We started this semester with a close examination of President Kori Rady and Vice President Taylor Strickland’s platform points and goals for their administration. Since their terms had begun in April, we evaluated their progress and also looked to establish a conversation on their actions so that they could be held accountable throughout their tenure.
Now, as the semester winds down, we return to that theme and once again assess their successes, failures and chances of notching a few extra wins next semester:
Perhaps the signal achievement of Rady and Strickland’s year in office will be the opening of the Flawn Academic Center 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This long-frustrated goal of a student named Alexander Dickey was taken up by Rady and forwarded to the Student Government Assembly and administrators. At the time, we lobbied for this change and believe that it will deliver a great deal of good to students.
Rady and Strickland also won big with their successful implementation of Safe Ride, a late-night car service that ferries students home to select areas from their weekend revelry downtown. As the Texan reported in August, the program got off to a slightly bumpy start as the contract with uRide, the company that provides the service, was not signed in time for the originally desired start date of the first week of school. Around the same time, uRide 24-5, which since October of last year has powered a late-night ride-home service from the Perry Castañeda Library, was expanded to West Campus.
The duo have also won chits with the student body by their support of embattled University President William Powers Jr. over the summer as well as their work toward extending Thanksgiving break to the Wednesday of that week.
Unfortunately, however, the team’s good works have, to a certain extent, been drowned out by an intermittent racket of political dramas.
We saw this most recently in the scuttled attempt to impeach Chief of Staff Chris Jordan. Such a move would have done more harm than good and, although apparently popular among a majority of Student Government Assembly members, was clearly a demonstration of political heft and ill-will on the part of certain Jordan detractors. The charges laid against him, while unflattering, do not amount to anything impeachable in our eyes.
One of those charges is his supposed complicity in the “cover-up,” as some have called it, of the internal and external appointees’ interview notes. Previous Student Government internal rules required that they be disclosed to the Assembly, but in August, the UT Office of Legal Affairs determined that releasing them would violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. This requirement has thus been removed from the new governing documents, which were adopted earlier this month. Whether Jordan should have released the notes remains a point of contention, but given the decision by the University’s lawyers, it is clear he had good reason to be concerned about the propriety of such an action.
That does not absolve Jordan of all blame, however. There are many areas in which his behavior could stand to improve next semester. First of all, he absolutely must improve his tone of communication with certain members of the Assembly and the student body. Politics can at times devolve into a blood sport, but Jordan can’t let his own personal animosity toward certain people affect his everyday business interactions with them. Not only does it lower the tone of the body he represents, but it also poisons the atmosphere.
Another issue, not mentioned in the articles of impeachment, is Rady’s likely inadvertent release of a number of internal and external appointee candidates’ GPAs by not blacking them out on their resumes, which were released to the media. If Jordan was erring on the side of caution, then Rady erred on the side of recklessness, a much worse crime than the former.
Rady and Strickland have a great opportunity to finish out their terms strong next semester. They will finally have the chance to enact certain state legislative goals that will really be able to gain steam in January. Some of these include their desire for a state-approved student ID that could be used at the polls as well as, more generally, a more robust presence for Invest in Texas, a nonpartisan campaign designed to advocate on behalf of UT students and students at other institutions of higher education across the state.
Next semester, Rady and Strickland should try to move on from the drama of the past and focus solely on doing substantial good for the student body.