Reflection spaces to registration bars: What to expect from UT Student Government this year

Sara Schleede

While students this summer have been working internships, going on vacation or taking courses, Student Government has been preparing for another school year, focusing on empowering students and creating more accessible academic and social opportunities. 

“A lot of this summer has been us identifying where to go for certain initiatives and who to contact and connect people to,” SG vice president Mehraz Rahman said.

Due in part to SG meetings over the summer, a new voting location is set to open on campus this fall, and consent education will now be included in all freshmen and transfer student interest group meetings starting in fall 2019.

Other initiatives in the works include mental health policies in all syllabi to make it easier for students to advocate for their mental health, as well as the creation of a reflection space in one of the engineering buildings.

The new reflection space will be the third on campus, and Rahman — who is Muslim — said she appreciates having more because it can be difficult to run around campus to pray five times a day. 

“The reflection spaces would be for everybody who wants to meditate or practice whatever religion, but since a lot of practicing Muslim students pray five times a day, it would be really useful for them to have that space,” said Rahman, a Plan II and marketing senior.

SG president Colton Becker said he has been in contact with Texas Athletics in hopes of implementing a payment plan for The Big Ticket. Becker said there should not be financial barriers to such an integral part of the UT experience.

“For students who come from financially privileged backgrounds, dropping $200 isn’t a big issue,” nutrition senior Becker said. “For the majority of students who are middle class or lower income students, it’s not as simple as getting mom or dad’s credit card or asking them to transfer money to your account so you can buy The Big Ticket.”

Becker and Rahman were also approached by a printing company about possibly implementing free printing across campus, and Rahman said they are looking for a solution that could prevent financial aid bars from hindering class registration.

Sarah Boatwright, SG director of communications, and advocacy director Rajya Atluri have spearheaded “SGConnect,” an online form for students to submit ideas for initiatives and receive resources and guidance from an SG assembly member. 

“We’re really blessed to have easy access to a lot of different areas on campus and a wealth of information and resources at our fingertips,” said Boatwright, a Plan II and sustainability studies junior. “We want to extend those resources to other students as well.”

Becker and Rahman said they want to work with the student body to ensure that every student feels represented by SG. 

“It’s important for people to recognize that we’re all Longhorns, and I think we kind of lost that during the election period,” Becker said. “We’re trying to meet other students where they’re at and to prove to them that we’re just as willing to be an advocate and an ally for them.”