• Humanities have important place on campus, in society

    Editor's Note: This article has been updated since its original posting.

    U.S. News & World Report recently released data that tracks enrollment in different disciplines for the graduate schools it ranks. Among those disciplines, engineering is the fastest-growing field, having increased its enrollment by 38 percent since 2005. Law, on the other hand, has seen declining enrollments because of tuition increases and lower salaries after graduation.

    At UT, we see similar trends. The total enrollment in the Cockrell School of Engineering increased by 6.5 percent over the last 10 years. What's worth noting is that the enrollment in the computer science program, which falls under the College of Natural Sciences, increased more dramatically, by 28 percent. By contrast, enrollment in the Law School has decreased over 23 percent, and enrollment in the College of Liberal Arts has decreased by 25 percent.

    It seems reasonable and mature that students are concerned about how to make a living after graduation. As the birthplace of Dell, Austin attracts many tech geeks and engineers. Thousands of people attend “Startup Crawl” and other similar events every year, where companies introduce their technologies. But that does not necessarily mean the city and the nation will be better off with more science majors.  

    A law degree, for example, can provide students with highly competitive skills such as critical thinking and strong writing. To be able to research, analyze and use principles to solve problems is key to success.  

    The same goes for the liberal arts. In a recently published interview with the Texan, Dean Randy Diehl of the College of Liberal Arts acknowledged that his field may not focus on bringing technical skills to the table, but rather on understanding enough history and culture to know why we are here as a society.  

    This also applies to whether students should spend time studying theory or more practical applications. Today, many students are so concerned about skill sets that they often forget the concepts behind them.  

    Brad Love, an associate professor in the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations said he would rather learn the principle of a simple design than a piece of fancy software. The way we write, draw and manufacture things is always going to change with constant developments in technology; however, by making sure that we are obtaining skills and knowledge that are never obsolete, we will be able to construct the work we do. 

    The reduction of COLA’s cohort sizes and the total number of graduate students since 2009 is a stark reminder that we don’t want to see area of studies such as philosophy, literature, art history and languages go away since cultured life depends on it. 

    Liu is an associate editor.

  • The Drag is in desperate need of an update

    The Guadalupe Corridor Transportation Project seeks to clean up and redesign Guadalupe Street for transportation. The Austin Transportation Department hopes to hear more from UT students about suggestions for improvements throughout the project.
    The Guadalupe Corridor Transportation Project seeks to clean up and redesign Guadalupe Street for transportation. The Austin Transportation Department hopes to hear more from UT students about suggestions for improvements throughout the project.

    The Drag needs a makeover. Badly. Whether it’s the smell of urine that pervades the abandoned storefronts between 24th and 25th or the trash lying around trash cans up and down the sidewalk, one would have to be blind to not think so.

    The Austin Transportation Department is currently seeking feedback on how to improve the Drag and the University's City Relations Agency along with the new My Guadalupe student organization are encouraging students to provide their ideas to the city. Since the area is the dividing line between campus and the largely student-inhabited West Campus, the city should definitely focus on listening to and complying with input from students.

    Urban Outfitters recently purchased the leases of 5 stores on the Drag — some with shattered windows, graffiti and homeless people sleeping in their entryways. Some have complained this expansion will diminish the "weirdness" of Austin by means of replacing Manjus and Mellow Mushroom. The fact is that the Drag is and has been pretty corporate for awhile, and any businesses willing to clean up the trashed storefronts are doing the University community a service.

    Bounds is an associate editor.

  • Cruz should not be treated lightly as candidate

    U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz addresses delegates at the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth on Friday. Cruz finished first in the party's biennial presidential straw poll. (AP Photo/Rex C. Curry)
    U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz addresses delegates at the Texas GOP Convention in Fort Worth on Friday. Cruz finished first in the party's biennial presidential straw poll. (AP Photo/Rex C. Curry)

    On Monday, after much fanfare, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced his candidacy for President of the United States. In doing so, he became the first major candidate — Democrat or Republican — to formally throw his hat into the ring, though numerous others have already all-but-declared.

    Cruz, a darling of the Tea Party, launched his presidential campaign at Liberty University, the evangelical religious-right affiliated college in Lynchburg, Virginia founded by the late Jerry Falwell. In doing so, he pushed for a number of increasingly extreme right-wing fantasies, such as a flat tax and no assistance for struggling students. He was incessantly (and, in my opinion, rightfully) mocked across the board by media pundits for such asinine displays, but the outlets have appeared to underestimate Cruz's prowess as a political candidate.

    In the lead-up to the 2012 senatorial election, Cruz was underestimated even more. He began the election polling in the single-digits against the odds-on favorite in the Republican primary (which is tantamount to election), then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. However, Cruz is such an articulate and persuasive force on the campaign trail that he was able to sweep the endorsements of important Tea Party groups, as well as other conservative causes. Partially, this is due to Cruz's inimitable style of casually and confidentially lying on little stuff and big stuff alike. 

    Obviously, Cruz pulled off an improbable upset and was elected to the Senate in 2012. There is no reason to not think he can replicate this in the 2016 Republican primary. Much like the activist Left fell in love with Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, at points idolizing him as infallible in near hero-worship, the Right and the Tea Party have done the exact same thing with Ted Cruz. He is their "man on the white horse" who will lead them to the promised land, so to speak.  

    Furthermore, similar to how many on the left were unable to comprehend or recognize Obama's inevitable return to the reasonable center following the Democratic primary, it would make sense that the right would have similar cognitive dissonance over Cruz's inevitable return to the reasonable center, should he win the primary. For these reasons, Cruz should be treated as a contender-- if not a front-runner -- to not only win the Republican primaries, but the general election, as the 45th President of the United States.

    Horwitz is the senior associate editor.

  • Spring Break in Austin

  • What our leaders need from us is just as important as what we need from them

    The Founding Fathers didn’t expect our leaders to be “enlightened statesmen.” Inspired, but not enlightened. They expected humans. Flawed, inspired, self-interested humans. That’s why they drew these leaders into a system of checks, balances and accountability.

    In his most recent column, Jeremi Suri reflects on leaders’ ever-evolving efforts to improve their communities. This, however, is not the sole responsibility of leaders. As an electorate, we want our leaders to be dynamic and enchanting. The Kennedy-Nixon debates captured our inclinations as voters candidly. We prefer the inexperienced, telegenic senator to the droning, sweaty incumbent. Our leaders are trustee-delegate hybrids. Ideally, they represent the public interest and act in our best interest when we’re not paying attention. It’s a leader-follower symbiosis. We want them to dance for us, and in return, we follow them.

    Suri describes what we need in leaders, but what our leaders need from us is equally important. They need our votes. They need our criticism. They need us to keep them accountable.

    The “leadership selection season” Suri refers to revitalizes democracy in the electoral conscience. New candidates enter the ring with new perspectives, energizing the people. Every four years, chunks of the nation head to the polls. The 2008 presidential election set records for voter turnout, particularly among the “Facebook generation.” But this election season, fervor is ephemeral. This enthusiasm didn’t carry over to the 2010 midterm elections — student and adult turnout actually declined slightly from previous years. People lose interest after the winner is named. “New times” and “fresh ideas” are a familiar story.

    Without consistent public participation, our leaders lose the imperative of accountability. Recently re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently disgruntled the White House with his unreliable leadership — backtracking on diplomatic commitments the day before Israeli elections and embracing them again after his victory. Too often, leaders sacrifice the “ethic of responsibility” in favor of the “ethic of ultimate ends” – these ends being self-interested or popular. Those following these leaders keep them accountable for compromises, adaptations and sacrifices. The "ethic of leadership" is maintained by those who follow.

    Shah is a business and government sophomore from Temple.

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