Horns Up, Horns Down for Nov. 11


Horns Down: LBJ Library to start charging admission.

Starting on Tuesday, the LBJ Library will start charging admission for the first time in its 41-year history, according to the Austin American-Statesman. The change was announced last November when the library opened after technological renovations. But thanks to the government shutdown, enforcement was delayed until this week. Though the LBJ Library has been the only presidential library not to charge admission, we find the new policy disturbing since the late president insisted that his library be open to all. With a wall full of big-time donors on display in the library, we find it hard to believe that it’s necessary to pass the renovation costs on to visitors.

Horns Up: Bike ride raises awareness of violence in Mexico.

In a time when advocacy bike rides are so ubiquitous as to be instantly forgettable, Carlos Gutierrez’s completion Saturday of his 12-day, 800-mile bike ride from El Paso to Austin is memorable both for his intent — to call attention to Mexicans seeking asylum in the U.S. — and the visibility of the horror Gutierrez is attempting to escape. Gutierrez, a victim of drug cartel violence, had both of his legs cut off below the knee for refusing to pay extortion fees to cartel members. Gutierrez is just one of thousands of Mexicans affected by drug violence who have sought asylum in the U.S. Ninety percent of those requests, according to the Texas Tribune, are denied. But Gutierrez, who is currently awaiting a decision on his application for asylum, has said that the ride was not an effort to protest the U.S. government but to bring attention to the cause. We applaud Gutierrez for his strength and hope that more conversations about immigration make note of the violence facing Mexican citizens seeking asylum from their home country.

Horns Down: Rules under consideration would hurt students living off campus.

On Nov. 21, the Austin City Council is tentatively scheduled to consider a measure targeting “stealth dorms,” or single family homes/duplexes that house more than the number of individuals allowed by city rules, according to an article in the Austin American-Statesman on Sunday. The move reflects a growing dissatisfaction with the number of college students living in homes around campus. City Council members Mike Martinez and Chris Riley’s proposal to remedy the issue includes a measure to reduce Austin’s occupancy limit — the number of unrelated individuals who can live in a single-family home — from six to four. This would force college students out of the now more-affordable off-campus neighborhoods, as individual rent prices there would effectively rise. While bad tenant behavior of college students may be a legitimate concern, occupancy limits are a roundabout way of remedying the situation. Not only would they avoid targeting the root cause of “stealth dorms,” the lack of affordable housing in Austin, they would  put in place a measure that banks on the historically low voice students have in local politics. And where would those supporting stricter occupancy limits propose students go for affordable living — 45 minutes off campus? Out of all the compromises people must make to live close to campus in a college town, having students as neighbors seems to be the most obvious one. So, rather than legislating on their own, we encourage the City Council to involve students in any discussion concerning our residential patterns.