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Photo Credit: Mariana Munoz | Daily Texan Staff

After a group of Student Government representatives sought his removal, Chris Jordan, SG chief of staff, will be monitored by assembly members for compliance with SG policy and behavior.

At the SG meeting Tuesday, Jessica Sherman, external affairs committee chair, announced that there would be a new code of conduct and expectations implemented as a zero-tolerance policy to address the responsibilities and behavior of an executive member. 

The announcement came after members of the assembly attempted to remove Jordan from office. A draft of a document, titled “In Support of Chris Jordan’s Removal From Office,” called for his removal, listing reasons behind the assembly’s decision. According to Cameron Crane, College of Natural Sciences representative, the anonymously written document was supported by over 20 assembly members and was intended for internal sharing. Currently, no formal document is required to remove an individual from an appointment.

According to Crane, who said he did not contribute to the document, assembly members had been sharing and contributing to it over the past week. 

The document outlines claims of Jordan’s alleged misconduct, which include Jordan’s supposed failure to release interview notes for external and internal positions in April. The document claims his actions were intentional and that he was aware of the rules requiring the notes to be released. 

According to the document, Jordan has also “exhibited patterns of bullying and physical aggression.” In addition, it stated Jordan failed to communicate with his agency directors and other UT-related entities, claiming he did not file impact reports and poorly handled a proposed Austin City Council debate.

“I don’t think that he has been doing the duties outlined for his position,” Austin Ferguson, College of Fine Arts representative, said in an email. “His lack of transparency and initiative in ensuring that communication is upheld has been the thing that I have picked up on the most. This, in turn, has created some tension between the various branches.”

Jordan’s biggest concern, he said, is the behavioral accusations made against him, including a claim that he shoved Sergio Cavazos, College of Liberal Arts representative, at last week’s meeting. As a result, he notified the Office of the Dean of Students about the document.

“I want to feel safe and feel that I have the opportunity to defend myself because some of this is constructive criticism, and I’d be happy to sit down and talk about it, and we can go down the list, but some of it is just not true,” Jordan said.  

Members of the executive board and the assembly discussed the accusations with Jordan before Tuesday’s SG meeting. Crane — who was present at the meeting, along with Cavazos and Tanner Long, also a College of Liberal Arts representative — said the group decided to implement the code of conduct announced at the meeting once Jordan left. Crane said this compromise would best represent the assembly’s concerns and suggestions as a whole.

According to the assembly board, a group of six SG representatives that speak for the assembly — Braydon Jones, Melysa Barth, Jamie Nalley, Sherman, Cavazos, Chandler Foster and Shannon Geison — communication has been their biggest problem with Jordan this year.

“For the most part, the legislative branch has no knowledge of what agencies are doing internally and externally,” the board said in an email sent by Geison. “[Jordan] can absolutely fix it by apologizing and sharing how he plans to move forward.”

SG President Kori Rady said he stopped Jordan’s removal prior to Tuesday’s meeting in favor of the compromise announced at the meeting. Rady would like to see this code applied to other SG members, not just Jordan.

“I’m the leader of the organization,” Rady said. “And when I see that there is misinformation [and] miscommunication, it is my job to connect the different parties who are not aligned and [make] sure they are on the same page.”

Jordan said he walked into Tuesday’s meeting thinking he was going to be impeached after seeing the document. Although impeachment and removal from office are two different processes, Jordan said they send the same message. 

“What it is is that they don’t have faith in me to do my job and are removing me from my job,” Jordan said. 

Individuals who remember Barbara Jordan recall her relentless commitment to bringing to light the differing conditions for Americans throughout her lifetime. 

The Policy Organization for Women hosted the first of several events for Barbara Jordan Week on Monday afternoon at Sid Richardson Hall. The event featured Deann Friedholm, director of Consumer Union’s health reform campaign, and Max Sherman, former member of the Texas Senate. 

Jordan became the first black congresswoman elected in the Deep South and the first black woman to win a seat in the Texas Legislature. She also served as a faculty member at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs.

Friedholm said seeing Jordan speak at the Watergate hearing in 1974, just two years after being a freshman member of the House Judiciary Committee, left an impact on every member of the committee.

“When she walked out onto that stage, the ovation lasted four or five minutes,” Friedholm said. “I had just not seen adulation like that. She had much to be proud of and was not afraid to show it.”

Jordan’s Watergate pronouncement was important because at that time, there was the question of whether it was simply partisan politics. Sherman said Jordan explained to the country why it really was a constitutional crisis, and it was the moment that made her a national figure.

“She could play it big and she could play it small,” Sherman said. “She was criticized by many African-American groups because she did play with the guys and made it known that she seemed to have been forgotten by our founding fathers in the writing of the constitution.”

Friedholm said she met Jordan in the hallway of the LBJ School and was asked to be her teaching assistant by the dean.

“She was extremely serious about teaching,” Friedholm said. “Knowing how important of a person she was and how famous she was, I think people might have been surprised at how worried she was about being a good teacher. Together we put together the first syllabus for the liberal ethics class.”

Jordan is the first African American to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery. Sherman said her tombstone today says the word “teacher” and it is what she wanted to be remembered as.

“When she was very close to passing away, she asked me two favors,” Sherman said. “One was to make sure that they didn’t cancel her liberal ethics class after she was gone and the second was to bury her on the highest hill in the Texas State Cemetery next to Stephen F. Austin — and I made darn sure it happened.”

Texas Gospel Fellowship performs a dance routine at the Barbara Jordan statue rededication in the FAC Tuesday evening. The ceremony was the statue’s first rededication since its erection five years ago. 

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Afrikan-American Affairs, a UT student organization, hosted a rededication ceremony for the statue of former Congresswoman and UT faculty member Barbara Jordan.

The evening not only marked the rededication of Jordan’s statue, but also the centennial of the sorority’s founding. Jordan pledged to Delta Sigma Theta as an undergraduate at Texas Southern University.

Jordan’s memorial, located at the intersection of 24th Street and Whitis Avenue, is the only statue of a woman on the UT campus. The rededication was the statue’s first since its erection five years ago. Although the ceremony was originally scheduled to take place in front of the outdoor statue, the event was moved into the Flawn Academic Center because of rain.

Jordan was the first black woman elected to the Texas Senate and first black woman from the South to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. She delivered the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention.

The rededication program featured several prominent speakers, such as President William Powers Jr., Student Body President Thor Lund, state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, and Gregory Vincent, vice president for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

Each of the speakers lauded Jordan’s leadership ability and eloquence while calling for a renewal of her vision of equality and justice.

“Barbara Jordan would want us to rededicate ourselves to the work she did,” Powers said. “We must continue to fight for equality for all through higher education.” 

In addition to speeches, performances by the Innervisions Gospel Choir and the Texas Gospel Fellowship commemorated Jordan’s life and legacy. 

Alexius Thomas, president of Delta Sigma Theta’s Epsilon Beta chapter, announced the winner of a scholarship from the Barbara Jordan Freedom Foundation. Thomas said the sorority remains committed to Jordan’s mission.

“All of our programs focus on education and political issues, which is what Barbara Jordan would want,” Thomas said. 

In this Saturday photo, a Syrian elder sits on a hospital trolley suffering partial loss of memory after was shot in the head by a sniper while walking on a street in Bustan Al-Pasha, Aleppo, Syria.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

BEIRUT — Syria’s air force fired missiles and dropped barrel bombs on rebel strongholds while opposition fighters attacked regime positions Sunday, flouting a U.N.-backed cease-fire that was supposed to quiet fighting over a long holiday weekend but never took hold.

The failure to push through a truce so limited in its ambitions — just four days — has been a sobering reflection of the international community’s inability to ease 19 months of bloodshed in Syria. It also suggests that the stalemated civil war will drag on, threatening to draw in Syria’s neighbors in this highly combustible region such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

“This conflict has now taken a dynamic of its own which should be worrying to everyone,” said Salman Shaikh, director of the Brookings Doha Center think tank.

The U.N. tried to broker a halt to fighting over the four-day Eid al-Adha Muslim feast that began Friday, one of the holiest times of the Islamic calendar. But the truce was violated almost immediately after it was supposed to take effect, the same fate other cease-fires in Syria have met.

Activists said at least 110 people were killed Sunday, a toll similar to previous daily casualty tolls. They include 16 who died in an airstrike on the village of al-Barra in northern Syria’s mountainous Jabal al-Zawiya region.

The Observatory also reported a car bomb that exploded in a residential area in the Damascus neighborhood of Barzeh and wounded 15 people, but the target was not immediately clear.

Though Syria’s death toll has topped 35,000, the bloodiest and most protracted crisis of the Arab Spring, the West has been wary of intervening. There is concern about sparking a wider conflagration because Syria borders Israel and is allied with Iran and the powerful Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

There are already increasing incidents of the civil war spilling across borders.

Many in Lebanon blame Syria and Hezbollah for the Oct. 19 car bomb that killed the country’s intelligence chief. The assassination stirred up sectarian tensions in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s two largest political coalitions have lined up on opposite sides of Syria’s civil war. Hezbollah and its partners who dominate the government have stood by Assad’s regime, while the Sunni-led opposition backs the rebels seeking to topple the Syrian government. Assad and many in his inner circle are Alawites — an offshoot of Shiite Islam and a minority in Syria — while the rebels come mostly from the country’s Sunni majority.

Iraqi Shiites also increasingly fear a spillover from Syria. Iraqi authorities on Sunday forced an Iranian cargo plane heading to Syria to land for inspection in Baghdad to ensure it was not carrying weapons, the second such forced landing this month. The move appeared aimed at easing U.S. concerns that Iraq has become a route for shipments of Iranian military supplies that could help Assad battle rebels.

In Jordan, concern over stability was underlined last month, when its U.S., British and French allies quickly dispatched their military experts to help Jordanian commandos devise plans to shield the population in case of a chemical attack from neighboring Syria.

Turkey’s support for the Syrian rebel movement is another point of tension, and Turkey has reinforced its border and fired into Syria on several occasions recently in response to shells that have landed from Syria inside Turkish territory.

The U.S. administration says it remains opposed to military action in Syria and politicians have been preoccupied this year with the presidential election, now a few weeks away. On Sunday, Syrian warplanes struck the eastern Damascus suburbs of Arbeen, Harasta and Zamalka to try to drive out rebels, according to activists in those areas and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which compiles information from activists in Syria.

In Douma, another Damascus suburb, rebels wrested three positions from regime forces, including an unfinished high-rise building that had been used by regime snipers, according to the Observatory and Mohammed Saeed, a local activist.

Fighting was also reported near Maaret al-Numan, a strategic town along the Aleppo-Damascus highway that rebels seized earlier this month. Opposition fighters including the al-Qaida-inspired Jabhat al-Nusra, have also besieged a nearby military base and repeatedly attacked government supply convoys heading there. The Observatory said the Syrian air force fired missiles and dropped barrel bombs — makeshift weapons made of explosives stuffed into barrels — on villages near the base.

The cease-fire was seen as a long shot from the outset. International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi failed to get firm commitments from all combatants, and no mechanism to monitor violations was put in place.
Jabhat al-Nusra rejected the truce outright. In a video posted this week, the leader of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahri, urged Muslims everywhere to support Syria’s uprising.

“It’s not just about the Syria military and the army defectors that form the backbone of the Free Syrian Army rebel group anymore,” said Hassan Abdul-Azim, a Damascus-based opposition leader. He said there were so many foreign fighters and external actors now involved in the Syrian civil war that only an agreement among the various international and regional powers could put an end to the fighting.

“The truce was merely an attempt by Brahimi to try and temporarily ease the people’s suffering in the lost time until the U.S. elections, in the hope that the international community can then get its act together and agree on a diplomatic solution for Syria,” he told The Associated Press.

But with the unraveling of the cease-fire, it’s unclear what the international community can do next.

Assad allies Russia and China have shielded his regime against harsher U.N. Security Council sanctions, while the rebels’ foreign backers including neighboring Turkey have shied away from military intervention. Iran, which is embroiled in its own diplomatic standoff with the West over its suspect nuclear program, is also a staunch supporter of Assad’s regime.

The U.S., meanwhile, is averse to sending strategic weapons to help the rebels break the battlefield stalemate, fearing they will fall into the hands of militant Islamists, who are increasingly active in rebel ranks.
“There has been a lack of desire to take the tough decisions,” said Shaikh.

“In Washington, they’ve only been focused on the narrow political goal of their own elections, trying to convince a war-wary public inside the U.S. that we are actually disengaging from the conflicts of the Middle East,” he said.

The truce was called as the two sides were battling over strategic targets in a largely deadlocked civil war. They include a military base near a main north-south highway, the main supply route to Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, where regime forces and rebels have been fighting house-to-house. It appears each side feared the other could exploit a lull to improve its positions.

Brahimi has not said what would follow a cease-fire. Talks between Assad and the Syrian opposition on a peaceful transition are blocked, since the Syrian leader’s opponents say they will not negotiate unless Assad resigns, something he has always refused to do.

In April, Brahimi’s predecessor as Syria mediator, former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, tried to launch a more comprehensive plan — an open-ended cease-fire to be enforced by hundreds of U.N. monitors, followed by talks on a political transition. Annan’s plan failed to gain traction, and after an initial decrease in violence, his proposed cease-fire collapsed.

On Sunday, amateur videos posted online showed warplanes flying over the eastern suburbs of Damascus. One video showed two huge clouds of smoke rising from what was said to be Arbeen, and the sound of an airplane could be heard in the background. It was not clear if the video showed the aftermath of shelling or an airstrike.

Another video showed destruction inside the Sheikh Moussa mosque in Harasta. Windows and doors were blown out, glass and debris scattered across the mosque’s floor. The narrator broke down as he was heard saying: “Where are the Muslims? Our mosques are being bombed and no one cares.”

The videos appeared consistent with Associated Press reporting in the area.

The Syrian government has accused the rebels of violating the cease-fire from the start. The state-run news agency SANA said opposition fighters carried out attacks in a number of areas, including in Aleppo and the eastern town of Deir el-Zour

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Jordan’s King Abdullah II paid a rare visit to the West Bank on Monday to show support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as the two moderate leaders try to engage with previously shunned Islamists now on the rise in the region.

Abbas is holding power-sharing talks later this week with Khaled Mashaal, the top leader of the rival Islamic militant group Hamas. The two will try to end a bitter split caused by Hamas’ violent takeover of Gaza in 2007 that left Abbas’ government in control only of the West Bank. Mashaal is also set to pay an official visit to Jordan, his first since the movement was expelled in 1999.

The king’s visit Monday to the West Bank is only his third in 12 years as monarch — and first in more than a decade. It’s seen mainly as an acknowledgment of Abbas as the sole legitimate Palestinian leader and an attempt to forestall any negative fallout from Mashaal’s upcoming Jordan trip.

A rapidly changing regional constellation has forced Abbas and Jordan’s king to reach out to former Islamist foes.

Asked about Mashaal’s upcoming visit, the kingdom’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh insisted that Jordan keeps channels of communication “open with everyone.”

Abbas later praised the king’s visit as a “generous initiative,” in remarks carried by the Palestinian news agency Wafa. On the issue of Jordan-Hamas rapprochement, Abbas said he closely coordinates with the king and supports whatever Abdullah decides to do for the benefit of his country.

Abbas and Abdullah have been among the staunchest proponents of a peace deal with Israel.

However, there’s little chance of reviving Israeli-Palestinian talks. Negotiations broke down three years ago, in part because Abbas does not believe he can reach a deal with Israel’s hardline Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who refuses to halt settlement expansion on occupied lands.

In New York, the U.N.’s Mideast envoy, Robert Serry, warned that the two-state solution concept is threatened by the lack of peace talks. He told the Security Council Monday that “the lack of mutual trust and tensions on the ground” have made the resumption of direct talks difficult, singling out Israeli settlement construction.

Meanwhile, Islamist movements have been gaining ground across the region amid the Arab Spring uprisings, which have brought down pro-Western dictators in Egypt and Tunisia.

Abdullah — whose country signed a peace deal with Israel in 1994 — was not visiting Israel on Monday, and Israeli officials had no comment on his visit to the West Bank.

Abbas is due to meet Mashaal in the Egyptian capital Cairo later this week to try to give a new push to inter-Palestinian power-sharing talks. The two reached a reconciliation agreement in principle earlier this year, but talks stalled over the composition of an interim unity government.

After meeting with Abbas, Mashaal will travel to Jordan for his first official visit since he and other Hamas leaders were expelled more than a decade ago.

Hamas’ parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has gained influence across the region as part of the anti-government protests. Jordan’s own Brotherhood has led pro-democracy demonstrations across the kingdom in recent months.

The LBJ School of Public Affairs will celebrate the 75th birthday of one of its most well-known professors with a weeklong tribute to honor the life and work of Barbara Jordan.

The first black woman to serve in the Texas Legislature, Jordan led a life full of distinction both as a legislator and as an educator at the LBJ school, said Lauren Burton, one of the student organizers. Jordan’s career includes the speech she made during former President Richard Nixon’s impeachment hearings and the keynote address at the 1976 Democratic National Convention.

“She’s an inspirational figure,” said Burton, a public affairs graduate student. “To be able to speak about ethics and integrity during times like Watergate and be a friend, mentor and champion of education — that resonates with people.”

Burton and a group of about 10 students have worked since last summer to make the traditionally daylong celebration of Jordan’s work into a full week. One of the group’s goals this year was to make students feel like they had more participation by involving numerous student organizations in the LBJ school, Burton said.

The students also wanted to make sure they had a community service portion of the week, which they accomplished by creating a fundraiser to purchase Barbara Jordan biographies for the 50 classrooms of Barbara Jordan Elementary School in Austin. The students launched the fundraiser last week and hope to raise $1,000 by the end of the tribute.

Each day of the tribute week will include discussions on topics such as racial inequality, women in public policy, disability policy and juvenile justice.

The keynote speaker for the kick-off luncheon Monday is Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, an LBJ school alumnus who now occupies Jordan’s Senate seat.

“Barbara Jordan had a huge impact on the course of Texas and American history,” Ellis said. “She was a pioneer and a living example of what was possible in America. She worked hard on policies to expand access to the American dream through expanded access to housing, credit, education and the political process.”

Barbara Jordan student fellow Victoria Lippman helped organize one of the panel discussions for Thursday. The award selects students who embody characteristics consistent with Jordan’s legacy.

“I felt so proud to become a Fellow because I’ve always looked up to her, and she has played a big role in my life,” Lippman said. “When I was younger, I remember her speaking and marveling at how eloquent she was and how her voice commanded so much attention. She embodies the ideals of equality and ethics in policy.”