Wednesday, February 25, 2004

SG presidential debate features 'snowman'

Student Government presidential candidate Josh Hug dressed in a giant foam snowman costume and stole the show at an SG debate Tuesday, as reported by the Daily Texan.

The bears can't vote candidate told the panel he wasn't making a mockery of SG, right before ripping off his T-shirt and chugging a half-gallon of orange juice on stage.

The event, which aired live on KVR news, also included candidates from Books not Bombs, Reprezent and Focus. The remaining six candidates were excluded due to the program's one-hour time constraint, said Waliya Lari, executive producer of the station.

The hot issues were tuition, campus diversity, enorllment concerns and the use of SG funds.

Lowering tuition and putting a cap on the top 10 percent rule were common goals among candidates.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Student Government accused of taking vacation with student fees

Student Government allegedly spent more than $4,000 of student money on a weekend vacation, as reported by the Daily Texan.

The Reprezent ticket distributed fliers around campus Monday that pictured SG president Brian Haley and other representatives floating on inner tubes at Camp Balcones Springs. The fliers accused SG of funding the trip with money that could have been allocated to student organizations.

SG Members and Focus candidates said the flier is misleading because the money came from the 41 account, which holds funds from SG fundraisers.

SG can use fundraiser money any way they decide, said Focus presidential candidate Brent Chaney.

But Andrew Dobbs of the Reprezent ticket said money from the 41 account is usually allocated to student organizations.

"The Texas Lottery is a fund raiser for the state of Texas, but that doesn't give Rick Perry the right to throw a party for the state Legislature," George said. "Our goal behind the flier was to point out the lack of accountability in SG."

Monday, February 23, 2004

SG campaign materials vandalized

Several Student Government presidential candidates reported their campaign materials have been stolen, broken or set on fire by unknown vandals, as reported by the Daily Texan.

A large wooden campaign sign for Reprezent candidate Patrick George in front of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternaty house was found in flames Wednesday night.

The same night, Bears Can't Vote candidate Josh Adam Hug discovered a box of campaign T-shirts and fliers had been stolen from his car in West Campus.

"I'm sad that they stole my totally bad-ass shirts," Hug said.

The following night, nails were taken out of an A-frame sign for George outside the Fiji house to make it fall apart.

Focus presidential candidate Chaney said several of his A-frame signs have fallen over also.

None of the candidates have taken security measures against the vandalism.

Friday, February 20, 2004

City planners envision 'pedestrian village'

Neighborhood leaders like to promote Dallas Uptown Village as one of those places where everybody knows your name.

The neighborhood, just north of downtown Dallas, is a close-knit community with courtyard areas and pocket parks. Streets are lined with trees that form a canopy over wide, pedestrian-friendly sidewalks. Coffee shops, dry cleaners and quaint restaurants occupy ground level spaces of apartment complexes. Residents walk or take a trolley to jobs in the downtown area.

The neighborhood displays the sort of new urbanism city planners envision for West Campus.

New urbanism is the concept of high-density, mixed-use neighborhoods where residents “live, work and play,” said Lisa Harris, Dallas Uptown Village area vice president.

“What’s great about [the neighborhood] is the convenience you have for people who live there,” Harris said. “They don’t have to get in their car when they want to go somewhere.”

Similarly, planners hope students living in West Campus will forego their cars and walk to their destinations, said architect Philip Reed, who was hired by city planners to work on the West Campus rezoning project.

“What we’re trying to do is get people to go to their apartments, go to school, walk between the two and keep their car in the garage,” Reed said.

Planners consider the University a commuter campus because so many students are shuttled from the Riverside and Far West areas.

Currently, nearly 5,600 students ride a bus to campus from the Riverside area on a daily basis, said Thomas Gunther, Student Government transportation director.

Of the students who live in that area, 97 to 99 percent rely on buses daily, Gunther said.

The goal of the rezoning plan is to bring students back to the University area and reduce commuter traffic, said Cathy Norman, president of University Area Partners.

UAP is an association of mostly West Campus business owners who have been actively involved in plans to rezone the neighborhood.

But luring students to an area where driving their cars is discouraged might be unrealistic, said Marc Eichenbaum, SG external financial director.
“Students still need to drive their cars to go to internships, run errands or go to work,” Eichenbaum said. “I believe students would rather live on Riverside and have a car than live on West Campus without one.”

Residents of the future buildings in West Campus will have to pay for spaces in parking garages separate from their apartments, rather than having a parking space fee included as an amenity.

“The cost of a parking garage is tied directly to the person that has the car,” said Mike McHone, UAP vice president. “This separates those who have cars from those who don’t. That’s the fair thing to do.”

This arrangement will be prohibitively expensive for students, Eichenbaum said.

Austin City Manager Toby Futrell said the West Campus plan will yield the first results of how receptive Austin neighborhoods will be to high density development.

Futrell said a region-wide survey conducted in October by Envision Central Texas, a nonprofit group that studies growth patterns in Central Texas, showed residents prefer high-density neighborhoods.

“Most people support high density, but when it happens to their neighborhoods, they struggle with accepting dense development,” Futrell said. “It will be interesting to see what happens.”

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Election Supervisory Board refuses ticket name

The Student Government Election Supervisory Board heard a complaint Thursday from Books not Bombs presidential candidate Brent Perdue regarding the board's refusal to allow Perdue to file under the name NoLosAlamosNukes, as reported by the Daily Texan.

ESB chairman Coleman Lewis said he made the decision based on the SG constitution, claiming it violated the rules because it makes a political statement.

However, Perdue argued his original name does not violate the SG election code.

"[The issue] is not on a ballot anywhere, so it should be permissible," Perdue said.

In addition, Perdue plans to file a complaint against the board's practices to the Judicial Commission and request the establishment of an independent complaint board to hear such cases, he said.

"It's fine for the board to hear a complaint from one ticket against another, but when the complaint is against the board itself, a conflict of interest arises," he said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

SG critisizes report from Enrollment Strategies Task Force

Students voiced concerns that 15 hours may be too large for a semester courseload at an Student Government meeting Tuesday, according to a Daily Texan article

The responses were directed at a recent report from the Task Force on Enrollment Strategies that recommends students take 15 hours per semester and graduate within five years.

Most top universities consider 14 or 15 hours a full load, said Isabella Cunningham, chairwoman of the committee.

"It doesn't seem logical to argue that students at other colleges have less hardships or more intelligence than students here," Cunningham said.

Students with jobs, internships or other obligations might have trouble meeting those requirements, said Marc Eichenbaum, SG external financial director.

"I can't even articulate for you how hard [taking 15 hours] would be for students who are working," said Ben Durham, SG representative. "I work two jobs right now and get no sleep as it is."

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Faculty Council recommends more stringent honors criteria

The Faculty Council made suggestions to tighten University honors criteria Monday, which fall in line with administrators' ultimate goal to encourage students to graduate faster, according to a Daily Texan article.

The recommendations include counting only in-residence hours toward the College Scholars and a new Distiguished College Scholars programs. Students would only qualify for Distinguised College Scholars with a GPA of 3.8 and a courseload of at least 15 hours per semester.

The current standards allow students with a minimal amout of hours to receive honors awards, said Lucia Gilbert, executive vice provost.

The Provost's office wanted to make the policies consistent, she said.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

West Campus Makeover

City planners hope to execute zoning changes for West Campus that would allow for the construction of high-rise mixed use buildings up to 175 ft, as reported in the Daily Texan.
The ultimate plan is to transform the neighborhood into a "pedestrian villiage" in the next 20 years by creating a high density area with lots of commercial spaces.
They also plan on widening sidewalks, planting more trees and installing more street lights.
However, developers face the obstacles of high rent in the new buildings and insufficient parking for the intended growth.
Students are skeptical of the plan and have been grilling the planners about these important isuues.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

New student committee looks at tuition incentives

Student Government President Brian Haley said Tuesday that a new student committee will try to find creative ways for students to save on tuition, as reported in the Daily Texan.
The incentives will encourage students to graduate faster. This could include things like making it cheaper to take a course load of 15 hours or decreasing rates for classes held earlier in the day.
"Our objective is to come up with ways to make education cheaper by maximizing University space, which, on the University's side, means getting students through quicker," he said.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Bus drivers rallied for better working conditions

UT bus drivers held an informational rally on East Mall Monday to inform students, faculty and staff about their demands for a better working environment, as reported in the Daily Texan.
The drivers hope the University can help them win a struggle with ATC/Vancom, the company that hires them, to negotiate breaks, hours and overtime.
However, Kyle Cavanaugh, vice presicent for Employee and Campus Services said it would be inappropriate for the University to get involved.
Inexperienced student running for Texan editor

Brian Ferguson, a UT law student, was certified to run for Daily Texan editor by the Texas Student Publications board on Friday.
Ferguson has no experience at the Texan, but was able to get the requirement waived by claiming he was blackballed by staff in 2001.
Students should be greatly concerned because their vote can determine whether a student with no Texan knowledge will be elected editor, an unprecedented event in UT history.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

I've been in Brownsville with Lilly since Monday reporting on a Board of Regents meeting for the Daily Texan, which is sucking up my life, by the way.

We were reporting on this issue, among other things.

I think it's incredible UT is planning to invest millions of dollars on something that is mainly dedicated to national defense and nuclear weapons. I think there's a definite possibility UT will attract a partner and take over the labratory. As Los Alamos advisor Charles Sorber said in a press conference we attended, "We're in it to win." I'm sensing a good possibility of resistance from student groups, like UT Watch and also plenty of peace-lovin' hippie types. Lilly uncovered something quite interesting that wasn't in the article because it wouldn't have been represented fairly, but she thinks the Bush administration is pushing for this because its ties with UT could tie it to Los Alamos
and management of the goods. Can you say "weapons of mass destruction," anyone?

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