Fall 2020: Looking Back

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Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

University

The UT System Board of Regents unanimously approved Jay Hartzell as permanent president of the University on Sept. 21 after he served as interim president since June 1. 

Campus

Due to COVID-19, about two-thirds of fall classes were online, while the remaining in-person classes included capacity limits and mask and social distancing requirements. In September, the University reported three COVID-19 clusters in West Campus, and at least two staff members died from COVID-19 complications since the summer.

Sports

Big Ticket holders were required to either test negative for COVID-19 through UT’s Proactive Community Testing program before football games or provide proof of COVID-19 immunity, but other ticket holders were not required to. 

Academics

Two weeks before finals, UT announced students could pass/fail three classes across the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters and still count them toward degrees. Q-drops will also not count toward the six-drop limit. Some students were disappointed the policy deviated from a faculty plan and supported student legislation, while advisers were frustrated their inputs were not included in the changes.

Campus

In July, UT denied a 2016 request by the Miakan-Garza Band to return Indigenous remains being stored at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory. In September, after the tribe hosted a teach-in and ceremony and Indigenous students presented to UT President Jay Hartzell, Hartzell said UT will seek guidance from the National Park Service to offer the remains for reburial.

City

After a summer of protests calling to defund the police, the Austin City Council voted in August to cut $150 million from the Austin Police Department's budget to fund alternative forms of public safety. The Liberation Coalition, a student communist group, organized a November protest calling for the dissolution of the UT and Austin Police Departments and Texas Department of Public Safety presence near campus.

State

Democrat Texas House Member Gina Hinojosa won Texas’ 49th District after representing the district for the last four years, defeating Republican Charles Allan Meyer and Libertarian Kenneth Moore. 

Voting

Early voting for the 2020 general election lasted through Oct. 30, six days longer than early voting in 2016. Around 125,000 more ballots were cast in Travis County for the 2020 general election than the 2016 election.

Nation

Former Vice President Joe Biden was elected the 46th president of the United States on Nov. 7. President Donald Trump is contesting the results, incorrectly claiming there was widespread voter fraud among multiple battleground states. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., will be the first woman, first Indian American and first African American to hold the office of the vice president. According to the team’s website, their priority will be combating the COVID-19 pandemic.