Over the next week, Burnt Orange Report will be returning to its roots. Born out of the University of Texas, we have covered internal student politics off and on over the years. From the Burnt Orange Report from the Floor series covering the minutia of Student Government meetings to the elections for Daily Texan Editor, along with hundreds of other posts over the past 9 years covering Student Government, we have an interest in alerting our readers when something important is happening on the 40 Acres. -KT
In just over a week's time, UT-Austin is holding its regular campus-wide elections. We would like to bring your attention to the top of the ticket Executive Alliances running for President and Vice-President of the student body. While there are 4 pairs running, (a 5th was disqualified from the ballot) there are 2 leading alliances which we would like to focus your attention on. The underdog campaign is the clearly progressive choice- Go Big Texas led by John Lawler & Terrence Maas, we'll talk more about them soon.
UT students should be concerned about the ticket being led by Madison Gardner. The Daily Texan fact checked a statement made by Gardner during his Editorial Board interview where he included UT Domestic Partner Benefits for employees as one of the issues for which he would lobby.
Turns out, Gardner opposed Domestic Partner Benefits for UT employees in his candidate questionnaire for At-Large Representative in 2010. The Texan even posted his original statement in writing. Here is the relevant question from the 2010 questionnaire.
Now, some might feel that it is unfair of me to write this post based upon a single issue, but it is illustrative of the philosophical and political differences between Madison Gardner and John Lawler. And not just that, but Gardner's position on domestic partner benefits for UT employees is far outside the mainstream of the UT student body.
In December of 2009, Just months before Gardner wrote about not sacrificing his moral values, the Student Government Assembly voted on AR 26: In Opposition to the Denial of Competitive Benefits. It passed on a vote of 24-1-1, with no debate, and was signed by then student body president Liam O'Rourke. Would Gardner have vetoed the near unanimously supported resolution because of his strong moral values?
How far outside the mainstream is Gardner's position? Here is a link to the results of how the UT student precincts voted on Proposition 2 in 2005 when Texas asked voters to ban "gay marriage," a far more controversial issue than employee domestic partner benefits. Across the city, students rejected the discriminatory measure at rates as high as 91%. In 2005!
At best, Madison Gardner is a flip-flopper, sacrificing his self stated strong moral beliefs as needed for political purposes. At worst, he is one of a very small handful of people that believe, in 2012, that same-sex employees of the University don't deserve equal access to basic health benefits.
Longhorns deserve more than another pair of fraternity brothers representing the Campus Crusade for Christ and Texas Cowboys as the next UT student body President and Vice President. Thankfully students have another choice in John Lawler and his Go Big Texas campaign. We'll have more about his campaign in a follow up post later this week.
Voting takes place online between February 29 at 8 AM and March 1 at 5 PM.
While I never served as an elected student representative, I was a Student Government Agency Director of the then GLBTAAA, now QSA, under three separate Student Government administrations. I served on the Daily Texan's student endorsement panel, twice, spending 16 hours in the basement of the communications building, interviewing candidates after pouring over their questionnaires, and writing up well-reasoned endorsements.
Remember, Congressman Lloyd Doggett was elected Student Body President at UT in 1967. What starts here, changes the world. It is our duty to ensure that we start on the right foot- and change the world for the better.