extending thanksgiving break
The current UT Thanksgiving Break is only Wednesday through Friday, which creates an awkward, truncated week. Students currently have to travel on the day before Thanksgiving, one of the most dangerous and expensive travel days of the year. Additionally, many students already leave for home early, making it difficult for professors to assign or achieve any meaningful work in the two days before Wednesday. A week-long Thanksgiving Break would allow students more time off to destress towards the end of the semester, and allow more out-of-state and international students to get home safely to their families. We feel that giving students a longer Thanksgiving Break will prioritize students’ mental health and allow students with long travel times home a real opportunity to reconnect with their families.
increasing on-campus study spaces
Around midterm and finals seasons, overcrowded study spaces force students to find space on floors or cram into over-packed rooms to try to study. We want to expand the available study spaces on campus, including making the SAC 24 hours during finals and improving the fifth floor of the PCL. We believe that the more accessible study spaces are, the less we can use crowded buildings as an excuse not to strive for our best.
Developing a Student Financial Aid “Bill of Rights”
The Financial Aid office has a large influence on students’ tuition by awarding $192M a year. This office’s decisions directly affect the stress a Longhorn faces when they are uncertain that they can afford to be here. To minimize that insecurity, we want to establish a student financial aid “Bill of Rights,” so students can rely on a stable financial status and no unwelcome surprises in their bank accounts. These rights will include (but not be limited to): notification about any change in financial status, adequate time to pay before registration bars set in, and regular communication with the office. This would be dispersed voluntarily, through the Financial Aid office and used to advertise benefits as well. By simultaneously spreading the resources and ensuring their accountability, we will increase administration buy-in with students’ well-being. With great financial power should come great student accountability.
Including Transfer Student’s in the Longhorn Legislative Aid Program
We recognize the unique impact that transfer students make on the Forty Acres. Too often, transfer students are swept aside as UT and UT Student Government attempt to pursue large goals. We will continue to work closely with the Transfer Student Agency to ensure that transfers have the best first-year experience possible. By hosting a “Transfer Kickoff Week” at the beginning of the semester, we will strive to ensure that transfer students are welcomed, engaged, and supported from their first moments on campus. Throughout the year, we will continue to promote the accessibility of this agency to the larger student body, to ensure that all transfer students are aware of this organization and can therefore have helpful resources at their disposal while they adjust to life at UT.
We also know how hard it can be for these transfer students to get involved on campus. We can get started right here in Student Government. UT Student Government has a freshman program, called Longhorn Legislative Aides (LLA), which is a fantastic way freshmen to get involved and see how UT operates while working on projects with mentors and peers. We will restructure the LLA program to permanently include the perspectives of transfer students by reserving spaces in the program. Out of 21 total LLA positions, we will permanently allocate 2 spots to transfer students, and allow transfer students to be eligible to apply for the rest. By restructuring the LLA program, we can begin improving the overall transfer student experience.