Student Government works to increase civic engagement, voter turnout

Katie Balevic

The Student Government Assembly had its first meeting of the semester on Tuesday, when it passed a resolution establishing the UT at Austin Civic Advisory Board to increase civic engagement on campus.

“There are people that we will never be able to reach by tabling in West Mall,” said university-wide representative Charlie Bonner, an author of the resolution. “So by combining forces, we can look at what the University can do and what Student Government can do to change the way that we are doing things.”

Assembly Resolution 15 formed The Civic Advisory Board, which will bring together representatives from political organizations on campus to work on increasing engagement and voter turnout, Bonner said.

“(This board) would bring together the different political voices on this campus in order to support initiatives within student government and on campus … and to reduce barriers to civic engagement across the board in systematic ways,” said Bonner, Plan II junior.

While other campus organizations work with political engagement, Bonner said this board will focus on the systemic issues that prevent students from registering to vote.

“There are other committees that focus on voter registration, but this would have a broader reach for civic engagement,” said speaker Madison Huerta, management senior. “It would be getting people from all across campus together to talk in a productive way.”

Resolution co-author Sophie Belton said the board will address problems from both sides of the political spectrum and bring together those who want to talk through the issues.

“In the past few years at UT, I’ve seen so many contentious issues come up, and groups — instead of working together to talk about their ideological differences — just bicker about it,” Belton, mechanical engineering senior, said.

The board, which will meet regularly, hopes to get voter registration up to one hundred percent participation from eligible students, according to the legislation.

Huerta jokingly referred to A.R. 15 as “the resolution that never dies” because of its many revisions, which Bonner said was because of its structure.

“We’ve added two different clauses to clarify that the board will be chaired by the Chair of the Student Government Committee on Governmental Affairs … and then the first board that is set up will establish its own rules and regulations as to how it will govern and how often it will meet,” Bonner said.

The resolution passed unanimously with 28 votes in favor.