To begin, readers should know that there is an upcoming Student Government referendum next week on September 22nd. The referendum, organized by former representative Jordan Cope, will bar Student Government from passing legislation that doesn’t affect students on campus in an effort to stop representatives from using Student Government as a means to score political points through passing political legislation. If this referendum passes, students in Student Government would be barred from such actions, which would allow more effort to be put towards actual student issues. If you are currently a student at the University of Texas at Austin, be sure to vote on this referendum.
On Tuesday, The University of Texas at Austin’s Student Government met for their weekly assembly meeting. The attendance for this meeting was rather low this week and the meeting itself was shorter than normal, but here is a summary of everything that was discussed and future plans for Student Government here at UT Austin.
The first thing that was discussed was Executive appointments which basically were introductions by various office holders such as the Longhorn Athletics Agency Chair, the Women’s Resource Agency Chair, and the Co-Director for the Longhorn Service Association. After these initial introductions, representatives went into a discussion about various initiatives that were up for debate. The first legislative item discussed was “Amending the Code of Assembly Rules and Procedures.” This item was created by the Rules and Regulations Committee to make the Codes and Constitution more reader-friendly and removes “assembly declarations” from the constitution given that they were never used by Student Government.
The second piece of legislation taken up before the assembly was ‘In Support of UT Producing Energy from Renewable Resources.’ After meeting with faculty, students, staff, and experts, the creators of this initiative called for UT to develop a 10-year carbon neutrality plan which calls for the reduction of emissions and the creation of new infrastructure for energy production such as solar panels. This initiative doesn’t take any stances on how this project will be financed but does call for an exploratory committee to determine where funding can be allocated from and whether or not a carbon neutrality plan (an idea taken up by other universities) is possible for UT Austin. The creator of the bill also stated that due to COVID-19, sustainability projects had been put on the back burner, so this initiative would serve as a fresh restart for sustainability on campus. During the question and answer segment of the debate, the topic of hydrogen energy research was brought up, where it was discussed that potentially UT could become a leader in hydrogen blending technology after its partnership with the Department of Energy.
Lastly, the assembly meeting was finished out with updates from the Executive Board. The Advocacy Director stated that “menstrual equity” was waiting on confirmation from vendors, while the Financial Director stated that cowboy boots had sold out at the co-op and $20,000 had been allocated to student organizations across campus. The Chief of Staff is also working on securing vendors for the Menstrual Equity Project and there will be a blood drive with the Blood Brigade on October 13th. The Vice President stated that the vaccination incentive program is in full swing and students have already received rewards and that MHART, a mental health response program, is beginning its rollout, and finally, the President talked about the upcoming freshman weekend and the partnership between the UT Co-op and the Student Entrepreneurship Empowerment program which are partnering to select three students to aid the Coop with business initiatives. Government Affairs has begun to work on a Redistricting Resolution to call for fair and transparent redistricting at the upcoming Texas Legislature Special Session by working with state legislatures at the Capitol to specify the resolution’s demands. Lastly, the COVID Committee announced that they will be strongly recommending masks for meetings (they discussed openly that they didn’t want to use the word “mandate”) and want members to test regularly every week.