Fightin' the Power!
from UT Watch and Allies
As they may or may not have appeared in the Daily Texan....and other news sources
Open letter from SG reps
Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives hastily passed a bill that would create an International Advisory Board monitoring international studies programs at higher education institutions. This board would be able to monitor the curriculum taught and discussed in classrooms, observe class syllabi and watch over research being conducted at international centers that receive federal funding.
Clearly, these measures violate academic freedom by not allowing professors to teach freely without obtrusive government oversight.
UT has six centers that receive federal funding and would be directly affected by this legislation. Several organizations and professors at UT have spoken out against this bill, including the dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
Student Government is going to discuss a resolution opposing the International Advisory Board at today's meeting in the Gregory Gym. As the authors of this bill, we would like to encourage all students to come and share their views regarding this controversial board at the SG meeting.
SG legislative relations director
Two-year at-large representative
To the Taco Bell protestors: Wake up. The free market isn't for everyone.
Yes, Taco Bell has the power to raise farmworker wages from their colossal purchasing power, but should they? Hell no. Cheap labor means cheap tacos, and cheap tacos turns profits.
So tomato pickers get paid $6,500 a year - how about they find another job? With the exception of recent slavery ring convictions in Florida, no one is obligating them to keep picking tomatoes.
If you all were smart about trying to replace Taco Bell with something else, you'd start up a petition for those of us who don't care about alleged human rights abuses or farmworker exploitation but just want something other than the pseudo-Mexican mass-produced crap Taco Bell attempts to pass off as edible. That's the main reason I support Taco Bell's removal: the possibility of installing a chinese restaurant or barbecue joint in its place.
Hell, I'd even sign your petition.
Hermit life not for me
While I appreciate Brown's optimistic attempt to encourage students to graduate earlier by taking more hours, he neglected to comment on any school other than the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Natural Sciences. I understand that these schools probably hold the majority enrollment of UT's undergraduate students, but I feel it necessary to remind the public that they aren't the only two colleges at this university.
The College of Engineering requires that each student take a minimum of 14 hours as opposed to the average 12 hours. In order to take below 14 hours, an engineering student must submit an application to be approved by the dean. I would also like to point out that while I am not dismissing the idea of taking 17-20 hours as impossible, I find it highly unmanageable and would probably result in a disastrously low GPA or a hermit's lifestyle. I wish I could take 20 hours and graduate in three years if I was actually spending 20 hours in the classroom. I am currently registered for 15 hours, but I actually spend 24 hours in the classroom every week!
I can't imagine how engineering students who are working to pay for their college education could possibly handle being registered for up to 18 hours and work to pay for school and try to venture outside the library once and awhile for some much-needed social interaction.
I guess I was under the impression that the University encouraged campus involvement, leadership and extracurricular activities and these were things that reflected well on a resume. Therefore, if you expect students to be involved on campus, you have to have a little flexibility instead of pressuring students to get in and get out.
Electrical engineering sophomore
Re: "UT Regents to discuss purchase of 2 hospitals," 10/11/2004)
UT Watch to UT Regents! We have two messages for your meeting in Dallas today.
1) The Texan and the Statesman report that Chancellor Yudof is seeking to prevent disclosure of UT System investments. Anything less than full disclosure is shameful for a university that values knowledge and truth. As the Tower says, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free."
So keep this information fully open and consistent with the Attorney General's prior rulings. This is public money and the public has the right to know exactly how it is invested and performing. If entities we invest in are uncomfortable with full disclosure they can seek other sources. Although we've privatized control of this public money (to UTIMCO) we don't need to privatize the knowledge of its use. Transparency creates the conditions for better performance, less corruption and public confidence.
2) Weigh the decision to purchase 2 hospitals heavily. The Texan says the purchase would be funded by "$118.3 million from System funds and $52 million from bond sales." Whew. That's a good chunk of change for a public university system claiming to be poor. What's the opportunity cost of this purchase? If the UT System funds being used are from the Available University Fund then libraries and building repair and renovation (other uses of AUF money) have less funding than they otherwise might. These are areas that are sorely in need of funds. Should we be taking care of the buildings and campuses we have first?
That is all for now.
UT Watch member
I am student at The University of Texas, therefore a nonentity. I am once again nauseated by the actions of the Board of Regents. Their obvious and unabashed partisanship leaves me with the feeling I got after not even receiving a kiss at the conclusion of my prom date, although it was a nice handshake.
I know that my opinion does not count to the Board of Regents, their jobs were paid for, and they have no reason to listen to anyone other then the politicians that help put into office (or do the politicians have to listen to the money that put them in office?) But I have an idea.
The seats on the Board of Regents should be divided into domains. Two seats would be elected by the current student population, two seats could be elected by alumni, two seats for staff/faculty to appoint, two seats could even remain for the largest contributor to the current governor's re-election campaign.
If the Board of Regents is in fact responsible for setting the tone of the universities it controls, the student body, former students, and the staff/faculty members should have some say in the make up of the board. Or should I just feel lucky that they let my lower-middle-class attend their school. We as a student body need to start demanding more input into our education. We do not need to demand accountability from our Board of Regents; we need to demand a whole new structure to the selection of the board.
History and UTeach senior
125 problems, I
125 problems, I
A few days ago as I was preparing to leave campus, carrying about 50 pounds of books, I was surprised to run into our fabulous marching band. Then, I saw who they were playing for: the good ol' Commission of 125. I thought, "Who are these crusty old white people? And how do they have any idea what my life as a UT student is like?" The last curriculum assessment at UT was made in 1981.
The new report contains fluffy language but nothing significantly more innovative than what has already been said. How about this innovative idea: ask the current students for some input, not the students that were here during the Civil War. There are even groups of us already put together representing different majors and interests. How about the obvious choice of Student Government? And before telling me to add more hours to my schedule, I challenge Faulkner to try this measly 12 hour schedule: Differential Geometry, Solid State Physics, ThermoDynamics, Construction of American Identity and a senior thesis.
Physics senior and UT Watch member
125 problems, II
I have some news for the Commission of 125 and President Larry Faulkner. UT Austin will not rank among the top five public universities nor be "of the first class" until we have a statistics department to support our missions in research and teaching.
Educational psychology professor
Graduation rules unreasonable
Alright, I have kept silent for too long about this, but I have to say I am wholeheartedly against any rule that requires students to graduate in four years. Granted, it seems bad to deny someone education, but it seems far worse to award someone with education only to take it away because someone can't do it in four years. Not to mention that it makes no sense to belittle the usefulness of AP if the goal is to get people to graduate sooner. AP credit is what has allowed me to graduate in four years myself.
And what about us that work? I have to work 20 hours a week to eat! I tried the 15 hours thing while working and I have to be honest, I didn't come out on top. Since then, I have stayed conveniently at 12 or 13 hours and I'm quite happy. Am I to be punished for trying to make ends meet? No!
The thing I hate about all this is that it sounds like more rules. What about incentives? Why not just set tuition for the first four years at a certain price and after that raise the amount? It does not forcefully kick anyone out, but does provide a severe incentive that everyone can relate with: money.
For goodness sake, the people making these rules are alumni! I would expect more thought from someone who has graduated from UT than this.
Computer sciences senior
Students decommissioned by 125
Hark! The song of the Commission of 125 is heralded! With the pomp and grandeur fitting imperial ritual, their "plan" for the future of UT has been delivered to our sovereign leader, the glorious Faulkner of Shreveport. Let us lash ourselves in penance, and in awe of their wisdom, defer to their recommendations as law!
Seriously, why have such a grandiose ceremony for the Commission of 125 Report, but not for the Racial Respect and Fairness Task Force Report unveiled in spring? Or why such a ceremony at all?
Furthermore, the reception of these two respective reports is telling. From afar, it sounds like the Commission report will be given the pass and executed if not in exacting detail, then as strongly guiding UT's plans for decades. Contrast this with the Racial Fairness Report - few steps have been taken, and those have been due to public pressure. Surely there are disagreements with some of the Racial Fairness Report suggestions. Let's debate them. But let's also debate the Commission of 125 Report recommendations. For example, eliminating an academic program for not being in the top 20 nationwide seems ill-thought out.
This isn't just about these two respective reports, it's about the relationships between the administration, who ostensibly work for the students, and the students themselves. Students continually get shut out of the decision-making process here on campus, and when included, are cowed, outnumbered and rendered powerless, but co-opted.
Tooting his own horn
10/1/04, The Austin Chronicle
Last week's Austin Chronicle article "UT Idles on Los Alamos" [News, Sept. 24] got me thinking. I usually don't toot my own horn; however, I mulled it over and hey, why not? The organization I was part of, UT Watch, has been vindicated numerous times over the summer regarding arguments we've used in opposing UT's possible bid for Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Last spring, some students with "not so much brain as ear-wax" and slightly more than tone deaf administrators chose to ignore our warnings of the numerous safety, security, and environmental problems at the lab. But since the excrement hit the fan the lab's normal operations have been shut down for over a month. Now even large corporations such as Lockheed Martin have decided they don't even want to touch Los Alamos with a 10-foot pole, citing costs.
It's no surprise the UT System Los Alamos Welcoming Committee has been silent of late. Instead of a "temple of science," rather this nuclear weapons laboratory is a white elephant. And thus UT Watch continues, winning this debate because the facts are on our side – parry, thrust, but no retreat.
Please check out www.utwatch.org for a fountainhead of information on Los Alamos.
Former UT Watch member
Larry - gimme some money
This will be the new salary of UT President Larry Faulkner, up from $483,047.00 - a 5 percent increase. Faulkner's salary is largely (around 86 percent) funded by private groups, especially the Maud McCain Harding Fund, which takes into account his need for a car, a housekeeper, club membership dues and two football tickets per year.
According to a front-page article from The Daily Texan, however, we are in a budget crunch, which means specifically that the UT work-study program will be forced to eat a $175,000 cut in funding this year. As a result, fewer students will be able to support themselves with a University-sponsored job. The article implies that this problem does not exist in other states to the extent that it exists in Texas, which begs the question: Why aren't we appropriating more money to remedy this problem?
I come from a very low-income family and almost certainly would have qualified for a work-study opportunity but, alas, I was not awarded one. Instead, I've had to take out sizable student loans so that I may pursue my educational goals.
In a not obviously related issue, my dormitory, Moore-Hill, just within the past few days is getting hot water to work consistently (if with decreased water pressure). Also, I'm forced, in most cases, to pay the University if I wish to print out anything, even if for a class I'm taking.
I won't pretend to know exactly how the Maud McCain Harding Fund works; for all I know, that money could be restricted only to be spent on the president's salary.
In any case, I find it appalling that, while President Faulkner is getting richer - to be exact, $24,152.35 richer, which is about what I would make at my job if I worked full-time year-round (and I consider myself very well-paid) - I've had to go through three weeks of cold/lukewarm showers, am not getting any financial help from the government with my job, and I have to give the University money so that I can print out a paper for my linguistics class, for which I also give the University money.
There is a clear problem here. Nickeling and diming students, while apparently unnecessarily offering raises to high-ranking University officials is absurd.
Again, I am hardly a financial expert, so this all may just be a consequence of funds only being able to go certain places. It's still something students should think about.
Computer science junior
Don't believe conservative hype
The legions of anti-anti-racists never cease their tireless crusades against what they see as PC silliness. Why fight racism when it doesn't exist, they ask? Why get "dramatic" about something so harmless as the desecration of a statue? Why are minorities so pissed off anyway?
They sneer, jeer, and belittle the idea of selfless commitment to creating true equality. In the case of Alan McKendree ("Statues vigil overly dramatic," Sept. 9), his claustrophobic mentality leads him to think that students would only hold a 24-hour vigil because it's "more fun than going to class" and is "a great way to meet other singles."
McKendree would lead us to believe that the history of the civil rights movement is actually one of speed-dating and mindless entertainment. Others in The Daily Texan have suggested that making a to-do out of the MLK egging would only encourage the perpetrators and give them unwarranted attention. This laissez-faire attitude towards injustice has won exactly nothing in this country. Whoever heard of fighting back by shrugging one's shoulders and walking away?
Conservatives in this country have hijacked Martin Luther King's dream of a color-blind society; they have robbed us all of the dignity of fighting for racial equality; they are apologists for institutional and individual racism. Their intolerance and astounding ignorance weaken our tenuous bonds as a multicultural society and perpetuate a racial status quo that is far from equal. Let no one be ashamed to join in solidarity as a community to fight racist attacks and to forge a better campus and nation.
The great Texas tuition sham
On Tuesday UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof and friends visited the Legislature to justify jacking up tuition after it was deregulated last year. Yet again, they used the same tired and debunked arguments.
They claim tuition increases were necessary to deal with increased enrollment, but at UT-Austin, enrollment has dropped slightly and has been roughly the same since the late 80's. They also claim that these increases were necessary to deal with declining state appropriations, but even if the state can and should do much better, state appropriations have not been declining except as a portion of total revenue (which has been rising steadily). Appropriations, adjusted for inflation, have remained more or less stagnant for some time.
Not surprisingly, it seems there was little or no discussion of the effects these massive increases are having on students, nor declining student services, nor the broken promise of the Texas Compact, which was proposed and quietly forgotten last year by Yudof as he was down at the capitol fighting for his right to rake in our dough. By not seriously holding their feet to the fire on these topics, the Legislature has, again, refused to take responsibility for holding tuition-happy administrators accountable.
Pedro de la Torre III
Houston, we have a problem: flat-rate tuition
The Cougar editorial board is right in pointing out that tuition deregulation, and tuition hikes in general, harm working-class students. Unfortunately, flat-rate tuition is not the answer. As a recent graduate of UT-Austin, I can tell you that flat-rate works only for those with enough money and time to take more than 14 hours each and every semester. For the rest of us, even those who just like to learn at a slower pace, flat-rate is nothing but a kick in the ass. Don't let the University of Houston fall in the same trap that UT-Austin has.
UT Alumni '03
Security problems at Los Alamos are nothing new, but the timing of the latest incidents could not have come at a worse time for the UC and UT systems. During the days that each school's regents discussed possible bids to manage the lab, Los Alamos was shut down amid a variety of security problems. Along with the two missing disks containing classified information (there may be 20 total missing disks), 17 classified e-mails were sent over the Internet - a huge security violation - and a 20-year-old intern was hit in the eye with a laser, then immediately flown to the medical center at Johns Hopkins University.
These stories have been published worldwide in many newspapers and over the Internet, and I'm sure there's still more to come as Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham asked on Wednesday for the FBI to join in an investigation at the lab.
What does this mean for our University, which is still interested in managing this laboratory? It means UT would inherit a monumental challenge to preserve the integrity of Los Alamos, which is of paramount importance to the nation's security. For potential managers, Los Alamos is little more than a gigantic liability, and a university should seriously reconsider whether these costs outweigh the alleged benefits.
Los Alamos needs to be overhauled. Working conditions must be improved and security must be tightened. This is not something UT has any experience in, whatsoever, and it is in the University's best interests to re-focus on education instead of entering into the business of managing nuclear weapons. If UT became the next Los Alamos manager, it would get much more than it bargained for.
Austin Van Zant
UT Watch member
I appreciate the American-Statesman covering the Los Alamos issue so closely, but I was disappointed to see that the June 30 article didn't contain anything about the extensive opposition the University of Texas community and groups around the state have shown toward the possibility of UT managing Los Alamos ("UT plans to make interest in Los Alamos lab formal").
I feel that UT administrators have been irresponsible in not addressing this as an ethical issue. Not only would Los Alamos be a huge liability for the university because of its intractable security and mismanagement problems, it's unconscionable that an institution that promotes freedom and social responsibility would take charge of a facility that produces weapons of mass destruction. Furthermore, now is the worst time to be dabbling in nuclear weapons because Congress has just allocated funds for dangerous new "mini-nukes" that blur the lines between conventional and nuclear weapons, undermining decades of work on nonproliferation.
Let's talk about classism, baby
Diversity is a word that has come to signify nothing. Instead of diversity, let's talk race. And even more than race, let's talk class.
The fact is that universities are not the great equalizers that we like to believe. Instead, they reproduce inequalities, largely keeping the poor, poor and the rich, rich. Even UT-Austin, with its patina of liberalism, is a bastion of (mostly white) Richie Richies. Half the students here come from families who make at least $80,000 or more - even though the state median family income is $40,000. The figures for high-income (i.e. rich) students are probably higher, but we don't know because the UT administration doesn't keep detailed figures.
Everyone loves diversity because it's so easy. When necessary, who doesn't mind ragging on racism and celebrating difference? It makes us feel good and doesn't require anything to change. On the other hand, if we were to identify the problem as an economic one, then we'd have to talk about why he's got so much, and she's got so little, why the undeserving brat from Plano gets to go to college, and the working class kid from the Valley does not. Then we'd have to talk about class where before we quietly pretended it didn't exist.
If we wanted a real affirmative action plan, we would have to make economic class the basis of the program. Race could be a supplementary consideration, but the fact that people of color are disproportionately poor would automatically put them in a position to benefit.
But don't worry. It's been this way for a long time, and there's no indication that it will change. The conservatives will continue to shout "if they [the poor and people of color] would work harder, they too could go to college"; the idiots will keep throwing their affirmative action bake sales; the liberals will lose all credibility by calling for diversity training classes; the administration will make yet another pledge to diversity and the losers in the game will just keep on keepin' on.
Cap would be good for UT
Michael Joseph Spurlin ("Don't cap it, fix it," June 28) expresses an unfortunate misunderstanding in his criticism of the proposed top 10 percent cap, though he is not the first to do so.
It's important to understand that the cap does not limit the number of students admitted to the University who are in the top 10 percent of their class. What the cap does limit is the number of top 10 percent students who are granted automatic admission, i.e. admission without consideration of other factors ,such as absolute GPA, Advanced Placement credit, socioeconomic status, extracurricular activities and so forth.
Capping this automatic admission, as opposed to abolishing it outright, is the best compromise that gives flexibility to the University's admissions process while retaining the race-neutral nature and other benefits of the top 10 percent rule.
SG 2-year at-large representative
Los Alamos dangerous for UT
In his column last Friday, Junjay Tan presented some misleading and erroneous facts in making his arguments. Let me run down a few of them:
1) Yes, UT Watch does oppose managing Los Alamos due to its status as a nuke lab. Why? Not only because of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but because of the liabilities in managing the lab. We don't want UT to take the University of California's place in ongoing environmental lawsuits against the state of New Mexico. We don't want UT to take responsibility for either the mishaps stemming from the shoddy management structure inside the lab or the (disturbingly) lax security. And any "prestige" UT stands to gain could diminish after the University is involved in lawsuits.
2) UT stands to make no profit from managing Los Alamos. The money the Department of Energy gives UC is partial reimbursement for its management fee. If you study the UC-Los Alamos relationship, you'd see that UT would lose money running the lab, paying for things like college preparation classes for the citizens of Los Alamos, N.M.
There are noble research projects at Los Alamos, like studying HIV, although they constitute very little of the lab budget (which is now posted on our Web site). UT is currently able to secure such research collaborations, and this number would not increase from managing the lab. UT and Los Alamos are both public entities so, legally, why do many administrators think UT would be able to increase research opportunities? UC couldn't.
So, once again, what are the benefits in managing Los Alamos?
Austin Van Zant
UT Watch member
Poorly dropped bomb
Junjay Tan's column last Friday ("Los Alamos bid would help UT," June 4, 2004) was yet another example of the "hear but not listen; look but not read" approach. After briefly mentioning, and then dismissing with hubris, a few of the serious concerns brought up by UT Watch, other students, some alumni and certain faculty members, Tan concludes that we "should look at more than Los Alamos' nuclear weapons research and focus on how management of the lab would affect the entire University."
One wonders if Tan even read over his column before submitting it. Obviously, as he himself states, UT Watch has been concerned with more than the weapons research at Los Alamos, which constitutes roughly 80 percent of the Department of Energy budget there. It seems pretty fuzzy whether Los Alamos would present any significant benefits and, on balance, it may not gain anything for UT, especially when you take into account concerns that UT Watch has actually researched.
Yet why is the debate over whether a university should work on nuclear weapons unsettling to the author, a mechanical engineering student? Why should we avoid it? We are at a university where anything can and should be debated, even the activities of our institution. At least I should hope so.
UT Alum 2004
A nuke is a nuke is a nuke
Design and preparation for nuclear war is what Los Alamos does. They make the bombs that make mushroom clouds under which many humans died and would again die if these weapons were used. So why does it surprise anyone that the No. 1 mission of Los Alamos should be the center of debate about UT's possible bid?
The production and planned use of nuclear weapons, or "a mushroom cloud" as a previous writer euphemistically calls it ("Los Alamos bid would help UT," June 4), is a real issue of utmost importance. Weapons work now accounts for more than 70 percent of all work at Los Alamos, and is growing.
Security is only the least of LANL's serious problems. The 55,000 barrels of nuclear waste are definitely a problem, seeing that the dump itself is illegal, and that more dumping continues unabated as part of the nuclear weapons mission.
So how's about managing a massive nuclear waste dump, dozens of technical areas packed with high explosives and radioactive materials, all guarded by a miserable security force? Does that sound like something to build the prestige of a university?
Claiming that "The University also stands to profit commercially from management of Los Alamos" is a highly dubious statement. Compared to civil-industrial labs and university campuses, the quality and quantity of patentable technology coming out of Los Alamos is virtually nil.
LANL is a nuclear weapons lab. That's pretty much it. Yes, they do a little basic research on the side, but without a mandate to produce nuclear weapons, Los Alamos would not exist.
Darwin Bond Graham
Research Associate, Los Alamos Study Group
Graduate Student, UC Santa Barbara
Don't equate cameras and tunnels
As a member of UT Watch, I would like to state that we have never been involved with or pursued a Texas Open Records Request for information on the University's steam tunnel layout. In my opinion, such information should not be publicly disclosed and is unnecessary for UT Watch to fulfill its mission of holding the University accountable to students. Although I feel that the UT System may have overreacted by notifying federal authorities of the student request, it is also important that critical infrastructure knowledge does not fall into the hands of those with malicious intent.
However, the FBI acted irresponsibly when it assumed that Mark Miller's actions were connected with UT Watch or any other "activist" organization. Such assumptions set dangerous precedents when student groups are automatically labeled as security concerns.
UT Watch, as well as The Daily Texan, have sought documentation of campus security cameras in the past, because we think that students should know when and where they are being watched. Security cameras affect students and their privacy directly. The public must keep in mind that The Daily Texan filed for security camera information, but the UT System lobbied to withhold this information by amending House Bill 9 during the last Texas legislative session.
UT Watch member
Buckley told you so
On Sept. 23, 2003, Student Government passed AR12 calling upon the "UTPD, FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force to refrain from, and in certain cases, discontinue the surveillance of individuals ... without reasonable and particularized suspicion of criminal conduct unrelated to activity protected by the First Amendment."
Now we learn that being in UT Watch or requesting public information makes one liable for an investigation or visit from the Feds. Since SG commited to addressing cases of this sort, I trust Mark Miller can rely on their proactive help in uncovering the University's involvement in student surveillance and fighting to terminate it. Note to certain SG "unbiased" right-wingers: We told you it would be a student concern.
Co-Author of AR-12
Huzzah, UT Watch
I want to thank UT Watch for partaking on the Los Alamos issue and educating me with facts that might negatively impact students, like myself. So far, it seems like UT Watch has been the only student group that looks out for the welfare of the students. Keep it coming!
AR1 author retorts
AR1 author retorts
As an author of AR1, I am disgusted at the route Student Government took in approaching our resolution, which only called for an open dialogue with UT System administrators. Charles Sorber, a UT System advisor on the Los Alamos bid, called for an open forum with UT students when he addressed the assembly Tuesday night. The fact is that the University of California System - the current Los Alamos managers - have held open forums all semester long, and the University is falling way behind in even addressing the issue.
AR1 called for an open debate with UT System administrators, since UT Watch does not want another PowerPoint presentation. These types of forums have no real student input, only administrative assertions. Since this is the type of forum held during their campaign to pass tuition deregulation, we know what to expect from the University.
What SG did was shameful. They boiled it down to having some "hidden agenda" when certain SG representatives were unable to counter our claims. There was no "bias," only rebuttals to administrative claims that they dismissed as "bias." They generalized the resolution (as Michael McBride did yesterday) as an anti-war rant when in actuality it described the incredible liabilities UT would have in managing the lab. The only friendly amendment proposed for it was one that included many facts in Monday's Firing Line by three SG representatives that had nothing to do with Los Alamos, but another laboratory altogether! They claimed bias without elaborating, and they ignored UT professor Peter Riley, who researched at Los Alamos for 20 years and spoke in support of AR-1.
Student Government has redefined itself as a powerless body that is not proactive (countering their campaign promises). It has been returned to those who simply look to pad their resumes while ignoring real student issues.
Austin Van Zant
UT Watch member
Weapons as inanimate objects
You learn something new every day at this fine university. Yesterday's lesson was from Michael McBride who teaches us that nuclear weapons are "inanimate (and quite docile at that)" and that this "guarantees their inherent neutrality to morality."
Then he teaches us the art of arguing by contradiction. His beef with UT Watch's nuanced and pragmatic arguments against UT managing Los Alamos is that we "attempt to characterize too much as being either right or wrong." Then McBride recommends that we "quit preventing our University from pursuing the inherently good benefits of the Los Alamos contract."
To summarize: 1) Nuclear weapons are docile (maybe even housebroken!) and inherently neutral to morality. 2) UT Watch is inherently wrong to have a moral stance on Los Alamos. 3) Los Alamos is inherently good.
I would join you in being confused, but after Tuesday's shameful Student Government meeting, I was reminded of something David Thoreau once said: "It takes two to speak the truth - one to speak and another to hear." The Los Alamos Welcoming Committee on this campus is armed not with facts or sensible arguments, but with tin ears and the petty power of SG.
SG blew it
SG tabled and effectively killed AR-1, a bill calling for SG to moderate a forum where concerns listed in the resolution about Los Alamos would be addressed and debated in the fall. Regardless of where students stand on Los Alamos, this bill would have allowed for opinions to be heard and met with facts at a forum that even UT administrators endorsed. According to Matt Stolhandske, the bill was "politicizing the SG assembly." Umm ... I must be missing something, but I always thought government, even Student Government, was about politics. Instead of debating and amending the bill, which UT Watch repeatedly said it was open to doing, SG didn't even do that and shut down an opportunity for discussion. SG members who thought that the bill was "biased" had numerous opportunities to work on the bill and "unbias" it. UT Watch came to them day after day, not the other way around. We were the ones interested in compromise, while certain SG members, who are acting as proxies of the administration, shut down a chance to even debate what concerned students spent days working on.
Currently the University of California System has been holding forums at UC campuses on this very issue. I don't think it would have been jumping the gun to call for a forum at UT-Austin in the fall. This was a chance for SG to be proactive in addressing one of the biggest issues of the next school year in a balanced way. They blew it.
UT Watch member
In response to the firing line by Gerardo, Courtney, and Grant regarding the bid on Los Alamos National Labs: They state that the U.T. system has no schools ranked among the top 50 of the country. I think it should be clarified that U.T. ’s physics program is in the top 10. More specifically, its center for Non Linear Dynamics, where much collaboration is done with LANL, is in the top 2.
If management of LANL is going to affect any part of U.T., it will mainly be its science departments. Perhaps it would be wise to ask the physics and engineering professors about their opinions on the possible bid on LANL –something the UT system has failed to do – and how it may afect the prestigious reputation of U.T. ’s science departments.
At a time when U.T. has fired faculty and cut library hours due to budget reductions, we should be more concerned about keeping the faculty that we do have and improving student life, rather than spending money on a bid for a lab in New Mexico, that will bring us no financial benefits.
Physics senior and UT Watch member
Brian Haley’s right. Los Alamos is a stunning example of what wonderful things nuclear weapons research can do. It brings prestige to universities, cutting edge technology to researchers and hope to HIV patients. One day, maybe with UT’s help, Los Alamos could cure cancer…maybe even cancer caused by nuclear radiation. Oh, the glories of nuclear weapons research! To think: those that we don’t kill, then maybe we can cure them.
Haley's Los Alamos piece sounds like agenda-driven PR drivel. Not once does Haley mention that Los Alamos is a Nuclear WEAPONS Lab. In the DOE Los Alamos requested budget for 2005, Weapons programs comprise ~79%, or $1.36 billion of its total DOE budget while Science a mere ~3.4% ("science" spending in this budget request dropped $20 million, 25%, while weapons spending increased $100 million). Yes, Brian, Los Alamos does some worthwhile science. UT Watch has never questioned that, but we do question the desirability of a university managing what is essentially a BOMB lab.
Secondly this assertion that management of Los Alamos will lead to increased research opportunities is highly contested. Undergrads, graduate students or faculty can work at Los Alamos now. According to Physics Professor Riley in a Texan article, "a management contract is not necessary to pursue those types of partnerships". Riley and Professor Bengtson also state that they "doubted how much Los Alamos could help recruitment of faculty".
What's this about making money? The DOE would be reimbursing UT's expenditures - there's no or little net gain.
Finally Brian warns against corporate management of the Lab because it would only be interested in its bottom-line. He makes an argument of convenience since he also falsely argues that UT should operate Los Alamos because of "benefits", i.e. UT's bottom-line.
It's ironic that UT Watch is attacked when we're the only ones holding public forums on Los Alamos while it's the UT System that has the burden of proof.
History senior and UT Watch member
Brian Haley whitewashes the activities of Los Alamos in his "Why Not" column in the Daily Texan. It is true that the benefits and drawbacks of UT's proposed acquisition of Los Alamos National Laboratories are worthy of discussion. But it must be called as it is: the acquisition of a laboratory devoted to the production of weapons of mass destruction. UT is not motivated by the noble goal of furthering science, except in those instances where scientific advancement for non-military reasons are ancillary to the mission of Los Alamos: the production and maintenance of obsolete weapons that continue to endanger the safety of the world.
Nukes won't help in the "War on Terror," nukes won't help reconstruct Iraq, and nukes don't fit in with the "core purpose of UT": "To transform lives for the benefit of society."
The UT System shouldn't waste its money bidding on the Los Alamos contract, as they did when they put aside $2 million to bid on Sandia National Laboratories. This was a waste of money, we didn't get the contract, and UT soon switched its efforts to deregulation tuition. Then tuition went up 30%. Was that money well spent? No, and neither is the money going to the Los Alamos bid. Let's stop it before it starts.
Finally, Haley is just plain wrong, and the facts are all against him. The UC system makes no money on their Los Alamos contract.
The UT System's case that it did not illegally lobby for tuition deregulation hinges on their assertion that they stayed within Texas Government Code when preparing or assessing legislation. One part of the law states quite clearly that a state officer or employee is NOT prohibited "from using state resources to provide public information or to provide information responsive to a request." This is a completely reasonable provision, but UT went way beyond simply providing information. For example, two months before the 78th Legislature convened, Mark Yudof sent an email to a System employee stating, "I think we should begin drafting bills on retention of indirect costs and deregulation (from the GC draft on this subject), including tuition...For now I would like a bill giving the Board of Regents full discretion to set tution by campus." How is this order from the highest UT official "responsive to a request for information"?
In our report on the UT System's lobbying campaign, UT Watch painstakingly documents the UT System and the Board of Regents acting like the worst lobbying firm: flooding key politicians with thousands in campaign donations, wining and dining legislators at Jeffrey's, bugging newspaper editors for favorable editorials, enlisting unwitting alumni as lobby proxies, and writing legislation for their bought-off politicians to pass. Using their power and their money, the UT System grossly distorted the political process. In the end, they got their deregulation and we are paying the price.
UT System should not work with nuclear lab
4/2/2004, The Shorthorn
Re: “Do Your Homework,” March 12
While I appreciate the general sentiment of the recent editorial entitled, “Do Your Homework,” I take exception to the major premises of the piece.
The university’s Board of Regents has already authorized spending 0,000 just to plan for a bid, and they are prepared to spend millions on the actual bid process, which indicates to me that the period for reflection and research has passed.
While I am certain some of the research done at Los Alamos is beneficial — specifically the computer modeling and AIDS research pointed out — the vast majority of the lab’s research is centered around the research and development of nuclear weapons. I am deeply saddened that the UT System wants to become our country’s major nuclear weapons developer.
In the past, a limited dismantling of nuclear weapons began, and the anti-nuclear movement breathed a sigh of relief.
But today, under the Bush administration, the federal government has rekindled the nuclear weapons program.
If that isn’t bad enough, we in Texas are now faced with this misguided bid for the Los Alamos Lab.
We should discourage the UT System from bidding on the Los Alamos management for several reasons:
- Institutions of higher education should not be in the business of developing nuclear weapons.
- Continued research and development at Los Alamos violates the spirit of international law, like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that aims to impede the nuclear arms race and reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles.
- Continued research and development of nuclear weapons does not decrease the likelihood of nuclear conflict.
Ultimately, this debate can be distilled down to simple morals and ethics. Your tuition and tax dollars should not be spent on a federal policy of nuclear weapons development, escalation and proliferation.
Lon Burnam is a Democratic state representative from Fort Worth.
In its effort to coerce students to take 15 hours every semester, the University and its administrators once again make the same tragic mistake that has become all too commonplace. Rather than attempting to ascertain why a student would only take 12 hours or comprehend the fact that there exist many reasons and situations that cause a student to undertake this course load, the administrators make assumptions and create policy that may apply to some, but leaves several students treated unfairly.
Take for example the story of my college career. I came to Austin in the fall of 2000 and will graduate this May, in only eight semesters. However, on only two occasions did I take fifteen hours. The reason for this is the more than 30 hours of college credit I earned either through advanced placement classes in high school or placement tests administered by the University itself. I have also on occasion taken summer school classes in order to graduate "on time."
Can somebody tell me why I should be punished for this personal decision? Why can't I receive recognition for my outstanding academic achievements simply because I planned my classes efficiently?
And if they go ahead with these initiatives, are they going to take into consideration giving me credit for the hours I earned? I am an RTF student; I am forced to take classes that require me to be in class for sometimes as many as six or nine hours a week. Yet I only receive three hours of credit. In essence, right now I am taking 15 hours, yet the University is attempting to punish me and students like me for the unfair and ludicrous policies of the College of Communication and the Department of Radio, Television and Film.
Just one day I would love to see the University take that extra bit of effort and realize with 50,000 students there might not be one solution to every problem.
Just once I would like to see the University look at the whole situation and adjust policies that are affected by their decisions (like giving students full credit for labs if they make us take 15 hours).
And just once I would like to win the lottery.
Anybody want to guess which one of those wishes of mine happens to be the most likely to occur?
Michael Joseph Spurlin
Haley: Administration's lapdog
Re: "SG looks at tuition incentive ideas," (Feb. 11). SG President Brian Haley once again shows his true colors as the administration's lackey when he says that he wants "to make education cheaper" by using tuition to shove students through the University faster.
Education could be cheaper if tuition deregulation hadn't passed last spring. And last fall Haley showed no public resistance to tuition increases or deregulation. What's the use of SG if they don't even fight for students' interests? UT Watch and YCT were the groups at the University leading the resistance against tuition deregulation for the first several months of the legislative session while most of SG, the very students elected to represent the student body, twiddled their thumbs.
By ignoring the Office of Student Affairs 2002 Graduation Survey, both Haley and the Task Force on Enrollment Strategy are in effect ignoring students and their reasons for not taking 15+ hours per semester. Yes, many students want and do graduate faster than others, but many need or want to hold down a job, intern, work on a thesis or just take some time off. Flexibility for students, not for the administration, should be the goal. SG has the potential and the resources to fight for students, maybe they should. Instead of putting "Students First," Haley has put the administration's interests first.
UT should sacrifice
I was reading the president's message concerning the enrollment problems at the University, and the solutions proposed by the Task Force on Enrollment Strategy. Unfortunately, the task force on enrollment is addressing the symptom and not the problem. The problem is that many prospective students want to come to UT-Austin, because it is among the best public universities in Texas. My suggestion is as follows: That UT-Austin use its vast resources to assist the other UT components across the state to develop strong programs that will attract students and faculty. UT-Austin is the jewel in the crown, and if some of the smaller components had more polished and attractive programs for students, we wouldn't be struggling with these massive enrollment issues.
Being the flagship means being a leader, not just being the biggest. My hope is that UT-Austin will act like the flagship and take a leadership role in supporting the other components of the UT System, so that the UT System works more like a team. It's this oversight which makes it impossible for us to compete with the stronger public university systems, like the University of California system.
Strengthening the smaller UT components may cost UT-Austin a few points in the short run, but will strengthen the UT System in the long run. And we are only as strong as our weakest link. Having weaker UT components is the source of our problem. Let's concentrate more on treating the problem instead of the symptom.
Note: submitted to Austin American-Statesman on 2/3/04
Re: "Students at UT appear resigned to higher tuition." This is the second time (see also: "Students take tuition hikes in stride," Nov. 18 2003) in the past three months that the Statesman has run an article on how cheerfully students are taking huge tuition increases at UT-Austin. While it is true that the majority of students at the University are affluent enough to bear these increases, there are many deserving young people around the state who will never attend UT because they simply can not afford it. In addition, unnecessary and extravagant tuition hikes are harming working and non-traditional students and discouraging folks in poor, minority-dominated areas of the state from even thinking about UT-Austin. The Statesman also failed to mention that students from around the state spent many school-days last Spring lobbying at the Legislature against tuition deregulation. At the time we warned that giving the Regents the authority to set tuition rates would drive up the cost of education and leave the State helpless to do anything about it. We were right.
UT Watch member
Students cogs in the machine
Yesterday's report by the Task Force on Enrollment Strategy is insulting. Although I think their recommendation to cap top 10-percent admissions is sorely needed, their blatant desire to shove students through the University faster is against students' interests.
By recommending the establishment of a five-year maximum graduation limit and other mechanisms of speed up, the University is trying to manage students as though they are widgets on an assembly line. These are not recommendations of a task force concerned with the free pursuit of knowledge; instead, the University is trying to micromanage the lives of students.
Furthermore, the recommendation to allow "only students taking 15 hours or more to receive certain merit-based scholarships" means the ability of low- and middle-income students and non-traditional students to hold jobs is compromised. This is a classist proposal designed for the shallow goal of improving graduation rates so the University can climb in US News and World Report ratings.
Lastly, Dr. Isabella Cunningham's quote in yesterday's Texan, "If we could move people efficiently and push them to not shop around for majors too long," encapsulates the administration's approach toward students. Viewed as just consumers, students are just objects to be pushed around. She must be ignoring that students spend nights studying for tests and working on papers. In sum, school isn't just a good you buy. Students who change their minds regarding their major should have a right to do so rather than let the Tower lock them in.
Task Force outrage
Well, it's official. President Faultless and his 17-member Task Force have a plan to limit enrollment. Who the hell is going to be allowed in? Historically, every high school graduate in the state of Texas had the opportunity to attend the University, either by outright or conditional admission. A few years ago the state legislature succumbed to UT administration pleas and passed the 10-percent rule. While this didn't give everyone the opportunity to attend the University, at least high school students knew what it would take to be admitted. No longer! Now UT administration wants to cap the top 10 admissions at 60-percent of the freshman class. So, is anybody guaranteed admission? Is it now the top 5-percent, or top 2-percent? Is a class valedictorian guaranteed admission? Is it first come, first served? All of a sudden an objective admissions policy will become very subjective.
The University of Texas at Austin is the premier university in the state of Texas. That's why everyone wants to attend. The best and brightest (top 10) should be given the first shot. So what if 80-percent of the freshman class is top 10, or 90-percent. They earned it. Why force them to choose an inferior Texas or out-of-state university?
As to the "hurry up and get the hell out of UT" policy (5 year matriculation), why? Common sense says that taking fewer classes relieves class size. So, it's not classroom overcrowding. What is it?
UT Watch did its part
UT is a top-down organization, meaning students have little to no input. Regarding tuition increases, UT Watch lobbied and testified before the Legislature numerous times to stop tuition deregulation, circulated petitions, sent postcards to legislators, attended a Tuition Policy Committee forum (where we did speak and passed out a 12-page pamphlet on tuition), was denied entry to a TPC meeting, attended a student government meeting where CFO Kevin Hegarty presented the administration's reasons for raising tuition, talked to the CFO in private meetings, wrote a 17-page document on the budget showing where money is coming in and where it's going, attended Board of Regents meetings and held a rally this week about rising tuition and cuts to university services, among other efforts to stop tuition increases.
So, to Don Drumtra who said in Wednesday's Texan that "UT Watch blew it this time," what could we have done differently?
Austin Van Zant
Dismantling higher education
Clark Patterson's Firing Line ("Keeping education private," Dec. 3) advocates the wholesale dismantling of one of America's greatest successes - the accessible, affordable public university. He instead wants an elitist institution out of reach to the middle and lower class. Read his Firing Line closely; not only does he want an end to state subsidization of universities, but to financial aid as well.
Affordable education is a public good that not only benefits individuals, but the economy and society at large. His attempt to demonize state support as "subsidization" reveals his ideological agenda. I doubt many lower- and middle--class students would advocate his policies to restrict social mobility. Well Clark, do we have a true free market economy if economic opportunity is determined by family wealth rather than individual merit?
Education is not a good a consumer buy, but is a strong determinant of social structure. If UT has a student population with a median family income above that of the state's, it is a twisted logic to promote increasing tuition, since that will only exacerbate the problem. The Daily Texan has already reported that applicants to UT have dropped. I don't think it is a coincidence that the University has just passed the largest tuition increase in its history.
UT Watch member
To the University of Texas Board of Regents-
I am writing to tell you that I strongly oppose the tuition increases you recently approved. I understand that the University has a lot of increasing costs, but surely there is another way to meet those needs. I already work full-time to pay my way through college. I'm not sure if I will be able to afford to take classes full-time as well now that my bill is going to be significantly higher. I know many other students who are going to be negatively affected by the increases, and many of us feel angry that UT doesn't seem to care if its policies make it harder for low-income people like myself to get an education. Please consider bringing tuition rates back down.
Rubbing salt on our wounds
I felt defeated after reading Wednesday's article "Tuition increase met with less student protest than expected," which stated, "UT administrators and student leaders said the lack of criticism received at the forums was a sign that the general student population understood the need to raise tuition."
That's not true; policies of increasing intensity, like those of the enrollment strategy task force and the incessant tuition increases, keep students immobilized, working for wages and grades that prevent them from learning about life, chemistry or University politics. Because we've been too stressed and busy to demand answers, many questions have not been addressed regarding the increase.
They tell us the University is a bargain for a state school, but according to US News and World Report, the University is ranked 15th in quality while being the fifth most expensive. They point to our dilapidated buildings and tell us that they need our money to renovate, but only 5 percent of the capital improvement budget is slated for renovation, while 80 percent will be going toward new building construction, much of which has nothing to do with students.
Most students do not have the time to inform themselves about University issues. Rather than legitimizing administrators' deceptive policies, student leaders should be fighting for this time, and if any UT administrators cared about education, they should too.
Positively, my feelings of defeat have passed. Let this be a lesson in the efficacy of activism. Next time, I will have my priorities straight.
The Nov. 11 article discusses a University of Texas panel's draconian plans to make it virtually impossible for non-traditional students to attend UT.
Flat-rate tuition already has made it difficult, and abolishing scholarships for students who don't take classes full time would further hurt those who work, have children, have limited resources or have anything besides school going on in their lives.
With a 32-percent tuition increase on the horizon, UT is looking more and more elitist, which contradicts its constitutional mandate.
Security Cam Scam
Dear UTPD Oversight Committee,
The proliferation of security cameras on campus without discernible oversight needs to be addressed. It is my understanding that UTPD maintains only a small fraction of these cameras at such locations as the MLK Jr. Statue, some parking garages, and the football stadium. However, in light of certain recents events (the civil suit filed by a UT student against the University b/c an alleged sexual assault took place in plain view of a "monitored" security system in the Jester parking garage as well as the egging of the security-camera-monitored MLK Statue by unapprehended vigilantes) it seems imperative that the UT community review its policies and procedures regarding such security systems. There is no better place to start than with the UTPD and this committee.
Other universities around the country have been forthcoming with their students, staff, and faculty on the locations, intent, and cost of security cameras. For example, the University of Pennsylvania posts signs by each camera letting the public know when it is being watched. They feel this transparency is also a deterrent to crime.
Certainly this issue needs to be debated for reasons of security, academic freedom, and privacy. I look forward to the committee addressing this issue and would like to be informed when it will be taken up.
Where the money's going?
It's no secret to anyone that this school pulls in an almost incalculable amount of money annually. However, due to the budget crunch, we are forced to endure budget cuts bordering on insanity yet, the Erwin Center gets a "$5 million facelift;" libraries and computer labs are forced to close early (these are academic cuts, folks). The Board of Regents approved $250 million in System-wide "building projects." Finally, and perhaps most infuriating, many UT staff were laid off. Hiring and pay increase freezes were implemented and benefits cut, while President Faulkner received a nice 3-percent pay increase and a housekeeper for his troubles. If this doesn't make many students, faculty and staff mad as hell, what does?
It's this kind of nonsense that makes many students think of the University as one big bureaucracy, not a college. How are we to have true faith in the university we attend when they tell us they have to close the 24-hour computer facility on campus because there are not enough funds to keep it open? It's just comical to believe this is actually the case! Just keep this in mind the next time we have to hear the garbage about more budget cuts being needed: Acording to the University's Web site, the "We're Texas" fund-raising campaign netted over $1.3 billion to the UT system since 1997. That said, what's going to be the next academic program to fall under the budget ax?
Myles Martin, LBJ School of Public Affairs
Note: This is not a "Firing Line"per se. It is actually an email mailed to VP Patricia Ohlendorf calling her out for spreading misinformation about the security cameras at UT.
Dear Ms. Ohlendorf,
In the June 13, 2003 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, you state in reference to security cameras on UT campus, "It's not a significant number." You are also quoted as saying that keeping the location of security cameras secret "helps us to have a greater degree of confidence in securing the campus. We have a fairly small police force, and they're not able to [fully] patrol and monitor the campus."
You know as well as I do that a relatively small number of security cameras on campus are monitored directly by UTPD. In fact, I have Chief Van Slyke on record, stating as much. You must also know that ITS installs and maintains security systems by request without any discernible oversight. You should also be aware that UTPD actually has one of the largest, most autonomous, and well-armed police forces in the country.
As you know, UT was successful at changing the law in order to keep locations of security cameras secret, except, of course those that are in the offices of government employees like yourself. This move ran directly counter to the objections of students, the ACLU, the Daily Texan, and civil libertarians around the state and country. UT provided zero justification for such secrecy except to note blandly that it would help "security" in some way.
As a student, I am appalled at your campaign of mis-truths and distortions. Other universities, such as the University of Pennsylvania, go out of their way to assure student privacy. The university posts notices wherever a camera is in use so that the public knows they're potentially being watched.
Please be aware that since UT refuses to make the locations of cameras public, students will be conducting this work ourselves until such time when we can work to change or challenge the law. Our prelimary research and documentation shows that far from having an ïnsignigicant number"of cameras, UT has probably more than any other campus in the country. http://www.utwatch.org/security/cameramap.html
Forrest Wilder, Anthro Senior
Recently I became aware and subsequently a victim of the liberal arts tier tuition "pilot program." Because of financial concerns, I decided to drop my second summer session class. Little did I know that I was still taking seven hours and therefore would still have to pay the ridiculous sum of $1,851 - the exact amount I had to pay for 11 hours. I was under the impression that this so-called "pilot program" was intended to speed up the graduation rates of slacking liberal arts majors who like to take their time graduating. Why is this same "program" instituted for the summer? The summer sessions are for people trying to get the hell out of here before we are so financially raped and in such huge amounts of debt that life with PB and J, Ramen noodles and bologna sandwiches is a reality of the rest of our pathetic existences.
Then I read that the "government" is changing the way they calculate financial aid and is going to leave many without aid. Add tuition deregulation to the mix, and school will no longer be affordable to anyone but the wealthy. It is already to a point where there is absolutely no way a person can work, go to school, live in an apartment, pay for school and be able to survive without other assistance. So screw all of the people that made this great system possible. Just remember while all of us poor, Ramen-noodle-eating degenerates are boiling another pot of water, we are hatching a scheme to take you down.
Daniel Lowe, Economics senior
Like every bureaucratic dog-and-pony show, the new tuition committee is little more than a cover for the University powers-that-be to do exactly what they want. CFO Kenn Hegarty, CEO Larry Faulkner and Bored ol' Regent Charles Miller's mealy-mouthed promises of including students in the process is laughable, if not downright cynical. Do they think we have forgotten how they conspired with Gov. Rick Perry and Speaker Tom Craddick to resuscitate the near-dead tuition deregulation bill back in June over students' vociferous objections?
We had succeeded in convincing legislators that tuition deregulation was a stupid idea that only had currency in the heads of dizzy Tower number-crunchers and ideological warriors like BOR Chairman Miller. I hope everyone enjoys their fall semester because when we come back in the spring don't be surprised to find that tuition has magically risen $300 or $400, courtesy of the oh-so-democratic tuition committee.
Forrest Wilder, Anthropology senior
I would like to offer some clarifications and corrections to Friday's editorial ("Rights violations and excessive force,").
I believe that the officer targeted Bougie and the two others because of their political views. How many times have you seen a message written on a building or on a sidewalk written by someone other than anti-war activists? Do you think that the UTPD would ever target and assault Christian frats or sororities for writing messages? I don't think so.
Also, the walkout was Feb. 12, not Feb. 13. And the numbers are still low - the Austin American-Statesman reported 4,000 in attendance, and the Houston Chronicle reported 5,000. There were plenty of reasons that the UTPD didn't try to break it up. Maybe the presence of national media made the cops think twice before they tried to shut it down. Trying to drive 4,000 to 5,000 students, staff and faculty off the Main Mall would cause a much bigger scene than quietly approaching one student and kicking the crap out of him. Given that the cops have AR-15's and shotguns that spray 12-15 inches across, maybe they didn't want another Kent State.
This isn't even to say that the University let it slide. They've since gone after other members of the Campus Coalition for Peace and Justice (see a theme here?) for the walkout and talks of suspension have come up. I've seen cops take down posters across campus. There have been revisions, and revisions to those revisions, of the recommendations from the Laycock committee on free speech that would have made the entire campus a free speech zone. There are ways to crack down on dissent that aren't as obvious as running thousands of people off the most open space on campus.
Austin Van Zant, UT Watch, French junior
Cut Yudof's salary
UT students, sick of paying higher tuition? University staff, sick of getting your benefits cut? Well now you have a perfect target on whom to take out your frustration - UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof. America's highest paid educator (The New York Times 8/23/2002) making $787,319 annually already, the UT Board of Regents is considering giving him a 4 percent raise at their meeting Monday, July 7.
The hypocrisy of this move, if it happens, should be apparent and should outrage any Texan who takes the current budget crisis and its effects seriously. In the May 13, 1992 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education, Yudof wrote an article and said, "Administrative budgets at public universities have increased at almost three times the rate of increase in instructional budgets. Critics are incredulous that higher-education officials cannot find more fat to trim when other state agencies are compelled to absorb large budget reductions."
Yudof was right, and he should start by cutting out some of his own fat.
Nicholas Schwellenbach, History senior
Hopwood on Ice?
With the recent ruling of the Supreme Court on race-based affirmative action, many involved in the desegregation effort are breathing a sigh of relief. My advice: exhale hesitantly.
Although the Supreme Court SYMBOLICALLY affirmed race conscious admissions standards in a case focused on the Univ. of Michigan Law School, its subsequent 6-3 ruling that declared point systems unconstitutional is a damning blow in efforts to increase the representation of people of color in higher education. While it affirms the ultimate goal of racial equality and equal access, the Supreme Court ruling has also taken away one of the most effective methods of transporting our society into the land of equality.
Recent reports are in, and the Top 10% Plan was about as effective as Jordan's baseball career. Unfortunately, that can't be changed by anyone but the state legislature, which ain't gonna happen: 1)The majority are "race-conscious" color-blind Republicans, 2)Legislation would hurt future voter turnout in the next elections- perceptually supporting legislation to dismantle the Top Ten percent plan would easily be spun during campaign season as a move that, "destroyed your kids guarantee to attend the best state school in the country if they were in the top ten percent of their graduating class." Legislators will either vote against it out of fear of voter backlash/decreased turnout, or the Right will have some new extremist alternative admissions program that guarantees that their kids- and their campaign donor's kids will at least be guaranteed to attend UT-Austin.
The recent decisions open a new can of worms that is primarily focused on methodology ie. What technologies/resources should be used to symbolically affirm our university is upholding its compelling state interest in equal representation and diversity. The Hopwood decision is not dead, one cannot divorce the decision from its historical context, Hopwood was (and is) a walking zombie. People often forget that the Hopwood decision is one of a few Federal Circuit Court decisions that functionally overturned the Bakke Supreme Court decision. Known as "the Hopwood Chilling Effect,” this court decision deterred many schools from continuing efforts to desegregate out of fear of copycat "reverse discrimination" lawsuits that would result in circuit courts affirming Hopwood instead of the precedent established by Bakke. Hopwood- a historical decision that metaphorically stands for all facets of institutionalized and individualized discrimination- is not dead; it’s just regenerating its strength and will make its presence known through future court decisions that rule on the constitutionality of the mechanisms that must be within the boundaries of the "limited scope" of the Supreme Court new ruling.
I'm eager to see an Official Administrative response- not on paper, but in practice.
Ben Durham, Anthropology junior, Student Government Representative, I.S.M.S. - Minister of [Dis]Information
Say cheese for rights violation
Smile! You're on the University's new candid camera show: "The World's Most Pointless Surveillance Videos," featuring hours and hours of fast-paced action, including dramatic footage of students ... walking to class. You'll be on the edge of your seat in suspense as hundreds of University staff members ... park their cars. All this and more, for the low, low cost of your personal privacy.
Video surveillance is one of the many paranoid overreactions made by government entities since 9/11 at the expense of our liberties. Does video surveillance deter terrorist activity? Well, some of the 9/11 hijackers were seen on airport surveillance video before boarding their ill-fated flights. That surveillance deterred, well... nothing. The U.S. Supreme Court thinks we have no expectation of privacy when we are in public. However, in a free country, we all have a basic right to be left alone. Police should have no right to track, monitor or photograph individuals who have done nothing wrong. Even in a public place, there is a certain zone of privacy that we expect, and blanket surveillance of individuals may chill otherwise lawful behavior. Furthermore, the Fourth Amendment guarantees us a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the monitoring and recording of one's activity - without any suspicion or evidence of criminal activity - arguably violates that right. Police and security personnel have a duty to investigate and arrest criminals. They have neither the duty, nor the right, to spy on people and track the activity of those who have done nothing wrong. Even worse, the University should not hide behind the dubious claim of "national security" in their attempts to hide their surveillance activities from the public. Are the images being recorded? Do the cameras pick up audio as well as video? These are all questions that Big Brother University refuses to answer. So next time you walk across campus, smile and wave hello to the new Gestapo.
Jon Apgar, Third-year law student
Why don't you go help?
In response to Abdul Farukhi's April 25, "Budget woes threaten TEXAS grant program": Although I agree with him that the cuts to the TEXAS Grant program need to be fought by students, instead of heaping that burden on the same students who have missed class after class waiting to testify, traveling to other cities or tabling on the West Mall, maybe he should go out and help. In fact, if students even care, if they can make the time, they should try to help. This isn't meant to be offensive, but I'm just sick of most students complaining without attempting any action. If every student at the University called his or her legislator, then we wouldn't have many of the problems we're facing today. And again regarding that funding cut for TEXAS Grant, representatives made clear that the return of all that research money is why they're cutting the TEXAS Grant. Note the $90 million cut to TEXAS Grant and the fact that universities are getting back an estimated $86.4 million in research money. Also anyone who has researched the TEXAS Compact proposal would realize that the Regents already claim to provide free tuition for those below the median income level, its just that nobody's family that makes below $41,000 can afford to spend the $10,000 plus in Austin living expenses. Ask the administration why they can't use that returned research money to keep the University affordable, and they'll say, (in a mocking Faulkner voice), "Our hands are tied."
Nicholas Schwellenbach, History senior
The UT administration is falsely portraying the University's current financial picture. In an April 16 Daily Texan article ("House Reviewing State Budget Bill"), UT Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty declared that the University "could lose an estimated $68 million" from state appropriations over the next biennium.
This is a flat-out lie.
Although no state appropriations bill has yet been approved by the Legislature, a House Committee Report released this month states that the University is not set to lose any money from state appropriations. In fact, we might actually see a small increase. State appropriations for fiscal year 2003 were about $344.3 million after adjusting for inflation (2002 base-year). The House is now looking at raising this figure to $347.7 million for fiscal year 2004 and $344.5 million for 2005 (both figures adjusted for estimated inflation).
My question for the UT administration is: "Why are you lying to students, faculty and staff?"
The administration merely says what they need to in order to justify tuition increases, staff and faculty cuts, and getting rid of worker and student benefits.
John Pruett, Economics junior
Farukhi's faulty economics
Daily Texan columnist Abdul Farukhi ("Tuition Deregulation Makes Sense (and Cents)," March 28) should use what he learns in economics before he decides to become the administration's lackey.
First of all, as he uncritically accepts the assertion that the University is broke, if he would take the time to do the research he would realize that the University is swimming in cash. The University has hundreds of millions of dollars in unexpended, unrestricted funds. Look at the UT Annual Financial Reports, particularly the Short Term Fund, which made 8,972,497. This is unrestricted and students, faculty and staff should demand use of these funds instead of wage cuts and tuition increases. You'll also find that UT is pursuing more than 0 million in new buildings. Secondly, tuition is being used not only to increase funding but to speed students up in the assembly line that is UT Inc.
Thirdly, your assertion that higher education is a big welfare program for the rich makes no sense, since deregulation would only make college even more out of reach for the middle- and lower-income families. Note that the deregulation bills do not include Texas Compact at all. Having paid taxes to support the University, such families then get shut out. That's why tuition should be regulated so they can afford to go to the University.
Regent Charles Miller suggests they go to community college.
Nicholas Schwellenbach, History senior
Impotent faculty council
The Faculty Council at this University was designed to provide a voice for faculty members. However, my experience at their meeting yesterday should prove otherwise. As a student, I attended their meeting to voice opposition to their resolution approving of tuition deregulation; in fact, students were the only ones to show any opposition whatsoever. When it came time to vote, there might have been one vote in opposition to the resolution (aside from the two from Student Government people). Why were there so many for the resolution, even when there are no benefits for the faculty from deregulating tuition? Why did they vote after just a few minutes to end any discussion on the matter?
It's because there was too much influence from the administration. The administration gave UT System reports to the council in support of deregulation without any rebuttal. And when it came down to it, the faculty members supported their administrators who were staring down the voting members. There were many other indications that made me believe that the council isn't anything more than a big lap dog for the administration. There was one point where a faculty member stood up and declared that the council was "on the same side" as the students where minutes earlier, Chairboy Mike Granof said their resolution was "in response" to the students' resolution against deregulation.
I'm not against the faculty joining together to voice their opinion, and I'm not coming out against the faculty. I am against the council being forced to answer to the administration while ignoring the students that it tries to boast as their allies. There need to be massive changes in the powerless council, and hopefully there won't be any backlash from the administration.
Austin Van Zant, French senior
If the UT administration has been waiting for spring break to file their tuition deregulation bill, it wouldn't surprise me. It's one of their classic tactics: wait until students are on holiday to screw them! Last year, the infrastructure fee was conveniently announced over Christmas break. Only a handful of student government people knew about it. Should the administration choose to pursue its usual policy of capricious disregard for student input, this would only confirm the criticism that the UT administration and the Board of Regents are the last people we want setting our tuition rates.
Forrest Wilder, English senior
Editor's note: The Texan received this Firing Line on March 6. The bill that would pave the way for tuition deregulation was filed on Friday.
Regents not diverse
This is in response to Gene Acua's facetious Firing Line ("Perry's Regents," Mar. 4). When talking about the "diversity" of the regents that Rick Perry has appointed, it's not surprising that Perry's motives are still trying to hide.
Take Roberta Estrada, a banker from Dallas (how diverse!). If his ties to the border are so strong, then why were there criticisms of Perry for not selecting a border resident after Raul Romero resigned? He can tout his ethnic heritage all he wants, but he was chosen simply to fit the regent stereotype of a wealthy businessman. And it didn't hurt that Estrada served on the appointments group of Perry's "Transition Team" before he was selected to the board.
As for the female regents Perry chose: Cyndi Krier led a handful of lawyers to Florida to ensure the 2000 presidential recount went to Bush. She then - before she was a regent - served with Estrada on this appointments group in the "Transition Team" that eased Perry into office in December of 2000.
Rita Clements knows the Texas business scene all too well and has way too many conflicts of interest to be on any "public" board. As the wife of former Gov. Bill Clements, she has ties to regent-designate James Huffines and can define the phrase Good Ol' Gal.
Finally, Judith Craven's positions on corporate boards secured her regential post. She developed ties to Ken Lay, and, as a member of the board of directors for A.H. Belo, which owns various media outlets like the Dallas Morning News, she actually has some control over the media.
These people were chosen for their roles in the business world, without regard for their ethnicity or gender. I don't want to hear Perry's concern for diversity since I'm just not buying it.
Austin Van Zant, French junior
Welfare for the rich
Students for Free Market Capitalism are blinded by a flawed ideology and have decided to value that ideology much more than living human beings. They neglect the fact that the privatization of universities, which is already partially completed, would essentially be welfare for the wealthy. Total privatization would transfer years of public investment to the hands of a few businessmen, who set tuition so that only the very wealthy could afford it.
Besides, how can you expect young people who don't have a college degree to afford school without help from someone? Last time I checked, the free market has set a price lower than the mandated minimum wage, which is almost impossible to live on as it is, for flipping burgers. The University is public property, like the fire department, parks, and elementary and secondary schools. Thus, everyone should have a chance to utilize and control what they themselves own.
At any rate, deregulation is not a free market proposal; all Texans will still own the school. The difference will be that they will have less control over their own property, and be forced to pay ridiculous rates for a basic need! That's right, need; in this society education is like water.
I'm not quite sure how to take these guys seriously. Unless they are independently wealthy, I doubt they will be happy when the tuition bill comes in. Perhaps they will forsake their phony version of rugged individualism and ask mommy and daddy for money!
Pedro de la Torre III, Sociology junior
Senator Hutchison's support of tuition deregulation as allowing for Texas universities to achieve more research funding (Daily Texan, Feb. 21) makes the connection that the University, corporations and the state are screwing students over to achieve cheap, subsidized research. This has been a trend going on for decades, and it's time for us to stop paying for it. We end up paying more and more with tuition and fees every year to pay for buildings and research that don't benefit us. It might be justified if the University would charge for the costs of this research via overhead costs, but it doesn't, instead making us pay more while diverting more of the state's funds to help their corporate friends.
Perry right now wants to take $390 million out of the Rainy Day Fund to give to companies like Sematech, which uses UT's resources, at the same time he is slashing funding for higher education. Graduate students should be particularly upset because they are essentially intellectual sweatshop workers who are used as cheap labor while companies spend less on their own in-house research and development. Yudof and the rest of the administration justify this by saying that research at UT brings in money, which is partially true, but they conveniently leave out that the amount of money put in to generate this research is far greater and that the people of Texas and students essentially have their wealth transferred to corporations. They've socialized the costs but privatized the profits, and we're catching on.
Nicholas Schwellenbach, History senior
Congress, do your job
Many Texas legislators have been leaning toward tuition deregulation since they are incapable of balancing the state budget. Punishing students for your inability to do your job, legislators, is really uncool.
Mark Yudof has stated that he will raise tuition by 27 percent if tuition is deregulated. Apparently, the state and the University are conspiring to screw us all over.
Jennifer Klein, Government junior
Spread the love
Why is it that only the athletics department is allowed to sell items with the Longhorn symbol? Aren't all students and professors at UT "Longhorns?" To restrict a student group like the UT Geographical Society, a nonprofit organization for geography majors, from using the symbol on their T-shirts is unjust and unwarranted. If the group's shirts were orange and had a big white longhorn symbol on them, the prohibition would be justified. But the shirts in question are dark blue with a globe and Longhorn symbol combined, which is an entirely appropriate as a symbol for a UT geography group.
Naturally the only "market" for these shirts is geography students and faculty, so there is no competition and no impact on athletic department profits. If I want an orange Longhorn shirt I still have to pay for one that profits UT athletics. The problem with turning the Longhorn symbol into the exclusive property of the athletic department is that this maneuver discourages members of the UT community from identifying themselves as "Longhorns." If you can't use the symbol, what relevance does it have? I suggest that the UT community select several other symbols through a competition (open to athletes and non-athletes) and vote on a symbol which everyone can use and identify with.
Asst. Professor of geography
Getting the poor out
OK, let me see if I've got this whole tuition deregulation thing right.
The Rich Chancellors Cabal, unable to get their country club buddies at the Legislature to give them more money to mismanage, are now calling for the Lege to just eradicate any limits on how fast and how high the universities can raise tuition. It's unclear if they want their other buddies on the Board of Regents to maintain discretion over fees. Not that it matters anyway, as shown by their thoughtless nod to Faulkner's fee hike last year that was so large it was later declared illegal. Why don't you six-digit-income jackasses just admit that you're trying to push out the riff-raff?
The inevitable effect of actions like this, whether intentional or not, is to price people from lower incomes completely out of higher education. The bit about letting in those from families whose income is less than K is likely just another empty promise to get the bill pushed through. No one is going to get to go for free. At best, they will be forced to draw from the conveniently increased pool available for loans, so they can spend the next 10 years or so paying off the debt plus interest. These people are unable to wrap their minds around the concept of being poor, of having no choice but to take out loans or work full time to afford to go to school. They don't personally know anybody in such a situation and probably don't care to. Give them the ability to raise tuition and fees with impunity, and a good bit of the "problem" eventually just disappears somewhere over the ,000 per semester mark.
Reid Worth, Journalism senior
The debate on tuition deregulation misses the point that there is enough money for free tuition for all students, cries that UT is broke, and needs to raise tuition ignore that the crisis is manufactured. In 1991 Chancellor Hans Mark said, "Tuition is primarily a mechanism for supplanting our income. It doesn't amount to a big fraction of it, as you know. The academic budget of UT-Austin is $550 million, and we can earn about $20 million in tuition. The only justification for tuition today is to supplement the budget and to demonstrate to students that they are getting something of value. When you get something free today, there is a tendency to say it is not valuable." In other words, "we don't really need you to pay tuition except to make you work for your grades."
This is why there is the rapid increase of tuition every year, partly because state appropriations have not kept up but also because the University spends its money to develop research into marketable products that can be sold directly for profits or sell them to corporate partners, thus socializing the costs of R&D for corporations. This is why the College of Liberal Arts is in a state of austerity, but meanwhile the College of Engineering is flush with funding. The administration is not interested in learning to expand our minds, but instead is in the business of training a workforce and selling the mental power it develops as well its products.
Nicholas Schwellenbach, History senior
Debt free and lovin' it
Enough! While not personally affected by flat-rate tuition (yet), I am so tired of Faulkner's bullshit justification that flat-rate tuition saves students money in the long run. The air's getting a bit thin in the ivory tower. It may save money for those whose parents finance their education, but what about others less fortunate?
For each year beyond the fourth year, I lose a minimum of $25,000 by not entering the workforce? In order to have enough time and money to take 14+ hours every semester in order to graduate in four years, I would have had to not work and take out about $20,000 in loans each year. This would give me pleasure of paying off $80,000 plus interest, effectively canceling out this windfall I'm missing out on by not entering the workforce after exactly four years. The reality is I have to work full-time to pay tuition, rent, bills, etc.
This is a choice only in the sense that the other option would have me paying off loans beyond the age of 30. So it takes a little longer than four years. But the amount I owe upon graduation to the University, Uncle Sam and MBNA combined will be a whopping $0. That is saving money in the long run, Larry.
Flat-rate tuition punishes those who least deserve it and worse, forces these people to subsidize the education of those who need it the least. This is not about saving students money. It's about the University stepping up production by ramming people through as fast as possible to make room for more. Spending money on a first-year freshman is more productive than spending it on a fifth- (or, God forbid, sixth-) year working senior.
Oh, and there's the the slight possibility that increased four-year graduation rates would make the University look a little more flagshippy and thus justify increased tuition across the board (as opposed to trying to ram illegal fees up our mailboxes).
Pot & kettle, II
Once again, the administration of UT demonstrates its utter gall and lack of concern for its student body.
UT bilks local businesses over 6 percent for the "privilege" of accepting Bevo Bucks, yet when credit card companies charge UT 2 percent, Fred Friedrich cries about how UT must "stop the bleeding." This is utter hypocrisy which, unfortunately, has become a standard way of business in the Tower.
It also serves as a reminder that UT really doesn't give a damn about its graduate students. Graduate teaching assistants and associate instructors, who don't have Mom and Dad's deep checking accounts to depend on, don't get their first paychecks until Oct. 1. Of course, the University demands payment for tuition in August. What do grad students usually have to use? Credit cards! It's completely typical that the University finds another fee to add to the financial burden of its students.
All too appropriate
I too am amused by the fuss caused over the "appropriate" use of the UT Longhorn logo. I believe that there are many things that the Longhorn logo represents, academics being one of the many. However, as long as we are concerned with the appropriate representation of the athletics department, nothing speaks to me louder than a brand new Cadillac Escalade on 24-inch wheels, blaring music right in front of Jester, where I am not allowed to drive my inferior automobile.
It is for this reason that I propose the following: Allow only the athletics department to use the Longhorn logo for free. Let the first five organizations in line every month pay to use the logo for the next 30 days, and put the money towards the Escalades for Underprivileged Athletes fund. I believe that this proposal would allow for the most accurate representation of the University athletics department.
Mechanical Engineering sophomore
Follow the money
As usual, the Viewpoint on Wednesday ("Take the license by the horns") offered lukewarm commentary on breaking news without providing any new insight on the issue. As usual, Jason Hunter and company didn't do their research and printed erroneous information. Regarding copyright policy, the Viewpoint states "all the funds generated by the licensing program do not return to University coffers. Royalty income has provided for a scholarship fund for students with demonstrated financial need."
This is untrue. Craig Westemeier at Trademark and Licensing might tell reporters as much, but according to Open Records Requests filed by UT Watch, the budget clearly shows the $700,000-odd generated by trademark and licensing going into recreational sports, University bands and auxiliary funds for men's and women's athletics. The ORR documents also show that UT licenses with Nike and other corporations with sweatshop ties.
Finally, it is hard to stomach that out of all the burnt-orange crap sold in UT's name, the University only generates $700,000 per year. When subtracting out expenditures at the Trademark and Licensing office, not to mention the hassle students are subject to under a contradictory and unfair copyright policy, one begins to wonder who this school is really for.
UT Watch representative
That pig is fat enough
The Viewpoint concerning higher tuition is appalling. Not only does it bastardize the hard work that many students and members of UT Watch put into the student fee's study, it also shows the inability of our politically biased editor to understand the function of UT Watch as a student organization.
The intent of UT Watch is not to offer solutions to our student body, but to expose contradictions, cover-ups and lies that our administration has given the student body as a solution to (in many cases) crises that our administration has constructed to legitimize asking for more money in the form of tuition hikes. The only intent of this organization is to expose problems - what people decide to do with the facts is up to them - they can become politicized or remain apathetic.
What's even more appalling is Hunter's conception of PUBLIC universities, which is more symptomatic of privatized education. Access to UT should not be determined on one's ability to afford to attend here, instead one has to recognize the role that money already plays in determining who has access - this is WHY tuition increases are bad because there are so many who have to work jobs or use financial aid just to make sure they stay in the realm of academia. What Hunter is supporting is an exclusive and classist conception of what public education should be, one in which many people in the "lower class" would never have access to such "fine" academic institutions like this one because they just didn't have enough dough or enough time because they have to work a 30-hour-a-week job.
Mr. Hunter, I recommend you pull your Libertarian head out of your ass, become cognizant that us trust-fund babies with rich parents have it easy, and go read a book about privilege. Your Libertarian pigshit rhetoric is just what our administration wants in The Texan because it makes students complacent with the idea that student fee increases are inevitable, so we might as well pay up. It doesn't have to be that way if WE, the students, don't want it to.
Ethnic Studies sophomore
UT Watch representative
Your Viewpoint on higher tuition was a great disservice to UT students. The editors of this STUDENT newspaper treated lack of funding by the Legislature as merely sad, but apparently beyond our control. The editors ignored the building binge by regents, the inflated salaries of administrators, and the mismanagement by those running the University. But the editors of this STUDENT newspaper didn't ignore the students - they are supposed to suck it up and pay 400 percent more. After all, increasing tuition far more than inflation because of out-of-control spending and bad business deals is "natural, inevitable."
In response to Wednesday's Viewpoint: The Texan editorial board should read reports more carefully before opinionating. Then researching matters, rather than making up facts, will lead to opinions that are more than thinly veiled ideology. First of all, the UT Watch report never claims that "cost of housing was primarily responsible for the increase." Stating this shows that the report was barely read before a predictable response was pulled from the template of libertarian Texan Viewpoints.
The Viewpoint states that the student body is affluent, with a median family income of $87,000, hence they can and should pay more for their education at the University. While some at UT are affluent, many are not - the median income only tells that nearly 50% of students' families make less than that. Perhaps the reason that such a large percentage of students appear to be economically secure is because most poor students already cannot afford to come to the University.
As for the claim that financial aid makes up for cost increases, you're wrong. Growth in financial aid has not kept pace with tuition increases in recent years, and has shifted dramatically from grants to loans. Since 1980, tuition has risen 114% nationally; aid has only increased 74%, much of that in unsubsidized loans.
The maximum an entering freshman can get in subsidized federal loans is about $1,500. Tuition this semester, in the college of liberal arts, is $2,357. Add in the cost of books, housing, food, and transportation, and it's obvious that some hefty loans will have to be taken out just to attend UT - these loans will accrue interest from day one. Many cannot afford to go $20,000 into debt for college. Their families don't have the credit to get or the means to repay large loans. The simple fact is that people cannot attend UT because the cost has increased by about 400% in 33 years.
UT alum and UT Watch member
Higher tuition is not natural; it is not inevitable. It is the current trend, but it does not have to be that way. While it's true that it may be difficult for the University to obtain the funding that it deserves from the legislature, increases in tuition and fees are not the only solution to the budget shortfall. In fact, students have worked to help find and create alternate solutions for the administration, and yet none of these other options are being explored. This leads me to conclude that the administration is not interested in students' opinions. They are only interested in our money.
Also, the claim that "increasing tuition prices are clearly an unsustainable trend" is unsubstantiated. With tuition deregulation coming up as an issue, and the University's recent history of suddenly trying to increase fees, it is clear that the opposite is true. Tuition prices are increasing, and unless something is done to change it, this trend will continue.
The Union of Yore
Your recent column takes the Texas Union to task about it relevancy to the student body, and so you should. The Union has whittled itself down to nothing but a fast-food court and a semi-lame bowling alley.
The Texas Union lost its relevancy when they decided to shut down its movie program, taking away a fine place for students to see cheap second run, revival and art-house flicks on a daily basis. Cinema geeks could watch a different movie every day.
The Texas Union lost its relevancy when they decided to contract out all its food services.
The Texas Union lost its relevancy when they quit regularly showcasing live music (except, thankfully, the Cactus Cafe) that would oftentimes pack the Union just about every weekend.
The Texas Union lost its relevancy when they turned the Showroom from a bar with dart boards into a giant dining room (okay, the drinking age moving from 19 to 21 way back when didn't help much).
In all these cases, the Union management has said that these were money-losing ventures, and they couldn't prop themselves up anymore. What they've never explained is why; why students pay a fee to subsidize the Union, why the Union gets free rent, why students get to pay full price for everything there, why the Union is getting remodeled every few years, but they still couldn't keep these things going.
When I was a student way back when, the Union offered all these things, and students used them. Now that they don't really offer anything, why should the students use it?
Alan Van Dyke
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Don't privatize UT
The beliefs expressed in last Wednesday's Viewpoint ("You get what you pay for," July 10) reflect not only a lack of understanding from the perspective of the author, but a gross misinterpretation of the purpose of a state-funded school.
The article presupposes that we are all white middle-class rich kids with no problem having mommy and daddy dish out the extra money to pay for the gaps that the Texas Legisla-ture has irresponsibly allowed to develop between what Texas' public universities need and what they are given. But on top of that, the article suggests that we move toward the model of private universities.
That point of view, however, ignores the fact that state universities are supposed to be an affordable alternative to private universities. Although private universities do generally have high academic standards, it is not feasible to expect that everyone can afford an education at such a high cost. Public universities have a responsibility not only to create a competitive learning environment but to remain accessible as well.
Molly Rogers English senior
Use new building money
With fear and trembling, I quaver before the all-knowing and all-powerful Board of Regents and the all-seeing Larry Faulkner. I can't pretend to know the eternally-unfolding complexities of this mystical infrastructure fee; nor can I possibly comprehend the terrible burden it must be to find a resolution to this gargantuan problem. But, humbly, do I offer up to you a simple suggestion from one so lowly as I, a simple student. Might this great University use the 4 million allocated for new building projects to take care of the ones we already have? On July 25, 2001, the year of Our Lord, The Daily Texan reported that unlike most other Universities nationwide, UT-Austin was not concentrating on maintaining existing structures in the economic slowdown but instead was marching ahead with an aggressive new-building agenda. One Bob Rawski, senior project manager at the UT System's Office of Facilities Planning and Construction, pointed out that half of UT's projects were in new construction. Though I am just a tiny gnat in the teeth of giants, I can't help but wonder why Larry Faulkner would let my classrooms fall apart while there is obviously money available to fix them. The gods must be crazy.
Forrest Wilder, English/Philosophy senior
Hammond double talk
Along with former SG pres Matt Hammond, I applaud Attorney general Cornyn's decision that the infrastructure fee is illegal. However, his quote in yesterday's Texan is emblematic of a double-speaking student government that wanted to feel the power of 'working with the administration' while maintaining a facade of legitimacy with the students. (How legitimate are they? The petition asking the regents to postpone their decision on the now-illegal infrastructure fee got more signatures from students than the total number who voted in the 2001-2002 SG elections).
Returning to Hammond, he claims that the students can now tell the administration "I told you so." Yet here is what he told the students in a letter to the Texan explaining why SG had double-crossed those working to stop the fee: "We were forced to operate under three critical assumptions 1. that this fee was legal 2. that this fee was inevitable 3. and that this fee was necessary... Many students were not willing to accept these assumptions." (Feb 19th).
While students were working to keep this illegal fee from getting passed, SG was being dragged along by a mendacious administration, who in turn use student government as proof of their willingness to work with students. When we claimed that SG was not acting in the interest of students, we were right. We told you so, Matt Hammond. I won't see an end to this fee-asco, but students deserve better than what last year's SG gave them, and won't get it from the new bunch unless they keep on them, keep them honest and keep raising hell.
Keep UT cheap
Wednesday's Viewpoint ("You get what you pay for") is rife with errors, omissions and ideological shortsightedness. It paints UT as a lily-white hotbed of rich suburbanites who should have to pay for their education. Unfortunately, the University is inaccessible to many Texans. The reason for this is not that UT is too cheap; it's that it is too expensive.
Raising tuition and fees to make up for the state's infatuation with prison-building is not the answer. It is well-documented that minorities and working students are struggling more than ever to participate in higher education. The editors at The Texan aren't doing their homework if they believe that "suitable scholarship funds" are available to "all who are qualified" to attend UT. The fact is, the total amount of available financial aid has leveled off while the number of students attending college has increased dramatically: The pie is getting sliced up smaller and smaller.
The Viewpoint references the founding of UT, stating that the University "was established to serve the higher education needs of Texans." It goes on to say that tuition and fees must be raised in "good faith." First of all, according to the Texas Constitution, the University was opened in 1883 "to male or female on equal terms, without charge for admission ... to place within the reach of our people, whether rich or poor ... a thorough education." Without charge for admission. Whether rich or poor. There is no ambiguity there.
Second of all, tuition and fees have never been raised in "good faith." They are always raised without the participation of students, faculty or staff - arrogantly and brashly by overpaid white men who work hidden in the Tower.
The editors are cheerleading for a corporate University where students are consumers and the grand tradition of higher education is transformed into a factory system for "skilled businessmen, lawyers and graduate candidates." Those of us who want to see real education for ALL Texans will take a different path.
Forrest Wilder English/philosophy senior
UT not just for wealthy
In response to the July 10 Viewpoint ("You get what you pay for"), I would have to disagree. Not every student in this university is an upper-class white suburbanite. A vast number of students I know are struggling to pay for this college. This university receives more than a meager share from the Permanent University Fund. What has happened to money collected from "We're Texas"? Where does the money collected in endowments go? Oh yeah, the president's wallet. There are a number of places where money can come from aside from screwing the UT loyals out of what is theirs.
A higher tuition also means that only white suburbanites would be coming to this university. I have heard a number of times that only three African-American students from East Austin were enrolled here last year. That number is debatable, but the message is still that there are fewer and fewer minorities who attend this school.
The bottom line is that this university has been mismanaging its money for too long. The school gets plenty of money but does not know how to handle it. I suppose that it would rather spend million on the Suida-Manning Collection for the Blanton Art Museum than restore damaged buildings or give pay raises to underpaid staff members.
The money that inept administrators handle is nothing more than Monopoly money, but the bank can never go bankrupt due to the overcapacity student body that apparently has no problem paying another 0-plus per semester. Well, the upper-class members of it anyway.
Austin Van Zant French junior
UT's corporate interests
Longhorns will be happy to know that our very own Board of Regents hasn't been sitting around idly in this storm of corporate scandals. As of May 2002, UTIMCO (UT Investment Management Corporation), a private company controlled by the regents that invests UT's billion endowment, had holdings in the following corrupt companies:
1) 100,000 shares in Enron
2) 3,300 shares in WorldCom
3) 9,155,400 shares in Tyco Inter-national and subsidiaries
Interesting to note that UT President Larry Faulkner had 500-odd shares in Enron. Regent Antonio "Tony" Sanchez had 1,000 shares in Tyco. Regent Charles Miller had 100 to 500 shares in Tyco. Regent Judith Craven had 200 shares in Enron. And this is only the surface account. Conflict of interest?
Absolutely. In 2001, UTIMCO lost million in a fruit-importing company that went bankrupt. It was later determined that the fruit company's investors had personal and financial ties to Utimco officials. Another report found that at one point, a third of Utimco's .7 billion in private investments was tied up in ventures run by friends of UTIMCO officials. Last year the regents lost us around billion. How much did they lose this year putting our money in high-flying companies that aren't worth the paper their junk stock is printed on?
Forrest Wilder English/philosophy senior
Look for alternatives
There have been several different articles addressing several different points of view concerning the infrastructure fee, but the fact is that while education is one of the most important pillars of a modern society, there is a trend moving away from affordable education, which is unfortunate, to say the least. It is irrelevant whether it is the fault of the administration for not seeking alternative funding, the Legislature for not providing sufficient funding or any group of students. The fee was passed, and now many students may have to face the ugly question of whether or not they can afford a superior education.
But this University belongs to the students. It exists for the students, and would have no reason to function without them. The administration works for us, not the other way around, and just like any employer-employee relationship, nothing is going to get done unless we ask for it. It's easy to be apathetic, and it's easy to feel like nothing can be done. But we're the only ones who can force the administration to change their decision, and it will never happen if students don't demand that education in Texas is affordable and of the highest possible quality. I don't accept the administration's statement that there is no other way to address the University's needs. There are other ways, and we owe ourselves to ask the administration to find them.
Molly Rogers, English senior