• UT faculty and students don't want campus carry

    On Monday, the Faculty Council (unanimously, I might add) reaffirmed its ban of firearms on campus following UT System Chancellor William McRaven's statement against the open carry bill currently making its way through the Legislature. Student Government came out with its decision to oppose the bill as well on Tuesday night. Senate Bill 17, the campus carry bill, and Senate Bill 17, the open carry bill, passed out of committee 7-2 last week despite objections from faculty and students. The fact that UT faculty and students' continuing opposition to Campus Carry is not being reflected in the decisions of our public officials is worrisome. 

    Beyond the threatening and unsafe atmosphere SB 11 would bring to campus, the bills would symbolize law being made without support from or consideration of the opinions of those being directly affected. It is in situations like these that the voices of Student Government and the Faculty Council should not be ignored. They are the representatives of our campus community and should have an integral say in the matter. 

    Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre who was shot four times, spoke at a Feb. 12 hearing concerning the bills before the committee voted, as did several UT students. Goddard said, “We survivors do not think that it is a good idea to have guns on campus. There is no evidence that a bill like SB 11 would do anything to stop a mass shooting, but SB 11 would make the average day on campus more dangerous in an environment where students are dealing with failing grades, alcohol abuse [and] relationship problems.” He's totally right. SB 11 would have no positive effects on campus life. 

    Unsurprisingly, Texas A&M's chancellor recently came out in support of Campus Carry and some of his students have followed suit. Fine. Let them do what they want on their campus. If they support it, let them decide that for themselves. But UT does not want campus carry, and that should matter. Let us keep our campus gun-free and listen to and respect the voices of our students and faculty.

    Bounds is an associate editor.

  • University erred in handling bomb threat

    The Austin Police Bomb Squad investigates a bomb threat at Shawarma Republique food trailer on 24th Street. A man being treated for psychiatric disorder called in two bomb threats in the West Campus area Tuesday morning.
    The Austin Police Bomb Squad investigates a bomb threat at Shawarma Republique food trailer on 24th Street. A man being treated for psychiatric disorder called in two bomb threats in the West Campus area Tuesday morning.

    Remember the bomb threat that happened two days ago? Yeah --neither do I. It's because University students weren't notified of it via email or text, as is the case in most emergency situations. There were murmurings of it here and there, but without an official statement by UT officials on the subject, many students remained in the dark. (Pun intended.)  

    University administrators waited more than three hours to notify students of two bomb threats reported in West Campus. When students finally did hear about it, word was sent through a single tweet sent from the University’s official Twitter account. Students never received a campus-wide email or text alert about the bomb threats. 

    This, to me, is inexcusable. Forget the argument about whose jurisdiction the threat fell under (Austin Police Department or UTPD) or whether the threat was on campus or not. When something happens that endangers the lives of other people, especially in a student-dense area like West Campus, the general public deserves to know. Surely, sending out a text message or email can't be that difficult.  

    Two years ago, in 2012, this same thing happened. A bomb threat was called in and UT officials neglected to alert students. Now, this past Tuesday, history has repeated itself, and that does not bode well for the future of UTPD's relationship with its public.  

    UTPD needs to make more of an effort to keep UT students, staff and faculty updated about any and all possible dangers, regardless of what APD says. There is an undeniable obligation that UTPD has to the public it protects. Keeping a line of communication open is the only way that trust can be built and we can all feel safer. 

  • Despite attack site, state Sen. Robert Nichols maintains moral high ground

    As the Texas Observer reported on Tuesday, an attack site has been launched against state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, that derides his supposed liberalism. This despite any upcoming election battle for Nichols in the next three years. According to the Observer's Christopher Hooks, "It seems likely that the site comes from the Tim Dunn/Michael Quinn Sullivan messaging network."

    On the website, RobertNicholsRecord.com, Nichols is slammed for supporting a so-called "dark money bill" last session, which would have forced political nonprofits, like Sullivan's pet projects, to disclose their donors. Nichols is also castigated for supporting a bill from last session, authored by Senate Higher Education Chairman Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, which would have clarified that regents do not have the power to fire university presidents over the objections of pertinent chancellors. That bill, of course, was filed in response to the spats between UT Regent Wallace Hall and President William Powers Jr. Sullivan, unsurprisingly, firmly took the side of the former.  

    The Observer article notes that Nichols is no liberal Republican, no matter what the crazies from the fringe of his party may have you believe. It points to a recent post-session analysis by Rice University Professor Mark P. Jones that ranked him as the sixth most conservative member of the upper house. 

    Of course, if Hooks is right, this would not be Sullivan's first attempt to defeat Republicans against whom he has a personal vendetta, under the cloak of partisan purity. He largely spearheaded the defeat of former state Sen. Bob Deuell, R-Greenville, for similar reasons in last year's primary. 

    However, Sullivan has his limits when it comes to deposing otherwise popular but pragmatic representatives. As I noted last year in a Texan column, Sullivan previously set his sights on two House members who are vocal allies of Speaker Joe Straus: Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, and Jim Effer, R-Eastland. At the time, it remained to be seen how successful his guerilla tactics would be against this vaunted incumbents.  

    The month after that column was published, both Cook and Keffer demolished their respective Sullivan-backed opponents in the Republican primary, going to show that, no matter how much dark money you have at your disposal, sometimes a popular incumbent is just too popular. 

    All signs point to Nichols indeed being so popular. As the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, he is respected by both parties for working diligently to solve our growing state's issues with gridlock. As a representative for a rural district consisting of 19 counties, he is also a fighter for his constituents.  

    What he is not a fighter for, though, are shady zealots. It has earned him some enemies, but I bet when the next election rolls around, it will earn him some friends, too.  

    Horwitz is senior associate editor. 

  • The lay of the land

  • U.S. must set example in fight against ISIS

    In his most recent column, Jeremi Suri condemns the brazen brutality of the Islamic State, calling for an affirmation that the purpose of our fight against ISIS is to uphold the standards of international law and limits on human brutality. ISIS has beheaded, killed, captured, burned and tortured its victims. It has sparked an international human rights outcry and expanded our conceptions of the limits of human cruelty and operational violence. 

    Over the last year, Russia has demonstrated “little respect for its human rights obligations,” according to Human Rights Watch, and has left Eastern Ukraine "in tatters." These experiences demand international attention and response. To restrain these abuses, Suri reflects, we, as a world, must uphold our global human rights declarations and charters.

     Law is the language of power. Suri emphasizes the power of international consensus on the limits of violence; it creates expectations, routines, respect and, in some cases, deters reprehensible acts of war. However, in order to be of value, international law must be respected.

    The United States has been instrumental over the past century in structuring and fortifying a series of international agreements regarding the nexus of human rights and national defense and security. It has encouraged the most influential players on the world stage to disavow practices of war and violence as a result of World War II. 

    However, on several occasions, the United States has been scrutinized by international courts for violating the conventions of war, selectively applying the Geneva conventions and drafting certain charters only to neglect to ratify them. Perhaps the most popular example of this was the report released by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding C.I.A. torture practices that shocked the American conscience. The C.I.A. interrogation program was not adequately overseen and the report even included other countries that served as hosts for the torture practices: Lithuania, Poland and Romania, all members of the European Court of Human Rights. The program degraded accountability prospects for human rights in other countries. The United States is the global leader in human rights preservation, and when it falters on its international humanitarian principles and policies, its security and well-being are threatened.

    Suri emphasizes that declarations of universal human rights are susceptible to the “prerogative of dominant states.” The nations that are powerful enough to structure and command respect for these declarations have disproportionate power to evade and incorporate them selectively. The United States must recognize that as a position of privilege.

    In order to affirm our value in the world of law, we must lead by example. A more concentrated approach to transparency in this administration will reinforce global standards of violence. The atrocities committed by ISIS warrant reprisal, and greater transparency regarding torture and the American preservation of equally applied human rights should complement this. We must uphold our own values and “civility” to set an example.

    Shah is a business and government sophomore from Temple.