After a year focused on legislative advocacy and internal reforms, Student Government President Scott Parks and Vice President Muneezeh Kabir sang “The Eyes Of Texas” for the last time as SG’s leaders Tuesday.
The team accomplished their major campaign goals despite challenges and limitations, Parks said. For example, the SG internal reform package that students approved in a campuswide vote in February streamlined the organization and made it more accessible to students, Kabir said.
The amendments to SG’s constitution will restructure external agencies and SG leaders said the changes will improve new student representation by creating freshmen, transfer and graduate student representatives.
Kabir said the University budget is constantly on SG’s radar, and although they would like to see more advancement with affordability, they are content with their success with Invest in Texas. The campaign organized students to lobby the Texas Legislature to adequately fund UT and to give universities the choice to keep guns off campus.
Parks said he put substantial energy into working for GLBT equity on campus, particularly competitive insurance benefits for GLBT faculty and staff and their partners. Parks said although he feels they were successful in getting conversations started, they haven’t been able to hammer out any concrete changes because of clashing philosophies and legal challenges.
“I think that was one thing that we weren’t able to completely accomplish, but we kept the ball moving,” Parks said.
Kabir spearheaded a project to help increase access to breast pumps for pregnant students and new mothers. The executive team and the assembly created a Mayor’s Student Advisory Council to improve city relations and connect students to Austin. Despite an oft repeated promise, the SG website remains outdated and has limited information about SG and its activities.
Loren Campos, president of undocumented students and allies group University Leadership Initiative, said Parks and Kabir ran on the platform of helping undocumented students. Campos believes they did.
“When we hosted rallies, I always remember Scott being there and being vocal about helping us out,” Campos said. “I felt that there could have been a little more activism on their part, but overall we are happy with their contribution to our cause.”
Juan C. Gonzalez, vice president for student affairs, said he looks to Parks and Kabir to ensure a smooth transition in the coming weeks.
“Never before have we relied so much on students and now more than ever we really need a very good transition into this new session,” he said.