David Davis

TSM Board member Heidi Toprac listens at Thursday’s TSM election committee meeting. Toprac recommended rescinding the Board’s previous qualifications decision.
Photo Credit: Andy Nguyen | Daily Texan Staff

Three members of the Texas Student Media election committee recommended the board “roll back” a previous, unanimous decision to amend requirements for The Daily Texan editor-in-chief applicants in a meeting Thursday.

The TSM Board, which manages five student-produced media properties — Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan — postponed certifying candidates in a meeting last week after questions arose about the qualifications each candidate needed to meet.

“It did not occur to me that we could have a situation where we have many candidates, some of whom do and some of whom do not meet the requirements,” board member Heidi Toprac, a finance senior lecturer, said.

The Board voted to amend qualifications for the editor-in-chief position at their November meeting. Candidates are now required to have completed at least one semester as a permanent staff member in opinion to be certified, according to the TSM Handbook. Three students applied to run for editor-in-chief, only two of whom met all the requirements.

Board members Toprac, Robert Quigley and Adam Alloy expressed concern over the decision in the meeting Thursday, saying the Board may have unintentionally narrowed the applicant pool. 

The handbook states the Board may certify a candidate by waiving requirements only if no qualified candidate for editor-in-chief applies by the deadline. Toprac recommended the committee request the Board “strike out” the first clause of the requirement, which would make it possible for any candidate to be certified, regardless of whether any qualified candidates applied. 

The three candidates — David Davis, Claire Smith and David Maly — will discuss their applications with the Board at a meeting Friday. Davis said he thinks the qualifications should be upheld.

“Why have qualifications if you’re just going to waive them,” Davis said. 

Board vice president Arjun Mocherla said waiving the requirements universally might be unfair to other Texan employees, who may have wanted to apply for editor-in-chief, but did not meet the requirements. 

“If we decide that we’re going to waive say the opinion requirement or something like that, I feel like every person at The Daily Texan could have filed at that point,” Mocherla said.

Toprac said she thinks November’s decision did not reflect the intention of the board, which was to increase the number of applicants.

“We never contemplated a circumstance that has now arisen,” Toprac said. 

Candidates will not be able to begin campaigning until they are certified. The deadline for certification is Tuesday. 

Three UT students apply for Daily Texan editor-in-chief position

Three UT students have applied to run for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan. On Wednesday, Texas Student Media released the applicants' names and applications, including letters of recommendation and statements to the Board. The TSM Board must certify each applicant before the applicant's name can go on the ballot.

The three applicants are David Davis, French and international relations and global studies senior, David Maly, journalism and economics senior, and Claire Smith, history and humanities junior. The editor-in-chief position is a year-long role. 

Certified candidates are required to have completed at least one semester as a permanent staff member in opinion, according to the TSM Handbook. Smith and Davis are the only applicants who meet this requirement. 

Davis spent three of his five semesters at the Texan in opinion as a columnist and associate editor and currently serves as associate news editor. Maly spent one semester as a copy editor and two semesters in the news department as a reporter, but he has not worked for The Daily Texan since 2013. Smith joined the Texan for the first time in the fall as an opinion columnist and has since been promoted to senior columnist. She will begin working as a copy editor Thursday.

In his letter to the board, Maly said he would work to make the Texan's opinion section less inclusive.

"Along with content, as Daily Texan editor a priority for me would be to make the Opinion Section less inclusive," Maly said. "Furthermore, I would like to make the section less inclusive in terms of staff and coverage."

All three candidates also acknowledged TSM's ongoing financial woes.

Board-certified candidates will run in the campuswide election on March 4 and 5. If necessary, a runoff election will be held March 11 and 12.  

Davis, Maly and Smith will discuss their applications with the Board at Friday’s meeting. To read the candidates' application documents, click here.

Dear editor,

I am being laid off. On Valentine’s Day, I was informed that, as of May 31, my job as course scheduler for a good-sized area studies department will no longer exist. Everything I do will be centralized, consolidated at the college level and given to colleagues whose plates are already full. This does not bode well for the department and for the faculty who rely on my specialized expertise, and it adds an unnecessary burden to those whose workload will significantly increase when I am gone.

The work of a course scheduler rests at the very heart of what makes UT an educational institution — the actual classes that instructors teach and that students register for each semester. As a course scheduler, I thought my job was secure because I served a purpose necessary to the department and, by extension, necessary to mission of the University. I was wrong. My job was not secure.

It doesn’t matter what you call it: Shared Services.  Consolidation.  Centralization. Those words are just semantics. Support staff are the bone and muscle and sinew which keep the University operating. But bone and muscle and sinew are being sliced away.  This is a grave disservice to those who remain and to the departments and faculty who rely on the expertise of skilled and dedicated staff members. Not everything can be mechanized and centralized, and the value of the human component should not be so callously dismissed.

When they came for the custodial staff some years ago, I felt powerless to make a difference. Since then, they have come for the advisers and the accountants. From where I stand, it looks like no job is safe, no job is secure.

Shared Services.  Consolidation.  Centralization. It doesn’t matter what it’s called — the emperor has no clothes.

— Victoria Vlach, course scheduler


David Davis urges an informed discussion in his recent column in defense of tuition hikes but is himself misinformed on the facts. He incorrectly states that there has been a “constant decline” in state funding. In the short term, state appropriations have gone up in 2014 relative to the past year. In the long term, there has been fluctuation — not a “constant decline” — and a decrease that is not statistically significant. He also repeats an oft-stated but misleading claim about state appropriations declining as a percentage of the University’s funding. This ignores that University revenue has greatly increased, so even flat state funding would cause a decrease in the percentage. More importantly, Davis creates a false dichotomy between tuition and state appropriations that ignores two critical factors: 1) Tuition revenue has increased a rate 27.4 times faster than state appropriations have decreased. 2) Another major source of funding is the UT regents’ Permanent University Fund (PUF). The regents allocate money from the PUF to the Available University Fund (AUF), where UT-Austin can then use it. Davis incorrectly states that only 4.25 to 5 percent of PUF funds can be allocated to AUF — that is the historical range, but there is no rule that it cannot increase further.

In fact, in May 2012 the regents allocated more money from the PUF to the AUF in order to offset tuition increases. The PUF has since increased by over $3 billion, but despite these available funds the regents are now pushing UT-Austin to increase tuition. UT-Austin CFO Kevin Hegarty has stated that the tuition increases would generate about $10 million in recurring funds for the University. To generate this revenue, the regents could increase the allocation to the AUF by just .06 percent of the $15.8 billion PUF. Instead, they have decreased the allocation in 2014 relative to the past year.

For both the December 2013 and March 2014 tuition increase proposals, the regents requested tuition increases with very little time for discussion, rather than allowing time for the longer TPAC process. The fixed tuition plan that Davis posits as a solution actually uses tuition rates even higher than the current increase proposal. Rather than blasting the “egocentrism” of students, Davis should realize that the regents are imposing unnecessary tuition increases and disallowing the student voice in the process.

— Mukund Rathi, computer science senior, submitted via email