Students, faculty advocate for more inclusive UT

While students come to UT-Austin from all over Texas, and all over the world, not all of them arrive on an equal playing field. The university can do more to alleviate the institutional barriers that bar students from success, and students and faculty are continuously looking for avenues to do so.

This week, The Daily Texan Forum team explores perspectives from students and staff who are fighting to give students from all backgrounds access to equal opportunities, as well as an inclusive environment in which they can thrive. 

Students Suzanne Jacobs and Elizabeth Gutiérrez Mata, leaders of student group the People for PMA, write about their movement to rename Robert Lee Moore (RLM) Hall as the Physics, Math, and Astronomy (PMA) Building. The hall’s name has come under scrutiny for honoring the legacy of a former UT mathematics professor who was openly racist toward African-American students. Jacobs and Gutiérrez Mata argue that keeping Moore’s name on the building sends the message that UT values his over creating a
welcome environment for all students.

Madison Searle, director of the College of Natural Sciences Honors Center, speaks to the need for more diverse representation in UT’s honors programs. He lists obstacles that hinder minority students from participating in honors programs, including the lack of access to information about opportunities, or the underestimation of students’ own abilities. Searle points out the mutual benefit that more diversity would have for honors programs and their students as well. 

Finally, first-generation student Katherine Velez recounts her own experiences as the first member of her family to attend college. She highlights the challenges faced by first-generation students like her, from figuring out the application process to keeping track of unexpected expenses. Velez calls on first-generation students to realize they are not alone and that their hard work will pay off.

If you have an opinion on these subjects or any other, please reach out to The Daily Texan Forum team at [email protected]

Nemawarkar is a Plan II and government junior from Austin. Shirvaikar is a math and economics junior from Frisco. Anderson is a Plan II and history sophomore from Houston.