Grab UT by the horns

Leland Murphy and Isabel Agbassi

Editor’s note: This column was submitted to the Texan by members of the UT community. 

With stagnant wages, unaffordable student housing and a lack of material support from institutions, students struggle to make ends meet. Meanwhile, UT Student Government continually fails to provide material relief and tangible benefits to the undergraduate and graduate student population. It’s time for that to change. 

While SG historically does little for students, our vision uses student government and our positionality as an outlet for existing student organizers and organizing groups, creating coalitions to generate progressive change on campus that benefits all students and using SG’s vast resources to provide material needs for the student body. In this op-ed, we hope to show you how we will advocate for progressive change on campus with and for students and grab UT By The Horns if elected.  

As students who have both held on-campus jobs, we know that current wages are not enough to cover basic living expenses. We want to use SG as a rallying platform to advocate for higher wages for all UT employees, including both undergraduate and graduate students, custodial workers, dining staff, and more. We want class solidarity within the existing, growing labor movement at UT. By uniting in solidarity, we can improve our working conditions together. 

In addition to advocating for higher wages in meetings with administration and rallying with groups already doing the work, we want to use the power of student government’s vast resources and budget to reallocate funds towards tangible benefits for students, like weekly community meals. We plan on reducing executive stipends and reducing funds from areas of the budget that provide no real benefits to students. Reallocated money will go towards getting — at least — 40,000 dollars from the SG budget to the UT Outpost, 20,000 dollars to the Student Emergency Fund, creating an SG sponsored rent relief program like other major universities, expanding SureWalk funding, and more. 

In the past year and years before that, we have seen how the budget has gone to unnecessary things that show no results to students. That’s why, once elected, we will immediately form a Budget Community Working Group for any student that would like to join. We’ll create a budget that centers student needs and push it through the student government assembly — together. 

We recognize that SG has failed to provide meaningful changes to students in the past and hope to rectify this by instead being intentional about uplifting the voices of student workers, organizers, and the student body at-large. By advocating for increased wages, restructuring the SG budget to benefit students and utilizing the proximity of SG to admin to implement a comprehensive progressive agenda, we hope to take UT by the horns and create a University that works for all. Vote Leland & Isabel on February 28th and March 1st at utexasvote.org. 

Murphy is a government junior  from Kennedale, Texas. Agbassi is a public health sophomore  from Plano, Texas.