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October 16, 2005

Burnt Orange Report from the 4th Floor

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

It's that time of year again. The time when no one else except those most closely involved in UT's Student Government start having their private thoughts about running for student body president (or vice president) come out into the open. You may remember last year's post, which created quite a stir, well I promise that this one will be much shorter.

Interestingly, this year's prospective candidates are not the ones that I would have guessed after the election results were released this past spring. At that time, the buzz was all about Grant Stanis and Courtney Livingston creating the traditional insider ticker. Since then of course, Grant has denied interest (which I believe) and Livingston has now resigned from the Assembly.

So that leaves an internal power vacuum. With the changes in ticket rules this year, as well as the filing of 'letter of intent' which were supposed to have already been submitted, it may seem like thing have gotten off to a slower start. But that's not to say that there are not already two teams in formation. So I present what is the best information I have about who's planning on what, starting with the more stable prospects first.

Danielle Rugoff, current Two Year at Large Rep, appointed to the position to fill seats opened by the current SG leadership, is planning on heading up one ticket as President. After two tries as an at large candidate on the Reprezent and Ignite tickets, she has built a base of popularity as one of the most recognizable icons on those reform movements. But she has moved beyond that now, being the key Assembly member for the Keep UT Hate Free initiative, as well as authoring or signing on for much of this year's legislation. Female and Jewish, she also would break the multi-year run on male presidents who are often supported by the Tejas Club, which is highly integrated into the SG structure, claiming two recent presidents, 6 current Assembly member, the chair of the Election Supervisory Board, as well the brains behind the platform and GOTV efforts of the two most recent election sweeps. Not saying that's good or bad, just saying that there seems to be some fatigue of Tejas control (even from within that very organization according to one source).

Marcus Ceniceros is currently thought to be running as Vice President with Danielle. Well known around these parts, Marcus was the President of University Democrats for both semesters last school year, leading the organization to being awarded the "Most Outstanding Organization" on campus by the UT Leadership Board. Currently active in Project Opportunity, an anti-poverty initiative which is bringing John Edwards to campus next week, as well as the Hispanic community, Marcus would be the only top candidate not already a member of the Assembly. Still, he's become quite involved with the Legislative Relations Agency and has worked with Minority Recruitment and Retention efforts. He's also served on the Liberal Arts Honors Student Council, one of the larger honors program bodies.

This combination is certainly more progressive than the current leadership or the prospective alternative which may make it of interest to many readers here. Of course, this is balanced by the fact that there are certain whispers claim the team has already picked off major support from the more conservative clubs and organizations who are comfortable with the leadership offered by this pair.

The second team is a bit harder to describe at this point, in part, because the two top candidates haven’t even settled on who is going to run as the other's vice, and vice versa. That's a bit unsettling to anyone who would be trying to make early decisions about who to support, which makes me think they are farther behind on candidate recruitment and organization. In any case, prospective presidential or vice presidential nominees as of now are current Two Year at Large Rep Michael Windle and current One Year at Large Rep Jessica Fertitta.

Windle, active in the Assembly and also from the world of Tejas, seems like a natural pick to continue on in the traditional year to year SG campaigns similar to those of Chaney or Haley, which swept their elections. Also active in Alpha Phi Omega, the powerful service organization that also plays in SG politics, Windle certainly isn't short on networks of friends. Windle, Rugoff, and Fertitta are all on the Legislative Policy Committee which reviews all legislation moving out to the Assembly, so each is quite aware of the actions of SG.

Jessica Fertitta is one of the people in the Assembly that has surprised me most. Coming from a background I originally thought somewhat weak, (chair of the University Pan-Hellenic Council- Greek), my impression was that she would have been one of the less involved sorority sisters that usually wind up getting elected. But since her election, she has impressed me with her work, as well as her energy, which is almost always friendly and forceful. It is this very thing though that may be the reason for conflict in who's running for what. Because of her outright nature, Fertitta may have more balls to push for the top spot, even though convention and current Assembly status, would place her in the VP spot. While very well known outside of SG, early SG posturing is largely a factor of 'weight' and visibility inside of the Assembly, which could be why this issue has yet to be resolved.

Politically, a Windle/Fertitta ticket of any combination would be more conservative. Fertitta interns for Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, and Windle is publicly listed as 'moderate' on the facebook and quite honestly seemed to start showing up at UDems meetings only after last spring's elections.

That's all I know for now, or at least are willing to share without making me the sworn enemy of Student Government (if only), so feel free to comment, correct, or forward on this post in silence. As one parting tidbit, I'd like to include some UT Facebook Friend Numbers.

965- Danielle Rugoff
527- Marcus Ceniceros
642- Michael Windle
768- Jessica Fertitta

339- me
1,494- Omar Ochoa (current President)
1,091- Elizabeth Brummett (current VP)

Posted by Karl-Thomas Musselman at October 16, 2005 04:02 PM | TrackBack


There's a rumor of a Grube/Livingston ticket. That sounds crazy, but so is Grube.

Posted by: matth at October 16, 2005 05:51 PM

You can take my name out of the mix. LOL. I'm not running. The Grube/Livingston ticket was a joke from a Tuesday night at Cain & Abel's. :)
I'll probably help with a campaign--I can't stay away...haha, but I don't have the time to be active in the assembly.

Posted by: Courtney Livingston at October 16, 2005 06:44 PM

COURTNEY!!! I hoped to keep the joke going. Hope all is well.

Posted by: matth at October 16, 2005 07:13 PM

Thanks for saying hello Courtney! Sorry to hear you got out of the Assembly, then again, I did to, so maybe not so sorry...

Posted by: Karl-T at October 16, 2005 07:13 PM

The Grube/Livingston ticket was a culmination that jokingly came about from a few too many Miller Lights one Tuesday evening. The other candidates should have no reason to fear such a dominating and intimidating ticket anymore. To our diverse array of supporters, we apologize for getting your spirit and hopes up for a fun year that we know would have ensued. While the outlooks of a loud mouth fraternity boy and a good looking sorority girl coming together on a “shock and awe” ticket will not be conjured up this election cycle – I encourage all you believers and nonbelievers alike to get involved in a campaign.

God Bless UT,

Posted by: Grube at October 16, 2005 07:15 PM

I wish to comment on the Tejas fatigue comments and some falty facts by Karl-Thomas. I am friends with Brian, but must tell you that Brian Haley is not in the Tejas Club. Check your facts.

I would also suggest you check your facts on Tejas fatigue. I don't know who your "secret inside source" is, but Tejas serves campus and we have done everything but slow down. Tejas does not try to control Student Government. That is ridiculous. As the President of the Tejas Club I can tell you that our members are very active on campus in many different areas. We are not all about Student Government. There are indeed more things to life. We just raised $30,000 for Safeplace in one month and have won best Social Organization the past 5 out of 8 years.

Ronnie Earl was a member of the Tejas Club along with members of the Democratic National Committee and the Chief of Staff of very prominent Congressmen. It is sad to see such a great Democratic blog miss facts and let personal bias get in the way. The Tejas Club is one of UT's best. Come and join us on Thursday night for our coffee at 9 PM. Prominent professors and community leaders come and speak to us at coffee and everyone is welcome. We will also have a party on Friday night at our house at 26th and Rio Grande. Everyone is welcome, but you must wear a costume.

The Tejas Club is not a Student Government pipeline, we are a diverse group of men from different parts of campus that work hard to serve the University in our respective organizations and as a Club. Come to a coffee and you will see what we are about.

No offense to Karl-Thomas (I have a lot of respect and look up to you in many ways), but I hope this clears up what was written about Tejas.

Posted by: Brent at October 17, 2005 01:48 AM

It's always fun catching these posts after a few comments have been made. Here are a few comments, and I'll try and state biases when possible.

Preface: Generally one's political views don't matter in leading Student Government. Most people just don't want an extreme activist from any shade of beleif, and more importantly most students don't want state or national politics to bleed into SG at all. Importantly, Democratic and Republican stances don't often even translate to campus affairs. With that said, I feel that all candidates mentioned so far should pass any political litmus test that BOR or any other group tries to impose on them (immaterially).

First, Tejas indirectly supported the last female SG president - Katie King (Ogden). I say this to counter the tacit implication that Tejas supports males. In fact, many current and recent-past SG people first got involved in the Achieve ticket with Katie. Furthermore, the current and last administrations had female VPs, chosen because they could garner the respect and power to control the assembly.

Second, I appreciate the recognition that KT gave Tejas members in their SG involvement and achievements (note: past 3 campaigns, not 2). However, the last three elections could not have been won without capable candidates, loving volunteers and supporters, and of course free t-shirts.

Third, here are a few additions that I know of. Marcus of course helped organize the John Kerry visit to UT this past year. This summer, Windle interned for the Red Cross and the EPA while in DC. Also note that Windle is Filipino, as you made and effort to note similar aspects of Danielle and Marcus.

Just for fun--
Friend Comment Count on Facebook:
Michael Windle - 77
Jessica Fertitta - 74
Danielle Rugoff - 57
Marcus Ceniceros - 26
Me -17

Posted by: JW at October 17, 2005 02:49 AM

I happened to be doing some facebook research today, so here are the top 15 non-alumni facebook users at UT for comparison:

1. 3255 - Mack Brown
2. 1484 - Omar Ochoa
3. 1091 - Elizabeth Brummett
4. 1071 - Colby Hanks
5. 1004 - Noel Geralde
6. 966 - Danielle Rugoff
7. 930 - Homie Kabir
8. 817 - Jessica Rice
9. 778 - Summer McWilliams
10. 770 - Courtney Livingston
11. 768 - Jessica Fertitta
12. 761 - Jennifer Harris
13. 743 - Sarah Boulden
14. 722 - Anthony Derrell Williams
15. 699 - Chase Hagin

Posted by: chrisken at October 17, 2005 03:03 AM

I may only have 327 friends... but they're the best damn 326 friends one could have at UT (sorry Jocelyn). That being said. Please add me, I'm way cooler than Omar, better looking than Brummett (all Brummetts, actually), I dance better than Colby, I don't know who Noel is but I'm certain that I smell better, Danielle wishes she was me, Homie has a better name than me, JRice isn't as funny as I am, and Courtney, Jessica and Sarah need to stop asking me out (it's getting embarrassing for everyone involved).

Posted by: matth at October 17, 2005 09:50 AM

Brent, thanks for adding to the record. I know that Tejas is more than just SG, but it's integration and influence in it is way out of proportion to the rest of the campus, why not then does the Indian Student Association have 10-12 people involved in the SG structure considering it is far larger in size. Part of it has to do with what each organization's interest is. It is likely the fact that Tejas is in SG because it is made of highly involved students who care about the university, which isn't a bad thing, it's just that there is more than one way to help build community on campus.

JW, good points, I'm appreciative of your filling in some of the gaps from the Achieve v. Envision year, which I wasn't here for but watched from Fredericksburg.

Chris, is that really Mack Brown or is it someone parading as him. I mean, Jesus Chirst is on facebook at least twice..

Posted by: Karl-T at October 17, 2005 10:09 AM

KT, thanks for giving some press to SG. I have missed your reports from the floor. Keep up the good work.

Some solid research figures from CKen as well and some nice color commentary from MattH.

Posted by: Strayhorn '06 at October 19, 2005 12:15 AM

How can there be a "power vacuum" in an utterly powerless organization? Wait, I forgot--they made the street signs burnt orange and changed their name from SA to SG. Brilliant!

Posted by: Deaf Smith at October 19, 2005 03:47 PM

Here is a selection of the many accomplishments Student Government at UT-Austin has had over the years:
* Texas Student Publications (1921)
* Student Union (1933)
* University Health Center (1940)
* open-stack Undergraduate Library (1950s)
* married-student housing (1950s)
* KUT radio station (1957)
* Freshman Summer Orientation (1957)
* Teaching Excellence Awards (1957)
* optional student health insurance (1958)
* University Honors (1958)
* desegregation of University, area housing, and area businesses (1950s-60s)
* College Houses Co-Op (the owner of Taos Co-op, et al) (1964)
* pass-fail grading option (1966)
* Student Legal Services (proposed by SG President Lloyd Doggett) (1968)
* Undergraduate Research Program (1968)
* Shuttle Bus System (1969)
* Daily Texan Recycling Program (1970s)
* university day-care center (1974)
* S.U.R.E. Walk (1982)
* expanding the Gregory Gym weight room (into its current size) (1984)
* Designated Driver Program (1987)
* student ID card (1990s)
* online Interactive Degree Audit (1991)
* Expand dead days from one to two (1992)
* create SSB (1992)
* mandatory teacher evaluations (1992)
* creation of KTSB/KVRX (late 1980s-early 1990s)
* re-opening the Tower (1999)
* online ticket draw (2001)
* E-Bus (2002)
* switch student identification from SSN to EID (2002)
* Course waitlists (2003)
* Email expansion to 100mb (2004)
* Student Regent (2005)

Posted by: chrisken at October 20, 2005 01:04 AM

I'll admit, I'm a first timer here to burnt orange report....prop 2 stuff dragged me here. but nonetheless, i enjoy hearing people argue about SG. it makes my day.

Posted by: Sowa at November 9, 2005 10:06 AM
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