Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

President Obama awarded the Jackson School of Geosciences’ GeoFORCE Texas program Friday with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, one of the highest federal honors for a university.

The Presidential Award is given to programs or individuals, especially to those reaching out to underrepresented communities, that focus on mentorship and promote education in STEM fields. GeoFORCE was the only program honored this year. 

The GeoFORCE Texas program works with incoming high school freshmen through the time they graduate. For a week each summer, students in the program travel to geological sites around the U.S. to learn about earth sciences. During the program, mentors and instructors educate students and provide them with college and career advice. 

Geology senior Victoria Fortiz participated in GeoFORCE Texas from 2008 to 2012 and mentored students for the program her freshman year of college. She said mentors and instructors check in with the students throughout the school year for things such as PSAT/SAT preparation and college application seminars.

“That was really helpful because I was the oldest in my family, and my parents didn’t go to college, so just having the support [was great],” Fortiz said.

Since the program’s inception in 2005, GeoFORCE Texas has expanded from its first partner, Southwest Texas Junior College, to schools in Houston. The program is one of the first to address the shortage of students coming from economically disadvantaged environments, according to Samuel Moore, director of outreach and diversity for the Jackson School.

“In 2010, it expanded to … schools in inner-city Houston,” said Moore. “[The program] targets economically disadvantaged students who might not be aware of the opportunity.” 

Of the students who participate in the program, 100 percent of them graduate high school, 96 percent go to college, and 64 percent choose a STEM field of study, as reported on the GeoFORCE website. 

“[The numbers are] very impressive,” Jackson School dean Sharon Mosher said. “There are no other numbers like that [caliber] that I know of.”

Many of these students never considered the possibility of studying geological or Earth sciences before GeoFORCE, according to Mosher.

“I think the most valuable aspect of the program is that it truly changes lives,” Mosher said. “It takes students who come from underrepresented groups … and has been successful at getting them to go to college and also successful in getting a majority of them to go into a STEM field.”

Photo Credit: Michael Baez | Daily Texan Staff

Although there has been progress in American race relations over the past few decades, events such as those in Ferguson, Missouri, signify an ongoing adverse relationship between government policies and African-Americans today, according to Peniel E. Joseph, founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and history professor at Tufts University.

In August, white police officer Darren Wilson shot 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown, who was unarmed. Brown’s death, and the fact that Wilson was not brought to trial, prompted months of protests and demonstrations that are still ongoing in Ferguson.

The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs hosted Joseph’s lecture, “From Selma to Ferguson: Race and Public Policy in the Age of Obama,” on Thursday as part of an effort to hear new voices in the field of civil rights, according to Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs. 

Joseph said he thinks the gap between democratic rhetoric about race relations and the reality of minority experiences is detrimental to the American democratic process.

“People are talking about race because Ferguson is illustrative of all these inequalities that face us and that, in a lot of ways [and] in our popular imagination, we refuse to confront,” Joseph said. “We believe that we’ve earned this victory — whether we’re saying Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Obama — we’ve somehow gotten our way out of racism, which is why we’re so often ready to embrace post-racialism.”

Between 1980 and 2015, the population of U.S. federal, state and local prisons increased from 350,000 to 2.4 million, according to Joseph. By 2007, there were more African-Americans in prison, on parole and on probation than those who were enslaved in 1850, Joseph said.

“One of the major problems that we face in the last 50 years between Selma and Ferguson is this issue of not just criminal justice, but the criminal justice system’s connection to different democratic institutions in our society,” Joseph said. “When we think about this issue of mass incarceration, it is the civil rights issue of our time.”

Maureen Anway, public affairs graduate student, said she hopes to start a conversation about bridging policy and community activism.

“I think, so often, quantitative data, historically, has been used in a way that’s negative for communities of color, and so I’ve been trying to connect how I use the skills that I’m getting here and then apply them to issues I care about, and, a lot of times, there’s an activist component to that,” Anway said.

Policies and the language in which they are written have the potential to affect the way different communities are perceived, said Loyce Gayo, African and African American diaspora junior.

“We can’t talk about the recent attention that’s being exerted towards the death of all these black people without talking about how they’re being perceived — a young child being killed because they’re viewed as aggressive; they’re viewed as brutal,” Gayo said. “Now, we’re entering this new age of protest and this new age of awareness of race, and I’m trying to see where we’re about to go.”

Congress will not provide solution to border crisis anytime soon

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, center, defends legislation he has authored with fellow Texan Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, to speed the removal of tens of thousands of Central American kids flowing over the U.S.-Mexico Border as Washington searches for a solution to the growing crisis.
On Tuesday, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, center, defends legislation he has authored with fellow Texan Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, to speed the removal of tens of thousands of Central American kids flowing over the U.S.-Mexico Border as Washington searches for a solution to the growing crisis.

On Friday, the House Republicans extended their stay in Washington by 24 hours to revise a supplemental appropriations bill, a desperate effort to unify partisan support on the border bill crisis and pass law without help from House Democrats.

The tweaked version of the bill, which passed 223-189, includes increased funding for the National Guard and other agencies responsible for handling the crisis. In attempt to remedy partisan fault lines for expediency’s sake, the House also removed many of the bill’s provisions, including one limiting President Obama’s ability to halt child deportations.

But as members of Congress flee Washington for a much-needed recess, many are forced to concede that this hastily-revised compromise may just be too little, too late. Although any partisan cooperation is admittedly a rarity in politics these days, the bill seems to pose little hope for substantial change. Dismissed by White House members as a work of “patchwork legislation”, the Republican-backed bill is unlikely to make it through the Senate. In fact, the President has already promised to veto the bill, citing its provisions as “arbitrary and unrealistic demands” placed on an already broken system. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, agrees, admitting that “he does not believe any legislation will be implemented” before the month-long recess.

The funding proscribed in the bill — $694 million, to be exact — pales in comparison to the several billion requested by Obama earlier this summer. Another polarizing factor is the monetary redistribution itself. Republicans allocated the majority to emergency care, border security and prevention of future arrivals, whereas Democrats have fought for a more cushy system for migrants, such as free legal counsel and temporary relief from deportation.

House Republicans refute criticism from the Senate’s majority, touting the updated bill as a “responsible address to the humanitarian crisis.” “If President Obama needs more resources,” said House Speaker John Boehner, “he will urge the Senate to put politics aside and approve of our bill.”

Despite the House’s haste and last-ditch efforts at skeleton legislation, it is increasingly unlikely that any form of the bill will reach Obama’s desk until fall.

Deppisch is a Daily Texan columnist and a government senior from League City. Follow her on Twitter @b_deppy.

President Barack Obama speaking at the Paramount Theater on Thursday afternoon. His speech focused on the state of the economy.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

On Thursday, President Obama spoke to members of the Austin community on everything from Congressional gridlock to his love of good ole’ Texas barbecue — even making a headline-garnering trip to Franklin’s. There was one thing, however, that he seemed a bit hesitant to address: the refugee crisis currently being faced by the state at the border.

Like any good politician, his speech played to his strengths: the latest job report for one as well as the recovering economy. He even chose a UT student, public relations junior Kinsey Button, to introduce him, constantly referring to “Kinsey’s struggle” to pay for college in an attempt to personalize his speech. These anecdotal tactics are certainly not the first to be utilized, nor are they ineffective by any means. Obama’s strengths lie largely in the fact that he is relatable: He truly is the “people’s president.”

“Each day,” the president stated in his Thursday speech at the Paramount Theatre, “I will keep asking the same question: how can I help you?” Sadly, Texas constituents may have come away from the speech with that question left largely unanswered as the president failed to discuss the humanitarian crisis, choosing instead to focus solely on party strengths.

To Obama’s credit, the speech was primarily disclosed as one to discuss the economy. And in this sector, things have been looking good: Fifty-two straight months of job growth, an unemployment rate that’s at its lowest since 2008. These numbers are encouraging, and the Austin community applauded each point with resounding support.

“We’re fighting for an agenda that creates more good jobs… in American manufacturing, in construction,” Obama said. “This country succeeds when everybody has got a shot.”

Indeed, the economy seems to be getting back on its feet, and as a Democratic president appealing to one of the most conservative states in the nation, Obama can’t be faulted for boasting his successes on this front.

But in the wake of national crisis, we must ask: Where is our president’s presence?

The immigration debate is not a simple issue, nor can it be divided on clear-cut ideological lines. But the latest numbers illustrate the immediacy with which this crisis must be attended to. In the past two years, illegal immigration rates have quadrupled. And in true American style, it is attended to largely through finger-pointing and fighting proposals. Republicans want more troops to secure the border, and have moved to increase the amount of National Guard security. Democrats cite the number of apprehended immigrants that lead to a “backup in the system,” proposing a $3.8 billion dollar authorization to address the problem. The parties do have one thing in common, however: Each side balks at the idea of supporting the other. “The House is not just going to rubber-stamp what the administration wants us to do,” said U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R - FL).

Little can be accomplished in this stubborn partisan standoff, but neither party seems willing to stand down on the issue.

Prompted by criticism from the right, Obama hastily reconfigured a meeting with Perry during his Dallas trip. But a trip to the border was noticeably off the agenda. His trip seemed to be more fundraising, less functional. More support-focused, less substance. This is not uncommon for presidents, and to pretend these trips aren’t essential to the political process would be naïve. But to so ardently gloss over the administration’s failures seems to come across as a bit irresponsible, and it has not gone unnoticed by the Texas community.

“I think Obama’s obviously a great orator, and really enjoyed his speech,” says Danielle Johnson, speech attendee and self-proclaimed progressive Republican. “But it just makes you wonder … when he noticeably ignores these prevalent issues. I mean, it’s a border crisis and he’s speaking in Texas. You’d think he’d tailor his agenda just a little.”

Tailor, however, he did not. He spent a large amount — what Johnson referred to as an “excessive” amount — of time discussing the Republicans’ responsibility for the gridlock in Washington.

“The best you can say about [the Republicans] this year,” Obama said, “is that they have not managed to shut down the government,” referring to the two-week federal government shutdown of last October. That temporary loss of non-essential services was caused by a lack of agreement over funding for Obamacare.

“I felt a bit attacked,” Johnson admits. “It was like, why are you not speaking to these bigger issues here?”

The president spoke only briefly on the unfolding humanitarian crisis, using it to propagate the overarching Democratic call-to-arms.

“The Senate has some Republicans who actually worked with Democrats to pass a bill [that would] help make the system more fair,” Obama said. “But the House Republicans haven’t even taken a vote on the bill. They don’t have enough energy or organization — or, I don’t know what, to even vote no. And they’re mad at me for trying to do some things to make the immigration system work better.”

For someone who spent a bulk of the time boasting the need for bipartisanship, it was a critique that rang a bit hollow. Missing from the speech was any real access to immigration discussion without slander--almost as though serious discussion of the humanitarian crisis was sacrificed at risk of losing public support on other issues.

Government junior Grant Wiles and government senior Christopher Cyrus seem to feel differently. “I think it’s clear where the president stands on the border crisis,” says Wiles, speaking to his controversial $3.8 billion immigration proposal. A longtime member of the Democratic party, Wiles believes the commander-in-chief ultimately achieved the goal of his speech: bolstering support and highlighting economic successes. Cyrus agrees, adding, “The president made clear that where gridlock prevents legislation enactment, [Obama] will continue to move on policy objectives.”

But this begs the question: How far can one man move, acting alone on an issue that divides even his own party?

This humanitarian crisis must be attended to with immediacy and diligence by both parties. And in a political landscape marred by extreme polarization, it can be difficult to set aside party identification for substantive change. Politics, much like Oscar Wilde says of the truth, is “rarely pure and never simple.” But even in the wake of a bolstered economy, I think Americans of both parties can agree: We deserve more than one-sided stories from Obama and other officials who represent us. We deserve educated discussion and accessible information about national crises from our incumbents, even if this means approval points may be lost in the process. We deserve problems without partisan spin, solutions without slander. And when we begin to lose that at the hands of  political gain?

Well, it’s time we demand this access for ourselves.

Deppisch is a government senior from League City. Follow her on Twitter @b_deppy.


President Barack Obama speaking at the Paramount Theater on Thursday afternoon. His speech focused on the state of the economy.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Before a packed audience at the Paramount Theater on Thursday, President Barack Obama said the economy has improved since the economic recession from 2008 to 2009 in an address on the economy that criticized political gridlock in Washington, D.C.

“By almost every measure, we are better off now than when I took office,” Obama said.

Obama credited the American people with helping the nation recover from the recession but said that his administration made several decisions that benefited the economy. He cited, specifically, recent efforts to create gender equality in the workforce, raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, expanding manufacturing jobs, and reforming the student loan program.

Before the speech, Obama met with public relations junior Kinsey Button, at Magnolia Cafe. Concerned about her financial situation, Button sent Obama a letter a few months ago. In response, Obama said decided to meet with her in Austin as part of his trip.

“When you see the trajectory of Kinsey’s family, in some ways it’s a little bit a story of what’s happened in America,” Obama said.

At the event, Button opened for the president and talked her about her struggle to pay for a college education.

“As a current student at the University of Texas at Austin with two unemployed parents, my family has found it very difficult to financially sustain the average American lifestyle, much less afford a full college tuition,” Button said at the event on Thursday.

A presidential memorandum issued by Obama in June allowed nearly 5 million students to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their income. Calling Washington “broken” and accusing Congress of refusing to take action, Obama said he issued more than 40 executive orders.

“I don’t want our future leaders straddled with debt before they start out in life,” Obama said. “Whenever and wherever I have the power, the legal authority, to help families like yours – even if Congress is not doing anything – I will take that opportunity."

Most recent employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate a 0.2 percent decrease in the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent. Obama noted this is the lowest unemployment rate since September 2008.

A handful of protesters rallied outside the theater Thursday, as tensions grow on the U.S.-Mexico border and increasing numbers of unaccompanied children are apprehended and deported. Some protesters urged Obama to “Stop separating families,” while others called on the National Guard to secure the southern border.

Gov. Rick Perry said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that Obama had ignored his requests for additional National Guard troops along the Texas border.

“I don't believe he particularly cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” Perry said on the program.

Obama did agree to meet Gov. Perry Wednesday afternoon but did not extend his Texas visit to make a personal trip to the border region.

“You need to go. That’s what governors do. That’s what presidents do. When there are … crises like this, a president needs to be there,” Perry said on “Hannity” after meeting Obama on Wednesday night.

On Tuesday, Obama asked Congress for $3.7 billion to address the border crisis. According to the Whitehouse.gov website, $1.1 billion will go to the Department of Homeland Security for immigration and customs enforcement and $1.8 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services to care for unaccompanied refugee children.

Addressing the immigration issue on Thursday, Obama criticized House Republicans for refusing to vote on a Democratic bill to secure the border.

“Cynicism is a choice,” Obama said in closing. “Hope is a better choice.”

While in Austin, the president attended two private fundraising events. He departed from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Thursday afternoon, after his remarks at the theater.

In response to President Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representative proposed an alternative plan earlier this month, which included cuts to financial aid programs in higher education, including freezing the maximum Pell Grant at its current level for the next decade.

The proposal, which would begin on October, aims to cut overall spending by $5.1 trillion over the next 10 years. In order to accomplish this goal, the plan will eliminate eligibility for less-than-half-time students, stop financing the Pell Grant with “mandatory money,” adding a maximum-income cap for students to receive aid, and end student-loan interest subsidies for undergraduates while they are enrolled.

“Mandatory money” refers to the set amount of money the government is required to set aside for the Pell Grant. An interest subsidy on education loans ensures that a student will not be charged interest as long as he is enrolled in a university.

Student Financial Services Director Tom Melecki said taking away mandatory money from the Pell Grant will cut approximately 14 percent of the total money in the grant.

“Right there you’re shrinking the federal Pell Grants by a significant amount for our students,” Melecki said. “Even if the University weren’t to raise tuition at all in the future, like it hasn’t in the last three years, it would still be a time when inflation is driving up the cost of renting.”

Melecki said he does not believe the Pell Grant is currently giving enough aid to students. According to Melecki, even when taking inflation into account, the maximum federal Pell Grant available in 2012-13 covered 64 percent of tuition and fees at the average public institution — a decrease from 103 percent in 1992-93.

“It’s declining here, and it’s declining across the country,” Melecki said. “What’s happened lately is that Congress, for several of the last 10 years, kept the Pell Grant amounts the same from one year to another, but because of inflation, by keeping them the same, the purchasing power of the Pell Grant fell further and further behind.”

Economics senior lecturer Wayne Hickenbottom said he views the proposal as logical because going to college increases future income, making it rational to have to take out loans in order to reach that goal.

“It certainly seems that there’s a little more shifting of the cost of education over time to the individual as opposed to some governmental entity,” Hickenbottom said. “It fundamentally comes down to that if you believe what education does is increases your earning power to allow you to make more money in the future, then you’re the one who ought to be paying for that.”

A College Board report says the median annual earning for an American with a bachelor’s degree is $56,000, which is $21,000 higher than the median income for those with only high school diplomas.

Government senior Mariam Almasri, who is currently on financial aid, said while she does believe the government gives a fair amount of money to students, it’s often overlooked that the price of college encompasses more than just tuition, especially when it comes to housing.

“I would say they do give enough, especially to those who do need it,” Almasri said. “By putting [your living situation] off campus as on campus, that might determine how much more money you can get. … I think they should give money for off-campus housing.”

Editor’s Note: In the run-up to next week’s Civil Rights Summit, we hit the West Mall on Thursday to ask students for their thoughts about the ticket distribution system as well as the significance of the event. Below are some of their responses.


Aubrey Folck, speech language pathology sophomore

DT: Are you going to the Civil Rights Summit next week? 

AF: I didn’t know about that. 

DT: Well, there are going to be four former presidents speaking on campus — Clinton, Bush, Obama and Carter. Do you have any thoughts on it?

AF: I think that that is a pretty rare opportunity.


Katie Russell, radio-television-film junior

DT: Do you know about the Civil Rights Summit that’s happening on campus next week?

KR: I’ve heard about it a little bit, yes. 

DT: Did you try and get tickets?

KR: I did. Obviously, I mean Obama is going to be here — Jimmy Carter, Clinton, a lot of great people. I did. But I don’t think I got them. 

DT: How do you feel that there will be four presidents here? What does that mean for our University?

KR: I don’t know. I think it’s really awesome, and it just shows how big UT is and our connections. I think something that’s really great about our school is that we have so many deep alumni connections — and the ability to have these resources that other smaller schools can’t afford this or maybe can’t host this. I think this is a lot about just UT and how established we are as a school. I don’t know. It’s really exciting to me. I’ll maybe come and try to stand and maybe get a glimpse. 


Natalie Escarano, English and speech language pathology senior

DT: Do you know about the Civil Rights Summit that’s happening on campus next week?

NE: Yes.

DT: Did you try and get tickets?

NE: I did not.

DT: Why?

NE: Yeah, I didn’t really know the process, and by the time I heard about it, it was too late already. 

DT: What do you think it means for our campus that we will have four presidents speaking at this summit?

NE: The apocalypse is coming. [Laughs] Sorry, I honestly have no clue. I think it’s great that it’s at our campus. I don’t really have any thoughts on it. It’s just going to happen. 


Ally Finken, human development and family sciences sophomore

DT: Did you try and get tickets for the Civil Rights Summit? 

AF: I did. 

DT: Did you get tickets?

AF: No.

DT: Okay, how do you feel about the whole process? Do you think it was fair? Do you wish you had gotten tickets?

AF: I think it was pretty fair. I mean, I think it was pretty fair. If you wanted to do it you had to apply, and you had to rank them. Of course, I am sure everyone put the Obama one as No. 1. I mean, the only way it could have been unfair is if you wanted to go to one of the lesser ones, and people who did get it didn’t even want to go. 


James Grandberry, journalism junior

DT: Did you try and get tickets for the Civil Rights Summit that’s happening on campus next week?

JG: No, but a lot of my friends did. 

DT: Do you have any thoughts about that process? Do you think it was fair? Should it have been easier to get into it?

JG: I think it might be just based on our initiatives. I think some people might have signed up earlier and got it. I think it was like a lottery. You can say it was unfair, but it seems pretty fair since it was a lottery. 


Tayma Rehn, English junior

DT: Did you try and get tickets for the Civil Rights Summit? 

TR: I did. 

DT: Did you get tickets?

TR: No. I was mad. I was so mad. 

DT: Can you just tell us about the process? Why it makes you mad?

TR: Well, it made me mad because where else are you going to see Carter, Clinton, Bush and Obama all in the same place? And I don’t know. I’ve seen speeches of them before, so I thought it would be really cool to see them in person. So I signed up for this newsletter, and you were supposed to get this email and click this link, and I clicked the link like three minutes after the email was sent out, and it was like, “tickets are gone.” And I was not happy. I had been counting down for a week. 

DT: What do you think they could have done differently to make the process better [and] fairer for students?

TR: I mean for students, I had to find out about it because I work over at LBJ, so that’s how I found out about it. But they should have probably sent out an email to everybody, so they could have let us know about the opportunity ahead of time. Because then we could have signed up earlier, and then maybe more people could have gotten tickets. Because I know that only a select few students got an email about it from the dean I think, if they were preapproved, which I don’t understand. 


Lauren Eller, communication studies and human relations junior

DT: Did you try to get tickets for the Civil Rights Summit?

LE: No.

DT: Did you know about the process?

LE: No.

DT: Do you know about the summit?

LE: No. I heard about it briefly, but I didn’t get it in time. 

DT: What does this summit mean for our campus? What does it mean that we’re having four presidents here?

LE: Well, it’s good publicity I guess, but I don’t know. I don’t even know why they’re here or what they’re doing here. I would love to hear them talk, but I am honestly clueless about the whole thing. 

DT: Could the University have done a better job in getting the word out to students?

LE: Yeah, absolutely. I actually asked someone to email me the email because I didn’t see it.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

The UT chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas have canceled a controversial mock immigration “sting” planned for Wednesday after the event was denounced by University officials, including President William Powers Jr. 

“After the University president and the vice president for diversity and community engagement released statements denouncing the event we planned as violating the University's honor code, I spoke with our chapters members, and they are both concerned that the University will retaliate against them and that the protest against the event could create a safety issue for our volunteers,” YCT Chairman Lorenzo Garcia said in a statement.

Gregory Vincent, vice president for the division of diversity and community engagement, said the decision to cancel the event was wise and that concerns of YCT volunteer safety and University retaliation are “completely unfounded.”  

“I’m just very proud of our students for voicing their protest in a respectful, civil way and I’m confident that they will continue to do that,” Vincent said. “I know that I speak on behalf of President Powers and the entire University of Texas community that we absolutely respect everybody’s freedom of speech right and we expect all members of the community to exercise those rights in a respectful way.” 

Garcia said students should be able to speak freely regardless of their political affiliations. 

"President Obama wants to address this issue during his final term and students on college campuses, conservative, liberal, or somewhere in between, should not be silenced when they attempt to make their voices heard about an issue that is so important to our futures," Garcia said.

Powers said the University honors the right of free speech for all students on campus. 

“We welcome the Young Conservatives’ decision and look forward to that group being part of a thoughtful discussion about the difficult questions our nation faces regarding immigration,” Powers said in a statement. 

Garcia said certain aspects of the event were misguided and the event was intended to maximize attention. 

“I acknowledge that decision to include issuing $25 gift cards during the event was misguided and that the idea for the event was intentionally over-the-top in order to get attention for the subject,” Garcia said. “It is a simple fact that illegal immigration is a concern in this country and that it is one we must face.”

Garcia said the public response to the event and personal attacks he received were shocking.

“Opponents of YCT have claimed that I am being used as a front man,” Garcia said. “I have been called an ‘Uncle Tom.’ I have received e-mails and comments via social media filled with obscenity. The reactions of some who claim that YCT is creating a demeaning or degrading environment on campus have been truly disgraceful.”

See our earlier article on the event for more background

Obama leaves Austin, minor delays at Austin-Bergstrom airport

Rainy weather did not take away from President Obama's visit to Austin, but the presidential limo will probably need a car wash.

The vehicles comprising the presidential motorcade were streaked with gravel and dirt as they entered the southern terminal of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport for the president's departure at approximately 6 p.m., rounding out the president's first stop in his series of Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tours.

According to Jason Zielinski, public information specialist for the Austin-Bergstrom airport, security measures for the president's arrival and departure were conducted according to standard Federal Aviation Administration protocol.

Prior to the president's arrival and departure, all activity on runways is temporarily halted in what is called a "ground freeze," Zeilinski said.

“Everything stops until he's in the air,” Zielinski said. “There's not movement at all. That means no flights are coming in or departing. It's standard FAA protocol for the president wherever he goes.”

Zielinksi said flight delays are minimal during a ground freeze.

“Airlines are aware of the ground freeze ahead of time, so they plan accordingly,” Zielinski said. “As far as passengers who may have been inconvenienced in any way, it was a very minor delay – no cancellations or anything like that.” 

Kathleen Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses political advertising at the Belo Center for New Media on Monday afternoon. Jamieson, a former professor at UT, recently won the DeWitt Carter Reddick award for excellence in the field of communication. 

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Kathleen Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said political advertising is warping the way politicians make decisions.

“We are now affecting governance without having a policy debate about the underlying information,” Jamieson said in a lecture on Monday, which was sponsored by the College of Communication.

Jamieson, who has spent years studying the subject and who recently won the DeWitt Carter Reddick Award for excellence in the field of communication, said politicians are making important national decisions based on sound bites. She pointed to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney’s campaign, in which he attacked proposed “welfare work waivers” for stripping the federal work requirement from welfare, supposedly turning it into a free ride for recipients. In fact, she said, the waivers were only requested by Republican governors, because they could then implement other work requirements of their own.

“Here’s the rationale: States are different ... you might in those circumstances administer differently,” Jamieson said. “You might have different populations.”

These, Jamieson said, were the programs President Obama granted welfare work waivers to. However, explaining this to voters takes too long, she said.

“Imagine we’re Republican governors who just wanted the waiver,” Jamieson said. “[Republicans will say] I don’t want the waiver ... because I don’t want this ad from the Democrats next time I’m running for governor.”

Jamieson said this effect of political ads is too often ignored, because it is assumed that political campaigns and actual governance operate separately.

“What would Romney have done as president had he been restrained by his own advertising?” Jamieson said. “This is a broken system.”

Jamieson said it is even harder to discover how to fix the system, because correcting false advertising takes 1,000 words, while the advertisements themselves take only 30 seconds.

“They’ve created a collusion between misstatements of fact tied to basic human fallacies, moves that we make almost viscerally,” Jamieson said. “We ought to worry about that...if not we’re not going to get the kind of governance we need at a very difficult time for our country.”

Communication studies junior Heather Lorenzen attended the talk and said she has witnessed the effect of negative advertising first-hand.

“My ... parents still swear Obama’s not American,” Lorenzen said.

Roderick Hart, dean of the College of Communication, said there are important ways communication students can implement lessons from Jamieson’s lecture.

“I think the great journalism question is ‘How do you know [what you think you know]?’” Hart said. “Very few people are saying ‘Given the deluge of advertising, what’s the effect of advertising?’”

Printed on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 as Political advertising dictates public policy, speaker says