• Resolution to block Syrian refugee assistance fails

    A resolution to block funds assisting Syrian refugees in their resettlement in the Austin area failed to pass a vote in the Public Safety Committee on Monday evening. As a result, the resolution will not reach the full Council for consideration.

    Austin City Council member Don Zimmerman drafted the resolution in the wake of the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris in order to prevent the city government from monetarily facilitating Syrian refugee resettlement. The resolution failed on a 2-1 vote in committee with the only vote in support coming from Zimmerman.

    Austin’s refugee resettlement programs are primarily funded by nonprofits and do not depend on the city treasury, however, the city does spend money to provide health services for refugees, the Austin-American Statesman reported.

  • Officials identify man found dead in Lady Bird Lake as UT student

    A man found dead in Lady Bird Lake early Sunday was confirmed Monday evening to be a UT graduate student, according to a statement from UTPD Chief David Carter.

    The student, Santiago Gonzalez, was in the McCombs professional accounting program at UT. Carter described the death as devastating to the entire University.

    Out of respect to the family, we are unable to share any other details,” Carter said. “We are committed to helping fellow students mourning this death through university counseling services and other programs.”

    The cause and nature of death are undetermined, according to the Austin-American Statesman. According to the press release, UTPD is working closely with the Austin Police Department to find out more details about his death.

    This story is developing.

  • UTHealth receives new name, $75 million gift

    The UT Health Science Center at Houston Medical School will be renamed the John P. and Kathrine G. McGovern Medical School following a $75 million gift from the John P. McGovern Foundation on Monday.

    The gift is the largest in the school’s history, according to an email from UTHealth President Giuseppe Colasurdo, and it will be given in 14 separate endowments to the medical school and to the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics.

    Colasurdo said the endowment will be used to “bolster medical training, will provide full scholarships to outstanding students and will support scientific discovery and education.” The gift will also enhance programs at the McGovern Center and will create a collaborative research endowment for interdisciplinary learning and discovery, according to the McGovern Medical School website.

  • Helicopter crash kills 4 at Fort Hood

    A UH-60A Black Hawk helicopter carrying four crew members crashed Monday night in the northern part of Fort Hood during a routine drill. Emergency crews announced after a search that four crew members were found dead.

    “It is with a heavy heart that I announce the death of four First Army Division West Soldiers as a result of a UH-60A helicopter crash that happened Monday evening,” Maj. Gen. Jeffrey N. Colt, commanding general, First Army Division West, said in a statement. “The accident is under investigation and the names of the deceased will be released after the families have been notified. ”   

    Soon after the incident, Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement about the plane crash.

    “[First Lady Cecilia Abbott] and I extend our sincerest condolences to the families of the four soldiers who tragically lost their lives in preparation for defending our country,” Abbott said in the statement. “Whether at home or abroad, our soldiers put their lives on the line every day to secure the freedoms we hold dear in Texas and the United States of America. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and with the military community at Fort Hood during this difficult time.”

    Fort Hood, a military base located in Killeen, Texas, is one of the Army’s largest bases, with a population of about 218,000 personal including their spouses and children.

  • Investigation of Malcolm X Lounge vandalization continues

    The Malcolm X Lounge’s administration is working with UTPD and the Campus Climate Response Team after it was vandalized in September, according to lounge director David McDonald Jr.

    “We have been having constant communication [with CCRT] since then about the lounge, about its importance, sharing what students would like to see in the space and how we could communicate through campus the importance of the space,” McDonald said. “We have also been working closely with UTPD about this incident specifically but also about how UTPD can be more inclusive or can work on best practices for working with minority students on campus with regards to incidents like this.”

    According to witness Johnesha Daniels, a mathematics and African-American studies senior, the Malcolm X Lounge was trashed during the early morning of Sept. 23. Daniels said she returned to the space and found the left side of the lounge covered with cookies and craft beads, a hot glue gun still plugged into an outlet and a heated clothes iron in the microwave.

    UTPD declined to comment on the incident — an act of criminal mischief according to its report — because it is still an open investigation.

    McDonald said he hopes new security measures and awareness of the lounge will prevent future incidents.

    “I am very hopeful … that we will be able to prevent future incidents like this to happen again because we will have system in place to be able to identify who did it,” McDonald said.