Gary Susswein

Edwin Qian, managing information systems and economics senior, left, biology junior Ellen Cocanougher and accounting junior William Herbst are the founding members of the University’s chapter of Not On My Campus.
Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

Over the course of the last week, Not On My Campus, a student-led sexual assault prevention movement, garnered national attention and earned 1,400 signatures on a petition to stop sexual violence on UT’s campus. 

The social media movement, adapted from a program that originated at SMU, is dedicated to starting conversations about sexual violence. Three UT students — Edwin Qian, managing information systems and economics senior, biology junior Ellen Cocanougher and accounting junior William Herbst — launched the local campaign in advance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which begins Wednesday. 

The campaign quickly gained momentum, as participants wrote “Not On My Campus” on their palms and posted photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Sexual assault is a prevalent issue on college campuses across the country, and the full scope of the problem at any given university is often hard to determine, according to Erin Burrows, interpersonal violence prevention specialist for Voices Against Violence. 

According to the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, 80 percent of Texans who are raped never report the incident to law enforcement. Many national studies have found that nearly one in five college women are sexually assaulted over the course of their college experience, according to a report released by the organization. 

Not On My Campus UT launched an online pledge asking signers to support and empower assault survivors, work with campus resources to promote safety and engage in practices of bystander intervention. Qian said signing the pledge amounts to a public declaration to stand up against sexual assault, which he hopes is the first step in putting sexual violence prevention into practice. 

The movement has not been limited to students — President William Powers Jr. and former football head coach Mack Brown both participated in the social media campaign last week. Members of Not On My Campus said they hope support from alumni and faculty will help their message trickle down to the entire community. UT spokesman Gary Susswein said the campaign helps promote a no-nonsense attitude toward sexual assault prevention on campus. 

“By participating in the #NotOnMyCampusUT campaign, [Powers] is trying to help our students spread that message,” Susswein said. “He is so proud of the stances that our students have taken.”  

In addition to a social media campaign, the group members plan to establish a campus organization and expand outreach through various prevention programs. 

“We don’t just want to be an initiative,” Herbst said. “We also want to be a continuous, strong organization here on campus and be an intermediary source between the student body and the administration.” 

The group plans to conduct bystander-intervention training, hold self-defense classes and work with incoming freshmen to provide survivors with the help and support they need. 

“We know a lot of freshmen are terrified when they come in and experience this type of culture for the first time,” Cocanougher said. “We want to be able to bring awareness about it and educate people about the resources on campus.” 

Burrows, who has advised Not On My Campus since the fall, said reaching over 50,000 students with any campaign is challenging and social media can be an effective way to spread the simple message of consent. 

Burrows said she is glad fraternity and sorority leaders are making a vocal stand about sexual assault on college campuses. According to a 2013 study conducted by researchers at Oklahoma State University, men in fraternities are more likely to perpetrate sexual assault, while women in sororities are more likely to be assault survivors.

“When people are talking about the issue of sexual assault, they talk about the prevalence rates in Greek community, and that is true,” Burrows said. “But it’s not a problem specific to Greek community — it’s a problem in all communities.” 

Since the launch of the campaign on March 23, campus leaders from St. Edwards and University of North Texas have contacted the group seeking advice on how to establish Not On My Campus initiatives at their schools. 

“By bringing it here, it’s going to be the kick-starter that spreads it across campuses,” Herbst said. “If we have a successful program here, it’s going to spread across to other schools.”

Interested in how you can prevent sexual assault on campus? Full event listings for Sexual Violence Prevention Month at UT can be found here.

Photo Credit: Leah Rushin | Daily Texan Staff

UT’s student population will not increase at the same rate as Texas’ projected 2050 population growth, according to University officials.

Last week, the Office of the State Demographer released a report that included population numbers and migration rates for Texas’ population in 2015. The report predicted that by 2050, Texas’ population will double to a total of 54.4 million residents because of people moving to Texas from around the country.

“Beginning in 2005, Texas has experienced the largest annual population growth of any state,” state demographer Lloyd Potter said in the report that was released Thursday. “This momentous growth in Texas population is due to natural increase and net migration.”

While the increase reported in the study would double the population size of Texas, the University’s numbers would be unaffected, UT spokesperson Gary Susswein said.

“The University would have to make a decision about how large the student body should be,” Susswein said. “Right now, the campus is designed for approximately the number of students we have.”

The size of the University comes from a calculated decision made by University leaders, according to Susswein.

“For some time, we’ve been a university of about 50,000, and under the Board of Regents, we are increasing enrollment in some areas,” Susswein said. “But [student population] is a top area for UT leadership to look at. It is an active topic of conversation as the state continues to grow, but for now, UT is appropriately sized.”

The University would not have the capability to handle more students with its current amount of funding, Student Government president Kori Rady said.

“As you probably know, we are struggling with the budget as it is in serving all students adequately,” Rady said. “In a perfect world, we would keep the number at the current level and have more funding. [Since] the constitution says [the University] is to serve the state, I can see potential growth.”

Although the University has no predictions for changes in number of admissions in the future, Susswein said the already-competitive process may become even more intense with population growth.

“We used to be able to admit all of the top 10 percent [students], and now we’re admitting [different percentages of students] depending on the year,” Susswein said. “It reflects the fact that UT is competitive, and UT is growing in population.”

Biochemistry sophomore Anthony Yuan said the state’s increasing population could make it more difficult for high school students to be accepted to the University, according to Yuan.

“That’s probably what they’d do, decrease the top percentage,” Yuan said. “I could see if the population of Texas grows, UT might become even more competitive.”

The population increase would push legislature to look at the higher education system differently as a whole, Susswein said.

“As the state grows, our legislators have to look at the whole ecosystem of our higher education system,” Susswein said. “[They need to] look at the entire higher education ecosystem: how many universities the state should have, community colleges, the roles of different colleges and universities. That’s really a policy decision driven by state leadership.”

Photo Credit: Alex Dolan | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System estimates “campus carry,” if passed, would cost UT campuses $39 million in additional security measures, but a UT-Austin fiscal note said the bill would have no significant fiscal impact for the school.

According to UT-Austin’s fiscal note, which estimates expenses associated with campus carry, the policy would not cost the University any additional funds. The System gathered the documents and submitted them to the Legislative Budget Board for review.

UT-Austin spokesman Gary Susswein said the note operates under the assumption that students would fund any storage costs for guns in residence halls. Susswein said it is early in the legislative session, and the University budget for campus carry is not official and may change as the session continues.

“If our decision ends up different than our assumption, there could be some costs to the University,” Susswein said.

Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury), author of SB 11, which would implement campus carry, said in a statement he thinks these additional funds are not necessary expenses.

“It is patently absurd to suggest that additional security resources would be needed to accommodate faculty, staff or student [concealed handgun license (CHL)]-holders on Texas campuses,” Birdwell said in a statement. “I think it is bordering on offensive to suggest that [CHL-holders] will conduct themselves any less thoughtfully or lawfully the moment they set foot inside a university building.”

A recent UT/Texas Tribune poll found that Texans are split on campus carry. Forty-seven percent of those polled are in favor of the policy, whereas 45 percent are opposed.

“UT leadership on the University level and the System level has been very clear in their opposition to the idea of campus carry, and I think that remains the case,” Susswein said.

Susswein said there are currently not any anticipated additional costs for UTPD.

“There would be some new training that is added, but that would be part of their ongoing and regular training,” Susswein said.

There might also be additional costs associated with enhanced security systems, Susswein said, but it is not clear whether these measures will be required.

The majority of the UT System’s $39 million estimated cost comes from its six medical branches. Most significantly, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center estimated it would require $22 million dollars to increase staff size and training for its police department and to install security systems, such as card readers, UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said.

“It’s clear that there are inherent safety risks in a medical setting that present specific challenges, such as medical equipment, the presence of chemicals held under high pressure, safety concerns for patients and providing necessary storage for handguns that doesn’t currently exist,” LaCoste-Caputo said in an email.

UT-Dallas, UT-El Paso and UT-Rio Grande Valley have also requested additional funds to accommodate campus carry if the bill were to pass. Combined, the institutions requested about $630,000 for security measures.

“The total UT System budget is $15.6 billion,” LaCoste-Caputo said in an email. “Still, $39 million is a substantial amount of money that would have to be covered through existing funding. It’s too early to say where that money would come from, but it would have an impact.”

From left, Tom Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, and Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, will step down at the end of the semester, according to a blog post  by UT President William Powers Jr.

Two UT deans will step down at the end of the semester, according to a blog post released Friday by UT President William Powers Jr.

Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and Tom Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, will be stepping down from their positions, Powers said in the post. The two will join Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication, Kevin Hegarty, UT’s vice president and chief financial officer, and Powers in leaving the University at the end of this term.

It is likely the new deans will be named by the next UT president, according to University spokesman Gary Susswein. The next president will be announced in March, according to a UT System timeline.

“Broadly speaking, I think anytime there’s a leadership change in an organization, you see turnover like this,” Susswein said. “Whether it’s Dean Gilligan, or Dean Hutchings, or Vice President Kevin Hegarty who is leaving, you know these are people who have been at UT Austin for a long time and have contributed a lot.”

Gilligan, who could not be reached for comment on his decision to step down, helped shape McCombs into the high-ranking business school it is today, Susswein said. 

“McCombs is one of the best business schools in the country and, especially among public universities, is one of the top, and a lot of that is because of what Dean Gilligan has brought there in terms of developing new programs, in terms of making sure that we have the top faculty and the top students and even in terms of facilities,” Susswein said.

In an email sent to faculty and staff, Powers said Gilligan has helped students prepare for the world outside of academia.

“He has attracted top faculty and students and fostered research that is central to UT’s intellectual climate,” Powers said in the email. “He has also built and expanded multiple programs that support industry while challenging students and preparing them to be leaders.”

Hutchings, who has been dean of the LBJ school since 2010, said that when he took the position as dean, he only planned to stay one semester. 

“We’ve done a lot during my tenure. I feel like I’ve achieved just about all the things we set out to achieve when I first arrived, and it’s been a pretty long agenda of issues and items, so I feel good about that,” Hutchings said.

Hutchings said he will be a visiting professor at Princeton University in the fall and a distinguished fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. in the spring to work on a new book. Following his work at Princeton and in Washington D.C., he said he will return to UT as a faculty member in the LBJ School.

“It’s fairly traditional when a dean steps down, if he’s going to return to the faculty, the old dean leaves town to give a new dean a chance to sort of make his or her own imprint on the place,” Hutchings said.

Students, staff and faculty wait for the lights to come back on at the entrance to the PCL on Tuesday morning.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

The University of Texas does not have specific protocols to deal with blackouts but will begin to form new procedures for dealing with possible future power outages, according to University officials.

“We have protocols in place to deal with emergency situations [but] not specifically to blackouts,” University spokesman Gary Susswein said. “Whenever there is an emergency on campus, the president convenes the top leaders on campus to figure out what to do. They were gathering information and trying to decide what the course of action was..”

Tuesday morning, the University experienced a campus-wide power outage. The University will form new protocols for dealing with blackouts because of Tuesday’s power outage, according to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey.

“That’s the great thing about these incidents when nothing too bad happens — nobody was hurt and we learned a lot,” Posey said. 

Posey said UT’s communication system stopped working during the blackout, forcing her to find new ways to communicate with students, faculty and staff.

“We couldn’t get any emails out,” Posey said. “I learned to turn to other methods, and we did. We went to Twitter because the systems weren’t working. We also texted a message out. I learned to not spend so much time trying to get an email out on a system that doesn’t work. I kept trying, and Plan B is Twitter and text.”

Although University officials did not cancel classes, professors are permitted to cancel class if they see fit, Susswein said.

“Professors always have the discretion to let out class if needed, and many, many professors did that,” Susswein said. 

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

UT will participate in a nationwide campus sexual assault survey that many of its peer institutions rejected, followed by a second, in-house survey later this year, to gather information about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus.  

The survey, conducted by the Association of American Universities, will be designed to help university officials better understand sexual assault on college campuses. Some institutions have expressed concern that the survey, which will cost each university $87,500, will not be specific enough to address the needs of each individual campus.

UT is one of 60 members of the AAU, and President William Powers Jr. serves as the group’s former chairman. Of the 60 member institutions in the United States, only 27 members — and one non-member university — agreed to distribute the survey. Powers announced UT’s participation during a faculty council meeting last week.

16 policy researchers from 13 universities expressed their problems with the AAU survey in a Nov. 17 letter, alleging that only two members of the advisory committee that designed the survey have experience in sexual assault assessment. 

“We are writing to you to ask urgently that each of you not commit to signing an $85,000 contract on a sexual assault and campus climate survey with a consultant for the [AAU],” the letter read. “Accuracy of data regarding sexual violence has been known for years to be very sensitive to the way it is measured … we have [concerns] about the not-yet-designed AAU survey, which neither academic experts nor university presidents have seen.”

Barry Toiv, vice president of public affairs at AAU, said each participating university will receive its own institutional data, while aggregate data about all 27 participating universities will be made public.

Toiv said each university will be allowed to include a few institution-specific questions in the survey their students receive.

“Except in one respect, the survey will be identical to all institutions,” Toiv said. “Each university will be able to individualize five questions, so they can focus on specific programs, offices, policies at their own institutions that may have certain needs.”

Beyond the AAU survey, the University will conduct its own sexual assault climate survey that will provide more campus-specific results, according to UT spokesman Gary Susswein. Susswein said UT officials hope to conduct the campus-specific survey next fall and said the second survey’s cost is still unknown.

“The AAU questions will be used across universities as part of [their] own survey,” Susswein said. “But by doing our own survey, we’re hoping to get a fuller picture of what’s going on around campus.”

Steve Kloehn, associate vice president of news and public affairs at the University of Chicago, said UChicago chose to develop its own survey in place of the AAU survey. Kloehn said the university would prefer to use techniques developed by their own staff.

“University of Chicago has announced plans to undertake its own climate survey, which will be shaped in part by a committee of our own faculty members who have a particular expertise and understanding of our culture and the needs of this campus,” Kloehn said.

Toiv acknowledged the cost of performing a large survey between dozens of universities, but said the $87,500 operating cost is justified. 

“The truth is that quality research of this kind, particularly research involving this many potential participants, is expensive,” Toiv said. “One of the things that makes it expensive is the effort that goes into notifying, encouraging students to participate.”

Despite the criticism the survey has generated, Susswein said the UT administration felt it was a good investment toward understanding sexual assault on campus.

“We understand that there was a robust conversation, but we do believe that participating is the best option for our university,” Susswein said. “There’s really no downside in doing this survey.”

Clarification: This article has been amended from its original version. There are 62 member instutitions of the AAU, including two Canadian institutions. The survey was only offered to U.S. members. Further, each university will receive institution-specific survey results, while aggregate data will be released publicly. 

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

State legislators in the House and Senate filed identical bills Monday that would allow University students, faculty and staff with proper licenses to carry concealed handguns in campus buildings.

Under current Texas laws, licensed students, faculty and staff at universities are allowed to keep handguns in cars on campus, but general “campus carry” is illegal even with a permit.

The two bills, HB937 and SB11, which five representatives and 19 of the 20 Republican senators authored, prohibit University officials from creating rules to ban concealed handguns on campus in general. Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), an author of SB 11, said the bills give more freedom to independent and private schools because the institutions are not regulated by the state as strictly.

“Private institutions may opt out because they are not state institutions,” Seliger said. Rep. Allen Fletcher (R-Cypress), primary author of HB937, said the bill would only apply to students over the age of 21 who have completed training and background checks.

“As long as they are concealing their gun as law requires with a license, we don’t want them to have to unarm themselves to [go to class],” Fletcher said.

Each bill does provide some leeway in certain areas and buildings on campus. According to the bill, administrators could still prohibit concealed handguns in residence halls, university-operated hospitals, sports games and on-campus preschools, elementary schools and secondary schools. UT currently has an on-campus preschool.

UT spokesman Gary Susswein said it is not clear whether the Dell Medical School will be considered a hospital as defined by the bill. He said it will depend on how the state interprets “hospital” — if the bill is passed.

“It’s too early to say how much of the medical school building and the work that goes on there will qualify as a hospital,” Susswein said. The bills also contain provisions that would prevent universities from being liable for the actions of concealed handgun owners.  

Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), who opposes campus carry and serves as vice chair of the higher education committee, said he thinks college campuses should be a “safety zone,” free of guns.

“I don’t know why in the world we would allow the proliferation of handguns on campus,” Royce said.Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Grandbury), an author of SB 11, said he thinks that allowing licensed students to carry concealed handguns on campus will increase safety.

“Criminals looking to do harm are going to carry on campus, regardless of the law,” “This bill acts as a deterrent, as criminals will no longer be able to assume their victims are unarmed on a college campus,” Birdwell said in an email.

Four Republican members of the House have signed the bill as joint-authors in support of the policy alongside Fletcher.

19 of the 20 Republicans in the Senate are listed primary authors of SB 11. Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston) is the only Republican senator not listed as a primary author. In a statement from her spokesperson, Austin Arceneaux, Huffman said she is in favor of campus carry but wants to review the bill further.

President William Powers Jr. said he would not support campus carry policies at UT.

“I think the general view is there are situations that can be volatile, and — when a gun is present and alcohol is involved, or whatever — I think in the aggregate, that’s a dangerous situation,” Powers said. “I believe our law enforcement professionals agree with that.”

Representatives from the UT and UT System police departments declined to comment.

Chancellor William McRaven could not be reached for comment. However, UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said McRaven does not support campus carry.

“Chancellor McRaven plans to send a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott outlining his thoughts on the issue,” LaCoste-Caputo said.

During the 83rd legislative session, Fletcher filed a similar campus carry bill that was passed in the House and the Criminal Justice Committee in the Senate. The bill did not make it to the Senate floor for vote because Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) blocked it.

The three-fifths rule change last week allows a bill to be heard with 19 votes — which corresponds with the 19 senators supporting the bill. Fletcher said that with the current number of supporters, the bill will pass in the Senate. He anticipates it will pass in the House this legislative session as well.

“Things have changed, and I do believe I am going to get a vote in Senate this time,” Fletcher said.

Correction: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the bill's definition of a hospital. 

UT dropped one spot to 53rd on the 2015 U.S. News and World Report national university ranking released Tuesday.

University spokesman Gary Susswein said the University’s drop in rankings resulted from a change in the report’s methodology, which placed less emphasis on the high school class rank of UT freshmen students and more emphasis on their SAT scores.  

“Because of the Top 10 percent law — which bases admission for three-quarters of our class solely on class rank — we were hurt by that change,” Susswein said in an email. “Otherwise, we have been extremely steady for the past five years or so.” 

Susswein said the report also considers student financial support provided by universities. Since both UT tuition and state funding for public higher education in Texas are relatively low, the University was further hurt in the U.S. News rankings, Susswein said.

According to Susswein, the U.S. News peer assessment score — a measurement of the reputations of different universities among college administrators — places UT roughly 25th in the nation. This score is factored into the report’s final ranking.

“Overall we’re pleased by the national and global recognition we continue to receive from these rankings,” Susswein said.

Philosophy sophomore Jacek Prus is removed from the Main Building by APD officers after participating in a sit-in against Shared Services on Wednesday afternoon. Students sat in front of President William Powers Jr.’s office for various hours despite being told they would be arrested if they stayed in the office past 5 p.m. 

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Eighteen Save Our Community Coalition members were arrested while participating in a sit-in against Shared Services in front of President William Powers Jr.’s office, following a more than 200-person protest in front of the UT Tower on Wednesday afternoon. 

According to UT spokesman Gary Susswein, the arrested demonstrators will be charged with criminal trespassing, a Class B misdemeanor. Susswein said Powers was in his office working all afternoon. 

“[The protesters] were given several warnings by the Dean of Students’ office that at 5 p.m. the office would be closing and they needed to leave,” Susswein said. “They did not, so they have been arrested.”

Shared Services is a plan to centralize the University’s human resources, finance, information technology and procurement services. The plan calls for the elimination of 500 positions, which UT officials have said will primarily take place through attrition and retirement. The committee is now moving forward with pilot versions of the plan in the College of Education and the Office of the Provost. 

The sit-in was live-streamed online, and students took turns talking about their concerns with the University’s efforts to improve efficiency. After the protesters began chanting, Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly warned them to lower their voices and said they would be arrested if they stayed at Powers’ office past 5 p.m. Of the 19 protesters, only one left.

Plan II Honors junior Bianca Hinz-Foley, a representative of the protesters, said the coalition members wanted more dialogue with UT administrators. Hinz-Foley and a group of roughly 20 coalition members also held a demonstration in front of Powers’ office on April 3, though Powers was not in his office at the time. 

“Students are sharing stories, and I think we’re all committed to stay until President Powers hears us out,” Hinz-Foley said. “We’re prepared to stay as long as it takes.” 

Geography senior Sydney Dwoskin, another protester, said she felt the sit-in was an important component of students’ efforts to halt Shared Services’ implementation.

“At this point, we feel we have no other choice,” Dwoskin said. “We’re not going to leave till we get Shared Services cut.”

In a speech at the rally before the protest, Faculty Council member Dana Cloud, associate communication studies professor, said she believes reports of the University being short on money are false.

“The administration has been somewhat on the ropes and has started to spin the situation of Shared Services, and our speakers will speak to kind of the mystification going around: That it’s not so bad, that we’ve listened to people, that we’ve adjusted according to input,” said Cloud, who is also a member of the Save Our Community Coalition. “I think [the protesters’] presence here today shows that’s pretty much bullshit.”

In an interview with The Daily Texan last month, Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, said he believes opponents of the plan do not understand that the University’s current business model is unsustainable.

“We’re getting starved on the academic end for dollars to hire teachers and retain people,” Hegarty said.

Protesters also referenced the University’s involvement with Accenture, a consulting firm the University paid more than $4 million to collect data for the Shared Services Steering Committee. Accenture’s contract with UT ended in February. 

More than 100 faculty members signed a letter opposing Shared Services and submitted it to Powers earlier this month.

In April 2012, a nearly identical incident, involving members of the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition, also led to 18 arrests. The members hosted a sit-in outside of Powers’ office, were told to leave by 5 p.m., declined to do so and were charged with criminal trespassing. In this case, members — some of whom were also arrested Wednesday, including Hinz-Foley — wanted the University to cooperate with the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring organization, when producing apparel.

Additional reporting by Julia Brouillette.

English grad student Cole Wehrle shouts in support of ending Shared Services during a campus protest on Wednesday afternoon. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (6:18 p.m.): Earlier Wednesday, geography senior Sydney Dwoskin, one of the protest leaders, said she felt the sit-in was an important component of students' efforts to halt Shared Services implementation.

"At this point, we feel we have no other choice," Dwoskin said. "We're not going to leave 'til we get Shared Services cut."

Updated (5:59 p.m.): Of the 19 Save Our Community coalition members who protested in Powers’ office, 18 have been arrested and will be charged with criminal trespassing, a Class B misdemeanor, according to University spokesman Gary Susswein.

“[The protesters] were given several warnings by the dean of students’ office that at 5:00 p.m. that the office would be closing and they needed to leave,” Susswein said. “They did not, so they have been arrested.”

Over the loud chants of students protesters on the first floor of the Tower, Susswein said University administrators have engaged in dialogues with community members about the implementation of Shared Services.

“Our vice president for financial affairs has met with students repeatedly, and continues to meet with them and is open to do so,” Susswein said. “Absolutely, there’s been honest discussion, there’s been open discussion, and we continue to welcome feedback from faculty, staff and students on this.”

Susswein also said the University supports students’ right to protest.

“Students have every right to protest and to do so peacefully, and they were in the foyer outside the presidents’ office for 90 minutes this afternoon, protesting peacefully,” Susswein said. “That was not an issue.”

— Jacob Kerr

Updated (5:23 p.m.): Police officers are escorting student protesters out of the building in groups of three. For more updates live from the scene, follow reporters Jacob Kerr @jacobrkerr and Madlin Mekelburg @madlinbmek on Twitter.

Updated (5:12 p.m.): A coalition of students protesting against Shared Services are conducting a sit-in outside President William Powers Jr.’s office, and were told by UTPD officers that they will be arrested if they have not vacated by 5:00 p.m.

The 19 students protesting want Powers to halt the two Shared Services pilot programs in the College of Education and the Office of the Provost, according to Plan II junior Bianca Hinz-Foley, a representative of the protesters.

“They are demanding that President Powers cut ties with Accenture and halt the Shared Services ‘pilots’ and instead look to faculty, staff and students, not consulting and outsourcing firm bad actors, for bold and innovative solutions to challenges we face today,” Hinz-Foley wrote in a press release issued earlier Wednesday.

— Jordan Rudner

Original story: More than 200 students, faculty and staff gathered at the West Mall on Wednesday to protest the implementation of Shared Services. 

Members of the Save Our Community Coalition — which includes members of the Workers Defense Project, Texas State Employees Union, the University Leadership Initiative and many more University organizations – organized the protest. 

Shared Services is a plan to centralize University human resources, finance, information technology and procurement services. The plan calls for the elimination of 500 positions, which University officials have said will take place primarily through attrition and retirement. President William Powers Jr. endorsed the final recommendations produced by the Shared Services Steering Committee in March. The committee is now moving forward with pilot versions of the plan in the College of Education and the Office of the Provost. 

In a speech at the rally, Faculty Council member Dana Cloud, associate communication studies and rhetoric and writing professor, said she believes reports of the University being short on money are false.

“The administration has been somewhat on the ropes and has started to spin the situation of Shared Services, and our speakers will speak to kind of the mystification going around: That it’s not so bad, that we’ve listened to people, that we’ve adjusted according to input,” said Cloud, who is also a member of the Save Our Community Coalition. “I think your presence here today shows that’s pretty much bullshit.”

City Council member Mike Martinez said he believes Shared Services is a form of privatization that will cost tax payers exponentially more money than it will save. 

In an interview with The Daily Texan last month, Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, said he believes opponents of the plan do not understand the University’s current business model is unsustainable.

“We’re getting starved on the academic end for dollars to hire teachers and retain people,” Hegarty said.

Linguistics graduate student Adam Tallman, a member of the Texas State Employees Union, said he believes admistrators have failed to address community concerns about Shared Services’ implementation, including the possibility of an increased workload on staff members who remain at the University. 

“The problem is that when you cut those jobs, productivity in the rest of the University is going to go down,” Tallman said.

In his letter endorsing the steering committee’s findings, Powers said he wanted to make sure the Shared Services implementation was tailored for UT’s needs.

“I have asked [Hegarty] to carry out that charge in a thoughtful manner that is customized to our campus,” Powers said in the letter.

Victoria Vlach, a course scheduler in the department of Asian American studies who was recently laid off because of centralization within the College of Liberal Arts separate from Shared Services,  believes Shared Services threatens to ruin the University’s reputation as a top-tier institution.

“Education is not a one size fits all assembly line,” Vlach said. “These policies intentionally eliminate the very people who provide the skilled expertise, which serves and supports the faculty and students.”