Fenves addresses Student Government, emphasizes listening to student body

Paul Cobler

University President Gregory Fenves spoke to the Student Government assembly Tuesday night, showing his support for SG and speaking on several key issues involving the University.

Campus safety, affirmative action and campus carry were key parts of Fenves’ speech before he opened the floor to the student representatives for questions.

“Student government plays a very important role in our University with student life and issues that affect students,” Fenves said. “I want to listen to issues that are important to students, as well.”

Fenves fielded a wide variety of questions regarding University policy and plans for the future from the assembly.

Fenves also answered a question about the possible Big 12 expansion, saying that no decision has been made by the conference, but one could be expected around late October.

“We are going through a process, but there has been no decision made on whether we are going to add teams, and if we are going to add teams, which ones they will be,” Fenves said. “The announcement we have made that I think is a good one is that we are going to add a championship game.”

Finally, Fenves extended an invitation to the entire assembly to attend his State of the University Address next week, saying he will announce initiatives for the coming year during the speech, and encouraging the student body to be more involved with the University’s process.

“It is very important that I work with students on the major issues,” Fenves said. “We have a number of mechanisms to do that, such as Student Government and the Academic Advising Council.”

After Fenves’ speech, SG sent AR 7 to committee, a bill that supports incorporating gender-inclusive bathrooms in all pre-existing buildings. 

In committee, the authors of the bill will have an opportunity to speak more about the bill before it is voted on at next week’s meeting.

“We as a University can and should strive to create as inclusive of a campus environment as possible,” SG President Kevin Helgren said. “By creating something as inclusive as gender neutral bathrooms, it helps to send an extremely progressive and an extremely positive message to students currently on campus and students considering pursuing an education at the University of Texas.”

SG also approved AB 6, a bill creating the position of associate director of viability to SG.

Jonathan Harper, SG internal financial director, said the position will work to make sure every action SG approves is financially viable for the University.

“The position hopes to look at the financial viability of bills before they hit the desks of administrators,” Harper said. “As student representatives, we don’t want any excuses for our bills not to be enacted. We know that a lot of the things we want done have a fiscal impact, and we want to make sure that they’re viable.”

Harper also said the position will search for new sources of funds the University can use to put Student Government bills into practice.