Abbott elected next governor in landslide victory

The Daily Texan

Attorney General Greg Abbott was elected the state’s next governor by about a 20-point margin Tuesday night, extending the Republican Party’s hold on statewide elections to 16 years.

At his election night party in Austin, Abbott thanked all Texans, including those who voted against him or not at all.

“We all want to live in safer communities and give all our children lives worthy of their promise,” Abbott said “I am living proof that a young man can have his life broken in half and still rise up to be the governor of this great state.”

Abbott asserted Texas’ role as a trendsetter and said the bonds of being a Texan transcends all other differences in political perspective. He promised that he would work as governor to keep government small and continue to provide economic and educational opportunities for all.

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‘Hook ’em Horns’ hand sign inventor Harley Clark dies

The Daily Texan

By Nicole Cobler and Eleanor Dearman

Harley Clark, the inventor of the “Hook ‘em Horns” hand sign, died Thursday morning at the age of 78, after fighting pancreatic cancer since February.

Clark graduated from Austin High School in 1952 and received three degrees from UT — bachelor’s and master’s degrees in government and a law degree in 1962. In addition to serving as the head cheerleader, Clark was student body president from 1957-1958 and was a member of the Cowboys, Tejas Club and the Friars.

After he graduated from the UT School of Law, Clark became a partner in the firm Byrd, Davis, Eisenberg & Clark.

Continue reading “‘Hook ’em Horns’ hand sign inventor Harley Clark dies”

SG too closely affiliated to UT to discuss private loans

The Daily Texan

Student Government’s initial decision to inform students about the B-On-Time loan has been halted because, according to federal law, the organization is too closely affiliated to the University.

The B-On-Time program is a no-interest state loan that is fully forgiven if a student graduates on time with a GPA of at least 3.0. Currently, the University is not allowed to recommend private loans to students, including state loans, unless the student asks about the specific program.

In early April, SG Chief Justice Philip Wiseman and other SG members planned to raise awareness about the B-On-Time loan to make up for the University’s inability to recommend private loans. The SG members were later informed by Tom Melecki, student financial services director, that they would be unable to tell students about the loan because of the federal restriction.

“Under the federal law, SG is too closely affiliated as an institution-affiliated organization, and, as a result, any kinds of prohibitions that are placed on the University, by extension, are also placed on SG,” Wiseman said.

The University does have the option to promote these loans if they advertise a list of approved lenders to students, though the University does not use this method because it cannot guarantee the trustworthiness of independent lenders, according to Melecki.

According to Wiseman, a resolution in support of the bill, H.R. 3371, would provide students an opportunity to bring up the B-On-Time loans without SG recommending them.

Continue reading “SG too closely affiliated to UT to discuss private loans”

LGBTQ-friendly legislation faces barriers at UT System and state legislature

The Daily Texan

While the University often cites state law as a reason it cannot provide certain benefits to LGBTQ students and faculty, others say there are ways to circumvent these obstacles.

Mandatory diversity training, gender inclusive housing and same-sex insurance benefits are still not available on campus, much to the frustration of several organizations that have pushed LGBTQ legislation for years. Though LGBTQ-friendly legislation often garners significant student support, it is stopped one step short of implementation, at the UT System Board of Regents or at the Texas Legislature.

UT’s Queer Students Alliance successfully passed legislation through Student Government in support of gender-inclusive housing and same-sex insurance benefits in 2012, but SG resolutions do not have the power to enact change unless they are approved by the regents.

Currently, students are only allowed to live with peers of the same sex on campus, which can make students who identify as transgender uncomfortable, according to Marisa Kent, marketing sophomore and co-director of QSA. The Board of Regents have never approved any resolutions calling for gender-neutral housing, according to UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo.

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Students ask for Regent Wallace Hall’s resignation

The Daily Texan

Seventeen college councils at the University signed a letter to be released Monday asking that Regent Wallace Hall resign from his position at the UT System Board of Regents.

The Senate of College Councils serves as one of the three legislative student organizations advocating academic issues at the University and is made up of 19 active college councils. The two councils from the McCombs School of Business — the Undergraduate Business Council and the Masters in Professional Accounting Council — were the only ones not to sign the letter.

Hall has been accused by state legislators of overstepping his authority as a regent by filing large records requests and working to oust President William Powers Jr. from his position. The House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations has been conducting the investigation, and a report released earlier this month by the committee’s special counsel Rusty Hardin, found some of Hall’s actions constituted possible criminal violations of the Penal Code and Public Information Act in regards to student privacy.

Senate of College Councils President Geetika Jerath said the letter would continue to show students do not support Hall’s actions. The Senate and Student Government gave Hall a vote of no confidence in November 2013.

“Since we have closely followed the work of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations as they are investigating the conduct of Regent Hall, we thought this was the perfect time to reaffirm our vote of no confidence,” Jerath said.

Jerath said she wanted the student voice to be recognized in this matter. The letter will also emphasize senate’s support of Powers.

“We encourage him to resign, and, failing that, we ask Gov. Perry to seek his resignation,” Jerath said. “As student leaders, we have a duty to represent our constituents, to ensure that their interests are protected, and, since we have lost that trust in Regent Wallace Hall, we thought this was the appropriate action that was necessary at this time.”

Andrew Wilson, outgoing president of the Liberal Arts Council, which signed the letter, said he completely supported the letter after observing Hall’s actions throughout the year.

“Regent Hall’s actions were really uncalled for and illegal in some regards, and it’s really just unacceptable on behalf of the students,” Wilson said. “The things that stuck out to me were the laws he broke regarding student privacy.”

Along with senate’s letter, the seven members of the SG Executive Board will also write a letter and introduce legislation calling for Hall’s resignation at the upcoming SG meeting Tuesday.

SG President Kori Rady said he hopes the executive board’s letter and Tuesday’s resolution will continue the momentum of student involvement in the issue.

“We felt like this was important and key for the University and the students,” Rady said. “We want to make sure that people are aware that we know what’s going on, and we don’t want this to continue.”

Increasing lack of affordable housing concerns graduate students

The Daily Texan

Alberto Jorge Vazquez Anderson, a graduate student from Mexico, came to the University in 2011 to study chemical engineering and quickly realized Austin is an expensive place to live.

Vazquez and his wife put their names on a waitlist more than 800 people long to get into more affordable graduate student housing offered by University Apartments. Some people on the list have been waiting for housing since 2008.

University Apartments — Brackenridge, Gateway and Colorado — offer 715 units to all students with at least 30 credit hours. 93.2 percent of its occupants are graduate and professional students, and 74.9 percent of its occupants are international graduate students with spouses and children, according to Sheril Smith, associate director for University Apartments.

The average wait time for students who apply to the University Apartments is six months to one year or longer, according to Smith.

“I think there is a need for housing in Austin in general,” Smith said. “It’s a very challenging market.”

Because the amount of students on the waitlist is more than the amount of apartments available, the Graduate Student Assembly passed a resolution last Wednesday requesting the Division of Students Affairs investigate opportunities to expand affordable graduate student housing.

According to Smith, although the apartments are in ongoing renovations, there are no plans for any new construction. John Dalton, assistant dean of graduate studies, said he was also unaware of any plans for new housing projects.

“We are always talking and thinking about housing that is affordable and dedicated to graduate students, but I am unaware of any plans to build new facilities,” Dalton said.

GSA President David Villarreal said the Dell Medical School, which will accept its first class in 2016, would bring a greater need for graduate student housing to the already competitive housing market in Austin.

Graduate students are eligible to live in on-campus housing, but Villarreal said the length of time these students stay on campus makes it difficult to live in contracted dormitory housing. The University Apartments allow students to occupy an apartment unit for up to seven years without reapplying each spring.

“Dormitory housing, which is convenient for undergraduates, is more challenging for graduate parents, their families and international students,” Villarreal said. “University Apartments is really the last affordable housing option for [graduate] students.”

Former GSA President Columbia Mishra, who authored the legislation in support of affordable graduate student housing, said there was a need for more affordable housing closer to campus.

“We would also like the areas closer to campus, such as the Red River and North Campus area, to be further explored for affordable graduate student housing opportunities since they are closer to campus or well connected to campus,” Mishra said.Mishra said graduate students tend to live in areas such as Far West and Riverside because of their affordability, but these locations tend to make it difficult to get to campus and are not as safe.

“Austin is a growing city with housing rents on the rise, and these rents will only continue to become more expensive,” Mishra said. “It makes UT-Austin less competitive when it comes to attracting the best and the brightest graduate students.”

Unlike most graduate students who are unable to be placed in the popular complexes, Vazquez and his wife found out they would be living in the Colorado Apartment within six months of applying.

According to Vazquez, he has had almost no problems in the 52-year-old Colorado Apartment complex. Vazquez said its location near running trails, bus routes and Lady Bird Lake made it the perfect place for the couple, who will be expecting a child in September.

“When I applied here, I basically knew there was a long waitlist, and I didn’t think I was going to be offered an apartment so soon,” Vazquez said. “It’s the best value and a very good deal.”

In speech, George W. Bush says education is today’s most important civil rights issue

The Daily Texan

In his speech Thursday night at the Civil Rights Summit, former President George W. Bush led with a joke that was, in the Johnsonian tradition, somewhat off-color.

“Former presidents compare their libraries the way other men compare their … well …,” Bush said before tailing off.

After the laughter died down, Bush focused primarily on education as both a battleground and driver of civil rights progress.

“From Little Rock Central High School to the University of Mississippi, the fight for civil rights took place in educational settings,” Bush said. “Education provides the skills necessary to expand horizons and allow for economic success. In so doing, we secure our democratic way of life.”

In 2001, three days after taking office, Bush announced the No Child Left Behind Act to reform the national education system. The act increased reliance on standardized measurements for school accountability, especially regarding reading proficiency for younger children. Bush praised the act as an example of good bipartisan government.

“We found common ground that schools must demonstrate improving results in minority children or face consequences if they don’t,” Bush said.

Zach Berberich, finance junior and College Republicans communication director, said the act was one of Bush’s greatest civil rights achievements.

“I feel that his strides were a huge step for children of all races to get a quality education and an equal way to measure performance,” Berberich said.

According to Bush, between 1999 and 2008, reading scores for African-American and Hispanic 9-year-olds increased by two grade levels.

“Education in America is no longer legally separate, but it is still not effectively equal,” Bush said. “Quality education for everyone of every background remains the most urgent civil rights issue of our time.”

Bush also argued that changing the fact that the average reading score for 13-year-old white students was the same as those of 17-year-old African-Americans should be a national priority.

“In a nation dedicated to equal opportunity, that’s scandalous,” Bush said. “This should be a national scandal demanding action.”

Bush’s speech did not include other civil rights issues that had been discussed during the three-day-long event, such as women’s rights, voting restrictions, immigration reform and same-sex marriage.

Marketing junior Marisa Kent, Queer Students Alliance president, said Bush’s call on states to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as a strictly heterosexual union in 2004 was disappointing to the queer community. Michelle Willoughby, government and Plan II sophomore and University Democrats communication director, said her organization also took issue with Bush’s policies opposing same-sex marriage.

“That’s one very clear example of a way Bush did not further civil rights,” Willoughby said.

Berberich said Bush’s views on gay marriage should not be relevant to his presidency, and the government shouldn’t be involved in that decision.

“He’s in line with the Republican Party belief with upholding the traditional view of marriage,” Berberich said. “Whether or not they agree with gay marriage isn’t really relevant.”

Bush said that continued progress must be made on civil rights to truly continue the legacies of Lyndon Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Some are too comfortable with the status quo,” Bush said. “For the sake of America’s children, that is something we cannot allow.”

Additional reporting by Leila Ruiz