President Fenves addresses UT Senate, student leaders discuss Girl Day partnership

Anna Canizales

President Gregory Fenves spoke to students about sexual misconduct policy and affordability at the Senate of College Councils meeting Thursday. Senate members also discussed legislation codifying a partnership between Senate and Girl Day, an event where the University hosts girls in elementary and middle school to introduce them to careers in STEM.

During the meeting, Fenves said starting fall 2020 the administration will implement the Texas Advance Commitment, assuring financial aid for students from families whose annual adjusted gross income is under $65,000. This financial aid will cover the entirety of those students’ tuition and applies to all undergraduate Texas residents, Fenves said. 

“We want this to be a university where every single student, regardless of background … has all the opportunities to succeed,” Fenves said.

Fenves also discussed a sexual misconduct meeting Thursday morning with outside Title IX experts. He said in the meeting that the administration’s goals are to communicate expectations of conduct, inform students about support, train faculty and staff, and strengthen procedures when there is an allegation of sexual misconduct.


After a discussion with Fenves, assembly members discussed new legislation, including a bill to partner with Women in Engineering for Girl Day. Every piece of legislation brought forth to the assembly went through a Q-and-A period, but were all put on hold or sent to committees for discussion.

Senate policy director Hussain Alkhafaji said Senate members have previously worked with Girl Day, and this bill would solidify that relationship, 

“(The partnership) will increase Senate’s community outreach, and it’s important that we continue to reach out to communities of potential students as well as the community in general,” said Isaac James, academic policy committee co-chair and co-author of the bill. “The statistics are so low for women in engineering and medical fields. The male-dominated profession can be really toxic.”

James, plan II and government sophomore, said the partnership will increase Senate’s community outreach and strengthen the relationship between the student body and student leaders.

“This intervention intuitively is shown to help with exposing science, technology and math-related fields to minority women and low-income families,” said Alkhafaji, public health and journalism senior and co-author of the bill. “One of the issues (for girls in STEM) is the lack of role models. Because Senate is dedicated to addressing levels of education and equity, it just makes sense for one of the largest events that UT hosts to have Senate contributing to a good degree.”