Student Government reflects on fall accomplishments, looks to Invest in Texas campaign, outdoor water fountains next semester

Bobby Blanchard

As they look back over this past semester and ahead to the next one, Student Government president Thor Lund and vice-president Wills Brown said they are happy with what they see.

Brown and Lund announced later gym hours at Gregory Gym and the Recreational Sports Center on Wednesday night, the latest in a series of goals they met this past fall. Gregory Gym will now stay open until 1 a.m. and the Recreational Sports Center will stay open until 11 p.m.

“When Thor and I were freshmen, those were the hours,” Brown said. “The cutback was hard on us and from other students we heard from.”

With gym hours expanded, Brown and Lund said they are now looking forward to the spring, when their primary goal will be advocating for UT during the legislative session. Along with the Graduate Student Assembly, Senate of College Councils and other student organizations on campus, Student Government will lobby through a campaign called Invest In Texas.

“Every week we have meetings with the operational committee, going over platform, finalizing our points and preparing for what we need to do for winter break,” Lund said.

Among other requests, the Invest in Texas platform asks the Legislature to allow UT to decide its own admissions policy, determine its own campus gun policy and give the UT System student regent and the student representative on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board a vote in decisions.

Currently, Student Government is attempting to get outdoor water fountains built on campus.

“You got to promote hydration,” Brown said. “I’ve walked on campus and wished for an outdoor water fountain, because sometimes you don’t know where the water fountains are inside. And that’s odd.”

After asking for student input, Brown and Lund requested UT facilities install outdoor water fountains at Perry-Castañeda Library, near the intersection of Speedway and 24th Street and outside Robert Lee Moore Hall.

Although Lund and Brown expect Invest in Texas to keep them busy this spring, they said they were equally busy this past fall.

On the first day of classes and during their first student body YouTube address, Lund and Brown announced the Perry-Castañeda Library would start functioning on a 24/5 schedule midway through the semester.

“We’ve had students who we don’t know come up to us and thank us for making the PCL 24/5,” Brown said. “That was a huge deal for me.”

The initiative costs around $40,000 per year, of which the Student Services Budget Committee, the University Libraries and the Provost’s Office split the costs. When Lund and Brown met with the University’s administration about making the Perry-Castañeda Library 24/5, Brown said they were supportive.

“It was on us to find the money, but the administration was there to help us,” Brown said.

As an unexpected side effect, Travis Willmann, spokesperson for the Perry-Castañeda Library, said the library saw an 11.8 percent increase in visitors from October of last year compared to October of this year.

Lund and Brown also expanded Student Government this semester, creating the new Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency. Lund and Brown created the Longhorn Entrepreneurship Agency to increase support to student entrepreneurs.

“We want our entrepreneurial students to be as celebrated as our athletes,” Lund said.

Lund and Brown also restructured intramural sports, adding a basketball league to the fall and a football league to the spring. Brown said sign-ups for basketball in the fall filled up quickly, and he suspects sign-ups for football in the spring will fill up just as rapidly.

Printed on Friday, December 7, 2012 as: SG anticipates spring initiatives