Joshua Tang

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

You approach a car dealership. Unable to finance a vehicle, you are turned away. Unfortunately, the dealer failed to mention a loan program that would have allowed you to afford your new car, and, in all 50 states, the dealer would have committed a criminal offense.

But this very same practice is being applied to a student’s investment in higher education every day — albeit, legally. Because of an unintended consequence of the Higher Education Reauthorization Act of 1965, universities are unable to give students and their families the full truth about how they can finance a college education. Outside of Federal Direct Lending, a U.S. Department of Education loan program, it is illegal for University advisers to refer students to loans from private companies or loans from state run entities, such as the Texas B-on-Time loan, which forgives student debt (to those who qualify) if you graduate in 4 years with more than a 3.0 GPA.

Luckily for students, Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-TX Congressional District 15, has put into place efforts to fix the current loan predicament. Hinojosa has crafted proposed amendments which would allow schools the ability to inform students about all of the options available to them and lobbied for the legislation in Washington, D.C. Additionally, Student Government members, including me, are trying to raise awareness of the issue and assist legislative efforts in fixing this problem.

In their final months at the University, former SG Administrative Director Joshua Tang and Chief Justice Philip Wiseman are spearheading an effort to garner support for the proposed changes offered by Hinojosa’s office, an effort that I intend to continue after their graduation. Both Tang and Wiseman have traveled to D.C., done countless hours of research on the topic, stayed in close contact with Hinojosa’s office and, most importantly, begun to engage our campus on an issue that could truly impact students across the country. 

Students need to be made aware of as many options to finance their education as possible. Federally funded loans shouldn’t have a monopoly on the discussions between students and their advisers. Private loans and outside companies often provide services at affordable rates that would allow students to more feasibly pay for college. It is condemnable that students wouldn’t have access to knowledge about these options.

The proposed changes to HR 3371, which are set to be brought to the U.S. House floor in the upcoming legislative session, have tremendous bipartisan support. 

Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle can get behind the bill, particularly since this specific fix wouldn’t impact federal taxpayers, as programs like the Texas B-On-Time loan and others that the University currently cannot make students aware of are funded by the state or private companies. 

“Our record number of teenagers must become our record number of high school and college graduates and our record number of teachers, scientists, doctors, lawyers and skilled professionals,” Hinojosa said. And his efforts are a significant step in that direction. Allowing college advisers to offer more financial options is a fantastic way to expand student resources without costing the federal government any money at all — particularly in the current fiscal climate.

As the school year draws to a close, it is easy to think of summer plans and not federal legislation. However, it is important to acknowledge that Hinojosa, Wiseman and Tang’s efforts are gaining steam. As someone who follows national and state politics, I find it rare to see efforts that directly impact the lives of students. But every student needs to get involved. That way, we can call upon the Texas delegation in Washington, D.C., to get behind H.R. 3371 and support giving students and their families all the options in paying for a college education.

Dimitroff is a government sophomore from Houston.

Student Government president and vice president candidates Kori Rady and Taylor Strickland listen to their defense given by senior Kent Kasischke to the Election Supervisory Board regarding a complaint filed by finance senior Danny Zeng.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (3:10 p.m.): Thursday afternoon, the election supervisory board released an opinion to dismiss the complaint brought against the Rady-Strickland campaign. At a hearing Wednesday night, Danny Zeng, finance and government senior, accused the alliance of committing privacy violations by sending him unrequited emails.

The board dismissed the complaint on grounds that there was a direct connection between Zeng and Rady-Strickland worker Joshua Tang, a history major.

Tang and Zeng both said they had a direct connection to each other through their involvement in Up To Texas, a case competition to raise awareness about the national debt deficit.

According to the opinion released by the board, “the executive alliance acted within campaign guidelines when collecting the plaintiff’s e-mail.”

Updated (11:40 a.m.): Thursday morning, the Election Supervisory Board determined the Villarreal-Wilkey executive alliance in the Graduate Student Assembly elections was guilty of sending of unsolicited emails and ordered the alliance to cease all campaigning until 5 p.m.

According to the board's opinion, “the worker, though ignorant that her actions were in direct violation of the Election Code, was found to be the source of mass emails sent to multiple, substantial academic listservs within graduate departments.”

The board determined the executive alliance committed a Class B violation and must remove all campaign material and cease all campaigning until 5 p.m.

The board released opinions on three of the four complaints it heard late Wednesday night. A resolution regarding the Rady-Strickland hearing in Student Government executive alliance elections has not been released.

ESB chose to dismiss the second complaint involving the Villarreal-Wilkey campaign. Their opposing candidates accused Villarreal and Wilkey of using platform points that were not their own. The board dismissed the case stating there was not enough proof to make a decision.

“We concluded that we could not determine any possible similarities between the platforms were a result of coincidence or not,” the opinion stated.

The board also dismissed a complaint against University Co-op Board of Directors candidate Ben Tillis in a case involving destruction of campaign property. The board determined there was not sufficient enough evidence.

Polls close at 5 p.m. Thursday and results are announced at 6:30 p.m. at the Main Building.

Original Story: Late Wednesday night, after the first day of voting, the Election Supervisory Board heard four allegations of misconduct, including one that the Rady-Strickland executive alliance campaign had violated students’ privacy by adding students to an email listserv without permission.

The hearings, which began at 10:30 p.m. and continued on past 1 a.m., also addressed two charges filed against Graduate Student Assembly executive alliance Villarreal-Wilkey including allegations they were campaigning on platform points that were not originally their ideas. The board also heard complaints from two candidate for the Co-op board of director position who claimed an opponent had torn down their fliers.

Danny Zeng, finance and government senior, accused Student Government presidential candidate Kori Rady and running mate Taylor Strickland of unauthorized use of his email address.

“I really don’t know the scope and reach of this operation,” Zeng told the board. “I just know my privacy is being intruded from the negligence on their part.”

History senior Joshua Tang and Kennon Kasischke, a biology and psychology senior, represented the Rady-Strickland campaign at the hearing. Tang, who is registered as a worker for the Rady-Strickland campaign, said he was not speaking in any way in his capacity as SG administrative director.

Tang said Zeng was added to the campaign’s listserv after Rady and Strickland asked their agents and workers to contact the leaders of the student organizations in which they held membership. Tang and Zeng both said they had a direct connection to each other through their involvement in Up To Texas, a case competition to raise awareness about the national debt deficit.

“The emails that I submitted were sent to people I know are engaged on political matters on campus,” Tang said.

Kasischke, a Rady-Strickland agent, said he felt the campaign team was selective in choosing whom the emails were sent to, and kept well within the boundaries of the guidelines about email messaging in the board’s code.

“If your team is using the directory to email someone you know, you need to have someone on your team to have a direct connection to him,” Kasischke said. “We developed a list of 668 emails.”

Zeng said he felt the campaign should not have assumed he wanted to get the campaign email.

“I appreciate what they said, but in this country, with mass marketing, we have an opt-in system rather than an opt-out,” Zeng said.

Tang asked the board to have the case dismissed. Board Chairman Ryan Lutz said the board was required to release a resolution and would have the response within 24 hours.

The board also addressed two separate complaints filed against Graduate Student Assembly presidential candidate David Villarreal and running mate Brian Wilkey. Their opponents, presidential candidate Frank Male and running mate Virginia Luehrsen, filed a complaint against executive alliance Villarreal and Wilkey over “misleading campaign activities.” Luehrsen said the duo claimed other candidates’ platform points as their own.

“Misrepresentation of facts and the work involved is damaging to our campaign and to the Graduate Student Assembly,” Luehrsen said. “If students did this in my class, I would report them to Student Judicial Services.”

Villarreal said he was alarmed by the lack of specifics the opposing candidates brought forward.

“We fundamentally believe it is our job to campaign for ourselves,” Villarreal said.

A second hearing was called to address allegations against Villarreal and Wilkey concerning an economics graduate coordinator forwarding an email to several departments endorsing their campaign.

Economics graduate student Anna Klis accused a worker of sending a Villarreal-Wilkey endorsement email to the economics graduate coordinator, which was then passed along through graduate departments in the College of Liberal Arts. Klis said she believed the email could be confused by graduate students as an endorsement by the college.

“In a case like this — this is almost cause for disqualification,” Klis said.

Villarreal said the worker had been his close friend for several years, and said she was likely unfamiliar with UT student election codes. Wilkey said if his team had been aware of the worker's plans to send the email, he and Villarreal would have prevented her from doing so.

“We apparently have a rogue agent — we are upset about this,” Wilkey said. “There may be no way to rectify this.”

The board also addressed allegations made by business senior Alexander Bryan and undeclared freshman Christian Trudeau, both candidates for the Co-op board of director position. Bryan and Trudeau claimed that finance sophomore Ben Tillis, who is also running for the position, removed their campaign fliers in the McCombs School of Business.

Bryan said he and Trudeau could not offer proof Tillis had torn down the fliers because they did not have video camera footage, but said he knew of at least nine fliers that had disappeared that were at one point clearly visible in McCombs.

“It seems like somebody was directly targeting [Trudeau] and I’s campaign,” Bryan said.

In response, Tillis said his fliers were also removed from their original locations and encouraged the board to check security footage. ESB chairman Ryan Lutz said he would consult with McCombs representatives Thursday.

At roughly 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning, when the hearings ended, Lutz said the board would release resolutions for all four allegations within 24 hours. Student election polls will close Thursday at 5 p.m.

Additional reporting by Bobby Blanchard

Joshua Tang, history senior.

Photo Credit: Gabriella Belzer | Daily Texan Staff

Gov. Rick Perry will appoint a nonvoting student to the UT System Board of Regents at the end of the academic year to serve a one-year term. Jessica Faith Carter, a special education graduate student, and history senior Joshua Tang are two UT-Austin students among the seven finalists from across the UT System vying to replace the current student regent, Ashley Purgason, a doctoral student at UT-Medical Branch at Galveston. The Daily Texan obtained information about the student regent applicants through the Texas Public Information Act.

History senior Joshua Tang said his experience as a transfer student from Ashland University and working to promote diversity and equality in various organizations has prepared him to express the concerns of a variety of students on the various system campuses.

“A lot of the work I’m interested in on campus is centered around making sure the University is as safe and open to students who are not typically represented in higher education,” Tang said.

Tang is Students for Equity and Diversity’s director of operations, a student leader at the Multicultural Engagement Center, Teach for America recruitment intern and was in Washington D.C. during the Fisher v. Texas Supreme Court hearing to rally for National Leadership Council on Human and Civil Rights.

Ana Ixchel Rosal, director of the Gender and Sexuality Center in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, said Tang has been a dependable student leader at Multicultural Engagement Center. 

Tang said his personal life experiences will allow him to represent a wide range of student issues.

“I am the son of an African-American woman and a Chinese man. Not too long ago that type of marriage would have been illegal,” Tang said. “My family wasn’t very wealthy at all. I did not originally come to UT. I transferred in from a small liberal arts school in Ohio. I think those types of [experiences] have given me the perspective on how to interact with people diplomatically and navigate difficult issues.” 

Crystal Zhao, a government and communication studies senior, said Tang’s willingness to connect with other students and better their experience on campus would benefit the board.

“Josh has a big heart and is genuinely interested in ensuring that UT students, faculty and administration alike have an unrivaled experience as they spend their time at this university,” Zhao said.

Published on February 25, 2013 as "Representation refresh". 

Representatives from three national organizations that promote ethnic rights will discuss the positives of affirmative action Tuesday night as the University prepares to defend the constitutionality of the practice before our nation’s highest court next week.

On Oct. 10, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a lawsuit originally filed against the University in 2008 by two white students who were denied admission to UT. The case challenges the constitutionality of affirmative action, a practice the Court last ruled constitutional in the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger involving the the University of Michigan Law School.

Organized by history senior Joshua Tang, Tuesday’s event, entitled “Fisher v. Texas and You: A Conversation with Civil Rights Leaders,” will bring together attorneys from the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund, Mexican American Legal Defense & Education Fund and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Tang said the attorneys will lead a dialogue explaining why affirmative action is necessary to help keep higher education accessible to minority groups.

According to the University’s website, UT currently accepts 75 percent of its incoming classes automatically based on high school class rank. The remaining 25 percent of students are selected through a holistic admissions process, which looks at academic achievement, personal achievement and special circumstances. The special circumstances section includes race and ethnicity along with seven other factors.
 
Tang said while he feels affirmative action does not come close to leveling the playing field for minority groups in terms of access to higher education, he feels it is a step in the right direction that needs to be defended.

“Holistic review at the very least makes sure that various racial, ethnic and other experiences are valued from the time of admission throughout a student’s time at UT, and then also, this gives us the chance to improve those numbers,” Tang said.

More than 70 individuals and organizations have formally filed support of the University in the case, including the U.S. government, 17 U.S. senators, the state of California and 14 former University of Texas student body presidents, according to University records.

Tang said no matter what happens in the Fisher case, there are many ways that students can still advocate in favor of minority groups, and he would like to see the panelists address that Tuesday night.

“There’s gonna be a Q-and-A, hopefully, to further discuss the issue of what students can do, not only before the Fisher case, before oral arguments are heard, but even afterwards, how we can advocate on behalf of underrepresented minorities and marginalized people as a whole,” Tang said.

The event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in BUR 106. A similar event, sponsored by The Public Affairs Alliance for Communities of Color, will be held from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Wednesday in SRH 3.124.

Printed on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 as: Supreme Court to hear case on racism

Editor’s note: Quotes from Javier Sicilia and Maria Guadalupe Aguilar Jáuregui were translated from Spanish by a translator at the rally.

Hundreds of members of the Austin community gathered at City Hall Saturday to call for an end to drug violence in the U.S. and south of the border.

Saturday marked the Austin stop on a two-month, cross-country tour by the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, a grassroots initiative started by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia after his son and six of his friends were killed in 2011 in drug-related violence. According to an article on Sicilia in Time magazine, the drug war in Mexico has been responsible for at least 10,000 disappearances and 60,000 deaths since 2006.

The caravan works to find solutions to the drug violence problem in both the U.S. and Mexico, specifically advocating a change in drug policies in both nations. Representatives of multiple human rights organizations, including the UT chapters of the League of United Latin American Citizens and Students for Equity and Diversity, attended the rally.

Joshua Tang, history senior and co-director of Students for Equity and Diversity, said decriminalizing drug use is the main goal of the caravan, a move that would decrease drug-related violence and ultimately get people off drugs.

“Instead of criminalizing drug use, we would treat it as a medical condition,” he said. “We would enroll people in health care programs and so forth, where they could be treated for their drug use as opposed to throwing them in jail.”

Tang said the U.S. and Mexico are strongly connected on this issue.

“Most of the weapons that drug cartels use are made in the United States, and U.S. buyers are major buyers of drugs grown in Mexico, so both sides need to work together to solve this issue.”

Sicilia said the current war on drugs has been a futile effort, ultimately ending with a racially disproportionate prison population receiving reduced freedom instead of the treatment it needs.

“It’s a completely failed and erroneous war, and it has opened the doors to hell.”

More than 100 Mexican citizens who have seen an innocent family member either die or disappear because of drug-related violence are traveling with the caravan to share their stories of loss.

Maria Guadalupe Aguilar Jáuregui displayed a picture of her son, José Luis, who has been missing since January 2011.

Jáuregui said she thinks about her son every day and searched for him every day before joining the caravan. She said she is traveling with the caravan to help shed light on drug violence so other families will not end up like her son, with two small children who now have no father.

“I want the disappearances to stop,” she said in Spanish.

Sicilia said he believes UT students can make a difference in their world by simply making a greater effort to participate in political life.

“You have to participate in social life, not only as students, but as citizens,” he said. “You have to come out to the streets, organize and push for
policy change.”