Five campus issues for students to watch this fall

This editorial has been updated to reflect further development of campus issues since its original publication.

UT Student Government: This past year, the student body made the novel choice of electing President Xavier Rotnofsky and Vice President Rohit Mandalapu to lead Student Government. The two — outsiders to SG, with positively no experience — are in a fine position to understand students’ frustration with the organization that is meant to represent our interests (which may indeed be a large part of why they were elected). Their positions, past and present, have created a unique opportunity to change the way SG operates on campus. Since their election, Rotnofsky and Mandalapu have begun coordinating several improvement efforts on campus and have served on the task force examining Confederate statuary on campus. Now, as the two enter their first full semester in office, students should keep on eye on how SG grows to better serve them.

Confederate Symbols: On August 13, President Gregory Fenves announced plans to relocate the Jefferson Davis statue from the Main Mall to the Dolph Briscoe. But the issue won’t end with the Fenves' decision: Students needs to decide how we are going to confront race on campus in ways other than the removal of Confederate statuary, and the fall semester is the time to start.

Campus Carry: Over the course of the 2015–2016 academic year, Texas public universities will be planning how to deal with the imminent implementation of campus carry, which extends the right of concealed firearm licensees to carry on campuses. UT-Austin will soon announce a committee to make campus-specific protocols for dealing with the controversial new law. We hope to see the committee maintain frequent updates on progress as well as correspond with faculty and student leaders as the protocols begin to take shape.

UT Athletic Department Issues: This upcoming semester will be a contentious one for Texas Athletics. Engulfed in controversy since the athletic department came under third-party review for potential academic misconduct from student-athletes in June, as well as backlash against Athletic Director Steve Patterson and increased ticket prices, the department will have no shortage of headlines. According to NCAA policies, the University will also be required to pay student athletes, which will create further financial constraints for the department but will compensate them for their work. Additionally, alcoholic beverages will be introduced at football games this semester. Overall, this semester will present new challenges, exciting changes and hopefully more revenue for what Fenves has called the “front door” of the University.

Admissions: Controversy involving unqualified students gaining admission to this university because of political connections has continued even after former President William Powers Jr.’s departure from office. Regent Wallace Hall has recently — and contentiously — filed suit against the University to discover the extent of such practices, straining the relationships between major administrative branches. These issues will develop slowly but could lead to serious changes in the relevant departments.