University of Texas

Photo Credit: Ralph Barrera

The president of UT has considerably more power to determine the outcome of student sexual misconduct cases than presidents at other universities. At most universities, the president is not involved in the decision making process for these cases. This power is currently being contested in a lawsuit, where the plaintiff's attorney says that it's unfair for the president to be able to reverse decisions like this. 

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Students watch as fireworks are set off in honor of the Class of 2015 in front of the Main Building on Sunday evening.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

After University administration canceled the 132nd University-wide commencement Saturday because of weather and safety concerns, graduates took to social media and planned their own celebration.

Radio-television-film graduate Marshall Kistner said he started the Facebook event for the student-run commencement after he and many others were disappointed with the University's cancellation. Kistner said he posted on the Class of 2015 Facebook page Saturday night to see whether anyone wanted to go watch the fireworks before they were canceled, and that eventually sparked the unofficial commencement event.  

“Of course, that [the planned fireworks display Saturday] was canceled as well, so someone on my Facebook post said to start a Facebook event,” Kistner said.  “Within 2 hours of posting, there were almost 1,000 people invited, and many said they were attending."

Fireworks still lit the sky 10 p.m. Sunday, as the University planned.

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Kistner said Student Government President Xavier Rotnofsky jumped on board with the event as it was being put together because of their three years together at the Texas Travesty, UT's student-run humor publication.

Communication studies graduate Ignacio Cruz said, since he is the first person in his family to graduate from college, he wanted commencement the way it was suppose to be.  However, Cruz said he was still excited about the unofficial commencement.

“I am so excited to be attending the unofficial commencement tonight,” Cruz said.  “It goes to show our unity as a campus.  Tonight it will be special — it’s a moment I’ve been waiting years for.”

Outgoing SG President Kori Rady gave a shorter version of his speech from the night before, and President William Powers Jr. came on short notice to give his final speech as president at commencement.

“I called President Powers’s spokesperson and told him needed Powers right away,” Rady said.  “To his credit, even though he was at a wedding, Powers came when we needed his help.” 

As Powers spoke, he said this event shows what UT students are all about. 

“I can’t believe the crowd we have tonight and the organization … this is what students at the University of Texas are all about,” Powers said.  “This tenure with you all has been the blessing of my life.  You all are the very best students in America.”

Students also listened to the jazz band, Interrobang, which was called up in the spur of the moment because of a band member’s friend. 

“Early on, a friend of [a band member] in communications asked him if we could perform for the School of Communications,” said Sung June Lee, who plays the trombone in the band.  “It was not until we got here that we realized we would be performing in front of the Tower.”

All the members in the band said this was the largest crowd they performed in front of, and the experience was surreal. 

Kistner said Saturday was heartbreaking for a lot of people, but the Class of 2015 did not need to end their college career like that.

“We managed to turn a negative into a massive positive,” Kistner said.  “The spirit of the Class of 2015 is unmatched, and I’m so proud to be a part of such an incredible group of new alums.”  

As a part of his plan to increase the UT System’s influence and excellence in higher education, System Chancellor William McRaven hired two leaders from within the System to join his staff.

David Daniel, the current president of UT-Dallas and previous candidate for president of UT-Austin, will start in the newly created roles of deputy chancellor and chief operating officer.

“David Daniel possesses skills that are transferable across the system in managing and leading people, operations, new construction and technology,” McRaven said in a statement. “He is a respected voice on the needs and benefits of higher education to the state of Texas, and he has demonstrated that he knows how to propel an institution forward on a magnificent trajectory. Everything he has done as president of UT Dallas prepares him for this new role, and now the entire UT System will be a beneficiary of his leadership.”

Steven Leslie, who held the positions of provost and executive vice president from 2007–2013, will become the System’s executive vice chancellor of academic affairs.

Leslie, also a current pharmacy professor and researcher at UT-Austin, started his time at the University as an assistant professor in 1974. During his six years as executive vice president and provost, Leslie helped to lay the foundation for the Dell Medical School and oversee the financial aid and registrar offices, both while working with the deans of all 20 colleges.

“My top priorities are to work with and support and facilitate the priorities of the University of Texas at Austin … to work with and support the programmatic needs of all of the University of Texas System academic institutions and to build a strong partnership and working relationship between academic affairs and health affairs to have a strong structure for medical schools reporting through academic campuses,” Leslie said.

Leslie said he believes his experience as provost will be helpful while he works to support the initiatives of all the different campuses. Additionally, Leslie said he wants to further explore the possibilities of adding more health programs to other campuses.

“The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley is establishing a medical school, and it has that same structure [as UT-Austin],” Leslie said. “That makes it important to work on establishing new relationships and processes and procedures to support these two medical schools that report through the academic campuses and perhaps think about if there are other campuses that could benefit from the same time.”

Former Texas cornerback Quandre Diggs chases TCU’s quarterback Traevon Boykin in the team’s battle against the Horned Frogs last Thanksgiving. Diggs and the Longhorns lost the game and finished their season with a 6–7 record.
Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Friday marks the final day of classes for those who are graduating in just a few weeks. Since arriving on the 40 Acres as freshmen in August 2011, the Class of 2015 has seen mixed results for Texas Athletics.

Longhorn Network launched a mere two days after the Class of 2015 began school. The tenures of former football coach Mack Brown and former basketball coach Rick Barnes came to a close. 

Through it all, there were some triumphs but plenty of struggles. Here are some numbers, dates and stats that define the Class of 2015’s time at the University of Texas.

3: The number of Division I national titles. In the summer of 2012, Texas men’s golf defeated Alabama 3–2 to win the program’s first title since 1972. That fall, volleyball won its first national championship since 1988 by defeating the Oregon Ducks. In March, men’s swimming and diving won its first national title since 2010 — its 11th total.

169: Losses by the major three men’s sports. Baseball, football and basketball have amassed 169 combined losses over the past four seasons, the most since the 171 total losses endured by the class of 2001. If the baseball team drops five more games, the Class of 2015 will be the
losingest senior class in school history.

21: Losses by Texas football. The Longhorns gave up 21 losses from 2011–2014, tying it with 2010–2013 and 1988–1991 for the most losses over a four-season span since 1986-1989, when the Longhorns dropped 24 games.

58.33%: Men’s basketball’s winning percentage. Texas has had its lowest win percentage over a four-season span since it only won 58.08 percent of its games from 1995–1999. Texas’ 57 losses over this time were the most the program had recorded in four seasons since the Longhorns dropped 63 games from 1983–1987.

2004: The last time the women’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend until this year. The No. 5-seeded Texas women knocked off No. 4-seeded Cal 73–70 in Berkeley to advance to the Sweet 16, but the Longhorns fell to the eventual champion, No. 1-seeded Connecticut Huskies, 105–54 in the Sweet 16. This was the first time making it that far since 2004.

58.26%: Baseball’s winning percentage. Texas had its lowest winning percentage since winning 57.09 percent of its games from 1998–2001. Barring winning the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Texas baseball will miss the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the Class of 2015’s four seasons
in Austin.

2013: The year softball finished the season ranked No. 3 in the country. The No. 3 ranking in 2013 was Texas’ best final ranking in program history. This also marked the team’s first appearance in the Women’s College World Series since 2006.

4: Big 12 Conference titles for volleyball. The Longhorns went 61–3 in conference play and did not lose more than one conference match in a season.

0: The number of double-digit win seasons by football, single-digit loss seasons by men’s basketball or 50 plus-win seasons by baseball. The last University of Texas class to witness none of the three feats while enrolled in school was the class of 1969.

In an interview with The Daily Texan, Gregory Fenves, executive vice president and provost, discussed the goals he will have for the University when he takes office as president in June.
Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

As President William Powers Jr. prepares to step down, UT’s next president, Gregory Fenves, said his goals for the University center around addressing persistent issues, such as increasing access to research opportunities and engaging in more productive dialogue with the UT System Board of Regents.

In an interview with The Daily Texan, Fenves, executive vice president and provost, also said he hopes to explore issues of accessbility and affordability, closely echoing his predecessor.

Fenves said his initial goal will be to manage the cost of education, an issue Powers, UT System Chancellor William McRaven and previous chancellors and regents have acknowledged. 

“I think the most important issue that’s facing the University is, ‘How do we provide high quality education at a reasonable cost?’” Fenves said.

In an interview with The Daily Texan in April, Powers said the solution to affordability is not clear-cut. He said he was sure  that future administrations would continue to grapple with the issue.

“There’s no single bullet,” Powers said. “We just always keep trying [to operate the University] as efficiently and as high quality as you can.”

Fenves said one of his educational goals is to connect undergraduate and graduate students to campus research opportunities. 

“What I feel is the most important theme for education at the University of Texas is how we link our undergraduate education mission with our research mission,” Fenves said.

Fenves said his previous experiences as dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering and as provost have helped him form relationships with the regents and UT administrators.

“I can work with almost anybody, and I’ve had good working relationships with members of the board,” Fenves said. “In my current role as provost, and my previous role as dean, I’ve had a lot of interaction with them through the presidential search process and the selection process.”

One challenge preparing for the presidency poses is that issues and opportunities for change often remain unseen until one actually takes the position, according to former UT President Larry Faulkner.

“I don’t think any president should come in with a firm idea of what all [his or her] goals are,” Faulkner said. “I don’t think that you know enough until you’re in the job, what is really ripe, what are the best opportunities for the institution, and in fact, opportunities will appear while you’re serving.”

Faulkner said he would advise Fenves to take steps to learn more about the University but said Fenves is positioned differently than he was when he first came into the job.

“When I came in, I didn’t know the people, [and] I didn’t know the intricate issues facing the institution, and I had to learn about those,” Faulkner said. “Greg Fenves has been here for years now, and so he is more prepared on that scene than I was.”

Working with the state Legislature night pore a greater challenge for Fenves when he becomes president, Faulkner said.

“What I don’t think [Fenves] has had is an opportunity to talk to people in the state,” Faulkner said. “Even though Greg Fenves would have gotten some of that activity while he was dean and provost, it’s nothing like being president.”

Fenves said he has gained valuable experience working with the Legislature in previous roles at UT.

“I have considerable experience working with the Legislature,” Fenves said. “I’ve been working with the Legislature since soon after I joined the University of Texas. I think I’ve developed great relationships with many members. I understand the legislative process.”

Public health professor Alfred McAlister was one of two professors who spoke at the Students Against Guns on Campus rally in the West Mall on Tuesday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

Students Against Guns on Campus hosted a rally in the West Mall on Tuesday opposing House Bill 937, which, if passed, would allow guns in classrooms of public universities.

The rally aimed to show Texas legislators that the majority of students believe the bill would make campuses more dangerous, according to Jordan Pahl, Middle Eastern studies senior and a founding member of the anti-campus carry organization.

“Guns really alter the atmosphere of a university,” Pahl said. “Our University is already a safe place. The idea that students need their guns on campus to keep them safe is not [right] and … would not change [campuses] for the better.”

The bill is currently being considered in the Texas House. If passed, HB 937 would allow licensed handgun carriers to carry concealed weapons into campus buildings. Certain facilities, such as hospitals, pre-schools, grade schools and sports events, would be exempt.

Pahl said anti-campus carry representatives oppose the bill because of stressed students, drug and alcohol abuse, accidental shootings and the difficulty police officers may have identifying criminals in shooting situations.

Only a few dozen people attended the rally, which anti-campus carry SG President Xavier Rotnofsky and Vice President Rohit Mandalapu and multiple faculty members backed.

Public health professor Alfred McAlister said the majority of UT professors, administration and UTPD officers are also not in favor of campus carry. 

“Evidence proves the more guns that are out there, the more people get shot,” McAlister said. “How dare the legislature [be in the process of passing] a law that the University of Texas can’t opt out of. We should be furious. I am.” 

Chase Jennings, the senior advisor for Texas’ chapter of Students for Concealed Carry, a national organization in favor of campus carry, said students at public universities such as UT should also see the benefits campus carry could bring to universities.

Jennings said campus carry is more than just a way to protect against mass shootings.

“Unfortunately, police officers cannot be everywhere at all times,” Jennings said. “A lot of situations where [campus carry would work] deal with people protecting themselves when they are alone and are walking around campuses vulnerable to attackers. We have seen time after time where students get raped on campus and get attacked. People have the right to protect themselves.”

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The University will conduct a study about Asian-American quality of life in Austin funded by the Austin City Council. 

On Thursday, the Council approved to pay the University $139,758 for a one-year period of research. The study will focus on five major Asian-American subgroups in the Austin area: Filipino, Chinese, Korean, Indian and Vietnamese.

The fast-growing population of Asian-Americans in Austin — an increase from 3.3 percent of the population in 1990 to almost 5 percent in 2000 and around 6.5 percent today — inspired the study.

Social work associate professor Yuri Jang, the study’s principal investigator, said Asian-Americans have not historically been the focus of research to help identify community needs.

“Asian-Americans [are] a growing population that is underserved and understudied,” Jang said. “This is a unique opportunity to explore unexplored populations because the Asian-American voice is usually unheard.”

The study will primarily focus on Asian-American Austinites ages 18–70 and involve a compiled database of resources that could benefit Asian-Americans in the city. The goal is to have data for public policy recommendations in the future, as well as to improve overall quality of life for Asian-Americans in the city, said Richard Yuen, a forensic and clinical psychologist.

Yuen, who chairs the committee responsible for community research, said the Asian-American population is the fastest-growing ethnic minority group in Austin.

“Unfortunately, the city does not understand nor know much about this rapidly growing population of Austinites,” Yuen said. “Asian-Americans are not known to be activists in the community [and] not known to engage in voting or politics or community projects. Here, we want to have some strong public policy recommendations for programs in all areas that is supported by our research data, not only to benefit Asian-Americans but Austin as a whole.”

Different Asian-American student groups on campus have expressed interest in the study, including the Vietnamese Students Association and the Chinese Student Association, Yuen said.

Tram Ngyuen, mechanical engineering sophomore and president of the Vietnamese Student Association, said she feels that Asians are often overlooked in the city.

“We are looked as neither a minority or a majority,” Ngyuen said. “We are often used as tools to prove another point rather than an ethnic group that can stand on its own. This study is important to show how Asian-Americans have changed throughout this country’s history. We are not an invisible minority. We are a culture that has thrived and grown so much.”

Yuen said this study gives an opportunity to delve directly into the community to identify issues in a diverse population. 

“One of our most important issues … is being able to capture enough opinions from the various age groups so that we can disaggregate the data and understand there is acculturation and generational differences,” Yuen said. 

Students at the University of Texas are always willing to voice their beliefs, and those voices often lead to real, material changes in the world. 

Student-led groups and Student Government work together to express concerns, but as a student body, we have the duty to make sure our speech is valuable, relevant and warranted. UTDivest and the language of the pro-divestment AR 3 represent a scenario where UT students are speaking out on issues beyond their level of responsibility.

SG is responsible for both representing the student body and allocating resources on behalf of that body. It serves as our collective voice, and as such, can speak for whom we want to manage our endowment. 

Picking an investment manager is no easy task, but the University of Texas Investment Management Company has done a stellar job managing the second-largest endowment in the US. Portions of our more than $25 billion are carefully invested in over 2,000 public equities like the ones mentioned in AR 3: Cemex, HP, Proctor & Gamble, etc. (embedded below) This is done through a Fund-of-Funds model, meaning UTIMCO allocates the endowment to a number of third-party investment managers, who then select equities to buy.  UTIMCO itself does not directly buy and sell equities with endowment money, according to Bruce Zimmerman, UTIMCO’s CEO and Chief Investment Officer.  This management style is common to large endowments due to the amount of resources needed to allocate billions of dollars.  Because the decision to divest lies with third party managers and not UTIMCO, AR 3 is misdirected and represents a misunderstanding of how our endowment is managed.

As a student body, our responsibility is to make sure our endowment rests in the hands of a manager who will carefully and effectively grow the fund over its lifespan. As students who are not industry-trained investment managers, we are not responsible for evaluating third party managers and their individual investment decisions.

The UT System maintains a Board of Regents that oversees the selection of management and supervises high-level decisions for the University and the other System campuses. However, their responsibilities do not include micromanagement. The Board does not decide what classes will be offered next semester, which textbook a professor issues for a class or which video is shown in that class. 

Because the Board does not have all of the relevant information to make lower-level decisions, it is in their best interest to find managers to make those decisions instead.

Similarly, it is not in students’ best interest to try to micromanage UTIMCO by telling it which managers to use and which companies to invest in. Rather, they can help find qualified professionals who can understand the nuances of managing investments. These managers have a responsibility to ensure their portfolio companies are ethically operated in ways that are not overtly harmful to any group of people. This responsibility is dutifully carried out through meaningful analysis.

Investment managers go above and beyond to vet every single equity. This includes multiple weeks of intense company research and financial valuation modeling. 

Students simply do not have the necessary time to read company filings or complete the extensive due diligence needed before making multimillion dollar investments. UTIMCO and third party managers have access to information students do not, and therefore can make more informed decisions on whether a company is worth investing in. 

Students need to acknowledge an investment management company is not the place to make a political statement and understand UTIMCO makes deliberate decisions using the best information it can compile.

Stepping back from an investment manager’s perspective, students who feel passionately about either side of the political debate should take a closer look at companies that are operating in Israel and the economic benefit they provide to Palestinians and Israelis alike.

For example, metalworking company ISCAR, owned by publicly traded Berkshire Hathaway, employs 3,000 Israelis, of whom half are Arab. ISCAR’s founder, Israeli Stef Wertheimer, was awarded the Oslo Business for Peace Award in 2010 for his efforts to use manufacturing facilities to unite Israelis and Arabs. 

Over 20 percent of Intel’s international property, plant and equipment are centered in Israel, and wages from those operations flow into the economies of both Israel and disputed territories. 

These are companies who bridge the political divide and promote cooperation and mutual economic gain. Divestment from these beneficial industries would not just be a vote against cooperation but a vote that would directly harm the Palestinian economy.

No company is perfect, and that fact cannot be disputed. But it is UTIMCO’s job, not the UT student body’s, to make this determination. Student Government should oppose AR 3 not for political reasons, but because the legislation speaks on behalf of students who are not qualified to micromanage more than $25 billion. The Board of Regents votes on managers, not stocks, and Student Government should do the same.

Johns is a business honors and finance sophomore from Fort Worth. Stein is a business honors and finance sophomore from Houston.

Report PUF


Recently, the Palestine Solidarity Movement, in concert with other forces, proposed a resolution in Student Government urging the University of Texas Investment Management Company to divest itself from companies that the PSM deems to facilitate the oppression of Palestinians. 

Specifically, the resolution is part of a broader platform of boycotts, divestment and sanctions that has been proposed by likeminded individuals nationwide. I agreed with my compatriots on the Texan’s editorial board last Friday when we rightly recommended that the Student Government vote down this asinine resolution because it is not SG’s role to meddle in “foreign policy squabbles.” That much is true. But it is also true that this resolution, like any part of the misguided BDS movement, is hypocritical, anti-Semitic and wrong.

Proponents of BDS claim that such tactics are necessary to dissuade Israel from continuing its illegal occupation of Palestine. They have also been emboldened by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent dishonorable comments opposing the creation of an independent Palestinian state, an ostensible Israeli policy goal for the past 22 years. 

I, for one, certainly agree that Netanyahu’s comments are inexcusable and some of Israel’s conduct is nothing short of egregious. But punitive measures against the whole of Israeli society, such as the divestment considered by the university, are most definitely the wrong way to voice opposition to the many foreign policy mistakes that the Netanyahu government has made.

Countless other countries around the world, including Armenia, China, India, Russia and Turkey, to name a few, occupy others’ lands. Plenty more, including Georgia, Morocco and Serbia, have dragged their feet on recognizing breakaway regions as independent. Where is the controversy and, more appropriately, where are the organized punitive measures?

There are none, of course, because disagreeable foreign policy actions do not necessitate the collective punishment of a politically, culturally and ethnically diverse group of people such as the Israeli public. Comparisons to the South African apartheid, as the BDS movement regularly makes, are hyperbolic and incorrect.

During apartheid, blacks in South Africa were systemically denied their basic civil rights nationwide. They were denied rights based solely on the color of their skin, and no other rationale. In Israel proper — that is, the portion of the nation outside of the Palestinian territories that are the Gaza Strip and the West Bank — all citizens, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion, are granted full civil rights. More than a million Arab citizens enjoy all the rights and privileges of Israeli society, including the right to partake in all portions of the Israeli welfare state, vote and hold public office.

Palestinians in the occupied territories face discrimination and unneeded roadblocks to self-determination, but they are simply not victims of apartheid; rather, they are victims of a dragged-out war with a neighboring nation. The comparison to the apartheid is simply, to say the least, one of apples and oranges.

Sadly, though, BDS is not about seeking justice for Palestinians. Instead, it is about seeking to stigmatize, isolate and otherwise attack the Jews in our two-thousand year quest for a homeland. As reported in a New York Times op-ed, the leaders of BDS have revealed that their true quest is not an independent State of Palestine, peacefully coexisting side-by-side with an independent State of Israel. Omar Barghouti, one of BDS’ founders, was quoted by the article as saying that he does not want “a two-state solution,” instead advocating for “a Palestine next to a Palestine.” National leaders of BDS like Barghouti want one Palestine and no Israel.

I support a two-state solution, as do almost all of the American-Jewish community and a majority of the Israeli public. Sadly, Netanyahu does not appear to share this sentiment. He does, after all, have a lot of company in that position, including the Ayatollah of Iran, Hamas and the BDS movement. Prejudice, hatred and bigotry, be it Netanyahu’s islamophobia or BDS’s anti-Semitism, have much more in common than their proponents may admit.

Horwitz is a government senior from Houston. Follow Horwitz on Twitter @NmHorwitz.

At a meeting Thursday, an SG committee voted down three proposed amendments to a resolution that asks UTIMCO to stop investing in corporations that aid in Palestinian oppression.
Photo Credit: Aaron Torres | Daily Texan Staff

The Student Government Legislative Affairs committee voted down three proposed amendments to a highly-discussed divestment resolution Thursday and subsequently sent the resolution to a vote by the full assembly.

The resolution, which has gained widespread support and opposition from different student groups on campus, asks the University of Texas Investment Management Company to stop investing in corporations that, according to the resolution’s authors, “aid in the oppression of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel.”

The first proposed amendment at the meeting asked for a broadening of language, specifically calling to alter a clause that currently refers to “Palestinian rights” and would have been changed to “human rights.” The amendment failed after no SG representative seconded the amendment proposal.

The second proposed amendment called for the removal of a clause containing a quote by Nelson Mandela from the legislation. The representative who proposed the amendment said the quote, which referred to divestment’s success in helping South Africa reach the end of apartheid, was not relevant to the legislation.   

Mohammed Nabulsi, law school representative and an author of the legislation, said the quote is relevant because he believes the allusion to the effectiveness of divestment is a crucial detail in the resolution’s argument. The amendment also failed after no SG representatives seconded the proposal. 

University wide representative Kallen Dimitroff proposed a third amendment to remove the specificity of Israel from the legislation, because she said she believes referring explicitly to Israel targets the country and causes a division within the University community.

“I think it’s divisive because it’s only advocating with one group,” Dimitroff said. “I just don’t think differentiating is the [proper] way.”

Removing any mention of Israel from the legislation would dilute the document’s intentions, Nabulsi said.

“The resolution does not aim to target Israel, but aims to target Israeli policies in Palestine,” Nabulsi said. “We don’t want to erase Palestinian suffering.”

The third amendment was also not passed. 

Walker Fountain, a government junior who spoke at the meeting, said he believes SG should not attempt to regulate UTIMCO’s business.

“The Permanent University fund, the largest [UTIMCO] fund, is not drawn from tuition,” Fountain said. “So first, I must ask if this resolution is relevant to students.” 

Melissa Smyth, graduate student in the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, said she believes student contribution to the University gives UTIMCO’s actions relevance to student affairs.

“An institution we work for, pay tuition to and carry with us is implicitly justifying these acts of oppression,” Smith said. “That’s what we’re opposing.” 

The SG Assembly will vote on the legislation as it stands Tuesday.