Morgan Caridi

With more than 50 majors in the College of Liberal Arts, defining a liberal arts student is not always easy. But this year’s Liberal Arts week will attempt to explore that, starting with an essay contest and a panel on religion in American politics.

Government senior Morgan Caridi, president of the College of Liberal Arts council, said this year’s annual Liberal Arts week will showcase the college’s resources for students. Caridi said the Liberal Arts week is held annually, and students outside of the college are encouraged to attend. Each year has a theme, and this year’s theme is “You know you’re in Liberal Arts when ...”

Plan II Honors senior Christine Thorne-Thomsen, program director on the Liberal Arts council, said trying to define what makes a liberal arts student is a challenge.

“It is not just one definition,” Thorne-Thomsen said. “I think that is what makes us liberal arts students. We are all over the place. We are passionate about all different things.”

On Monday, “The Liberator,” the College of Liberal Arts’ news-magazine, is hosting an essay contest with a $250 prize. The winning essay will also be published in the October edition of “The Liberator.” The topic is “How would your liberal arts education influence your personal platform for the presidency of the United States?”

Mallory Foutch, communications director of Liberal Arts council, said this is the second year the College of Liberal Arts has hosted an essay contest with a cash prize.

“It is very common that if you’re in the liberal arts college, you have good writing skills, just because they’re critical no matter what your major is,” Foutch said.

The essay is due at 5 p.m. by email to The council is also hosting a panel Monday discussing religion’s role in American politics.

“We have such a diverse college, we really like to highlight the smaller departments,” Caridi said. “We’re showcasing a professor that specializes in different religions.”

Politics is a consistent theme throughout this year’s week, Caridi said, because of the presidential election in November. Tuesday, the council is hosting an open discussion on the 2012 presidential election called “The Amazing Presidential Race.” Caridi said some of the topics they will focus are the roles of media and mud-slinging in the election.

Thorne-Thomsen said not all of the events will be strictly serious. On Wednesday, the council is co-hosting a game of New York Times Jeopardy with a New York Times representative.

The council is also informing students about destressing techniques on the West Mall. Caridi said the Wednesday event is the last big event of the week — she said the week is “top heavy.”

Throughout the week, the College of Liberal Arts will have a white board near the Six Pack, where liberal arts students are encouraged to write why they love being a part of the college and have their photo taken. The photos will be used as part of a collage in the new Liberal Arts building when it opens in the spring.

Cardi said Monday through Wednesday on the West Mall, the Campus and Community Focus committee of the Liberal Arts Council is partnering with Hook the Vote to register students to vote.

Printed on Monday, September 24, 2012 as: COLA week offers events for students

Plan II and economics junior Richie Gill founded Mr. West Campus, a real state agency geared toward helping students find housing near campus. Mr. West Campus is Gill’s second business; he started an online advertising company in high school and sold it after two years.

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

By age 17, Richie Gill, Plan II and economics junior, knew he did not want to work under a boss for the rest of his life.

So while still in high school, Gill earned his real estate license and started an online advertising business. After successfully running the business for two years, he sold it to improve his college GPA, but could not resist the urge to run his own business and earn money once again.

Gill started Mr. West Campus, a real estate agency for students looking to live close to campus in late 2010.

“My parents always motivated me to make money,” Gill said. “I had a job at Walgreens and I just said ‘Screw this. I’m not going to listen to my boss anymore. I want to do what I want. I don’t want to make only $7 an hour selling cigarettes all day,’ and I didn’t want to wait six years to have a good job, so I started my own business.”

Mr. West Campus now has seven employees, helps hundreds of students find apartments every year and includes, which focuses on helping students sub-lease. The service provided is free for students because Gill said the company makes money through the apartment complexes willing to work with him. He said he wants the company to encompass as many local apartment complexes as possible to give students multiple options to suit their needs.

Gill said he works 60 hours a week and very late nights while remaining a full-time student. He said the work is worth it because he loves the business and he loves the students.

“Students are great to work with,” Gill said. “They’re smart. They’re quick. They’re easy to work with and they need the help because many are freshmen and first-time apartment shoppers,” Gill said. “We want to be there for them to be sure they don’t get scammed and to be with them every step of the way. I love to bring real estate experience and student experience together.”

Bobby Cave, 1984 UT alumnus and supervising salesperson and office manager, said at their first meeting, at Starbucks, he immediately saw the potential of the young man and wanted to help on his journey as a business owner.

“I don’t mean to sound like I love the guy, but I love the guy,” Cave said. “He did not go to Padre over spring break. He was probably working. He is so passionate and I’ll do anything for that guy to be successful. He won’t toot his own horn, but he is so honest and really wants to help people. It’s so rare to see a 22-year-old who has his life together the way Richie does.”

Gill’s girlfriend, history junior Morgan Caridi, said Gill is the hardest worker she knows and is proud of him for his accomplishments.

“It’s honorable for someone to balance school and work and do so well in both,” she said. “A lot of his time is spent on his computer. Us hanging out is us watching a movie, but he is always on his computer. Always working. It’s amazing.”

Printed on Monday, April 23, 2012 as: Student starts West Campus real estate business