In previous years, incoming Student Government administrations have been approached by groups and individuals who were interested in collaborating with Student Government to realize new initiatives on campus. However, we recognize that in the past Student Government has taken over projects and moved forward without the organizations or individuals who developed ideas in the first place. Our campaign is committed to ensuring that every Longhorn who wants to get involved has the opportunity to do so, regardless of whether or not they are affiliated with Student Government. In order to ensure collaboration, we will constantly look to cooperate with stakeholders and, when feasible, create new committees comprised of all interested individuals, regardless of involvement in Student Government. Furthermore, we will provide resources to empower groups and individuals who take ownership of their ideas.
Additionally, we are dedicated to continuing work on current and past initiatives which began under previous administrations to ensure that the voices of the students who voted for those initiatives in years prior continue to be heard.
Expanding Legal Aid
Undocumented students at UT face major challenges daily, living with both the struggles of being a student and the uncertainties surrounding DACA. These students, especially those from near the border, even have to worry about being detained at checkpoints on their drive to Austin. The University can help with the legal services it offers, but those aren’t always accessible. We want to ensure that undocumented students have as much legal support as possible, so they can focus on being students first. That’s why we want to work with Student Legal Services and help them interface with the Texas Law Immigration clinic to provide monthly legal advice and information in a central location, such as the MEC. The Monarch program, when properly funded, could take point in connecting these resources. For long-term reform, the best way to protect our undocumented peers is to minimize contact with ICE, so we will push UTPD to implement a cite-and-release program for all qualifying offenses. Texas law explicitly allows law enforcement to write tickets that don’t go on criminal records for up to Class A or B misdemeanor offenders, enabling students to pay a fine instead of booking them at the jail and exposing them to ICE agents. The Travis County Sheriff’s Department has made this policy universal, and we hope to follow their lead to provide the maximum peace of mind to our fellow students regardless of immigration status.
The tragedy of Hurricane Harvey has drawn attention to the ability of a natural disaster to impact large numbers of UT students. To provide assistance to Longhorns affected by this situation, we want to create a UT Rebuild program to connect student volunteers to those in need of help. In the wake of floods, hurricanes, or other disasters, UT Rebuild will serve as a facilitator for hands-on relief efforts. Through peer-to-peer matching, volunteers will plan trips and other service opportunities to assist affected students. UT Rebuild aims to provide tangible support to members of the community in times of need.