This year, UT students unapologetically challenged administration about professor misconduct. We achieved an unprecedented level of success in holding administration accountable for their actions, thanks in large part to Simona Harry and Lynn Huynh, who were instrumental in building the movement that has defined UT’s culture in the past year.
That is why we are proud to endorse Simona and Lynn for student body president and vice president. With their activism and organizing skills, we’re confident that they would be able to use Student Government to achieve even more on campus.
Typically, The Daily Texan has done line-by-line analysis of the platform points of each executive alliance to determine which team was the best fit for the job. This year, we approached the endorsement process differently.
We still asked candidates to submit platform charts and op-eds, still asked them to interview with us and still hosted the executive alliance debate. This year, however, we looked for an alliance that was not only dedicated to making UT a more equitable place but also had the skills and theory of change necessary to do so.
As we continue to fight against sexual misconduct and the systemic racism and classism that underpin our campus, Simona and Lynn’s track record proves that they are more than capable of working with fellow activists to organize a student
movement powerful enough to force UT’s hand.
Simona and Lynn are one of nine alliances running. The others, who we’ll address below, presented a broad spectrum of goals for our campus.
We wish we had the space and time to discuss all of those goals here. Instead, here are our greatest takeaways from each campaign:
Brendan and Max & Shay and Wade
Neither of these alliances gave us the necessary materials we needed to endorse. We were impressed, however, with Brendan and Max’s fashion sense and mastery of the Greek language.
Connor and Camille
Connor Alexander and Camille Johnson were officially disqualified from the executive alliance election this week, but our editorial board would not have endorsed them had they stayed in the race. While they presented a laundry list of platform points, their platform expressed a fundamental aversion to challenging UT administration, or really any structural issue on campus. That, at the very least, disqualified them from our endorsement.
Anagha & Winston
Anagha Kikkeri and Winston Hung presented a detailed platform, but one that was often unrealistic, or failed to adequately tackle systemic issues. While the alliance wants to create a student-led commission to engage administrators on housing, their approach is top-down instead of bottom-up, choosing representatives instead of empowering advocates. Their idea for a farmer’s market to give healthier options to wealthy West Campus similarly feels privileged when UT’s food banks are under resourced and donation-based. For these reasons, we don’t believe they have “what it takes” to empower students and fight for change.
Jalesha and Jerri
Jalesha Bass and Jerri Garcia presented intimate, firsthand knowledge of the struggle of existing within an institution not designed for you. While their understanding of UT’s classism informs tangible solutions to the obstacles low-income students face, without a defined strategy to implement change or any mention of sexual misconduct in their platform, we were unable to endorse them. We hope to see them continue their activism, whether in SG or otherwise.
Tayler and Alex
Tayler De La Cruz Kennedy and Alex Jackson, both of whom come from residence hall backgrounds, present feasible ideas and a wealth of experience in on-campus housing reform. Their overall platform, however, felt too narrowly focused on housing to adequately serve students’ broader needs. While they would be capable student leaders for housing reform, we felt they lacked the expertise and vision to tackle the many other areas of UT policy.
Sean and Suseth
Sean Tucker and Suseth Muñoz bring strong ideas to the table — our editorial board was particularly impressed by the caregiver program and first-generation initiative. A combination of underresearched policies, particularly expanding E4Texas and creating a peer support program through the Counseling and Mental Health Center, as well as a failure to address the need for institutional change on major issues meant we were unable to endorse them.
Adam and James
Adam Bergman and James Comerford emphasize sexual assault prevention as their biggest campaign plank, but demonstrated shockingly little knowledge of the subject. For instance, for much of the campaign, their platform inaccurately stated that English associate professor Coleman Hutchison and integrated biology and philosophy professor Sahotra Sarkar were found guilty of sexual assault — not in violation of sexual misconduct policy. This is a basic fact that anyone paying attention to campus activism would know. The rest of their platform reads as either misinformed or misguided.
Our endorsement: Simona and Lynn
Simona and Lynn’s strength comes not only from the fact that they know how to advocate, but that they’re advocating for the right things.
Their platform on sexual misconduct reemphasizes and expands on the demands that they and their fellow organizers have been making for months. We supported these demands then and still believe that they are the institutional changes needed today.
Other platform points, including solidarity with graduate students in Underpaid@UT, gender-inclusive on-campus housing, a CMHC bank where students can donate the free appointments they don’t use, expanding the Multicultural Engagement Center and many others demonstrate that Simona and Lynn have put thought into the future they are fighting for.
Student Government has underserved students for far too long with inaction, résumé padding and empty rhetoric. There is power in SG, though. The executive alliance gets unparalleled access to administrators and policymakers, tens of thousands of dollars in funding and a platform to organize student action.
Simona and Lynn understand this potential and understand that business as usual won’t get us anywhere. Unlike anyone else running, they are willing to radically transform SG by taking it off its pedestal and redistributing its resources to the students who are actively fighting for change.
Don’t forget to vote in campuswide elections Monday, March 2, until 5 p.m. March 3 at utexasvote.org. We’ll be voting for Simona and Lynn. We hope you will, too.
The editorial board is comprised of associate editors Abhirupa Dasgupta, Hannah Lopez, Sanika Nayak and editor-in-chief Spencer Buckner