Spring 2021: Looking Back Looking Forward

The Daily Texan takes a look back at the events of the spring semester and at what’s to come. 

Looking Back: 

Kiara Kabbara and Ethan Jones were elected student body president and vice president, and Steven Ding and Suseth Muñoz were elected president and vice president of Senate of College Councils. 

UT Health Austin began vaccination rollout amid expanding qualifications and administered approximately 120,000 doses to staff, faculty, students and community members. 

While the 87th Texas Legislative session has focused on Winter Storm Uri, bills targeting transgender students, expanding constitutional carry and increasing voting restrictions have gained traction in both chambers.

Austin continued its effort to “re-imagine” public safety through purchasing hotels to house Austin’s unhoused residents and making plans to reform police training. Voters reinstated the camping ban on unhoused residents, criminalizing homelessness in downtown areas.

COVID-19 variants, including B.1.1.7 which originated in the United Kingdom, P.1 which originated in Brazil and B.1.429 which originated in California, were detected on UT’s campus this semester.

February’s winter storm canceled class for over a week and caused many students on and off campus to lose basic utilities for days. 

Following demands for the removal of “The Eyes of Texas” as the alma mater, the University released a report in March saying claiming the song was written in a “racist setting,” but is not “overtly racist.” However, UT history professor Alberto Martínez released a contradicting report

Looking Forward: 

Longhorn Band members will be required to play “The Eyes of Texas.” A separate University band that will not be required to play the song will be created in 2022. 

UT Health Austin will scale back vaccination efforts and move the vaccine hub from Gregory Gym to the Health Transformation Building as vaccination demand declines.

The majority of legislation, including bills to expand medical cannabis use and constitutional carry, will pass during the 27 remaining days in the session. Lawmakers will also continue redistricting into the summer.  

The UT Police Department plans to open a new satellite office on Guadalupe Street in the fall to increase community outreach efforts. Student activists plan to call for different safety solutions on campus, including alternatives to policing and better lighting and infrastructure. 

UT is planning commencement ceremonies for the class of 2020 on Sept. 17 and the class of 2021 on May 22 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. 

UT is planning for a “near normal” fall semester and advises students and faculty to plan for in-person classes and research, but some aspects of hybrid learning will still be in place.