SG and Senate of College Councils approve joint “vote of no confidence” against Regent Hall

Jordan Rudner and Anna Daugherty

Student Government members registered formal disapproval of the recent actions of UT Regent Wallace Hall, approving a “vote of no confidence” against Hall at their meeting Tuesday.

The joint resolution with the Senate of College Councils, which was passed with 25 SG votes, was proposed in light of recent allegations that Hall violated student privacy, according to Senate president Andrew Clark. SG President Horacio Villarreal and SG Chief Justice Philip Wiseman proposed the resolution together with Clark.   

“We are saying as students that we do not have confidence in Regent Hall to perform his duties,” Clark said.

Hall is currently under investigation by the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations for allegedy overstepping his boundaries as a regent. Last week, the commitee heard testimony from UT System employees who said Hall had received documents with unredacted student information typically protected under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

According to the board’s general counsel Francie Frederick, the information was mistakenly given to Hall after University and UT System officials took unorthodox steps to grant him access to the hundreds of thousands of documents he requested.

“If I were replaying this, we would not hand one document to Regent Hall before someone in my office actually looked at it,” Frederick said in her testimony. “I think we failed him by allowing this to happen.”

After seeing private student information, Hall allegedly showed the documents to his private attorney, Frederick said. 

The legislation was fast-tracked to a vote, and members of student government received the resolution less than an hour before the SG meeting began, according to Melysa Barth, a representative for the College of Education. Typically, legislation must be submitted by midnight on the Friday preceding an SG meeting. 

Barth said the last-minute nature of the resolution left her unable to determine how her constituents felt about Hall’s performance.

“It is not your job to vote on behalf of yourself; it is your job to vote on behalf of your constituents,” Barth said at the meeting.

Business student Garrett Neville, who voted no to the resolution, said he had similar concerns.

“I’m supposed to represent my constituents, and I have not had the chance to hear from them,” Neville said.

Ali Raza, University-wide representative and member of the Liberal Arts Council, said he felt strongly about the importance of the resolution and said he was prepared to represent the desires of the Council. 

“This is almost unanimously supported by the Liberal Arts Council,” Raza said. “I can justify voting in favor of this resolution — it is our job to vote about the contents of this resolution.”

Architecture student representative Andrew Grant Houston said he was frustrated by the attention Hall’s actions were receiving.

“There is a new university being built in Rio Grande … that should be the biggest thing going on this year, but it’s not,” Houston said at the meeting. “It’s being undermined by Regent Wallace Hall’s actions.”