the other representatives from that school because he says the president of their University had not officially named them to be on the council. The student body president and vice president from UT El Paso did not show up. They were all very much for a student regent.

The time for voting comes and the Administrative Assistant on Exec calls for a secret vote. I challenge the secret vote on the grounds that one person should not be able to make that decision. The Chair conveniently had the page already turned in front of him and read the rule for me. A number of Student Body Presidents then made motions that the vote not be secret and the Chair ignored the motion due to the secret ballot papers already being passed around. There went accountability. Student Regent lost by a vote of 10-9 with one abstention with a secret ballot.

It was sad to see the interests of students of our University and the system get thrown away by ridiculous arguments. Nick is quoted in today’s Texan citing the reason why he was against it that “Most that voted thought getting a student as a member on the board was a good idea but not for us to ask the regents to do something that was illegal” It is amazing how asking the Board of Regents to write a letter of support for a student being on the Board of Regents is illegal, but the tax-free textbook recommendation which pointed out certain bills that the Regents should support had nothing wrong with it. Nick is wrong.

The elections for Exec happened next. Nick was also nominated for Chair. I was elected Chair and will serve the students of our System next year. UTSSAC will not have anymore secret ballots or misappropriated recommendations. If you have any questions about what happened please let me know. Students deserve better.

For those wondering about a Voting Student Regent, this will not slow anything down. One student from our University will not ruin what everyone else believes in. The students of UT System are for a Voting Student Regent. UT Austin will continue to take the lead for student representation.

I hope you all had a great weekend and as always please let me know if there is anything I can help with.


Posted at 12:27 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

February 16, 2005

Get Ready... It's SG Campaign Season

By Zach Neumann

Well folks, it’s that time of year again. With Spring Break just around the corner, current and future SGers have taken to the West Mall to promote their respective candidacies. Bearing goofy one word names and generic t-shirts, it looks like another vanilla ice cream battle. To get election coverage started here on BOR, I have decided to review some of each campaign’s platform proposals. Hold your breath, it just gets better from here…

Lets start with Ignite:

Appoint a City Council Liaison: Wow, what a novel idea. Although Student Government already has a Citizen’s Affairs Committee that deals almost exclusively with the city government, it seems that Ignite wants to duplicate this. Moreover, many past SG presidents have appointed someone from the assembly to represent their interests to the city council in addition to the Citizen’s Affairs Committee.

Create a Campus Safety Agency: You mean like the UTPD? Or maybe you’re referring to the APD? Even if the agency is going to “represent student” safety issues, it will still be duplicating pre existing committee structures.

Student-friendly TA development: Creating a review process that better matches TAs with the students: What the hell does this mean? Maybe it means that TAs getting PhDs in a certain subject are matched with students in classes that are studying that very topic. What a radical idea…

Improve the Parking Situation on Campus: Gee I’ve never heard an SG campaign propose anything like this before. While it pains me to say this, parking will never be substantially improved on campus until we have more parking spaces or a lot less people.

And last, but not least (and my personal favorite): Change time limits on workout machines at Gregory Gym from 20 to 30mins. Wow, I don’t know where to start. To begin with, time limits are not enforced at Gregory Gym or the Rec Center. I’ve seen people spend 45 minutes to an hour on treadmills. Moreover, part of the reason there is a twenty minute time limit (unenforced though it may be) is to give everyone a chance to use the equipment. Either way, this is all exceptionally trivial and unimportant when compared to tuition, student services and transportation issues.

On to Connect: Discount for Students with ID at Austin Movies and Restaurants: This is just lame. Are they going to achieve this through passing a resolution in the assembly? Or will this occur through lobbying local businesses? It doesn’t really matter as this idea does not address the serious problems that face students… (like tuition issues).

Set Tuition Costs for 4 Year Periods: Though this is unfeasible (given the legislature’s disregard for higher ed. issues), I think it is an interesting and somewhat novel idea. It’s the first one I’ve seen so far on either website.

Ensure Grades are Posted Online for Every Class Throughout Semester: This is impossible. Is the student government going to require tenured professors to post grades online? I doubt it.

I could continue on, but I think I’ll stop for tonight. Though most of the ideas proposed (by both tickets) are fairly weak, my cursory reading of things indicates that Connect has a more significant agenda. While it is largely unachievable given the massive restraints on Student Government, at least they are trying to think big. Then again, one could argue that Ignite is just trying to be practical.

Posted at 07:23 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 14, 2005

Bob Jensen on Ward Churchill

By Byron LaMasters

I tend to agree with Jim's comments on the Ward Churchill controversy. Churchill, of course, made the reference to many of the victims of 9/11 as "little Eichmanns" in an essay on the topic. I decided to withhold judgment on Churchill until I had the chance to understand the context of the remark, so I watched a rally where he spoke at CU defending his remarks in front of supporters. While Churchill excludes the "janitors, food-service workers, children, rescue workers, or passers-by who were killed" from the "little Eichmanns" characterization, he includes the stock traders and other businessmen in the towers as "enablers" of U.S. foreign policy that according to him triggered 9/11.

I agree with Jim's statement that there is "a fine line between controversy and idiocy". UT journalism professor Bob Jensen has argued that the foreign policy of the United States is in many ways responsible for the 9/11 attacks. While I don't particularly agree with that sentiment, it is a worthwhile topic of debate. However, blasting American voters, business leaders, etc. as enablers of the 9/11 attacks comparable to the likes of Nazi's is just idiotic and indefensible. Yes, I understand Churchill's point on the injustices done by the United States to the Native Americans, and other minority groups over the past centuries, but none of actions rises anywhere near the moral equivalence of the actions Nazis.

With that said, it's interesting to take a look at the opinion of Bob Jensen - a professor for whom I disagree with, but respect - regarding Ward Churchill's remarks. Essentially, Jensen states his agreement with Churchill's central thesis regarding the 9/11 attacks, while noting that "there are points in the essay that I think missed the mark" and gives a roundabout defense of Churchill, but states that the "Eichmann" comment "even accepting that narrow construction... is still problematic". In conclusion, Jensen again states his agreement with Churchill's thesis, but urges Churchill to apologize to the families of 9/11 victims, while defending his thesis.

My personal opinion is still that Churchill should go. Freedom of speech is great, but idiocy from professors at institutions of higher education is not.

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February 13, 2005

An SG Update

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Students Government campaigns are only a couple more weeks away. I haven’t had as much time as I would like to keep up to date on all the activities going on, but I think it is time for a quick update on the state of the campaigns.

There are only two tickets this year, and of course, they have the standard, oh-so-creative one word names.

Ignite v. CONNECT

Ignite is headed up by Jessica Rice and Colby Hanks while CONNECT is led by Omar Ochoa and Elizabeth Brummet. For more on these people check out this original post I made last fall. Of course, since that post, Wes Carpenter has dropped off from heading the ticket that Rice now leads. Jessica Rice is currently on the Executive Board of SG.

The difference this year is that both tickets can be considered "SG" tickets. There is no major outside or reform group, though I'm sure that each may try to cast themselves that way. I haven’t seen the down ballot candidate placements (send them to me if your ticket has finalized them) but I wouldn't be surprised to see competitive placement of various SG agencies and student group leaders. Of course, it may depend on who has managed to add more of these such people to their ticket because until turnout rises, those people are important.

Both groups have already had their A-Frame building parties at Frat houses, Ignite hosting theirs at the Sigma Phi Epsilon house on 26th and Pearl and CONNECT at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house on 25th and Pearl. Both have had their first big campaign rallies earlier today which should be the initial indication of momentum in the race, so if anyone has a report on that as well, please let me know.

Now as to the all important question, who is the frontrunner? (Oh, and there is no race for Daily Texan editor or Texas Student Publications Board since there were as many candidates as seats)

It's hard to say. I'm tempted to say the Ignite ticket because I've just seen more of them everywhere and more of them keep in constant contact with me. Important to note as well is that at this time I would predict that the University Democrats would be more likely to endorse the Ignite ticket than CONNECT, partly because Jessica Rice has been to our meetings, partly because one of our officers is on their ticket. After last year's non-endorsement in the SG elections (beyond the UDs running), I feel the group is hungry to endorse an entire slate. And if turnout in the election is similar to last year, the 100 votes that can easily come from the UDems membership (and possibly more if we are active in the voting process) will represent 1%-2% of the vote. Nothing in comparison to having say a dozen frats on your side, which could be 1%-2% of the vote each.

This is why I hope that this year's elections help set up which I think is the more important longer term goal that I mentioned in that post I linked to above. A longer term, more progressive reform oriented ticket that is not dependant on the frats but on student organizations and the everyday populace here at UT.

But for now, that's my Burnt Orange Report. I very well may pick progressive back and forth down the ballot like last year. There is the chance that this year, more than the last two, there will no longer be 100% landslides.

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February 10, 2005

UT Watch Responds to Commission of 125

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The large planning and visioning process for UT had been out for a while, but UT Watch has released a very comprehensive reponse to the report which is available for you to download here. (PDF)

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Bush Library at UT? Hell no

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Our every friendly UT Board of Regents (infamous for being a bunch of Conservative Tutition Raising Hacks) has found something else to bid on, now that they have lost interest in Los Alamos-- The George W. Bush Presidential Library!

Now I know that these libraries bring prestige and scholarly research, but I'm sorry, considering we already have a far better President and Texan's Library (LBJ's) I'll pass on adding GWB's to the mix. Give it to Waco. The little space we have left here at UT should be spent on facilities or housing. Not some looming reminder that is out of place politically in this city.

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February 01, 2005

My Decision on the SG President Matter

By Andrew Dobbs

Alright, well, I thought about it and I really appreciate all the emails and posts. It was something I battled with and I'm still not completely satisfied about, but I doubt that I ever would be.

I'm not running.

I just don't have the time, the energy, the money or the stomach for the whole experience. I drew up a press release announcing that I was going to run and then I just couldn't do it. The thought of skipping work for standing around on the West Mall, of skipping sleep for late night strategizing, of skipping class for various campaign duties and skipping time with the people I care about for a lonely and ultimately unsuccessful effort just pushed me away. I wish I had more people who could help me, but it would be a lonely experience- most of my good friends just can't do it right now and others are already committed to one of the major campaigns. I can't ask them to turn their backs on the friends they've already committed to, so I would be by myself in this matter. I can't do it by myself and so I have to say no thanks.

I will still talk about the issues I care about, talking to the various campaigns and writing in this forum and perhaps seeking a column in the Daily Texan. I hope that the candidates in the race are up to the job, and I respect them for the work they are about to put into a campaign that will be tough.

Jessica, I know you said that you read BOR, which makes me very happy. I wasn't trying to be rude about Colby, I just couldn't for the life of me remember her last name and I didn't even know where to begin looking it up. Can't really use the directory if all you have is the first name. She impressed me when I talked to her and you impress me as well. Can't say you have my endorsement yet, but I'm sure you would be a good President.

All of the candidates are good people and I'll keep you up to date with everything as time goes on. Thanks again for all the support and let me know what you all think.

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January 31, 2005

Should I Run For SG President?

By Andrew Dobbs

All right, its that time of year again- SG elections are upon us. Filing begins today and as it stands two serious campaigns are underway- Jessica Rice with VP candidate Colby Can't-Remember-Her-Last-Name heading up one ticket and Omar Ochoa and Elizabeth Brummett heading up the other. It is a different campaign than the last two years- this year there are two "insider" campaigns and no largely "outsider" campaign such as the ill-fated Reprezent (which I ran on) last year and Envision the year before (which I helped defeat as a part of the victorious Students First campaign). Both presidential candidates are Democrats and I know that Brummett is a Republican and from my talks with Colby I suspect that she is as well.

One of these campaigns will win, and I'm okay with that. I like Jessica and Omar, I like Colby and have a great deal of respect for Elizabeth (she beat me last year in the election for 2 Year At Large Representative With One Year Remaining). Still, there are issues that can't be raised by a campaign that has a serious chance at winning and one of the biggest issues of them all (in my not-so-humble opinion), whether the ticket system is the best way to elect our representatives, can't be addressed by people running on tickets. Furthermore, while I like all of the candidates and think that anyone could be better than Brent "Please Don't Hurt Me" Chaney, I still don't see the junkyard dog spirit we need in a leader to take on the administration and the legislature if we wan't real change to occur. The SG should be a 2 Ton Gorilla around campus and in the Capitol, but it isn't because we tend to elect polite, well-dressed, popular lightweights to a job someone with an instinct for the jugular should be serving in. So while the odds would be against me, I feel that I have to stand up and be heard.

The obstacles are many. First is the fact that such a campaign would cost at least a little bit of money- signs, buttons, fliers, perhaps some t-shirts and a website. I don't have a lot of money right now and neither does my family. I could probably raise some, but I have a hard time asking for money from someone when I know I probably wouldn't win. Second is the time factor. I am taking 15 hours and working 25-30 hours a week in between everything else. I could cut back on my work hours and skip some class during the days and focus on speakers' circuit at night, but I people need to hear my message and such a set up isn't quite conducive to that. I have a lot more experience with generating media attention than my prospective opponents, so perhaps that will make up for the lack of time I can spend. Thirdly, there is the volunteer issue. At this late date, most of the people who would volunteer for a campaign have been picked up by one of the two major campaigns. Most of my friends are very busy people with large classloads and jobs. It would be a largely individual exercise on my part, which is fine- I almost prefer it that way- but the stress would be shouldered solely by me. Finally, there is the issue of friendships. I like Jessica Rice a lot and Omar has always been very friendly to me. I like many people on their respective campaigns, including several that are very close friends of mine. I wouldn't want to strain our friendships, and I could keep that from happening by running an issues-based campaign, but I am something of a polarizing figure in this community and I am afraid that the pressure to attack me or for me to attack them would create problems.

But it isn't all cons, there are some serious pros to the effort. Because of the lack of any outside alternative and only two tickets, right now the race would likely not go to a runoff. But with an independent alternative that could get 10% or more (my goal for the campaign), it would likely drive the race to a runoff. I could then play kingmaker and get some of my issues addressed. Moreover, before that I could use my endorsement to help sway the elections of representative and VP races- thus ensuring an assembly committed to the same things I am. My presence in the race could be enough to "win" without having to get 50% plus 1. Even if neither of these occurred, just speaking out could get people talking and in a year or so there could be a big push to change the way things are run. And finally, there is a small chance (very small) that I could actually win and get to do it all. So those keep me interested.

What issues am I talking about? First would be the ticket system. Interestingly enough, SG didn't have "tickets" in their elections before the late 90s. Before then every race was an independent student running against other independent students. But in the late 90s someone realized that if each candidate raised the maximum allowed donations and pooled them together under a single heading, they could get more publicity for everyone and have a better chance at winning. The system is not based on "platform" or ideology, but money. As a result, all the campaigns say the same things and nobody goes out on a limb to say something principled. Its always "more buses" and "get a student on the Board of Regents" but never any talk of tactics or anything serious in nature. Furthermore, because you want people with a broad base of support in the class of people who tend to vote and who can raise serious money. That means sweet little sorority girls and clean cut spirit group guys that have neither an agenda nor a fire for the job at hand get elected, leaving us with a weak and unfocused assembly. They can't fight for students because they aren't fighters.

Second would be the way we deal with the legislature. Right now we are in a great position to get tuition deregulation rolled back. The Republicans need to pass school finance if they want to be reelected, and they don't have the money for it right now. Without a payroll tax, they have very few options for the process outside of gambling. Gambling requires a constitutional amendment- 100 votes. There are only 87 Republicans, and many of those- perhaps a majority- will vote against gambling. There are maybe 5-10 Democrats that will side with them no matter what, and perhaps 15-20 who won't side with them because gambling is unpopular in their districts. This means at least 3 and perhaps as many as 45 Democrats will be needed to get their agenda through the lege. Democrats aren't going to give their votes away for free though. CHIP restoration is already happening, so it can't be used as a bargaining chip. The SG needs some tough people who know politics to pressure Dems to make tuition re-regulation a chief part of their agenda and to pressure the GOP leadership into realizing that tuition dereg is just another issue Kay Bailey and Carole Strayhorn are going to use against them. I think I can do that.

Thirdly, we need to get tough with some other institutions. The administration needs someone who can get in their face and who can rally students against them if need be. Slum lords who are gouging students need someone who can get tough with them. Agencies that are gobbling up student fees without proving their value to all students (and that they aren't simply promoting their political ideology with other people's money) need to be talked tough to. Education is too expensive right now because the SG has let so many different people, administrators, professors, politicians, landlords, bureaucrats, and on and on slap students around. We need leadership that is going to slap back, and I think I can provide that.

But I need to know what you all think. Many of you are a part of the University community and others are familiar with it. I know what some of you (chrisken) will say, but many others I don't. Should I run? Is it worth the sacrifice? Are my issues worth hearing? I want to hear what you have to say, and I will make my mind up by tomorrow evening.

Thanks a lot everybody, let's get to work!

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January 27, 2005

All Them Young Whipper-snappers

By Jim Dallas

The Nation is running a story about the battle for hearts and minds in the academy.

The article meshes with a lot of what I've been reading about the rise of movement conservatism (especially Rick Perlstein's excellent Before The Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus, which, alas, I have still not finished reading). The palpable impact of William F. Buckley, et. alia, in starting campus conservative publications and an entire infrastructure to support them is a development which, although perhaps easy to overemphasize, nonetheless is a recurring idea put forth by journalists and historians.

(Also, my gut instinct tells me that the Contumacy gang is trying to sap and impurify all of our bodily fluids.)

Clearly, getting students exposed to our message, as well as motivated to participate in left-liberal politics, is an on-going priority, no matter how "left wing" the academy supposedly is.

Question: Is there a progressive alumni association? There ought to be. Money being the lifeblood of politics and all...

Oh, and I'll be expecting annual fundraising solicitations from the UDs as soon as I get a real job.

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January 25, 2005

SG / Senate and You!

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Written in response to yesterday's story about Senate and SG bickering, a former Senate type wrote a very interesting Firing Line today. Here's a segment.

As an important first point, I separate the failure of the Senate from the successes of the individual college councils that are its members. The purpose, structure and membership of the Senate is a good foundation for better student representation and action, but Staha has failed to synergize its parts to achieve an effective position on campus. I do indeed feel that Student Government President Chaney does "respect and enjoy working together with the Senate," just not with Staha. The Texan, in its assumptions, failed to separate the merits of the Senate organization from its leadership.

As some Senate and SG insiders may know, several college councils openly called for Staha to resign last fall and others at least wanted him to defend or finally state what he had indeed accomplished. After searching Daily Texan archives and old SG minutes (Senate minutes are not made available on the Internet), I have a very short list. The Senate has apparently made progress on pushing the honor code, passed resolutions regarding tuition (note: resolution does not mean action), and unveiled a new Web site (without any real content).

Wow, Nick, students paying your $200 monthly stipend, providing you an office, and giving you a free parking garage permit sure got their money's worth. Lastly of note, readers should also know the Senate maintains two other offices on campus, so neither Nick nor the Senate would be without a home.

Most students don't know or care much about internal SG politics, though SG does end up getting a number of things done behind the scenes and need to better talk about those. But an even smaller total of students has a clue as to what goes on with the Senate, how it operates, and what it even does. I mean, I'm involved in comparison to a majority of students, and I don't really have a clue as to what Senate does.

This is one of the reasons why I will likely be moving away from Student Government some this semester and working with University Democrats instead who's first meeting is tomorrow night at 8 pm in GSB 2.124.

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January 24, 2005

Student Gov. and Senate 'leaders' Squabble over Space

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The Daily Texan reports on an issue I thought about raising last fall when I recieved the internal communications about the seemingly ongoing power plays between Student Government President Brent Chaney and Senate of College Councils Nick Staha.

After embarassingly disagreeing over the voting student on the Board of Regents issue, there was the rather curious announcment in December that SG needed the space occupied by Senate for SG purposes "to be determined" even though Senate has lived in that SG space since 1997.

In fact, at the same time Staha's eviction notice showed up in his office, another document was circulating in SG mailboxes. Several members of the SG executive committee received a copy of Staha's statement on the student regent issue, with objectionable portions underlined or commented upon by Chaney.

No direct correlation between Staha's dissent regarding the student regent and the Dec. 3 eviction notice can be made. Chaney said SG needs the space for its committees and agencies, perhaps for legislative relations, but a specific use has not been decided.

Still, without a specific plan for the office, Chaney leaves himself open to the criticism that he's acting upon a personal grudge.

But the original move-out deadline (Jan. 10) has come and gone, and Staha is still there. He may be able to ride this one out; if Senate can stall until a new SG president is elected in March, perhaps the whole issue will be dropped.


The two leaders should take care of this issue quickly. Facing an extremely important legislative session, rising tuition costs and decreased state appropriations to universities, SG and Senate have too much at stake to act like squabbling children.

I have a lot of respect for a number of SG and Senate people personally, but it's juvinile crap like this that damages any gains in the integrity of the organization in the eyes of students. And you wonder why people like Andrew think it's a joke.

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January 18, 2005

ITS ups UT Mail Storage!

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Props to Chris Kennedy in Student Government for pushing to get UT to add more e-mail storage space. From 10MB to 100MB. We owe you our thanks for one of a few common sense bills to come out of Student Government this past year!

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December 11, 2004

Soon I Will be Blogging Again

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

At 5:40 A.M. on Saturday, December 11, I have officially won. After sitting here at Mojo's for four hours, my last Social Work paper, originally due November 4th, has been completed. All six pages of it have been e-mailed in.


In sum for the semester?

2 Interviews
2 Presentations
5 Data Intensive Spreadsheets
101 Pages Written (1/2 in the last 2 weeks)
180 Papers (375 pages) graded

Result? No writing credits.
I think the Man is trying to oppress me or something.

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December 05, 2004

UDEMS Officers

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The University Democrats is proud to announce the 2005 Spring Semester Officers.

President: Marcus Ceniceros
Vice President: Ali Puente
Public Relations Director: Emily Cadik
Secretary: Katie Naranjo
Treasurer: Alex Hunt
Events Chair: Rachel Rendeiro
Volunteer Coordinator: Larkin Campbell
Historian: Suki Misra
Webmaster: Karl-Thomas Musselman

Darn it, Liberal Arts Honors students only make up 4 of the 9 officers! Our takeover is not yet complete! Right. Just kidding y'all.

I am moving to my new home as Webmaster, working with our past one of course. Then again, it was the only non-contested office. (After I nominated 3 people at once for volunteer Coordinator, and making it go into a run-off, oops).

It's going to be a kick ass spring semester. We're not crawling back into the woodwork when there's work to be done at the State Capitol. Silly Republican legislators, thinking they have a mandate or something.

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December 01, 2004

Ashamed and Sex is a Hobby?

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

::Elevated up a bit to keep the discussion going. A 20+ comment entry has been a long time coming it seems. ::

I'm not sure if I could be any more embarrassed or ashamed of my University.

Watch this Movie Preview.

Also, this was the most ridiculous Daily Texan Firing Line I have read in a good long while. It's at the bottom of this linked page and I have clipped it below.

Sex is a hobby

In the past few days, the debate of Christianity and homosexuality has drawn quite the stir.

The fact that homosexuals are human beings is not being denied. They shall have all of their rights, and live their lives like any other citizen in America.

The fact that gays should have individual rights, because they are gay, is ridiculous. Homosexuality can be a lifestyle, but it should be considered a hobby. Gays can live their lives any way they want to and enjoy all freedoms every American has, but should not have special rights.

The acceptance of gays into the law will lead to a slippery slope effect of epic proportions. Then, what should keep a man and his dog from being able to share health care and benefits? Marriage is a religious and sacred, but most importantly it is a legal union between a man and a women.

Being gay does not give you special rights under the law. Feel free to practice homosexuality as much or as little as you would like, but don't expect to find equality under the law in regards to marriage.

Homosexuality is a hobby, and leave it at that.

Jefferson Harwell
Government freshman

His e-mail is jharwell@mail.utexas.edu (thanks to the UT Online Directory)

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November 15, 2004

SG / Senate Mis-communication

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I know this is a couple days old but I wanted to point out that the fact that the head of UT Austin's Two major student bodies (Student Government and the Senate of College Councils) are not on the same page with supporting a student on the board of regent flows from not covering your bases. The lack of a united front can be embarassing (damaging at the worst) towards the goals they are trying to achieve.

In what seems to be the centerpiece of this Student Government's efforts (Student on the Board of Regents), one cannot let a failure in 'good politics' to foul up the agenda. The issue already seems to be eating up much of the available time.

Speaking of SG, it does seem that the winds have shifted some. No longer do I see or feel the Omar/Brummet ticket as being the leading force. Wes Carpenter and company (some core people from last year's RepreZent campaign) have been very active in their outreach. I would credit them with having the Big Mo at this point. It's interesting, because this year's elections could very well see some splitting of the current body as well as a year where one ticket does not sweep the results.

I would still say that Omar has more favor with institutional SG support (I agree with him more ideologically as do a number of the important Agency folk) but Carpenter, being one of those Committee/Agency folk has an in at stealing away some of that thunder.

Campaign issues? Not so clear yet though I have a sense that the Multicultural Information Center may be one of the big ones (considering previous flare ups this semester with the Hellraiser's "Cowboys and Indians" affair.

Omar, being close to the MIC will have many of the minority/cultural groups support most likely (an important source of campaign labor and votes) and similarly the Woman's Resource Center and GLBTAAA type of people might be more naturally aligned with Omar due to the Gender and Sexuality Center's similarity in nature (in ways) to the MIC. Of course, that means the Hellraiser types (many of whom fall into the frats and sororities) then may follow Carpenter, seeing that as a closer ally (which combined with his tactical placement of Colby Hanks (Chi Omega- like Brummet) as VP may split the other institutional base of support away from Ochoa/Brummet.

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November 12, 2004

UT #15

By Byron LaMasters

Why bother with the U.S. News and World Report rankings. I'll take The Times of London:

The University of Texas is getting some attention from across the pond.

The Times of London has ranked the Austin campus 15th among 200 universities it considers best in the world.

Among U.S. public schools, only the University of California at Berkeley, which came in second, ranked higher. Harvard University topped the list, which was released earlier this month.

By comparison, U.S. News and World Report, widely regarded as the most authoritative assessment in the United States, listed UT as 46th among national universities in its annual ranking released earlier this year. It ranked UT 14th among U.S. public universities.

In the Times' rankings, American institutions occupied seven of the top 10 places, with Oxford and Cambridge universities ranked the highest among schools outside the United States.

UT was the only school in Texas to place in the top 50.

Poor Aggies.

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November 02, 2004

Campus Vote

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

:: Updated 3:30 pm ::

I'm running around on my bike to about 7 polling places every 2 hours to get vote totals in the campus precincts. I've just got back from a break (class) for the first shift and have th folllowing to report.

Precinct (latest cumulative vote)

147 (293)
148 (527) Surging
261 (193)
265 (230) There were 751 early votes cast in #265.
266 (101)
274 (430)
277 (143)

This is good news. The first two are on campus, more Democratic as far as I'm concerned. Most of the rest are West Campus, (more frats and such) and I'm willing to bet they are low because college students don't wake up early and vote. They will do it after class or later in the day coming home. Pct. 274 includes a number of liberal homeowners that are not college students so high turnout there is expected and a good thing!

I'll try to update this post as I see it today.

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October 29, 2004

More on the CR's Fundraising Scam

By Byron LaMasters

This out of North Carolina:

An 86-year-old widow who lives on a fixed income in Burlington and reads her mail with a magnifying glass has little understanding that she's given the College Republican National Committee 40 donations since January worth $1,789.

In Chapel Hill, an 82-year-old widower living in a retirement community is surprised to learn he's given to the same group 52 times for a total of $2,266, all since January.

North of Winston-Salem, a 79-year-old woman can hardly believe that she's made 72 donations this year totaling $1,533, frequently writing checks every few days.

"Great day, they'd think I was rich if I could give that much to them," said the woman, Jacqueline Hall, recalling only a few gifts of $15 or $25. "I'm on a limited income. I'm a widow. I don't have money like that to spend. ... I wouldn't even think about sending $900."

The next day, though, after going through her records, she realized the total is accurate.

"It's amazing the mail that I get from Washington, D.C.," she said, seemingly confused as to how she had racked up such a sum.

Across the state and country, the CRNC, a century-old Republican youth organization, has aggressively solicited money from elderly people, writing "urgent," high-pressure pitch letters that often touch on senior citizens' fears.

According to IRS records analyzed by The Herald-Sun, at least 87 percent of the group's North Carolina donations came from people who listed their occupation as retired, a much higher rate than that of similar groups. Most of the donors reached by The Herald-Sun were in their 80s.

Scamming seniors... just what Republicans do best (among many other things). The Brown University Democrats Blog was on this yesterday and I posted on it based on this Seattle Times article. We'll see what comes out next...

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October 28, 2004

College Republicans Fundraising Scam?

By Byron LaMasters

The Seattle Times has the details:

The College Republican National Committee has raised $6.3 million this year through an aggressive and misleading fund-raising campaign that collected money from senior citizens who thought they were giving to the election efforts of President Bush and other top Republicans. Many of the top donors were in their 80s and 90s. The donors wrote checks — sometimes hundreds and, in at least one case, totaling more than $100,000 — to groups with official sounding-names such as "Republican Headquarters 2004," "Republican Elections Committee" and the "National Republican Campaign Fund."

More at the Brown University Democrats blog.

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October 26, 2004

Burnt Orange Report from the Floor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

:: Final Report ::

Yes, I know that it has been a couple of weeks since I've submitted one of these reports, after Pride Week I took a bit of a break (as we all did) and haven’t been at the SG meetings. But I am back this week.

Apparently while I've been gone, much of the discussion has been about the Proposed Diversity Symposium for the SG Assembly which was tabled and then rewritten as new legislation for this week creating a committee instead. (SG and Committees, we love them!)

President Chaney gave his report discussing progress on the Student on the UT Board of Regents. Two more system school (Dallas and either Permian Basin or PanAmerica) passed them with 100% of the vote and the LBJ School Student Council (GPAC) here at UT also passed it. In discussions with the Governor not the Governor, possibly chairman of some type, their stance was that 'it's the legislature’s decision'. Goodness, leaving policy to the Texas legislature, could be scary! Just kidding, there is more momentum for it this cycle than in previous ones but whether it is a priority, we shall see. I know that Andrew has some thoughts on SG's "obsession" with the issue; I'll let him chime in on that one.

Bill for SG to sponsor the Muslim Student Association Fast-A-Thon passes.

Bill to increase UT E-mail storage space has been revived and passed. Thank goodness as I'm always in need of more UT space, even though I have g-mail, because I divide my accounts and which type of mail goes where.

In the middle of debate over the Vending Machine Bevo Bucks Bill President Chaney's laptop suddenly burst out in a rousing chorus of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack. As to why? No idea......

Charges were exchanged over the possibility that costs would increase anyways by implementing the system which would hurt returns to student organizations. Another charge was that those in communication with administrative officials (Dr. Harkins) had left him a bit flustered/in the dark claiming that he had first read about the effort to expand the service in the Daily Texan last week.

Personally, I didn't think this was all that much of a controversial issue, and I believe that it should be passed because the question really comes down to whether or not SG reps want to expand this service. Without the show of student support, it likely won't happen. SG resolutions tend to push issues in general, the specifics usually work themselves out (but of course, there are always Reps that love to bury themselves in endless debate over the wording but alas, I don't enjoy such privileges...)

The bill calls for a test run, it likely would be lower in costs of implementation since many of the network lines already exist on campus (the high cost the last time around). Grant Stannis, one of the authors of the legislation, swept in in the middle of the debate as he just made it to the SG meeting, and has been trying to calm the fears. Then an Instant Messenger conversation was read in support of the resolution that had happened just minutes before.

It's true; most students would be in support of expanded Bevo Bucks service on campus. It's highly irritating to be at other building on campus that isn't a dorm and not be able to use the UT IDs and Bevo Bucks. Most students don't understand it's because of a divide in contracts. But they don't really care; they would just like to see some action.

Oh heavens, the debate over this bill is going far beyond where it should be and reached a personal level when one of the Representatives questioned the student who sits on the committee that deals with this issue and commented "unless you're that stupid." I'm surprised that the SG Attorney General did not pipe up to declare anyone out of line.

Then there were a series of motions to move in and out of a Commiitte of the Whole in order to conduct a "straw poll" which found that when it came down to it, people wanted to pass the bill.

And in the final vote, after a friendly amendment to address concerns with scholarship money, the bill passed 29-0. Yea.

OK, so the music earlier was explained. Three costumed Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles appeared in the SG meeting, interrupting things and taking the mike with the following demands.

The turtle pond is too small, they want their pizza mobile back ("you don't see Michaelangelo here do you?"), they wanted some of hair gel Chaney used, urging Chaney to never wear khakis again. And then they left. I am quite confused.

And that is all I have for tonight, as my battery is dead.

Posted at 07:28 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack

October 19, 2004

UDems Win Voting Contest

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

So says the Texan. $300 in the bank, baby. And that is without most of the early overnight voters being able to cast 'ballots' in their little event because they didn't show up for at least an hour afterwards.

Posted at 04:40 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 17, 2004

Early Voting Starts in 8 Hours

By Byron LaMasters

And the voting machines are ready for use in the UGL on the UT campus:

So are the University Democrats who are going to be right outside the library all night. There was a live shot by two of the local ten o'clock news stations. Here's one of them:

And there's lots of fun and games as well. Balloons, bubbles, pizza, face painting and more:

I'll be ready to vote tomorrow morning. My choices for each race I'll be voting in are here. Here's a sample Travis County ballot (PDF).

President and Vice President: John Kerry / John Edwards - DEM
United States Representative, District 10: Write-in, Lorenzo Sadun - DEM
Railroad Commissioner: Bob Scarborough - DEM
Justice, Supreme Court Place 3 - No vote
Justice, Supreme Court Place 5 - No vote
Justice, Supreme Court Place 9: David Van Os - DEM
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2: Quannah Parker - LIB
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 5: Tom Oxford - LIB
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 6: J.R. Molina - DEM
State Representative, District 49: Elliott Naishtat - DEM
Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals District, Place 4: Jan Patterson - DEM
Justice, 3rd Court of Appeals District, Place 6: Diane Henson - DEM
District Judge, 53rd Judicial District: Scott Jenkins - DEM
District Judge, 98th Judicial District: W. Jeanne Mercer - DEM
District Judge, 126th Judicial District: Darlene Byrne - DEM
District Judge, 167th Judicial District: Mike Lynch - DEM
District Judge, 200th Judicial District: Gisela Triana - DEM
District Judge, 345th Judicial District: Stephen Yelenosky - DEM
District Judge, 353rd Judicial District: Margaret Cooper
District Judge, 390th Judicial District: No vote
District Attorney: Ronnie Earle - DEM
Judge, County Court at Law 5: Nancy Hohengarten - DEM
County Attorney: David Escamilla - DEM
Sheriff: Greg Hamilton - DEM
County Tax Assessor-Collector: Nelda Wells Spears - DEM
County Commissioner, Precinct 1: Ron Davis - DEM
Constable, Precinct 5: Bruce Elfant - DEM
Capitol Metro Referendum: FOR

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October 15, 2004

Gebauer turns 100

By Byron LaMasters

This is cool. I never knew this Gebauer was that old. From an email today:

UT's Oldest Building Turns 100 (and there are lots of stories to tell!)

and special photographic exhibit by Blake Justice

Friday, October 15th, 4 - 6:30pm at the Gebauer Building

Refreshments served starting at 4:30pm
Formal Birthday Ceremony at 5:00pm
Historic Tour conducted at 5:30pm

Sponsored by the UT Heritage Society of the Texas Exes in partnership with the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Engineering

Nestled on the side of a hill just northeast of the Tower, the Gebauer Building is the oldest structure on the Forty Acres, and the first University building to survive a century. It has been a home for Journalism, Speech, the Dean of Students, and now the College of Liberal Arts, but the building was opened October 1, 1904 to house the "Engineering Department."

As the old Engineering Building, it boasted architectural drawing rooms on the top floor, hydraulics, mining and electrical labs in the basement, and classrooms, a photographic darkroom, and a library in between. Through the 1920s, engineers used the building to host all-university dances, class smokers and annual engineering banquets. Because of an ongoing "feud" between engineering and law students, the building has also seen its share of pranks and other shenanigans, including the colorful debut of Alexander Frederick Claire, the engineer's patron saint, in the spring of 1908.

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You'd think Bill Clinton's Coming

By Byron LaMasters

Or Elvis. Or Jesus for that matter. When Bill Clinton came to UT as part of the Liz Carpenter speakers series, the University Democrats got in line to get our tickets at 10 PM the night before to get tickets at 8 AM the next morning. (Originally, about 1000 tickets were distributed, but only people in line two to three hours before they started distributing them actually got tickets. University officials then decided to change the venue to the Erwin Center (our basketball arena) to accomodate several thousand more students.)

Anyway, the University Democrats want to be the first people in Texas to vote, so they'll be camping out on the west mall Sunday night so they can vote at 7 AM:

The University of Texas Democrats are not sleeping until we vote and neither should you!

Early vote starts Monday October 18. We are going to be the first to vote on campus, in Austin, and possibly in Texas. Sunday night starting at 9:30 p.m. on the West Mall we are going to start the line to the UGL in order to cast our votes at 7:00 am.

This will be one of our biggest projects ever! There will be local candidates, food, music, games, and fun. You don't want to miss this unique experience. It'll be something to tell your kids about.

We reistered over 7,000 voters on campus and now it's time make sure they vote, and that they vote Democratic. If you are worried about sleeping, don't— bring your sleeping bags and blankets or use ours. If your worried about studying, dont—go into the UGL and get it done. If your worried about safety, don't—there will be tons of us. So grab some friends and come out to show the country that even Texas wants a change!!

TIME: Sunday 17 October 9:30 p.m. until Monday 18 October 2004 7:30 a.m.
PLACE: West Mall on the campus of the Univ of TX

Sould be fun. I'll plan on hanging out for a little bit, and coming back to vote sometime in the morning, although I do want to be fuctional on Monday, so I think I'll settle for the comfort of my own bed on Sunday night.

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October 14, 2004

Statue Plans Underway

By Byron LaMasters

Last year students voted to allocate $2 per semester in student fees towards statues for Barbara Jordan and Cesar Chavez on campus. Since almost all of our statues are White men, and since Confederate generals are severely overrepresented, while women, Blacks and Hispanics are severely underrepresented, supporting this was pretty much a no-brainer since the cost per student was minimal. UT's Office of Public Affairs issued a press release today on the plans for the statues:

University officials Wednesday (Oct. 13) announced the sites of new campus statues of two nationally recognized champions of civil rights—the late U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan, the first African American woman from the South to serve in the U.S. Congress, and the late Cesar Chavez, a civil rights and labor leader who became a force for social change.

The statues will be the first on campus honoring the contributions to society by a woman and by a Latino.

The Chavez statue will be placed at the south end of the West Mall, across from the Undergraduate Library. The Jordan statue will be near the Battle Oaks at 24th and Whitis streets.

Each statue will cost about $400,000. Artists interested in recreating the historical figures should submit their qualifications by Nov. 15. Finalists for each statue will be announced this spring.

The only other prominently displayed statue of an ethnic minority on campus is the statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, which was unveiled on the East Mall in 1999.

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From the Rick Santorum Department of Science

By Byron LaMasters

Rick "man-on-dog" Santorum has a friend with the Young Conservatives of Texas UT-Chapter (it's not yet up on their site). Here's a portion of their press release regarding gay pride week:

Calling gay activists to task on moral grounds, Chairman Conner made the following argument, "Using the logic of the gay activist, we can assume that there should be no societal norms and that morality should be at the discretion of the individual. Now assuming that each of these gays was born from the reproductive act of a male and a female, ostensibly known as a mother and father, we can conclude that they would support any decision of either to make their own moral judgment on an issue such as adultery. So if one parent wants adultery to be their chosen life style, claiming they can't help themselves, and the other doesn't, which will they support? Judging by their logic, the gay activist would have to agree with the rights of both parents to choose the life style that they see fit. If not, who is the gay child to make this moral judgment? How about polygamy? Incest? These aren't anything more than moral judgments. What if people who commit these crimes claim to have genetic tendencies toward each of these acts? Do these acts then become morally acceptable? Again, the gay activist would have to agree."

YCT also rejects claims made by the gay community that same-sex attraction has been proven to be a genetic disorder. In fact the opposite has been proven. Same-sex attraction is a treatable and preventable developmental disorder, and those suffering from this affliction have the ability to change.

The first paragraph simply makes no logical sense. It's the slippery slope argument that homosexuality leads to adultery that leads to polygamy that leads to incest that leads to man-on-dog at least in worldview of YCT and Rick Santorum.

The second paragraph is flat out untrue. Basically every major respectable psychiatric, psychological and pediatric organization in the nation has said that homosexuality is not a genetic disorder.

Time for YCT to do some research before writing another press release.

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October 13, 2004

The MIC is at it again...

By Zach Neumann

I recently signed on as a BOR contributor to write about International issues, but it seems my first post is going to be a bit closer to home. This morning, The Daily Texan reported that the Longhorn Hellraisers were in hot water with the Multicultural Information Center for a “Cowboys and Indians” party they threw over the weekend. Nolene Clark writes that:

“According to Nathan Heinsohn, co-director of the MIC agency Longhorn American Indian Council, the MIC plans to file a formal complaint with the Office of the Dean of Students, who would then handle any investigation in accordance with the University's nondiscrimination policy.

"If they're sanctioned, we want there to be an educational part to this," Heinsohn said. "Of course, the organization should be reprimanded for their actions, but they could be told they were wrong without understanding it. We would like them to go through some sort of training."

The MIC did not, however, inform the Hellraisers of their intentions to file a complaint.

"If they want us to take a class or undergo training about diversity, we'll go," Deitering said. "We want to show that we had no intentions of being derogatory towards Native Americans. All these people needed to do was to come and talk to us, and we could have avoided all this."

Deitering said his group has made an active effort to become diverse through the recruitment and respect of underrepresented groups. For the Hellraisers "to be sanctioned because one person was offended is ridiculous," he said.

But Heinsohn said this is exactly what the MIC is supposed to do.

"The whole point of this center is for everyone to feel that their voice is equal, that they can say what they need to say and have it be taken seriously," Heinsohn said.

The Hellraisers believe this is one complaint that shouldn't be taken seriously.

"I don't see how every voice can be equal," Deitering said, "when all it takes is one voice to tarnish our reputation."

Though I am disappointed that the Hellraisers would be audacious enough to actually throw a “Cowboys and Indians” party, I am more troubled by the fact that the Multicultural Information Center is trying to have the Hellraisers censured by the Administration. It seems that the MIC fancies itself something of a racial thought police, attacking groups that behave in a manner inconsistent with its social and political sensibilities.

Unfortunately, it is very likely that the Office of the Dean of Students is going to back the MIC up on this one. A recent (and little known) addition to the speech policy here on campus forbids organizations that are registered with the Office of Campus and Community Involvement from engaging in expression that offends various ethnic and gender groups. If the Hellraisers are going to go down because they offended the Native American population with an ill conceived party, I can’t help but wonder how free we really are to express ourselves here on the 40 acres.

[Update: Byron, here. I just put the link and blockquotes into the post. The content has not been changed.]

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October 07, 2004

UT Flu Shots Gone

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

From the University e-mail today.

The UHS flu vaccine order was placed with Chiron, the flu vaccine manufacturer whose license to manufacture the vaccine has been suspended. Chiron's license suspension means that the 46 - 48 million doses of flu vaccine they were expecting to ship to the US will not be available. Because of this, UHS currently has no flu vaccine and we have cancelled all previously-scheduled flu shot outreach clinics for the month of October.

UHS is now on a waiting list with Aventis (the second of the two flu vaccine manufacturers) for potential future receipt of the vaccine, but we're currently unable to tell you with certainty if and when we will receive vaccine or if vaccine will be restricted in any way.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that existing vaccine be given to certain "priority groups" - those who are at higher risk of complications if they get the flu and healthcare providers. To ensure that this happens, the CDC is requesting that people defer getting a flu shot unless they are in one of these groups. If you fall into a priority group, we encourage you to find a healthcare provider or other community resource with flu vaccine and get your flu shot now.

For a definition of priority groups, information on where to get a flu shot if you're in a priority group and information on cold and flu prevention, go to the "Spotlights" section of the UHS website at http://www.utexas.edu/student/health . Another helpful prevention resource is the CDC's Germstoppers website at http://www.cdc.gov/germstopper/resources.htm.

We will post any changes in the availability of flu shots at UHS on our website.

Priority Groups are as follows....

+All children aged 6 – 23 months of age
+Adults aged 65 years and older
+Persons aged 2 – 64 years of age with underlying chronic medical conditions such as asthma and other lung diseases, compromised immune systems, diabetes, heart disease, blood disorders, etc.
+Women will be pregnant during the influenza season
+Residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities
+Children aged 6 months – 18 years of age who are on chronic aspirin therapy
+Health-care workers involved in direct patient care
+Out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children less than 6 months of age.

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October 06, 2004

BORFTF Correction

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

And yes, BORFTF is Burnt Orange Report From The Floor (Student Government Meetings).

I have an update with some corrected info from last nights report that I wanted to elevate to a post here. It was about the surveys that John Walthall spoke about...

Good Wednesday! I am pleased to see that BOR comments from the SG meeting each week, and I wanted to clarify some of the points made about the survey, as I was the person there to present the issue.

First, the main topic of the presentation was to let current reps know about the possibility of addressing or researching relevant issues or projects by use of these opinion surveys.

Second, I have some more detailed info on student's rating of Student Government. 23% of the undergraduate population rated some dissatisfaction with SG. A question then asked (if they were dissatisfied), what was the reason. Of those that responded, No Authority received 26% and No Outreach received 22%. It is important to note that this does not mean that 26% of undergrads believe that SG has no authority.

Lastly, the results will be provided to Exec to then be released to The Daily Texan, the SG assembly, and the public at large. There is no intention of hiding the results to use in future campaigns.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me. I am honored though that the data has made an appearance here.

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October 05, 2004

Burnt Orange Report from the Floor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Back in the Student Government room I am today with another report while Byron entertains you tonight with LiveBlogging.

Some initial announcements, someone spoke on surveys that SG is currently doing. Some interesting preliminary results about some of the questions, political make up of respondent pool (about 1000, MOE ~3%)

42% Democrat
35% Republican
13% Independent
5% Libertarian
4% Green

I think that isn't out of the ordinary with our actual voting results on campus because many campus Republicans do not vote here (many do voting by mail) The Green vote will be in the Kerry column in Texas this election (no Nader), I would be willing to bet that much of the independent vote is democratic this year and the libertarians on campus are the 'intellectual' type and not the right wing type that exists in much of rural Texas.

Also, number one complaint with Student Government? With about 28% (I think) the top claim is "No Authority".

I find it interesting though that polling like this was done during last year's SG election (though I'm not sure in what capacity) but with the fact that the data will be given to the SG Exec, will we ever see the results? Will it just end up being used to craft next spring's winning message for the SG ticket?

President Brent Cheney reported that he and VP Rachel McGinity met with Carol Keeton Rylander McClellen Strayhorn and asked about some student concerns. In asking, "If you were Governor what would you think about these ideas...." tax-free textbooks and student on board of regents both sounded like a really good idea to her and her office is apparently crunching the number on tax free textbooks right now. Can someone say campaign issue for the 2006 Governor's race?

We are now in the middle of appropriations where $46,336.84 was requested by student groups this week, and $7,370 will actually be given out by SG. This is spread out over 3 weeks and in total about $80,000 will have been requested and maybe $11,000 will be given out.

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September 29, 2004

UT Student Government Politics Begins

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

(This post is about some inside info on the positioning that is going on for SG elections (which are held all the way away in March) but are being talked about now.)

Student Government elections are held in the first week of March each year. There is a two week campaign period before the elections in which a number of silly rules limit activities and speech of the 'tickets' and individual. (i.e. not being able to mail, e-mail students about positions creating a situations where the bulk of funds is spent on t-shirts and push cards).

Because of the blackout on being able to officially say "vote for" any candidate or ticket anywhere before that two week window, most organizing of tickets must go on under the radar and generally creates Tickets that are heavily Student Government based in recent history or filled with those who know the process.

From what I have learned this past week, the beginnings of two tickets have already been formed out of this year's Student Government body, meaning a Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate. At this point I would like to say that I am writing this as a student and Burnt Orange blogger, not as a personal critique on any of these people, but as a reporter attempting to shed light on a process that is largely unseen and insider. If Student Government wants to talk about breaking widespread stereotypes about it being "Insider", "Elitist", or "Clubby" then it needs to be open to this type of reporting.

One one side so far, there is Omar Ochoa, currently a 2 Year at Large Representative who also sits on the President's Student Advisory Committee. These are two good things to be if you are looking at the SG Presidency as current SG President Brent Cheney was a 2-year at large, as was previous president Brian Haley, previous VP Sly Majid, and last year's losing candidate for president Patrick George (who still sits in the SG Assembly now). Sly was also on the President's Student Advisory Committee back in 2001.

The nice thing about being a two-year at large Rep is that if you lose your bid for President, you still have your seat. In addition, both Brent Cheney and Patrick George were Liberal Arts Reps before they were 2 Year at Larges. Other 2 Years have become part of various Executive Boards nominated by the Prez, but that is an aside.

Omar is the most progressive of the four names I'm about to go through. He's been very much involved with the Multicultural Information Center on campus and is a Co-Director of the Latino Leadership Council, the umbrella for about 25 Latino groups on campus.

Pairing up with him though is the seemingly odd and maybe upsetting choice for progressives, Elizabeth Brummet who not surprisingly is also a 2 Year at Large and former Liberal Arts Rep. Definetly to the right of Omar but possibly not so much in an active political sense (as I don't know all the Reps personally as of yet) Brummet is very much involved with Greek Life, specifically Chi Omega and could be comparably compared as I have been told to current SG VP Rachel McGinity who is also a Chi O and is on that same list.

Now why the big deal about Chi Omega? At UT it is considered by many to be the most active, politically involved sorority that has influence over how the other sororities align, especially the Tri-Delts in the like. And he (or she) who has the political muscle of Chi Omega behind them likely garners the other sororities. And not only that, but the fraternities tend to follow their partnered sororities, so you can see what it makes sense to take advantage of this. This will also be the cause of contention in the next Ticket I present.

Ticket numero dos is apparently headed by Wes Carpenter, making this the ticket headed by a conservative rather than a progressive (though I'm not sure to what degree). From his profile...

My hometown is Sugar Land Texas, where there is no equal. I am currently in my second year here at the University pursuing a degree in Government and Economics. On campus I am involved in Brothers Under Christ Fraternity, the Distinguished Speakers Committee, the Outdoor Pool Committee, the Spirit and Traditions Council and LEAP...

Yes, that's Tom Delay land. But the more curious thing is that Carpenter is and has been a SG Agency director for two different ones, not the most usual path to the Presidency for recent history. And apparently there is already some kvetching over the fact that many of the conservative student groups on campus, their leaders/people in SG are being enticed to fall behind the Ochoa/Brummet ticket and not the Carpenter/Hanks ticket.

Hanks? you might ask. Never herd of Colby Hanks. Good point, because that name isn't in the Student Government roster, it's found on none other than the same Chi Omega roster where Brummet and McGinity are found! For the reasons layed out above, the importance of Chi O. There was supposedly a big flare up at the House the other weekend over this very point because they don't normally split their resources. It's a pure political move on the part of Carpenter, a smart one, but still, it's a ticket headed with an Agency director and an outsider and still somehow trying to be an incumbent ticket. (because at this stage in the game it's all about trying to pull existing representatives to one or the other in advance)

Frats and Sororities still have a lot of influence over SG elections at UT. Put simply, they vote and in lockstep if they have a person on a particular ticket. Members get points if they vote and you can be darned sure someone is at the door making sure you've voted before you've left for class that day.

Student groups have some power, but they aren't organized and not near as large. University Democrats, some of the cultural groups, UT Watch, and a few others are considered the only ones whose endorsements actually matter. The Agency and Committee heads within SG tend to know their constituency’s very well and that can lead to GOTV efforts and word of mouth about what ticket is best to vote for.

Right now SG is mildly conservative and has lost the liberal majority it had last year. The question now is which way will it trend? Will there be a third ticket that gets set up, through a huge ass monkey wrench into the plans being laid? How long will it take and will there be an opportunity for a progressive coalition to join together (UDems, Campus Greens, UT Watch, the Cyclists, Hispanic, Black, Asian cultural groups, the GLBT crowd, the environmental groups, Save Barton Springs, Students Against Cruelty to Animals, and on and on) complemented by a few always needed liberal frat types? Will the Ochoa/Brummet ticket try to do this? Will the progressives swallow that combo?

Remember, turnout is only about 20% these days, even with Internet voting. (pretty graph and one that is zoomed into the more recent elections). Will we sit and grumble or try to outreach and take over a ticket or make our own? Will this be yet another election won in a landslide by the entire ticket like the last two elections (minus one Representative in 2003 from the minority 'party')?

This post is meant to provoke some thought. It's meant to open up the process. I'm in the progressive camp so pardon me if it sounds like I'm being too negative about any conservatives. One of these days I'll probably be running as well but until then, can we as Student Government try to still FOCUS on the issues we/you were elected to deal with this year and not worry about perpetual elections?

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September 20, 2004

UT ITS is Evil

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

UT thinks that passwords are not good enough as they are now. So the Information Technology Wizards have thought up a new scheme in order to keep anyone from figuring out your password. This apparently includes the owner of the password as well. Their newly printed guidlines are the most assinine set of rules I have ever encountered for a password. Soon we will all be forced to have some god-awful combo like "jek45:@blg%7"...

What are the new password requirements?

- It must be between 8 and 20 characters in length.
- It cannot contain blanks.
- It must contain letters, numbers, and special characters.
Special characters which are permitted are ! @ # $ % & * ( ) - + = , < > :
" ' .
- It cannot contain any words found in our dictionary or common proper nouns
of four letters or longer. In addition, common letter transpositions are
not allowed (such as @ for a, ! for i, or zero for O).
- It cannot contain your UT EID.
- It cannot contain your first or last name.
- It cannot contain your birthday in any form.
- It cannot contain your Social Security Number.
- You may not reuse any of your last 10 passwords.

I can almost guarentee you that this is not going to create more difficult passwords but simply some combination that is easy to type (since almost any word longer than 4 letters will NOT work) meaning that passwords will be patterns on the keyboard. Think ASDF7890.

Please add your creative ideas for additional restrictions in the comments. Mine?

- It cannot be possible to type you password in under 10 seconds.

update Thanks to this idiotic new system, I have Already Locked myself out of my UT accounts due to the password changing shit.

update 2 Being the crafty student I am, I found a way to get around needing to contact the Main offices in the Tower. Take that, security bitches.

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September 15, 2004

Campus Sightings Today

By Byron LaMasters

The George W. Bush piñata after a few whacks.

Karl-Thomas (right) and I (left) in front of the University Democrats table where Democrats were invited to "paint Texas blue". If only Texas would turn blue as fast as it got painted today...

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Whack Shrub

By Byron LaMasters

Come by the Students for John Kerry table in the West Mall on the UT campus today, tomorrow and Friday for a chance to take a swing at our George W. Bush piñata!!!

More at UT4Kerry.com:

George W. Bush Piñata Whacking

This Wednesday (9/15), Thursday (9/16), & Friday (9/17), S4JK will be on the West Mall registering voters with our favorite presidential piñata!! At about 1pm each day you can take a whack at Dubya for only $2!! Who knows what goodies will come flying out!!

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September 13, 2004

A Kerry on Campus

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Today, Monday, starting at 11 a.m. on the West Mall of the UT campus here in Austin, John Kerry's brother Cameron Kerry will be speaking. Come join us if you can!

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September 09, 2004

University Democrats

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Tonight was the second University Democrats meeting here at UT. Last week we had about 300 attend the first meeting where Congressman Lloyd Doggett was our speaker. Today, our first ever "Action Wednesday" saw about 130 in attendance to hear about local operations, opportunities to go to Florida for free with the League of Conservation Voters October 1-4, and other sign ups.

65 people were deputy registered, bringing our total to about 100 in our first two meetings. Voter Registration is our primary activity as far as campus goes since we are focused on turning out the vote for our county-wide Democrats since we can affect that here in Austin. Yesterday (alongside Students for John Kerry) we registered 175 students, and today, 265. Since school has started we have registered around 750 students and that doesn't count the effort of other independent operations on campus.

Thanks to an election for UD Treasurer today (which was won my Larkin Campbell, (now former Historian)), dues money has flowed in. Over $500 was collected last week with at least another $100 today. The office of Historian will be filled at next week's meeting, which will see a wide-open race since there is no one 'in line' you could say for the spot. (Larkin was our interim Treasurer until today so her 69-14 win was not unexpected.) It's amazing the amount of new blood in UDs (super majority are 1st and 2nd years).

So props to Byron and the past officers for building UDems up since 2000 and getting us ready for where we are today. We couldn't have done it without you.

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September 08, 2004

Burnt Orange Report From the Floor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Yet another Tuesday, yet another UT Student Government meeting.

This week there was not much up on the agenda. Some housekeeping, updates from reps and committee people, and the executive reports.

I was surprised with the level of positive response to Graduate Rep. Laura Gladney-Lemon's proposal (which was floated last Spring) to form an exploratory group around the issue of adding height/weight discrimination to UT's non-discrimination policy. I'm beginning to wonder if this year's assembly is going to be as conservative as I originally thought. I think that they are more willing to explore ideas and research them, though we will see later if that turns into votes.

Same goes for the sign up sheet for interest in getting on board with the Orange Bike Project, which I discussed in last week's report.

The only bill tonight was the Increased Appropriations legislation. What should have been another easy sailing bill ended up getting slowed down by a number of questions, most well reasoned. The real controversy came later after the meeting when International Affairs co-director Matt Stolhandske brought up his concerns that he felt that the body connected with the student populace primarily through Appropriations and that he did not feel that money given to SG Agencies and Committees may be as worthwhile when it should instead be going to student groups. (Matt is a friend of mine, granted he's YCT, but at least one of the reasonable ones that thinks)

For me, being a co-director for the GLBTAAA and a budget that runs about $3500 (by far the largest alongside the Women's Resource Center) such talk affects me. Personally, I do see the value of having funds because my agency serves as an umbrella over about 10 student groups on campus, none of which have the time or connections to make larger events happen. The money that flows from the GLBTAAA, is money that likely would never get back to those 10 student groups if it was just general appropriation money.

Now, I'm not going to just fill up a budget with pointless items, my German heritage won't let me do that. har har. If I find that I only need $3,000, that's all I'm going to submit. But with the way that SG operates, agencies collectively have been funded at last year's levels. Since there is no more and no less money out there, I don't have an economic incentive to change my allocation, other than my personal nature to do what is right. I think that is what Matt was getting at and I agree with him on that. I don't mind defending a budget, because it makes government honest. (Though I'm sure someday I'm going to wish I never said that comment.)

That's it for this week. The only other thing that made me happy was that I now have an official nametag. And it's Burnt Orange.

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August 31, 2004

Burnt Orange Report From the Floor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Some highlights from tonight's first Student Government Meeting.

The most interesting announcement in my opinion was that about the idea of a Orange Bike Project where students could pay a deposit for a semester, get an orange painted bike and u-lock for a semester. It would be done in coordination with the Austin Yellow Bike Project.

A simple procedural vote introduced by Laura Gladeny-Lemon to recess for 5 minutes to discuss the general appropriations bill (as it was not labeled as FastTracked by mistake) failed narrowly in what seemed to be a split between the more liberal members and conservative members of the Assembly. I may be mistaken but I think it is an indicator of the more Conservative nature of this year's assembly. (Though apparently, as always, some reps are rumored to already be looking at building tickets for the spring elections and from what I have heard there are more conservatives than not.)

Update: One other point which I would like to point out is that when Graduate Representative Y. Westerband came up to speak about plans for working on a resolution in support of exploration and expanision of Gender Neutral bathrooms across the University Campus (as well as adding a Diversity Training component to the SG Retreat in some fashion) there appeared to be a sincere lack of interest among the representative body (as there was last spring when she first brought the topic up). I don't know if this is due to the body simply not being aware of the issue (likly) or being non-supportive (possible). I think that it shows though, how much an educational diversity component is needed (run by the MIC, Multicultural Information Center, and IGSC, Interim Gender and Sexuality Center).

I would also like to add how impressed I am with President Brent Cheney and VP Rachel McGinity. I was disillusioned during the actual elections but thank goodness those two one in comparison to what the RepreZent ticket had put up (uber conservatives). The Execuative directors are on the ball as well this year, especially those that deal with us Agency and Committee heads. ( I am the co-director for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Ally Affairs Agency (GLBTAAA) for those that don't know.

On more levels than one, I'll say this about our first meeting... It's a Start.

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August 25, 2004

How to be Popular on Campus

By Byron LaMasters

The Reliable Source column of the Washington Post weighs in on what I blogged the other day - the intent by the College Republican National Committee to exploit the 9/11 anniversary to sign up Republicans and bring conservative speakers to campus:

How to be popular on campus: Despite claims from both sides of the political fray that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks should never, ever be politicized, the College Republican National Committee hopes to build membership in the new school year by promoting 9/11 observances. "You can ensure your CR chapter starts the new year as the leading group at your school," the group's Web site states, "by becoming involved with Young America's Foundation's 9/11: Never Forget Project." Past participation with the nonprofit conservative organization has helped chapters "boost [their] standings" and get better speakers, such as conservative loyalists Bay Buchanan and Dinesh D'Souza.

Young America's Foundation suggests, among other things, holding a moment of prayer at home football games to mark the anniversary and will provide free posters, buttons and other materials. But it's in no way, shape or form political, Patrick Coyle, director of campus programs, assured us.

"We're using this in a way to get the members active," he said. "The reason why we started this program in the first place is that a lot of schools weren't doing anything for the anniversary."

This year, the foundation Web site says, its 9/11 speakers include Dave Bossie, a certified Bill Clinton antagonist who has written a book called "Intelligence Failure: How Clinton's National Security Policy Set the Stage for 9/11." A nonpolitical title if we've ever heard one.

Of course, the other side has rushed to defend the CR's, calling me a hypocrite for condemning the CR's, but not F 9/11. I'm sorry Chris, but that's about the silliest argument I've ever. Chris Elam managed to twist my words, because of my conclusion in my original post:

If either the UT College Republicans or the UT Young Conservatives of Texas chapter exploits 9/11 for partisan political purposes, I'll be there with a lot of others to call them out on it.

Apparently, that's hypocritical, because I haven't criticized Michael Moore for doing the same thing. Perhaps, I should have spelled it out for Chris and said:

If either the UT College Republicans or the UT Young Conservatives of Texas chapter exploits the 9/11 anniversary for partisan political purposes, I'll be there with a lot of others to call them out on it.

Ok, so I should have included those two words in the original post, even though I thought that it should have been assumed, given the title (and thrust) of my post, "College Republicans to Exploit 9/11 Anniversary". Hello. If Michael Moore exploits the 9/11 anniversary to increase his book or F 9/11 sales, I think that would be inappropriate. If conservative groups use the anniversary for political purposes, I'll also feel that that is inappropriate.

Both the left and the right has appropriately questioned the months and years leading up to 9/11/2001, and the actions by the Bush administration following that day. The left has attacked Bush for his failure to take our security threats seriously before 9/11, and his actions following 9/11 that have made America less safe and secure by dividing America and alienating our allies, whose help we need to fight international terrorism. The right has questioned President Clinton's approach to fighting terrorism, and the Bush campaign has run ads touting Bush's leadership following 9/11. Agree or disagree with it, but it's fair game. However, using the anniversary of 9/11 to advance a partisan political agenda is inappropriate for either side.

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Conservative Student Paper to Begin in Austin

By Byron LaMasters

Because ya know, the Austin Review and Contumacy just aren't enough for the other side. They need a conservative daily to counter the liberal Daily Texan. Whether the Daily Texan is liberal depends almost entirely on that year's editor. I'm causiously optimistic about this year, but the past couple of year's the Texas has had libertarian or conservative-leaning editors. Calling the Texan liberal when they had assinine editorials supporting third-party candidates against Elliott Naishtat and Lloyd Doggett - both of whom have been champions for UT. They also endorsed State Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos's Republican opponent that year, when Barrientos has been the leader in the state senate for a student regent.

Anyway, here's what the Austin Chronicle has about the new paper:

On Sept. 2, the ex-advertising director of The Daily Texan will launch a new weekly broadsheet newspaper called The Austin Student, which will go forth to do battle with the Texan and other area student publications. It will be distributed free on the campuses of UT, Austin Community College, Concordia University, St. Edward's University, and Huston-Tillotson College, according to publisher Evelyn Gardner, who spent 16 years pitching ads for the Texan. (Though the Texan editorial staff is made up of students, its business side is not.)

Gardner resigned from the Texan in May after butting heads with Texas Student Publications director Kathy Lawrence (who declined to comment on Gardner's departure). She was soon joined by Texan account executive Donna Settle, who is the advertising director of the new paper, which hopes to "offer advertisers a one-stop shop to reach the college students of Austin."

While Gardner emphasizes that the Student is not targeting the Texan or any other publication, she also makes it clear it will attempt to set itself apart from the political coverage and opinion, particularly of the left-leaning variety, that has long been a hallmark of student papers. "We're going to cover issues that relate more to students on a personal level," Gardner said.

That would include everything from first-person stories from students to a religion page, spotlighting features and columns by local religious leaders. Students are "begging" for a more conservative voice on campus, Gardner says. "UT has a reputation for being a liberal school, and I think that is unfounded."

To help emphasize the new choice for this underserved legion of Bush-loving free thinkers, the Student's red, white, and blue boxes with the Texas star will soon appear next to every one of the Texan's campus news racks. "We will cover every site the Texan has, all 70 locations," Settle said. By the end of September, Gardner says, the Student, between all its distribution points across Austin, will reach 35,000 in free circulation – which would, perhaps not coincidentally, push it past the circulation of the Texan, renowned as the most widely read college newspaper in the country.

At the very least, Gardner vows the Student will do a better job of covering student government, the Greek scene, and on-campus issues than does the Texan. The Student also won't rely on news wire services, an oft-touted criticism of the Texan, she says.

I'll be sure to check it out with a critical eye when it appears on the scene.

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August 23, 2004

College Republicans to Exploit 9/11 Anniversary

By Byron LaMasters

The College Republican National Committee is asking their chapters across the country to sign up for the 9/11 Never Forget Project for their campuses. That project is sponsored by Club 100 a program of the Young America's Foundation - a right-wing youth organization dedicated to promoting a conservative Republican agenda on college campuses.

The College Republicans want to use the tragedy of 9/11 to bring more conservative speakers to college campuses. The College Republican National Committee boasts of this on their website:

This program significantly boosted the standings of several CR chapters last year. For example, the CR chapter at Western Michigan University organized a moving candlelight vigil that drew over 600 students. The success of this event allowed them to host several conservative speakers on their campus including Dinesh D'Souza, Bay Buchanan, Reginald Jones, and Alan Kors.

The CR's are using Western Michigan University as an example of what they would like to see nationally. 9/11 shouldn't be about politics. It should be about everyone, all of us, Democrats, Republicans and Independents remembering the loss that we all suffered on that day. I hope that Republicans at UT will break from the national CR organization, choose to avoid partisan politics on 9/11, and join with the rest of us in respectfully remembering our shared loss of that day. To do otherwise would be unfortunate and shameful.

Seth Tanner of the College Democrats of America blog, Smart Ass adds his two cents as well:

"With recent polls showing Senator Kerry with a 2-1 lead among young voters, it is no surprise that the College Republicans are getting desperate," CDA National President Grant Woodard said. "But for them to exploit 9/11 to promote their organization is a disgrace. If they want to hold a memorial they should hold a memorial, not a membership drive."

CDA encourages its leaders to alert members and campus publications about this despicable project so they know what to expect next month. "Let's make sure everyone sees this project for what it really is," Woodard said.

Agreed. If either the UT College Republicans or the UT Young Conservatives of Texas chapter exploits 9/11 for partisan political purposes, I'll be there with a lot of others to call them out on it.

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August 17, 2004

Because Texas A&M Still Sucks...

By Byron LaMasters

(Or was it OU? I forgot. They both suck.)

And the winner for the most Republican major University in America is....

Texas A&M! According to the Princeton Review:

Students Most Nostalgic for Ronald Reagan

Based on students’ assessment of their personal political views The Best 357 Colleges

1-5 of 20 schools

1 Texas A&M University-College Station
2 Grove City College
3 Samford University
4 Hampden-Sydney College
5 Brigham Young University (UT)

Now why anyone would classify Texas A&M as one of the best 357 colleges in America, I don't know, but I digress...

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June 25, 2004

There's black people, and then there are African-Americans

By Jim Dallas

Matt Yglesias covers an NYT article which suggests a bit of a dilemma for those of us who are supportive of campus affirmative action; more black people are getting admitted to top-tier universities, but fewer of them have deep roots in America (e.g. fewer of these students are the great-great-great-great-great granddaughters of your great-great-great-great grandfather's slaves), because admitted students are disproportionately immigrants or second-generation Americans.

Back to the dilemma -- is affirmative action supposed to be about broadening campus diversity and increasing the educational value of a college education (the rationale most oftened used to defend campus programs)? Or is it a round-abouts way of making up for generations of racism against descendants of slaves?

In the former case, then a large number of black immigrant students ought not be a problem - after all, immigrants certainly can share interesting life experiences and bring new ideas to the forefront in ways that your average kid from South Houston might not. On the other hand, if it is the latter, then campus affirmative action programs may not be as effective as previously surmised.

On the other hand, though, it may be possible to set aside this debate in a few different ways. Matt Yglesias also suggests switching to a class-based affirmative action system (which, if you squint really really hard, Texas's top-ten percent program represents).

Update: FWIW, SG prez Brian Haley's op-ed in today's Houston Chronicle supporting a cap on the top-ten percent rule is here.

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June 23, 2004

Show this to Every College Student in Texas

By Byron LaMasters

From the 2004 Texas GOP Platform:

Higher Education - [...]

We call on the Legislature to end all state funding of higher educations grants and scholarships. Until such action has occurred, we call on the Texas Legislature to adopt legislation that will ensure the state-supported grants and scholarships be made available to all Texas high school students, including privately educated students.

On the other hand, Texas Democrats want to restore the funding for higher education that was gutted in the 2003 budget which led the way towards tuition deregulation and increases of tuition rates by roughly thirty percent at state universities:

Post-Secondary and Adult Education: [...]

Texas Democrats pledge to:

  • Support restoration of funding cut in 2003 so that tuition and fees may be rolled back to affordable levels, expansion of the Texas Grants Program to reduce the debt burden on our children; adequate compensation, security, professional status, and benefits for all faculty; and research funding to spur economic development;
  • [...]

  • Support efforts to place a voting student regent on the appointed Board of Regents of each state-supported four-year institution of higher education.

The final plank here is a shameless plug. I lobbied for it's inclusion at the Platform Committee of the 2002 Democratic Convention in El Paso, and I'm pleased that it remained in the 2004 Texas Democratic Platform.

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April 29, 2004

Congrats to the New UD's Officers

By Byron LaMasters

I just wanted to briefly congratulate the new University Democrats officers. We had our officer elections last night with contested races in all but one race (including five candidates for President).

The new president is Marcus Ceniceros who has not served as a University Democrats officer before, but he's been to about every event this semester, and he's committed to the organization, and I'm looking forward to working with him.

Beth Olson was elected Vice President in a three way race (Andrew D. was one of the candidates, and lost to Beth in the runoff). I've been friends with Beth for two years and I'm looking forward to working with her as well.

I won't mention all of the officers, but I'd like to congratulate Karl-Thomas, who was elected Membership Chair. I hope he knows what he's getting into. Usually we have to beg someone to be membership chair, but this year it was a close contest between Karl-Thomas and the current membership chair. It's a rather thankless job, as the membership chair must set up and take down (or find someone to do it for them) our table on the west mall every day.

Anyway, congrats to all of the new UD officers and here's to a successful fall semester!

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April 21, 2004

Byron in the News...

By Byron LaMasters

I'm famous.. or something like that. The Daily Texan ran a front page story on our gay marriage debate today:

The argument over gay marriage came to campus Tuesday in a self-moderated debate between the University Democrats and the Young Conservatives of Texas.


"Gay marriage is harmful to society," said Aaron Gibson, government junior and YCT member. "Statistics prove that homosexuals have shorter life spans, and that they have more disease, and as a society, we shouldn't continue to condone that kind of behavior and especially institutionalize it in something like marriage ... the country doesn't support it."

Alison Puente, government sophomore and member of the University Democrats, said even though the national trend does not favor gay marriage rights, it is only a matter of time.

"The definition of marriage has adapted over time," Puente said. "We've gone from allowing women to be equal partners in the marriage to allowing inter-racial marriage. Allowing gays to marry is another natural progression in the evolution of the definition of marriage."

Gay marriage has been at the front lines of the political battlefield since last year when same-sex marriages were legalized in Massachusetts.

Byron LaMasters, government senior and University Democrats member, said gay marriage was simply asking for equal legal rights for gay and lesbian couples under the rule of law and that it should not be a religious issue.

"The government should not categorically deny the benefits and rights of marriage to an entire class of people," LaMasters said.

In a more conciliatory tone, one YCT member said that although marriage should be limited to heterosexual couples, there should be some provision for all citizens to have access to the rights of marriage, independent of sexual orientation.

"Personally, I'm against [gay marriage], but I'm all for civil unions," said Michael Endres, economics freshman.

Endres said it was important to make legal routes for people in love to have access to their rights as citizens.

Both groups did agree that there was no forthcoming solution and that the dialogue was a positive, necessary exercise.

"It's really an opportunity for people to hear two very different perspectives on the issue of gay marriage," said Dean of Students Teresa Graham Brett.

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April 19, 2004

University Democrats to Host Town Hall Meeting on School Finance

By Byron LaMasters

This is a busy week for us. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is our gay marriage debate and on Wednesday, we'll host a town hall meeting with Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) and State Rep. candidate Kelly White.

Here's the press release from Senator Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso):

April 19, 2004

Dear Friend:

I invite you to attend the University of Texas-Austin Democrats Town
Hall Meeting on Public School Finance, on April 21, 2004, 8:00 p.m.,
University Teaching Center 4.102, to discuss my 21st Century Texas
Education Excellence Fund. The Governor has called a special session on
school finance, and I want to give all Texans the opportunity to
participate in the dialogue for viable solutions to this very critical
issue facing our state today. Please forward the attached flyer and map
to co-workers, friends and family. Thank you for your interest.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please call
Brie Franco at (512) 463-0129.

Very truly yours,

Senator Eliot Shapleigh

State Senator-District 29

800 Wyoming Ave, Suite A

El Paso, TX 79902

(915) 544-1990


As always, you are encouraged to attend.

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University Democrats to Debate Marriage Equality

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be one of the three University Democrats debate participants on Tuesday. I'd encouage anyone here in Austin to attend. I'm really looking forward to it. Here's our press release:

The University Democrats at UT-Austin will debate the Young Conservatives of Texas (UT chapter) on the issue of gay marriage equality on Tuesday, April 20, 2004. The debate will be held on the University of Texas campus in Garrison 1 at 7:00 PM (map here).

The University Democrats support marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, and strongly oppose the hateful rhetoric of the Bush administration and the proponents of the Federal Marriage Amendment. With the recent proposal of a constitutional amendment and the actions supporting marriage equality in San Francisco and Massachusetts, the University Democrats feel compelled to address this important civil rights issue. One of the University Democrats debate participants, Former UD President Byron LaMasters agrees. “The institution of marriage has constantly evolved in America to become more inclusive, and give greater equality to both individuals in a marriage. A century ago women had few rights in marriage, and in some cases were considered property of their husband. A generation ago, interracial marriage was illegal in many places. Today, we continue the fight for fairness and equality to give gay and lesbian couples the same equal legal rights of civil marriage.”

The University Democrats and the Young Conservatives of Texas have met in the past to debate important issues of the day. Last fall the organizations debated U.S. foreign policy in a well-attended debate. The University Democrats is a student organization at the University of Texas representing student interests within the Democratic Party and working to help elect Democrats at a local, statewide and federal level. We look forward to this debate and other debates in the future on issues of interest to young people.


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April 13, 2004

Ehud Barak to Speak at UT

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be there:


Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister of Israel, will speak on Monday, April 19, 2004 at 7:30pm at the LBJ Auditorium. Passes are free and will be available beginning Wednesday, April 14 at the Student Events Center ticket office located on the 4th level of the Texas Union (weekdays 8am-5pm).

Passes do NOT guarantee admission.

Due to security precautions, please arrive early for seating.

All bags and items will be subject to search. For the sake of gaining quick and easy admission, we strongly recommend that patrons enter the LBJ Auditorium bearing as few personal belongings as possible.

This lecture is sponsored by the Student Endowed Centennial Lectureship, Jewish Community Center, Texas Hillel, the LBJ School Center for Ethical Leadership, the College of Liberal Arts and the Student Events Center Distinguished Speakers Committee.

Ehud Barak is the most decorated soldier in the history of the Israeli Defense Forces. After reaching the rank of Lieutenant General, Barak gradually moved into the political realm and in 1995 was appointed Minister of the Interior under Yitzhak Rabin. When Rabin was assassinated, Barak became Minister of Foreign Affairs under Shimon Peres. In 1996 Barak was elected to the Knesset, and in 1999 he was elected Prime Minister, replacing Benjamin Netanyahu. He served as Prime Minister until 2001.

Barak holds a B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1976), and an M.Sc. in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University, California (1978).

For questions about passes please call the Student Events Center at 475-6630.

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March 28, 2004

Tuition Up 24% at UNT

By Byron LaMasters

If you needed further proof that Tom Craddick is an enemy of higher education, check out this story from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Tuition at the University of North Texas will increase by 24 percent next school year, in large part to cover state budget cuts in the face of rising enrollment costs.

UNT regents voted 7-2 Friday to increase undergraduate tuition to $123 per semester credit hour -- a $24 per-hour increase. A full-time Texas student taking 15 credit hours will pay $1,845 a semester, up from $1,485 this school year.

Costs for room and board will also rise at the Denton campus.

The state no longer provides funding based on enrollment, so public universities are turning to students to make up the difference -- an option provided last year when the state Legislature deregulated tuition at state schools.


The University of Texas at Austin raised tuition and fees 26 percent from fall 2003 to fall 2004. Charges at UT-El Paso increased 28 percent. Most resident undergraduates at the University of Texas at Arlington will see a 17.5 percent tuition increase from fall 2003.


Student leaders, unhappy about the news, intend to study the effect of the increase on students. Plans are to give a report to regents this summer, said Jesse Davis, 20, president-elect of the UNT student body.

Some students will probably enroll at community colleges to save money or drop out of the university, Davis said.

The increase in cost of higher education at Texas universities is outrageous. No new taxes was a joke. Tom Craddick and the Republicans in this state have raised taxes on students and middle class families by an extraordinary amount through tuition deregulation. Other students aren't so lucky. For students that can't afford to pay more, many are forced to drop out of school or enroll in community colleges. I hope that this serves as a wake up call for students to get involved. Regardless, we'll be sure to remind students here at UT who raised their tuition rates come November.

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March 03, 2004

I Lost...

By Andrew Dobbs

Just so you guys know, I lost big time tonight in the SG elections. There were a lot of improprieties and we'll keep appealing some of the decisions up the pike but its pretty clear that even if the other side hadn't cheated they probably would have won. I lost 70-30 and everyone else on the ticket I worked for lost also. It stinks, but I wasn't expecting much better- the way these things work, the establishment always wins and we weren't the establishment. Thanks for the support all of you guy gave, I'll try and win next time I run for something.

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March 02, 2004

Happy Texas Independence Day!

By Andrew Dobbs

Seeing as this is a blog aimed at Texas news and brought to you from the heart of Texas, it is only appropriate that we commemorate the day when in 1836 several brave men sat down and declared our independence as a republic in Washington-on-the-Brazos. After several weeks of bloody fighting that culminated in the Battle of San Jacinto in late April, 1836 Texas defeated the dictator Santa Anna and was a free and independent republic for almost 10 years before joining the Union. Almost nothing makes me prouder than the fact that I can call myself a Texan and I love this state despite all its shortcomings. Happy Independence Day friends!

P.S.- I know Byron and Karl-T have already mentioned it, but just in case, don't forget to vote for me if you are a UT student. Check out our website here and vote online!

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March 01, 2004

Byron's Picks for Student Government...

By Byron LaMasters

SG President: Brent Perdue - Books Not Bombs
1 year At Large: Ben Durham - Reprezent
2 year At Large 1: Zach Neumann - Reprezent
2 year At Large 1 with year remaining: Andrew Dobbs - Reprezent
Liberal Arts Rep: Ali Puente - Reprezent
Daily Texan Editor: Ben Heath

I've never really gotten involved in Student Government elections. Most students don't vote (last year turnout was higher than it had been in a long time - about 20% - 10,000 or so votes cast, because of Internet voting for the first time). And most students that vote typically vote for their friends. Most of the people in SG (student government) are (in my opinion) in SG to pad their resume. So, basically I'll vote for my friends and for people that I know are Democrats or liberals, but that's basically it. I'll definitely vote for Andrew and the other two University Democrats on the Reprezent ticket (Zach Neumann and Ali Puente). If you are a UT student, be sure and vote for the three of them. I'm also voting for Ben Durham, because he's a good liberal.

I won't be voting for Reprezent on the top of the ticket. Even though the Reprezent Presidential candidate (Patrick George) voted for the Iraq War Resolution (a SG resolution passed last year opposing the war in Iraq), and the resolution supporting the Lawrence decision, Patrick George is the son of conservative former state representative Kenn George (R-Highland Park) - who is substantially bankrolling the ticket. The Reprezent Vice-Presidential candidate Matt Stolhandske has previously been involved with the Young Conservatives of Texas, so I won't be voting for him either. Although, having said that, their ticket is running on a relatively progressive platform, and I believe that Patrick George will be a decent SG President. I'm just not personally interested in helping pad the resumes of Republicans (even Republicans like George that go out of their way to tell us that they're liberal on social issues).

I won't be voting for any of the Focus candidates after their frivolous sexual harassment complaint against Andrew. Andrew distributed a flyer on campus with a picture of students in swimsuits floating down a river at the student government retreat. Part of the Reprezent platform is to cut funding for things like the student government retreat, and give that money to student organizations and scholarship funds. So, the purpose of the flyer was to point out that our student fees to student government are going to fund retreats for SG when they could be used to fund student organizations. The picture was taken in a public place, and it was public record. The flyer was approved by the elections board, but two girls claimed that pictures made them cry. It's a swimsuit silly. Get over it. It's part of the game. If the two girls aren't mature enough to deal with something like that, then shouldn't be running in the first place.

I'm voting for Brent Purdue for president. He's the only candidate that is experienced and comes from a solid progressive perspective. Read his interview with The Daily Texan. He gets it.

Ben Heath is the best candidate for editor of the Daily Texan. He's well-qualified, progressive and experienced. Check out his website for more.

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February 27, 2004

C-SPAN on Campus

By Byron LaMasters

I received an email earlier today that C-SPAN will be on the UT campus tomorrow. I may try and stop by around 2 PM if I have a chance after one of my government midterms.

CSPAN will be on campus on Friday, February 26th. They will have a bus parked near the LBJ school from 10 AM to 3 PM. They will be giving tours of the bus and are willing to spend as much time as you'd like with you so come on out!

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February 18, 2004

YCT Scholarships and Other Idiocy

By Byron LaMasters

The Texas A&M chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas have established a new scholarship for students who have "overcome institutionalized discrimination and/or the stigma imposed by policies giving preference to particular racial or ethnic groups." (read "Whites only need apply"). The Daily Texan reports:

The Texas A&M University chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas is offering $10,000 in scholarship funds to protest affirmative action.

The money will be distributed through an essay contest in which applicants must write about how they or their family members have "overcome institutionalized discrimination and/or the stigma imposed by policies giving preference to particular racial or ethnic groups."

YCT-A&M chairman Matthew Maddox said the contest has two purposes.

"For one, it's designed to help students who've been affected by affirmative action policies," Maddox said. "Second, it's a form of protest against affirmative action around the state."

They claim that the schoolarship is not "white only" although it's hard to imagine how non-white students could be recipients of such a scholarship by their organization. The article continues:

YCT-A&M communications director Mark McCaig said the timing is mere coincidence and reiterated that this scholarship is equal opportunity.

"We're not asking for the race of the applicants. So at first glance it is impossible for us to use race," McCaig said. "If their story, from a minority perspective on affirmative action, is better than a white applicant, then they will win the scholarship."

This all, of course comes one day after the College Republicans at Roger Williams University established a "Whites-Only" scholarship. The New York Times reports:

Only students who can truthfully answer yes to the following question may be considered for this award: Are you a student of noncolor, Caucasian descent (white)?" reads the application for the scholarship, whose winner, it said, would receive $50. "In 100 words or less, write why you are proud of your white heritage and explain what being white means to you."

The scholarship, Mr. Mattera said, was intended as a parody of scholarships available only to minorities. It was conceived this summer, he said, after he learned the university had compiled a list of such scholarships.

"If you are a white student on campus, you don't have anyone helping you, there is no one compiling a list of scholarships just for you," he said. "Why is it that only students of color have this?"

White students on campus don't have anyone helping them??? WTF!?!? Why is it then, that white students are disproportionately represented at almost every major university? Why is it that Whites have better jobs, make more money, and why is it that an equally qualified White person is more likely to get a job than an equally qualified Black person? Institutional racism is alive and well in America, and while affirmative action is an imperfect long-term solution, it's critical to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans.

In other related YCT idiocy news. They held a "Straight Pride Day" on the West Mall on the UT campus today. I just walked by and laughed, got myself a Rainbow sticker from the gay group celebrating "Straight Appreciation Day" next to them and then bought a $1 Vagina-shaped chocolate from the people promoting the Vagina Monologues, before sitting down at the University Democrats table and having a good laugh at it all. The Orange Jackets did a presentation of the Vagina Monolouges last year and it was hilarious. I'll try and go again this year.

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Vote For Me- Andrew Dobbs

By Andrew Dobbs

Alright guys, I am kinda embarrassed about electioneering, but I figure I might as well. I am currently running for Student Government as a 2 Year at Large Representative (with 1 Year Remaining) for the Reprezent ticket. That means that everyone on campus can vote for me on March 2nd and 3rd and I'm going to need all the help I can get. My opponent is a member of one of the top GOP families in Austin- her mom is President of the Austin Republican Women, her dad gave $3850 to Ben Bentzin's State Senate campaign and her brother is a staffer for the GOP lawmaker who authored tuition deregulation. Our website will be up soon and I'll link to it then, but if I could have the votes of all our UT readers, I'd really appreciate it. SG can seem silly and meaningless but we have a lot of money that we oversee and a lot of influence on important issues plus I will be representing the entire campus- the largest campus in America, a population of 50,000 people. Just to compare, that's about 8% of the population of the state that Howard Dean was governor of for 11.5 years before running for President and about half as large as a Texas state house district. I consider it a big deal so I'd appreciate your support.

The other Reprezent candidates are good people too and I'd encourage you to support them as well.

Andrew Dobbs- 2 Year At Large with 1 Year Remaining.

Update: Our website is up. It's a little rough around the edges, but it'll keep improving as time goes on.

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January 26, 2004

Tuition Deregulation a Mistake, Republican Now Says

By Byron LaMasters

Is it just me, or is this way too little, way too late:

Rep. Fred Brown, R-Bryan, says voting in favor of tuition deregulation last year was a mistake.

"I was a big supporter of tuition deregulation, and I'm almost embarrassed now to tell people I was," Brown told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. "I don't know what to tell people now except for it was a dumb move on my part."

After returning home during the legislature's winter break and receiving a few angry phone calls from tuition-paying parents, Brown and other state legislators are doing their best to condemn the tuition hikes.

Don't blame me for your tuition increase seems to be the mantra of many state representatives.

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January 23, 2004

Gov. Wilder to Speak at UT

By Byron LaMasters

Former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder will be speaking at the University of Texas next week. Wilder, a Democrat, was the first and only African-American governor since reconstuction:

L. Douglas Wilder, former governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, will be the keynote speaker for a symposium that will explore ways that universities can better prepare students for life in a diverse society.

Wilder, the nation’s first African American governor since Reconstruction, will join delegations from seven universities, as well as key leaders from the private sector, the military and government.

“Educating for a Diverse America: A Summit and Symposium” will take place on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin on Jan. 29-30. The symposium is one of several events on the campus commemorating the 50th anniversary of the landmark school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education.

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January 04, 2004

The Other Affirmative Action

By Byron LaMasters

The Houston Chronicle ran this story yesterday about "legacy admissions" at Texas A&M. It's a form of affirmative action that disproportionally helps white students"

Blood ties to alumni, sometimes known as the other affirmative action, are the deciding factor in the admission of more than 300 white Texas A&M University freshmen annually, according to data provided by the school.

Such students -- known as "legacy admits" -- equal roughly the overall total of blacks admitted to A&M each year. Only a handful of black students a year are admitted because of legacy points.

"That's a lot of kids being advantaged because A&M is where mommy and daddy went," said state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston. "Clearly, if you want to go to A&M, it pays to be a legacy applicant rather than black. I wonder why no one's sued it on those grounds."


A&M's program is drawing particular fire because university President Robert Gates recently announced the university, now free from a court ruling prohibiting racial preferences, won't consider race in admissions. Coleman and other black legislators cited a seeming contradiction between Gates' rhetoric that students be admitted strictly because of merit and a program they say perpetuates class distinction and white advantage.

Now, I'm not entirely opposed to legacy admissions. For many schools, it's necessary to keep up funding:

Although they also say legacy programs build a sense of community, most schools are candid about acknowledging that long-term financial support is the primary reason for preferences. Ashley said alumni parents of rejected applicants tell A&M they're going to stop donating money or not follow through on plans to give, though he has no idea how often they make good on such threats.

The problem, in my opinion is not necessarily the legacy admissions. Rather, it's the fact that Texas A&M doesn't have an affirmative action program to benefit the minority students that are hurt by admitting legacy students.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in a Michigan case, held that universities can use race as a factor in admissions policies, provided that quotas aren't set. The decision effectively lifted the Hopwood restrictions, set by a federal appellate court and an interpretation by former Attorney General Dan Morales, that had banned racial preferences from higher education in Texas for several years.

Some universities, including the University of Texas at Austin and Rice University, quickly took steps to reinsert affirmative action into future admissions policies.

A&M said no to racial preferences in admissions, despite that campus' striking lack of diversity, but will attempt to open the door a bit to increased opportunity by strengthening outreach efforts in predominantly minority communities and offering new scholarships. The university also has a new vice president charged with promoting diversity.

Increased outreach efforts? They need to do better than that. I'm proud of UT and Rice for taking the necessary steps to provide more opportunities for minorities to make up for the institutional inequities of the current system (legacy admissions, etc.). Hopefully Texas A&M will at some point, but I won't count on it.

Update: Charles has blogged on this issue as well.

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November 18, 2003

Can I Get A Witness?

By Jim Dallas

There are few things that truly rile me. But the (probably inevitable) $720 proposed tuition increased really gets me. Or to be specific, the total and complete lack of leadership at virtually every level of government on this issue.

The two biggest howlers have come in the last few days. First, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is now playing dumb, expressing "concern" over UT's plan to raise tuition without indicating sorrow, remorse, or even comprehension of the fact that this rate hike is the byproduct of the Legislature's neglectful attitude toward higher education in general and the Republican-backed tuition deregulation bill specifically.

To clarify this for the Lt. Gov., the Daily Texan wrote a superb editorial yesterday on the issue. And if that's enough, we'd like to present Dewhurst a handy-dandy cheat-sheet:

Lite Guv: Tastes Great, Less Filling

(We could be snarky and point out that Dewhurst's sudden stupidity is either indicative of legislative amnesia or blatant political hypocrisy, but we'd prefer to be classly like Kuffner and Greg Wythe).

To add injury to insult, UT student government honcho Brian Haley is caving to the UT Regents:

University of Texas Student Body President Brian Haley has a reminder on his wall that the students he represents don't want a tuition hike. But faced with the alternative, Haley says he and many students now support the plan the university system is expected to vote on Tuesday. "At the time we were against the university setting its own rate," said Haley. "But what we've discovered is that the state is not going to be giving the adequate funding we need to the university."

I like Brian -- I voted for him -- but there are somethings you must always oppose on principle (even if it means going down with the ship). And this is one of them.

Moreover, I seriously doubt that there are "many" students who are enthusiastically cheering for higher tuition. Talk about misrepresenting the student body! It's really a shame, and needless to say I hope freshmen VOTE in next year's student government elections, and give Haley a piece of their minds in the process.

I'm so steamed right now I could start quoting Isaiah ("...[our] rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; Everyone loves a bribe and chases after rewards...")

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November 04, 2003

Darn that Bob Jensen

By Jim Dallas

As a freshmen, I got "indoctrinated" about this crazy theory that the media end up caving into right-wing interests because they've got the money and the "flak" to veto anything they don't like.

Now, who'd believe that?

NYT: CBS Is Said to Cancel Reagan Mini-Series

(Umm, never mind).

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October 31, 2003

YCT Publishes Blacklist

By Byron LaMasters

It's here:

Bob Jensen, associate journalism professor David Edwards, government professor Clement Henry, government professor Jennifer Suchland, assistant government instructor Thomas Garza, associate professor of Slavic languages and literature Stephen Bronars, economics professor Harry Cleaver, associate economics professor Edmund Gordon, professor of anthropology and African American studies Penne Restad, senior history lecturer Gretchen Webber, assistant sociology instructor

It's interesting how YCT said that they'd include all professors that promoted an ideology - conservative or liberal. Yet, they seem only interested in attacking liberal professors.

Of the ten on the blacklist, eight are liberals, one is anti-Israel and one is conservative. While the liberals are hashly attacked, the token conservative on the list is only given a light slap on the wrist:

Instructor: Steve Bronars Department: Economics Course Evaluated: Introduction to Microeconomics Spring 2004 courses: Dr. Bronars acknowledges that one of the reasons he teaches economics is to get more people to agree with his opinions on it. He champions the free market system and believes in minimal government intervention. Although he may try to offer a liberal perspective on economics early on, he will admit that his class focuses instead on efficiency. He is very good at teaching economics, but sometimes his opinions are the main things that shine through in his lectures. You probably wouldn't take a free market economics class if you didn't already believe in capitalism, but Dr. Bronars may try to do the thinking for his students without challenging them to question why they feel the way they do.

None of the liberals on the list receive that sort of treatment. Here's a sampling:


Jensen introduces the unsuspecting student to a crash course in socialism, white
privilege, the "truth"; about the Persian Gulf War and the role of America as the world's prominent sponsor of terrorism. Jensen half-heartedly attempts to tie his rants to "critical issues" in journalism, insisting his lessons are valid under the guise of teaching potential journalists to "think" about the world around them.


Dr. Edwards allows his hatred of conservatism and capitalism to permeate his entire curriculum.


Gordon implied that if you're black and conservative, you're not black enough, and you're not doing what's in the best interest of the black community. He's called himself a radical and displayed a political agenda of changing students' minds toward a far left ideology. Most of what's taught consists of how blacks were and are oppressed, which would seem to deprive students of other important elements of black culture.


Although during class discussions Suchland allows dissenting ideas, all of the course readings greatly accentuate oppression and exploitation in the U.S. along race, class, and gender lines. If you believe in the American Dream and that the U.S. is a land of great opportunity, nothing in the readings from this
class will confirm that belief.


Dr. Restad's goal is not to encourage objective inquiry into the history of this nation, but rather to indoctrinate students with highly subjective, emotional reactions to historical events.

While, some of these are probably fair attacks, a lot of them are pretty cheap. It makes sense that a course on African-American history would focus on oppression of African-Americans, because, well from the time African Americans were brought to America in the 17th century until the Civil Rights Act - they were, by law, (constitutionally 3/5ths) second class citizens. Naturally, the majority of an African-American history class would emphasize the reality and effects of Black oppression. The next professor is critisized for "accentuat[ing] oppression and exploitation in the U.S. along race, class, and gender lines" and that "if you believe in the American Dream and that the U.S. is a land of great opportunity, nothing in the readings from this
class will confirm that belief." Is it not possible to believe both? I think that it's important to understand the exploitation and oppression of underprivledged races, classes and women in America in the context of believing in American opportunity. They aren't mutrally exclusive. And to suggest that recognizing inequalities in America is contradictory to believing in the American dream is quite biased. It's YCT. What do you expect?

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October 27, 2003

Collegiate Class Warfare for Dummies

By Jim Dallas

Barbara Ehrenreich writes in next month's Progressive --

Welcome to higher education, twenty-first-century style, where the most important course offered is not listed in the college catalog. It's called Class Struggle, and it pits the men in suits--administrators and trustees--against the men and women who keep the school running: maintenance workers, groundspeople, clerical and technical workers, housekeepers, food service workers.


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October 23, 2003

Students are Confused

By Byron LaMasters

A poll came out yesterday saying that 61% of college students approve of President Bush. What I don't get is that these students approve of Bush, but think that he's hiding things (i.e. lied) about Iraq and the vast majority of students are worried about finding a job after school (it's the Bush economy, stupid). Anyway, here's the story:

President Bush has more support among college students than the general public, according to a new poll that also says students have lost trust in Bush over the last year.

The poll done for the Harvard University Institute of Politics found that 61 percent of college students approve of the job done by Bush — about 10 points higher than the president's approval rating in several recent polls of the general population.

But the students indicated they also have concerns about the president's policies, with 86 percent saying the Bush administration has been hiding something or not telling the truth about Iraq (news - web sites).

Seven in 10 students said they think it will be difficult finding a job when they graduate.

Students are funny, aren't they? I think that a lot of Bush's approval among some students is that they see him as a leader (even if he's a failed one) whereas there's a lack of a coherent message coming from the Democrats. On the Iraq issue for example, our presidential candidates range from Dennis Kucinich on the left wanting a full pullout of Iraq now to Joe Lieberman who pretty much ditto's the administration position on Iraq. I think there will be more clarity once we choose a nominee, but this poll is still troubling. I think that while the left is more active on most campuses, the vast majority of students are apolitical and don't pay much attention to national politics until election time (if at all). So, I'm not too worried now. If at this time next year students say they still like Bush, then I'll probably be more worried.

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October 02, 2003

GOP Budget Cuts = Lost Jobs, Trashy Schools

By Byron LaMasters

Reaganomics taught us that when you cut spending, and lower taxes, the economy will magically recover. There will be more jobs, more personal spending, more production, etc.


Look at what's happened here in Texas. Yesterday I wrote that due to GOP budget cuts (especially with CHIP), Texas has had the greatest increase in uninsured in the nation. Today, the Daily Texan looked at another GOP budget cut from last session. The GOP budget cuts have reduced custodial services at UT throwing 144 Texans out of work and creating a trashy environment for students to learn in:

Effects of reduced custodial services in some areas of the University are quite obvious in classrooms on campus.

Glass bottles, gum wrappers, half-empty coffee cups and potato chip bags litter the floor of a University Teaching Center classroom - a room with 10 trash cans and one recycling bin, all conveniently located around the perimeter of the room.

"That place is filthy," said Olga Perez, an advertising junior who takes an management information systems class in the room. "I think it's kind of embarrassing."

Is this how Republicans are improving our economy?

Since Sept. 4, the frequency of custodial and maintenance procedures performed by the Physical Plant has been reduced due to a $3 million budget cut and 144 fewer staff positions.

The University-wide hiring freeze and the Employee Retirement Incentive allowed Physical Plant to meet its budget without layoffs, Director of the Physical Plant Ernest Hunter said in August.

When planning the new schedule, Physical Plant leaders expected their biggest problem would be the most significant reduction, which calls for custodial staff to clean offices and office suites only once per week and asks office occupants to empty their own trash occasionally.

But classrooms may be a larger problem than individual offices.

"[The Physical Plant's] biggest challenge has been in the classroom," said Rhonda Weldon, director of communications for Employee and Campus Services.

There are 260 general purpose classrooms on campus. The trash and recycling bins in the classrooms are emptied daily, but trash and messes outside of these containers are cleaned up only once a week.

Weldon said the increase of litter in classrooms is the result of a misunderstanding.

Reaganomics is Voo-Doo economics. While the legislature is in special session, its time that the legislature restore funding for education and higher education. Republicans balanced our state budget on the backs of children, students and the poor. They're divesting the state government from our number one state resource: education. And they're throwing working people out of work while they're at it. What a shame.

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September 25, 2003

Racists at UT

By Byron LaMasters

Well, the racist SMU YTC fundraiser isn't the only racist event on campus in this state. At UT fliers were distributed today by a White supremist group.

On a similar note, the UT YCT chapter handed out fliers today calling Umer Zaman is a terrorist. Zaman is not a known terrorist. He is a Pakistani student suspected of transcript fraud. He's wanted for questioning by police, but has not been charged with any crime. I would agree with the Daily Texan that this is an example of "heinous example of racial profiling at its worst". This is how racist / xenophobic people and organizations think. He's an Arab. His transcript was a fraud, so Ah-hah! He must be a terrorist! Lock him up! Umer Zaman may very well be a terrorist, but there's no evidence of it, and YCT is simply spewing racist and xenophobic hysteria by its actions. Here's the full editorial:

We strongly urge the Young Conservatives of Texas to cease posting or handing out "wanted" posters with Umer Zaman's picture, and condemn any future attempts to do so.

Creating such posters unfairly and irresponsibly suggests Zaman is wanted by a law enforcement organization.

No information suggests Umer Zaman is a terrorist. Zaman was never connected to a terrorist organization or accused of aiding any sort of terrorist plot.

Zaman is an international student from Pakistan who disappeared after UT officials confronted him with charges of transcript fraud. Linking Zaman to terrorism represents an overt attempt to villainize him for his background.

The distribution of flyers only creates an atmosphere of fear and paranoia. Casting Zaman as some sort of dangerous figure is a heinous example of racial profiling at its worst.

While federal officials admitted to the Texan they were interested in the Zaman's case, that interest does not mean officials want Zaman in custody.

The production of "wanted" posters sets a dangerous precedent for students who believe they possess the right to vilify and demonize those not yet convicted of a crime. And the implications of that abuse of power don't stop at just one nationality or ethnic group.

A student organization attempting to take the law into its own hands harms both those innocent until proven guilty and the student body as a whole. With the Campus Fusion event just on the horizon, student groups should be looking to extend and diversify their goals and membership rosters, rather than seeking to alienate others.

If the Young Conservatives of Texas believe in condemning those who possess similar traits to known terrorists, the University will become an unwelcome place for students of all backgrounds, nationalities or religions.

Once again, we strongly suggest that the YCT not continue to create and distribute "wanted" posters.

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Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) = Racists

By Byron LaMasters

I'm sorry, but this just isn't funny. It's racist. There are ways to make political points. I'm all for a open and honest debate on affirmative action. I support affirmative action, but I can understand and respect a conservative arguement against it. But I'm sorry, I won't accept a blatantly racist ploy like this. The Dallas Morning News reports:

The sign said white males had to pay $1 for a cookie. White women: 75 cents. Hispanics: 50 cents. Blacks: a quarter.

The event Tuesday at Southern Methodist University was no PTA bake sale.

It was a conservative student group's attempt at making a political statement, and it caused such a stir that SMU shut it down after 45 minutes.

The Young Conservatives of Texas chapter ran its so-called affirmative action bake sale to protest the use of race or gender as a factor in college admissions. Conservative groups have held similar sales at colleges around the country since February.

The bake sale didn't raise much money, in case anyone cared:

For the record, the SMU sale was a flop, at least financially. The group ended up selling just three cookies, raising $1.50.

Excuse me while I laugh in their face.


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September 17, 2003

State Legislature Abandons Higher Education

By Byron LaMasters

This year's Republican budget cuts have left students out in the cold. The Daily Texan reports:

After two weeks of convening behind closed doors, the president's tuition advisory committee is trying to inform the public of the information it has gathered.

Kevin Hegarty, co-chairman of the committee, spoke to SG members Tuesday about the budget crisis and answered questions from students afterward.

"We felt it was important to get input before we start talking specifics," said Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer.

The Tuition Policy Committee was appointed to recommend revised tuition policies to UT President Larry Faulkner for the spring semester. Faulkner will submit a campus proposal to UT System administrators by Nov. 1.

Members of the committee said they felt it was better to hold closed meetings while brainstorming but told students they would eventually present their ideas in open forums. The first open forum on spring tuition rates will be held next Wednesday.

In the meeting on Tuesday, Hegarty said the University needs additional revenue to repair infrastructure and keep salaries competitive.

He attributed the University's financial troubles largely to a lack of funding by the state Legislature.

"The state has abandoned higher education, and you have picked up the tab," Hegarty said. "That is no secret."

Republicans can gloat that they balanced the budget without raising taxes. That's a farce. Defunding public universities is a tax on students. Defunding child health care is a tax on children and low income families. Defunding public schools and other servies are a tax on local governments. Make no mistake about it, the Republican legislature has raised our taxes.

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UT Enrollment Down Overall, Minority Enrollment Up

By Byron LaMasters

For the first time since 1996 (I believe) enrollment at UT is down. It's a good thing, because we've been slightly overcrowded, especially with the recent Republican budget cuts. Here's the story:

Enrollment at The University of Texas at Austin dropped 1.6 percent, from 52,261 to 51,438 this fall, but the university remains the nation’s largest single-campus institution.

This fall’s enrollment includes 38,392 undergraduate, 11,553 graduate and 1,493 law students. The number of entering freshmen is 6,544, a decrease from last year’s record high of 7,935. Undergraduate transfers have decreased (from 2,137 to 1,644), as have new graduate students (from 3,474 to 3,337).

The nation’s second-largest campus, The Ohio State University, had an enrollment last fall of 49,676. Ohio State has not yet released its preliminary fall 2003 totals.

University-wide, the proportional representation increased for African Americans to 3.4 percent (from 3.2 percent in fall 2002), Hispanics to 12.7 percent (12.3 percent) and Asian Americans to 14.1 percent (13.9 percent). The proportional representation for all other groups remained stable or declined slightly. Undergraduate continuing student counts grew from 28,674 in fall 2002 to 29,287 this fall, while graduate continuing student counts increased from 7,433 to 8,034.

“A concerted effort has been made to reduce the number of incoming freshmen and transfer students to maintain a high quality undergraduate experience in light of budget constraints,” said Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “We are pleased that we have been able to attract and enroll a more diverse freshman class, and we continue to make progress in retaining undergraduate students at increasing rates.”

For the entering freshman class, the proportional representation increased for African Americans to 4.1 percent (up from 3.4 percent), Hispanics to 16.3 percent (14.3 percent) and foreign to 2.4 percent (2.0 percent). The proportional representation for all other entering freshman groups decreased.

The percentage of graduates from Texas high schools entering under HB 588, the top 10 percent law, was 70.5 percent this fall, significantly higher than last year’s figure of 54.3 percent. When all freshmen are considered, even those not eligible for admission under HB 588, 68.9 percent of entering freshmen were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, compared with 52.4 percent last fall.

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September 11, 2003

UT Statement Regarding Affirmative Action

By Byron LaMasters

Here, regarding UT President Larry Faulkner's disappointment that the new UT admissions policy using race as a factor will not be able to be implimented until Fall 2005 (as opposed to Fall 2004 as wished by the University).

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September 10, 2003

Daily Texan Stuff

By Byron LaMasters

Two good articles today in the Daily Texan. One on early voting for the Amendment election and another on affirmative action.

First, on the fact that the UGL (undergraduate library) was only an early vote location for one day (yesterday) of early voting as opposed to a location for the entire week and one half of early voting, as is typical. It saddened me because early voting on campus at UT encourages students to vote. Most students don't know where their precinct is, or where to vote on election day, but most students do know that if you're registered to vote in Travis County, you can vote early at the UGL... except for this election. The Daily Texan reports:

Linda Wandt was walking along the West Mall Tuesday afternoon when she saw the "Vote Here" sign and took the opportunity to cast a ballot during early voting at the UGL.

"I'm busy, and unfortunately, I probably wouldn't have gone out of my way to find out where the voting was," Wandt, English sophomore, said. "I'm really glad that this place was open."

But this year, Tuesday was students' only opportunity to cast an early vote at the UGL. Travis County Elections Division eliminated the library as an early voting site due to budget cuts, and instead, a mobile voting station was available for one day only.

Three hundred and forty people utilized the mobile station Tuesday. In the 2001 special election, about 700 people cast early ballots at the UGL over 12 days.

This year, a mobile voting unit will be set up in the UGL on Thursday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The general election will take place this Saturday, Sept. 13.

Some students are disappointed that the UT location didn't survive the cut because they said the location offers convenience.

"We wished it had remained an early voting site because it's the easiest place for University students [to vote]," said Haley Greer, University Democrats president and government senior.

The special election is on 22 proposed amendments that came out of the 78th legislative session.

Kim Dilling, site manager for Travis County Elections, said the decision was primarily an economic one. All departments are strapped with budget issues forcing them to make cuts, she said.

"This is a smaller election, and typically many students are registered in their hometown," Dilling said. "This is not a permanent cut. This is just for this election."

County Clerk Dana De-Beauvoir said that the UT site was the most logical place to temporarily cut.

"The turnout in constitutional amendment elections tends to be low with less than 5 percent turning out," DeBeauvoir said. "Also, students typically re-spond to a candidate more than a text ballot."

Student Government legislative relations director Dan Paschal said he called the county clerk's office, because he was concerned by the decision to eliminate early voting at the UGL.

"We were told that the UT voting site is a low-turnout site," said Paschal, a government sophomore. "I find that disappointing, because how are you supposed to encourage voter turnout if you don't have a place to vote?"

Bill Medaille, a researcher for Texans for Public Justice and former UT student, called the decision to eliminate the UT site a "massive mistake."

"Students have every right to be a part of the election process, and this makes it more difficult for them," Medaille said. "It's hard to imagine a single better location for early voting given the population. Cutting it as a budget matter seems remarkably short-sighted."

DeBeauvoir maintains that this was not a decision against UT voters and encourages them to vote in the general election this weekend.

"I'm certainly thrilled students want to come out and vote," DeBeauvoir said.

I'm a little upset with DeBeauvoir. I'm happy with her work overall, but her quote on students is disappointing. Students typically respond more to candidates than a text ballot, but heck, everyone does. So, why make it more difficult for students to vote as opposed to another group of people that respond less to text ballots. Fine, there's low turnouts constitutional amendment elections, but part of the reason why, is that there is less of an opportunity to vote. Duh.

There's also some trouble with implimenting a new admissions policy at UT including some form of affirmative action. Apparently, UT won't be able to change it's policy until Fall 2005 instead of Fall 2004.

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September 05, 2003


By Jim Dallas

The Daily Texan has a photograph of Dick Gephardt on the front page today -- labeled "Pete Gephardt"

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September 04, 2003

A Recurring Theme: GOP Budget Cuts Hurt TA's

By Byron LaMasters

For the second day in a row, the Daily Texan has an article on jobs cut by the Republican state budget cuts. Yesterday, the story was on students being unable to find on-campus work. Today, it's teaching assistants:

Anthony Ambler, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said the department had to cut the number of teaching assistants by about 5 percent to 10 percent because of budget reductions.

Budget cuts have had a sweeping effect for teaching assistants across the University.

Each department pays the salaries of teaching assistants from funding allocated from the instructional portion of the UT budget, which was reduced by $22.7 million this fiscal year, said Mary Knight, associate vice president and budget director.

Some courses had to be eliminated because of budget cutbacks, which reduced the number teaching assistant and assistant instructor positions for graduate students, said John Dollard, vice provost and dean of graduate studies.

"If a course is cut which would have required a TA, then the program offers one less TA-ship," Dollard said. "... I would imagine that that would be a principle way in which TAs have been affected."

Dollard said he cannot estimate the effect of the budget cuts on the number of teaching assistants until finalized figures become available. Kyle Cavanaugh, associate vice president for human resources, said the data on teaching assistant positions will be available at the beginning of October.

Budget cuts and reduced undergraduate enrollment, re-quiring fewer classes, would both decrease the number teaching assistant positions, Dollard said.


The Division of Rhetoric and Composition had to cut six assistant instructor positions because of a 9-percent budget cut, said Madison Searle, senior administrative associate in the division.

In a typical year, Searle said the division hires about five or six assistant instructors from departments around the Uni-versity. He said 30 applied this year, but administrators were unable to hire any.

Richard Lariviere, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said despite attempts to save money in other areas of the college, teaching assistant positions were still eliminated because of a 10-percent budget reduction.

Everyone, repeat after me. Bush/Perry/[insert local Republican elected official/candidate here] budget cuts / tax cuts (choose one) are costing America jobs. It's hurting students. It's hurting the middle class. It's hurting families. We need new leadership in this state and country.

Posted at 02:22 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 03, 2003

GOP Budget Cuts Hurt Students

By Byron LaMasters

The effects of this year's Republican budget cuts have deep effects throughout the state of Texas... and students are no exception. In July, I blogged on the cuts forcing the UT computer lab to reduce their hours. Then it was the Aggie Journalism Department being axed. Now? It's Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. The Daily Texan reports (bold text is done by me):

Richard Avila can't find a single job on campus.

The biology sophomore looked for work on hirealonghorn.com, but couldn't find anything that fit his schedule.

"There's a lot less jobs than there were last year," he said. "It's getting kind of hard because of budget cuts ... not many people are hiring."

On-campus jobs provide adequate pay and don't require personal transportation. As the 2003 fall semester gets under way, more and more students are realizing that the availability of these jobs has decreased and continues to drop.

Most available jobs go first to work-study students, who are in the most need of financial assistance. Due to the recent budget cuts, work-study students are more appealing to the University when hiring employees, Don Davis, the associate director of the Office of Student Financial Services said.

Davis is not surprised to hear that students are having trouble finding jobs at the University. There are, "squeezes everywhere," he said.

"Student workers can be a luxury or a necessity, depending on the circumstance," Davis said. "Some departments that are forced to make cuts may cut student positions first ... However, it is cheaper to hire a student than a regular [non-student] employee."


Laura Pak, a sociology senior, qualified for the work-study program all four years at the University, but only received the funds her freshman year.

"I qualified for work-study, but I was told they didn't have enough funds to employ me, so I'm looking off campus," Pak said.

Pak is currently taking out a loan to cover her housing bill.

"Some people are able to pay for college comfortably," she said. "I can't, and this is just the way I have to do it."

Sounds like we got ourselves a good election year theme next year. Republican/Bush/Perry/[insert local Republican elected official here] budget cuts / tax cuts are bad for the economy, irresponsible, hurt children, hurt students, hurt the elderly and disabled, and most of all hurt average workers and kill jobs, and won't get better until we change the direction of government in this state/country.

Posted at 02:36 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 02, 2003

UT to consider Race in Admissions

By Byron LaMasters

From a UT News Release last week:

Effective ways to include race as a factor in selecting applicants for admission are being evaluated by administrators at The University of Texas at Austin, which plans to implement a revised admissions process by fall 2004.

Dr. Bruce Walker, vice provost and director of admissions at the university, said he and Provost Sheldon Ekland-Olson have been working with other university officials for several weeks to develop an admissions process that includes race as a factor. Their plan must undergo reviews by President Larry R. Faulkner, as well as by the University of Texas System’s legal counsel before a final version is submitted to the Board of Regents for its consideration and approval.

“Our mission is to serve the entire state of Texas, and right now we have certain segments of the population that, by all indicators, are underserved,” said Ekland-Olson. “We are looking for all kinds of ways to improve on that and this gives us one more tool to use.”

The fall 2002 freshman class at The University of Texas at Austin included 13.6 percent Hispanics and 3.4 percent African American students. In comparison, the statewide demographic figures show Hispanics are 32 percent of the state population and African Americans are about 11 percent.

Walker said all 15 components in The University of Texas System are required to have plans reviewed by the system prior to implementation of race as a factor in the admissions process. He said the university’s “holistic” review of each applicant takes many factors into consideration in addition to academic strength.

I'll be interested to see what the eventual policy is. I do support considering race as a factor in admissions, but not "quotas". But Affirmative Action isn't quotas, so I support Affirmative Action. It's time for UT to have a student body that looks more like Texas by finding and recruiting more well-qualified minority students.

Posted at 02:02 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 28, 2003

Freshman Cheat Sheet

By Byron LaMasters

Ok, Freshman (and prospective students and all). Need to know what the heck we mean when we talk about "the drag", the "six pack", "SMurF", the PCL or the West Mall? The Dean of Students has a fun webpage set up to help you out.

Posted at 03:00 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 27, 2003

This is what Constituent Service Looks Like

By Byron LaMasters

Much of redistricting has been a partisan battle between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats talk about precedent, minority voting rights, and argue that the current district lines which favor Republicans in 20 out of 32 seats are more than fair. Republicans on the other hand argue that they're the majority and their is nothing inapropriate about trying to expand their majority through mid-decade redistricting so that they can better advance their Bush/Republican agenda in Congress. Those have been the battle lines.

But Republicans often forget that it's about more than that. If Republicans get their way, they win and Democrats lose. Fine. But constituent service loses, too. Yesterday, I wrote about the Ratliff Republicans who generally lean conservative, but care more about rural issues such as timber and water than they care about the party affilation of their congressman. The letter from our Congressman Lloyd Doggett in today's Daily Texan welcoming Longhorns (back) to campus is what constituent service is all about. Doggett is a liberal Democrat. I know it, I admit it. But find me one thing in this letter that is about advancing a liberal Democratic agenda. If Republicans get their way in redistricting, we lose this type of constituent service. Regardless of your political affiliation, Lloyd Doggett is a powerful voice for students at the University of Texas. If students have a concern about financial aid, for example, there is one congressman to contact to help. The University of Texas matters to Lloyd Doggett and the 10th district. With about 50,000 students and tens of thousands more in faculty and staff, the UT community is a significant constituency of the 10th Congressional District. Republicans want to destroy our constituency and punish us because we vote Democratic.

Anyway, here is Doggett's letter, a letter which we would not receive from a Democratic or Republican Congressman from McAllen, San Antonio or Houston (where Austin's representatives would likely live under GOP redistricting maps).

Welcome back to another exciting year at the University of Texas. Every fall, my thoughts always turn to the 40 Acres and the thousands of students who will start filling up the classrooms and gathering around the Mall. The University has been an important part of my life almost since birth. I grew up in the shadow of the Tower and earned my first real paycheck as a summer dishwasher and errand runner for the Botany Department. Later, as an undergraduate in the School of Business and then as a law school student, I met some of the finest people anywhere - including my wife, Libby. I developed my interest in public policy at the University, where I served as Student Government president.

I will never forget my wonderful years at UT, and I hope your experience will be equally fulfilling. You are lucky to be attending one of the best universities in the world and living in one of the finest cities anywhere.

Please know that I am here to work constructively on matters of importance to the UT community. From tax relief for teaching assistants to improving student financial assistance, I serve as an advocate for the concerns of students, faculty and staff. I have also actively promoted fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget, environmental protection, and policies that encourage economic growth and job creation like an unfettered Internet.

Regardless of your career plans, government affects you. I hope that, as a student, you will choose to get involved with government and public service in your community. There is a wide range of community service opportunities and philosophically diverse political organizations, both on campus and in the community, with which you can get involved.

Both my district office in Austin and my congressional office in Washington provide year-round internship opportunities for students who have an interest in government and want to learn about the inner workings of a congressional office. Internships should be coordinated through the office in which you wish to work. It is a great source of pride that many of my permanent staff are University of Texas graduates.

As the congressman of and for the University, I invite you to visit my Web site at www.house.gov/doggett where you can find the following helpful information:

Austin information and web links: You can explore my hometown of Austin by visiting the About the 10th District section of my Web site. There are several links to help folks learn about Austin's media outlets, civic organizations, community service opportunities, government and culture.

Student financial assistance information: I strongly believe that all students should be able to get all of the education for which they are willing to work. While I fight in Congress to make more student financial aid available, you can find several financial aid resources on my Web site by clicking on the "Constituent Services" button and "Information for Students" to find several financial aid resources.

Ways to communicate with me: From my Web site, you can fill out an electronic survey on some of the important issues being considered in Congress, or you can send me an e-mail about issues that are important to you. I want to hear from you in order to make sure your priorities are my priorities in Washington. My Austin office can be reached at (512)916-5921 and my Washington office phone number is (202) 225-4865. My staff in both cities are ready to assist you. Additionally, I hold Neighborhood Office Hours several times a year at locations throughout Travis County. I encourage you to attend one of these events so that I can meet you personally.

Information on legislation pending in Congress: Enter the "About the 10th District" section to find web links for the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, all federal agencies, and Thomas, the Library of Congress' Web site containing information about bills introduced in Congress, Congressional schedules, and information in the Congressional Record. You can also look up your Representatives at the Texas Legislature by clicking on the "Who Represents Me?" link.

My office stands ready to assist you in matters of a federal nature. Have a safe, productive and memorable year here at the University of Texas.

Hook 'em, Horns!

Rep. Doggett represents the 10th district, which includes the University.

Posted at 01:54 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 08, 2003

Affirmative Action Back at UT

By Byron LaMasters

The UT Board of regents voted yesterday to let each individual school within the UT system decide what they would do regarding affirmative action. They declined a systemwide policy, though. The Daily Texan reports:

Consideration of race in admissions and financial aid will be left to individual UT System schools after the Board of Regents declined to implement a system-wide policy on affirmative action.

School policies may be revised after Supreme Court decisions in late June negated a ban on race-based policies that stemmed from the Hopwood case of the mid-1990s. But details of the revisions will be left to each campus, and schools must consider race-neutral alternatives before implementing any race-conscious policies, Board Chairman Charles Miller said.

UT law professor Doug Laycock said the board will still act as a supervisor in the process.

"Review will occur at the system level, but the individual policies will come from each campus," Laycock said. "We have to have plans that vary by program."

According to the resolution released by the regents Thursday, each campus will be required to submit a proposal to the board, outlining their policy and demonstrating that race-neutral admissions policies are inadequate, Miller said.

Admissions and financial aid revisions submitted to the regents for approval this fall will go into effect by fall 2004 at the earliest, he said.

UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof said the Board of Regents would also continue to monitor the necessity of race-conscious admissions policies and that the regents' guidelines will be revisited in the next five years.

It's a matter of proceeding conscientiously, Yudof said.

"The question is: What would be a careful, prudent, lawful affirmative action program?" Yudof said.

Under the new resolution, each UT System campus would have a different plan based on the demographics, needs and goals of the institution, Yudof said.

The University of Texas noted their intention to use affirmative action for some admissions in a June 23 press release immediately following the Supreme Court decision overturning Hopwood.

Posted at 01:12 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 04, 2003

Texas A&M = Hotbed of Liberalism?

By Byron LaMasters

I never thought so. But apparently one Dallas Morning News reader does.

Re: "A&M let me down," by P. Marcus White, Letters, July 21. Mr. White, a journalism undergraduate at Texas A&M, decries the disbanding of the journalism department. He asks, "Can someone explain to me why I feel left out in the cold?"

While I cannot speak for this fine university, it is fair to say that the profession of journalism was once based on academic principles that include a firm regard for objectivity, aiming to present a balance of views so as to let the informed reader decide one's position on an issue. Gradually, the press has transformed from a respected profession into a political arm of the Democratic Party, bristling with rhetoric that advances a liberal "progressivism" rather than the profession of journalism.

Rather than weighing the contrasting sides of an issue, one side often is presented as the sole facts and the humanity of the opposing side is questioned, implicitly or explicitly (argumentum ad hominem).

Marcus asks why he feels out in the cold? His desired profession has migrated away from the fires of academic rigor toward the outlands of a civilized society where the might of the pen seeks to bully or manipulate rather than to inform.

A&M didn't abandon journalism. Journalism has abandoned the academic principles that are requisite for membership in academic community.

I applaud A&M for its exemplary upholding of the standards of academics and its quiet dissociation from a falling profession.

Robert Irvin, Fort Worth

Ok. Am I stupid or something? Or has Texas A&M been churning out liberals? With the exception of Mike, I really don't think that their journalism department has done too much for the Democratic Party.

Posted at 04:54 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 03, 2003

More on Aggie Journalism

By Byron LaMasters

Mike, an Aggie Journalism graduate has his his thoughts on Texas A&M shutting down it's journalism department. I'll spare the temptation to make an Aggie joke. Mike's right. I said the other day that GOP budget cuts are to blame. Mike seems to agree.

Since the announcement, there have been a lot of denigrating comments going around the Web about the quality of the A&M journalism program, as if that is the reason it is being shut down. I graduated in 1989 and don't have a clue about how the program is doing since I left. But like most things, the real issue is $$$.

The Austin American Statesman is following the Daily Texan in editorializing on the issue.

Want to get involved? Go to Save Journalism.com.

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August 02, 2003

Dem Senators work on Tuition Deregulation in NM

By Byron LaMasters

Well, the Daily Texan reports that the Texas 11 have been busy working on tuition deregulation while in New Mexico:

Democratic senators, taking advantage of their time in Albuquerque, met with University of New Mexico officials Thursday and discussed educational issues common to both states.


The 11 senators met with Richard Holder, deputy provost of UNM, along with students and professors from the law school. Zaffirini said she saw the meeting as part of her work as a member of the Committee on Higher Education.

Good for them. They seem to have been a lot more productive than their GOP colleagues.

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July 31, 2003

GOP Budget Cuts Kill A&M Journalisn Dept.

By Byron LaMasters

Being a good Longhorn, I usually tend to act with glee when I hear of Aggie misfortunes. But, its not funny. The Republican budget cuts are already having real effects on students. Several weeks ago, it was the cuts in the UT library hours. Now, it's the A&M journalism department. More from the Daily Texan:

After years of neglect and perhaps outright sabotage, Texas A&M University has decided to kill its 54-year-old journalism program. No doubt, many on campus will line up to dance on its grave.

Before everyone breaks out the blue suedes, though, Aggie journalism deserves a requiem.

The A&M administration will argue that the program must be eliminated for budget reasons, that it was plagued with high faculty turnover, out-of-control enrollment and an antiquated curriculum. While true, these are merely rationalizations. After all, it was the College of Liberal Arts, through its own poor stewardship, that allowed these problems to fester.

Posted at 03:43 AM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

July 15, 2003

Students feel effects of Budget cuts

By Byron LaMasters

The Daily Texan reports that the University of Texas will be decreasing the hours in which the library is open. I've spent many late night hours in the SMF, and I'd be upset to see it close. There's really no experience comparable to starting a paper at midnight in order to finish it by eight or nine in the morning. I've certainly had my share of those nights. This is just one of many examples of how the Republican Party budget cuts hurt Texas. I'll be certain to remind students, come 2004, who is resonsible for their increased tuition and decreased services at UT

The time-honored college tradition of student procrastination might be under threat in the fall when the Student Microcomputer Facility in the Undergraduate Library starts closing on weeknights for the first time in a regular session.

Cutting the hours of the 193-station computer lab was a result of the $1.6 million budget cut required of the Department of General Libraries for the next fiscal year, said Harold Billings, department director. The fiscal year starts in September.

"Because of the tighter budget, we were not going to be able to maintain SMF on the same 24 hours [basis]," Billings said. Morgan Watkins, director of Information Technology Services, said the decision to cut the hours was based on the times when the computer lab was used the most, which is during the day.

Posted at 12:48 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

June 24, 2003

Hopwood is Dead

By Byron LaMasters

From today's Austin American Statesman:

"Hopwood is dead," said Doug Laycock, an associate dean at the University of Texas School of Law and a strategist in UT's defense of affirmative action.

The nation's highest court did not revisit the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision known as Hopwood. But affirmative action supporters and UT leaders said the court's ruling in two separate cases from the University of Michigan opened the door, once again, to the consideration of race as one factor in university admissions.

There is no program in place at the moment, but it is likely that the graduate and professional programs, where racial imbalance is the greatest, will see changes first.

My thoughts? I think that this is good for UT. Since Hopwood, minority representation at UT, especially African-American representation at UT has been atrocious. It's shameful that a state university has only 3-4% African Americans in a state that is 12% African American. Is that a problem of affirmative action? No. Is it because Black people aren't qualified to go to UT? No. It's because too many African Americans are not given the opportunity to get a college education, because of our state's (and our nation's) failure to ensure a quality (pre-k through high school) education for all of our children, and give everyone a reasonable opportunity to afford a quality college education. Until the inequalities in pre-college education are addressed, without affirmative action, we discriminate against minorities, and children of poor families, Black and White, that did not have the opportunities that most college students (white suburbanites) had. Affirmative action is the imperfect solution until the problem of education inequality at the younger level is addressed.

I'm white, but I'm also better off for being exposed to diversity. Part of a college education is being exposed to people of different backgrounds, of different races, of different countries, of different religions, of different sexual orientations and more. We're all better off for that diversity, and that diversity gives us a better understanding of the world, and the people that we share it with.

For those interested, here is some background on the Hopwood case from 1996, which banned affirmative action at the University of Texas.

Posted at 12:20 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 23, 2003

UT to Modify Admissions Procedures

By Byron LaMasters

The effects of today's Supreme Court rulings on Affirmative Action will be felt at the University of Texas. The University announced today that it will reintroduce some affirmative action programs in time for the fall 2004 semester:

Dr. Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin, said the rulings in the Michigan case sweep away the restrictions of the 1996 Hopwood decision, a decade-long case that eliminated the consideration of race in admitting students at the university’s School of Law and other higher education institutions in Texas.

“We are very pleased here at The University of Texas at Austin that the Supreme Court’s rulings today place the state of Texas and higher education institutions in the state on the same competitive basis as education institutions throughout the United States,” Faulkner said in a news conference.

The University of Texas at Austin will modify its admissions procedures to comply with the court’s rulings in time for the fall 2004 semester, Faulkner said. This will include implementing procedures at the undergraduate level that combine the benefits of the Top 10 Percent Law with affirmative action programs that can produce even greater diversity, he said.

Establishing these procedures for graduate and professional programs will be a priority, Faulkner said, because “we don’t have a good substitute for affirmative action” in those programs.

The Michigan rulings establish a new precedent under which individualized, “wholistic” admissions procedures, such as those in place at The University of Texas at Austin that consider multiple factors in a high school student’s background, are affirmed as legal, he said.

More on the story in the Austin American Statesman.

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June 19, 2003

TSU-San Marcos

By Byron LaMasters

It's official! Southwest Texas State University is now Texas State University - San Marcos. Rick Perry signed the bill today, but a lot of people don't like the name. Here's the story.

Posted at 06:21 PM to Around Campus | Permalink | Comments (1)

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