UT Watch response to Stacy Gurevitz's Firing Line
SG didn't blow it
Nick Schwellenbach's "SG Blew It" negates to mention the problems of timing that accompany AR 1, which calls for an open forum to be held in September about Los Alamos. The lab has not yet even released a Request for Proposal (RFP), which will include information that is vital to the University of Texas' decision on whether bidding on the lab is appropriate for our university. According to Dr. Sorber, a UT system official who spoke during the guest portion of the meeting, the University probably won't even discuss bidding on Los Alamos until December, after they have had time to decipher the 400-page document. It would serve no purpose to pass a resolution that calls for a forum, when we don't even know when, or if, they will consider bidding on the lab.
UT Watch: Actually, Nick didn't "negate" to mention timing in his 5/6 firing line. Here's what he said: "Currently the University of California System has been holding forums at UC campuses on this very issue [potential Los Alamos bid]. I don't think it would have been jumping the gun to call for a forum at UT-Austin in the fall." The UC System is in the exact same place as UT at this time - they are considering a bid, but unlike us, they are soliciting opinion from the University community on whether or not ít would be a good idea to try and keep Los Alamos. Why shouldn't all UT community members contribute to this debate at every step of the way? After all, it's students and faculty that will be allegedly involved with Los Alamos. Shouldn't our input be at least as important as administrators'? We agree that details in the RFP will be important to UT's decision, but Ms. Gurevitz is wrong in stating that "the University probably won't even discuss bidding on Los Alamos until December." Draft portions of the RFP will be released by the DOE over the summer. As Dr. Sorber said, the fall - especially the month of October - will be a critical time in the process. The final RFP will be released in December at which time interested parties will have 60 days to send in their bid proposals.
Furthermore, the biasness of the resolution calling for the forum was apparent and harsh. Why would anyone want to participate in a forum sponsored by such a biased resolution?
UT Watch: "Biasness" is a new word to me, but I see what Ms. Gurevitz is getting at: UT Watch actually has an opinion! We've never hidden our stance on Los Alamos or any other issue. We are a watchdog group on a campus that often lacks meaningful debate on important topics, so part of our mission is to analyze and criticize issues that otherwise may go unexamined. As we have stated time and time again, our facts have all been vetted and we stand by them. If Ms. Gurevitz can explain how any resolution passed by SG escapes "biasness" I would like to know. Wasn't the resolution in favor of the shuttle workers biased? Biased in favor of the shuttle workers? Biased against those - like UT President Larry Faulkner - who think UT should stay out of negotiations between workers and ATC/Vancom? Isn't AB 3 - a resolution supporting high density, affordable, student oriented housing in close proximity to the University of Texas campus - biased against many students who live in West Campus and were vocally opposed to both the development plan and SG's bill?
Ms. Gurevitz wonders aloud why anyone would want to "participate in a forum sponsosred by such biased resolution." Our answer: because that's what government does! A deliberative, representative body must debate contentious, controversial issues. If we all agreed on everything, then we wouldn't need government to help resolve our differences.
Students opposing UT Watch's resistance to bidding were at the session to draft the resolution, watching their input ignored and ideas shot down.
UT Watch: This is ludicrous. I assume Ms. Gurevitz is talking about the 5/1 policy forum. If my memory serves me, we brought in a heavily modified (read: watered-down) bill that, instead of the original draft which called for SG to oppose the bid outright, simply listed concerns and called for an open forum. From this starting point, we went through a several hour process with the SG members present. We conceded almost every change requested by SG members even when we felt like the bill was being compromised. We worked with SG members even though they could provide no evidence to counter our facts. Ms. Gurevitz has things exactly backwards. It was UT Watch that had input ignored and ideas shot down.
Being a proactive assembly is very different from getting far ahead of ourselves. Tabling a motion is an effective democratic tool which should in no way show that this assembly is lazy, ignorant or acting as proxies of the administration - we were merely acting for the interest of our constituents.
UT Watch: At Tuesday's meeting, many SG reps tried to stifle any debate, moving to table the resolution from the second it was brought up. No attempt was made to compromise even though we were open to further changes to our bill. Instead, we were insulted and berated for being "political." If this year's SG Assembly is what democracy is all about, then you can color me disappointed.
I appreciate the work that various students outside of the assembly put into this resolution, and I can assure them that their hard work will not go to waste.
UT Watch: No, I don't think you do appreciate what we've done. SG has put zero into this issue and it's becoming more and more apparent than many SG reps have no idea what they're talking about and are even willing to knowingly publish false information.
If the resolution had been debated and amended Tuesday night, I believe that it would have been torn up, changed, stricken and amended until it included no remarks for or against bidding and no set date for a forum. Mr. Schwellenbach should know that SG will encourage UT Watch, all UT students, faculty and staff to express their concerns and support for this issue in every way that we can.
UT Watch: We'll believe it when we see it.
SG natural sciences rep.