Newly elected first-year representatives lay out plans

Lisa Dreher

Biology freshman Maher Rahman frantically messaged people in his contact list to vote for him, while Holden Hopkins, Plan II and business honors freshman, had dinner with friends of the same business honors program the night they were elected as first-year representatives.

“I would not have been with any other group of people when I found out,” Hopkins said. “You can’t match how that feels to see them so happy for you.”

The election results for Student Government first-year representatives were released Wednesday night at 6 p.m., following a week of campaigning by freshmen and transfer students vying for the position.

“It was really fun seeing the joy on his face,” business honors freshman Scott Kennedy, who was at dinner with Hopkins, said. “He’s very passionate and very genuine.”

As first-year representative, Hopkins said he wants to be optimistic and improve upon already effective policies rather than try to amend every student’s grievance. Hopkins’ interest in politics began in seventh grade, but at W.B. Ray High School, he disregarded the student council because he felt it made insignificant changes. 

“I don’t believe in running to solve problems,” Hopkins said. “It’s about looking at it as, ‘Where is there opportunity for more growth?’”

Although he does not have many specific plans, Hopkins said one of his goals is extending Kinsolving Dining Hall’s hours past 7 p.m. because many students only have time to eat later at night.

Rahman, an Austin High School graduate, said his platform is centered around aiding students with their mental and emotional states given the demands and stress of college. He also informally tutors and counsels students at UT after having done the same in middle and high school.

“If you talk to a friend, it’s not their job to help you, but they’re doing it because they’re your friend so you’re more open to them,” Rahman said.

His roommate Alexis Flores Escarcega, a computer science sophomore, said he appreciates Rahman individually listening to people first and then applying those situations to the issues of the entire
student body.

“He makes sure that they’re heard,” Escarcega said. “He’s really good at sensing people’s emotions and making them feel better.”

Rahman said some of his goals are to extend the Counseling and Mental Health Center’s hours, which are currently weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as to reorganize the Longhorn Welcome event and group similar student organizations together so students know where to go for specific types.

Both candidates said they oppose campus carry, and Hopkins said he hopes to ease tensions between the two sides with an open mind.

“I am 100 percent for a gun-free UT,” Hopkins said. “But it is about still being able to recognize that they have the best interest of others at heart and then trying to work out a synthesis from there.”

Rahman said he will inform students, especially incoming freshmen, about the limitations and freedoms of concealed handgun license holders and how those affect other students under the new policy.

“Some of my friends are talking about how people will be coming here with rifles or assault rifles,” Rahman said. “I’m against campus carry, but it’s not really like that.”

Rahman and Hopkins will serve as first-year representatives through next spring.