As of Fall 2011, 20% of UT's student body is Hispanic. But that isn't stopping a couple of sororities from throwing a party chock full of racist stereotypes about Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.
Last night, two sororities, Zeta Tau Alpha and Delta Delta Delta, hosted their annual "Zeta-Tri Delt Fiesta Party" at Recess Bar on 6th street. They rented the bar out until 12:30p.m. for their hundreds of guests, many of whom wore ponchos and other stereotypical Mexican garb of a bygone era.
Now, I don't believe that wearing tradition Mexican attire is inherently racist. But I do know that you have to be classy about it. Laying down some ground rules for attire would have been a much better step for the sororities, instead of encouraging hundreds of drunk Texas Greeks to parade around 6th street in clothing which suggests that this is what Mexicans and Mexican-Americans wear. Anyone who's been to a modern-day fiesta knows that this isn't how people dress.
Unfortunately, having no rules led these two sororities to host a party which also accepted, and obviously encouraged, outright racism. See the picture in this post, taken from the event. What the hell does an undocumented immigrant and a border patrol officer have to do with a fiesta party, which is supposed to be a celebration of Mexican-American culture? The "illegals" are clearly what some students thought this party was a referendum on. If you're not an "illegal" - a crude, dehumanizing term suggesting that a person's entire existence is defined by the status of their papers - then you're an ancient Mexican stereotype divorced from today's society. This type of dress should absolutely have been banned by two sororities claiming to be stand-up members of the UT and Austin communities.
It's not that these two sororities are racist, nor that all their guests are. It's that there are bounds of reasons in everything - themed parties included. Your right to free speech doesn't mean others can't critique the way you use it. There are 600 undocumented UT students in the same community as these revelers and they should be able to expect respect from their Longhorn peers. In their efforts both to study on Texas's DREAM Act, while politicians debate ridiculously over a national DREAM Act, it's not right for them to have to put up with this public display of antipathy.
A former UT student pranked Fox News exposing their bias against President Obama. The young man is actually an aspiring comedian - a fact that Fox News would have realized had they bothered to do their homework. But, according to Max Rice producers at the cable news channel, "were so happy that I fit the mold and that I was Caucasian...They were just casting a part in a show." He exchanged as many as 20 emails with Fox News producers noting they were, "telling me what to say...It's so ridiculous."
Rice said that he wanted his story to get told so everyone would know that "Fox News is a fake news organization". Fox scheduled the interview with Rice after producers put out feelers for a recent college graduate who had voted for Obama, could not find work, and was voting for Mitt Romney. "The first thing that shocked me is that they were that desperate to find someone that fit that category," he told The Raw Story. He said had Fox News done the math they would have realized after watching his 2010 high school commencement speech that he wasn't set to graduate college until 2014. "They just couldn't find anyone. They're in New York City, so they had to go find a kid in Chicago."
You can view the cringe inducing video and the original report at The Raw Story.
Today Fox News was forced to report some bad news on Romney but instead of focusing on the story itself the headline read, "Romney calls 'victims' comment 'off the cuff,' as Obama campaign seizes on video". The series of secretly recorded videos feature Romney at a private fundraiser saying Obama supporters don't pay taxes, and it quickly spread across the internet. Romney is quoted saying, "These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. My job is not to worry about those people...".
Here's some news for Fox and Romney, recent college graduates who can't find any work don't pay any either.
In February, University of Texas professor of geologic sciences and associate director of UT's Energy Institute Charles "Chip" Groat released a study called "Fact-Based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Development," which found no evidence that hydrauling fracking harms the environment. When it was discovered that Groat has been on Houston-based oil company Plains Exploration & Production Co.'s board for several years, the study's validity was immediately thrown into question - and for good reason. Groat has received millions of dollars from Plains. In 2011 alone, Plains paid Groat $413,900 and Groat holds more than $1.6 million in the company's stock. Groat has refused to comment on the study to defend himself.
So, fact-finding professor or amoral industry hack? That's what a new UT panel announced Tuesday will try to find out. The Austin American Statesman profiled the three-member panel:
The panel will be chaired by Norman Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., and a member of a scientific and technology advisory council under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and a NASA committee under President Barack Obama. He has served as board member of the nonprofit Ethics Resource Center.
Joining him are James Duderstadt, president emeritus of the University of Michigan, who has served on the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy at the National Academies; and Rita Colwell, former director of the National Science Foundation and former president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute. She chairs the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, which is distributing $500 million for research in the wake of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Augustine, Duderstadt, and Colwell will attempt to determine the scientific credibility of the report. They have a very important responsibility, and one that all those who care about UT should care about too. If the university cannot be trusted to produce factual studies because of corporate influence, the university fails to exist. It becomes a propaganda machine. No UT student spends or spent time on the Forty Acres to learn from a propaganda machine.
And, by the way, fracking totally does harm the environment - viciously. "Chip" Groat's study appeared to be a very rare non-industry studies to say otherwise...until it became clear that it was industry-sponsored.
Yesterday, 37 state legislators, led by Houston's Senator Rodney Ellis, filed an Amicus Brief with the Supreme Cout of the United States in support of the University of Texas' admissions policy, which utilizes race as a consideration. The admissions policy was adopted after Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, which outlined acceptable ways to use race.
The University's policy was upheld both by District Court Judge Sam Sparks and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court will decide this case without the help of Justice Elana Kagan, who has recused herself from the case.
If the high court rules against the University of Texas, the increased diversity at UT and other institutions across the country will likely start reversing without some other effective public policy.
In filing the petition, Ellis said, "I fear that if the Supreme Court overturns UT's admissions policies, we will likely see campuses that do not reflect a state as diverse as Texas. I pray the Supreme Court will recognize the wisdom of its prior decision, because we cannot afford to roll back the clock on a half century of progress."
The legal counsel for the legislator's brief includes Robin Lenhardt of Fordham University School of Law, Michelle Adams from Cardozo School of Law, John Brittain from the David A. Clark School of Law at the University of District Columbia, and Eric L. Lewis, a partner at Lewis Baach PLLC.
Every Democrat in the Travis County delegation at the Texas Legislature joined Senator Ellis with this brief. Congressional nominee Marc Veasey was also among those who joined.
(The Trayvon Martin cartoon published by The Daily Texan drew no shortage of international outrage last week. The subsequent firing of the cartoonist also drew sharp criticism. The piece below was written by a student who writes for The Daily Texan and objects to the firing. What are your thoughts about the writer's opinion of the cartoon, and separately, the call to reinstate Ms. Eisner?
You may also read this writer's other opinion pieces for The Daily Texanhere. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
It's understandable that the editorial staff at The Daily Texan is breathing a sigh of relief right now. After quickly apologizing and sacking its cartoonist Stephanie Eisner, the Editorial Board undoubtedly believes it can quickly move on from this episode. That's a real shame, and the paper should reinstate Eisner.
Much of the criticism focused on the use of the word "colored" in the cartoon. Protesters argued that this word was a highly derogatory and antiquated reference to African-Americans, and that using this word belittled Trayvon Martin.
But back in 2008 Lindsay Lohan used the term "colored" to describe then President-elect Obama in a television interview with Access Hollywood. Instead of protests and threats of ending Lohan's career, Lohan got a clean bill of health from the NAACP. Indeed, the nation's largest African-American civil rights organization noted that the term "colored" is neither derogatory nor offensive. It's a bit of a double standard to give Lohan a free pass on the use of the word "colored" while excoriating Eisner for doing the same.
At any rate, does anyone really think that these protesters would have been mollified by a word other than "colored"? Suppose that the term "black" or "African-American" were inserted in its stead. Would there truly be no outrage?
George Carlin once famously stated, "Language is all about context, and words have different meanings." The cartoon's critics evidently ignored the words "THE MEDIA" etched on the chair. The woman in the chair, who also personified the national media, read aloud a crude and oversimplified narrative of the tragedy in racialist terminology. Instead of acknowledging the complex and multifaceted nature of the murder, the national media persistently focused on race and race above all else.
That's why Eisner's statement that the cartoon was an indictment of base racialism should be at least considered at face value. Even a cursory interpretation of the cartoon that sees the cartoon as belittling Martin's death has flaws. Stripped of adjectives, any statement would ultimately boil down to "a man murdered a boy". Even if one set aside race in the tragedy for a moment, no journalism, yellow or otherwise, could change the veracity of that statement. How can anyone belittle the gravity of such an awful truth?
But I digress. Even if you entirely disagree with me, and hold that Eisner's cartoon is intrinsically racist to the core, you'd be hard pressed to deny a double standard in her firing. It's evident that Eisner did not set out to deliberately provoke or offend, but professional editorial cartoonists who do seek to raise tempers don't get booted from the payroll.
In 2008 the cartoonist Barry Blitt drew a cover for The New Yorker that outraged rank-and-file liberals: The Obamas, dressed in Islamic fundamentalist garb, gave each other a fist bump in the White House as American flag burned in the fireplace. Rahm Emanuel, then a Congressman, angrily declared that he would be canceling his subscription to The New Yorker. Blitt argued that he was satirizing the Right's obsession with linking Obama to radical Islam, much as Eisner says she satirized the national media's obsession with race in the Trayvon Martin case.
The following year, The New York Post's cartoonist Sean Delonas caused a firestorm of controversy with a cartoon of a dead chimpanzee and two Connecticut police officers. In the cartoon, one of the cops remarks, "They'll have to find someone else to write the stimulus bill". African-American leaders were justifiably outraged at the apparent depiction of President Obama as a primate, and the Post offered an apology to those offended.
Both Blitt and Delonas drew controversial cartoons far less implicit in their capability to cause outrage and indignation. In Blitt's case, the cartoon sought to ruffle feathers. Yet both men kept their jobs and continued to provide illustrations for their respective publications. Eisner, by contrast, was sacked for a far more ambiguous and arguably far less offensive cartoon.
This is a fundamental unfairness that The Daily Texan should rectify. Other than the UT Shuttle System and the Nursing School, The Daily Texan is my favorite institution at UT. I used to write for them as an opinion columnist, so I understand what it feels like to be pilloried by the campus community for my views. But freedom of speech includes the freedom to offend, and Eisner did not seek to offend. I have a petition on Change.org calling for her reinstatement, and I urge you to sign it.
As a constituent of Mike Jackson, I was horrified that he didn't show up at the UTMB Town Meeting during which our (I am a UTMB employee and patient) continued existence was discussed.
After Ike, Ron Paul's staffer's had helped me out with Amtrak to the tune of $700, and I was thrilled. They were invaluable at a true time of need for me. So when I emailed Mike Jackson's office, I was stunned to received this reply. Mike Jackson's campaign manager's reply is in italics, below.
Senator Jackson and his staff were not aware of the Town Hall meeting otherwise he would have been there, just as he has been at every other Hurricane Ike Recovery meeting of which he has been contacted. Do you really believe any politician would skip the chance to be in the same place with 4000 of his constituents? Do you really think he would do nothing while 4000 of his constituents lose their jobs and one of the premier medical facilities in the country that serves much of his district just closes its doors? That would be crazy.
Nevertheless, he has already been working with his colleagues in the Legislature to make certain there is funding in our next state budget to help keep UTMB open and prevent the loss of jobs. He has been in constant contact with Dr. Callender and will continue to work closely with UTMB to make sure they have the resources they need to fully recover.
I wouldn't expect you to take me at my word though since you are a Democrat and are simply repeating Senator Jackson's opponents statements. Are you really inclined to believe lawyer a who really wants to be an elected official again? He wasn't any good when he was a City Councilman.
University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers, in an email to UT alumni and friends, came out in support of increasing higher education capacity and funding "excellence" at the state's existing national research universities.
We cannot escape the fact that Texas spends less of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education than other states. In 2006, Texas' spending on higher education and public schools amounted to 3.35% of our GDP. Michigan spent 4.49%, California spent 4.24%, and North Carolina spent 4.05%.* These differences may seem slight, but as an illustration, if we added 1% of our state GDP to education spending, it would generate $8.5 billion. Adding 1/10 of 1% would provide $850 million annually.
It is also worth noting that California spends almost twice as much on higher education than Texas, and it has done so consistently for many years, even though its population is only a third larger. That investment has surely played a role in California's GDP, which is 75% greater than ours.
Simply put, our competitors are investing more in education, and they have systematically done so for years. We are far behind.
Powers echoes many of the same thoughts as LSG Chair State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), and even notes the fallacy of the Legislature's current spending practices as they relate to the state of education in Texas:
An organization I'm involved with at UT is preparing for our 11th annual 5K race in just a couple of weeks, and I thought I'd extend the invitation to come out and run for a good cause! This year, we're benefitting Project 2009, which is an East Austin community cleanup project. The largest single one-day of community service in Austin helps to paint houses, pick up litter, repair parks, and otherwise foster a greater emphasis on community in Austin.
That being said, we need your help! As of the time of this writing, we only have 86 runners for the race that is Sunday, April 20th, 2008 at 8am on the UT Campus. If you can come out and run (or walk) for a good cause, please consider registering for our race (it's only $20 and includes a great goodie bag!) If not, please consider donating as little as $1 to help clean up your community!
In thirteen days, the deadline to register to vote in the March 4th Texas primary will pass, and 80% of the country will prepare to vote on Super Tuesday. That means we Longhorns have fewer than two weeks to register Texans to vote and call early states as part of the biggest get out the vote effort in American history. Your voice is needed at this defining moment.
We need your help to make phonecalls to voters on the West coast. If you are willing to contribute some of your time to Barack Obama's campaign, we want you.
Please bring your laptops and cell phones and join us in the Forty Acres room of the Texas Union between 9pm and 11pm during one or more of the next 13 nights. We will be in the forty acres room every night until February 4th. If you can't meet us in the Union, but would still like to help us make calls, please respond to this email with "Unity" in the subject line, any message you wish to incude, and your name and phone number in the body.
You don't have to have worked on a campaign before in order to help. We need everyone to speak up for change we can believe in.
Also-- Remember that the deadline for registering to vote in the Texas Primary is February 4. Make sure you, your family, and your friends will be registered to vote by the February 4th deadline. We can register you to vote at the phonebank if you are not yet registered in Travis County.
The next University of Texas Students for Barack Obama meeting is next Tuesday, January 29th in Burdine 208 from 6 to 7 PM.