Terrence Maas

Endorsement

The Daily Texan Editorial Board endorses John Lawler and Terrence Maas for Student Government president and vice president. The Lawler/Maas campaign has made several pledges to the student body that include improving safety and promoting sustainability on campus. Though the campaign uses many vacuous buzzwords, such a “accountability” and “affordability,” Lawler’s track record shows he is capable of making progress in many of the areas he and Maas identify in their campaign.

This year, contention surrounded the proposed tuition increases, and though next year is not a tuition-setting year, it will prove no different. Lawler, who has served as a College of Liberal Arts representative for nearly three years, is knowledgeable of the tuition-setting process and understands that next year, students will need to lobby the Legislature to minimize higher education budget cuts. He recognizes that increased state support for higher education can ultimately alleviate any need for tuition increases in the future.

In addition, Lawler and Maas are committed to advocating student issues at the city level, such as city single-member districts and neighborhood alliances. Lawler served for two years on the West Campus Neighborhood Association, which reviews and provides feedback on proposed changes to the neighborhood before implementation. When the city proposed to add 400 parking meters to the West Campus area, Lawler brought students into the discussion and fought for the neighborhood to receive more of the revenue from the meters.

Though Maas, who has no experience in SG, can bring a fresh perspective to the organization, he has a lot to learn about how not only SG but the University operates. Maas has not yet been tasked with engaging the University, but as vice president, he would serve as the chair of the Student Services Budget Committee, a responsibility that requires extensive knowledge of organizations and students on campus. Despite his inexperience with SG, Maas serves on the Inter-Cooperative Council board of directors, where he is partly responsible for overseeing a multimillion dollar budget. This experience will serve him well on the SSBC.

Lawler touts the referendum he authored on tuition, while working as a representative in SG. While it is important to gather student input, we hope Lawler does not rely on referenda as the only means to engage with students. Instead, he and Maas must work to mobilize the student body to voice their opinions on the issues that matter to them. Lawler should realize that the bolder his demands are, the more student support he needs, and with less student support, he may have to make some compromises.

Nonetheless, we are confident that Lawler and Maas are qualified and able to lead the student body next year. Though we admire the sincerity of opponents Thor Lund and Wills Brown, we believe their shallow understanding of University and SG operations and their lack of understanding of the roles of SG president and vice president would be detrimental to their term in office.

While no candidates are perfect, Lawler and Maas would be best equipped to lead the University next year as it continues to face a variety of internal and external challenges.

Mayor Lee Leffingwill is endorsing John Lawler, a Student Government presidential candidate, in hopes of creating a stronger connection between student issues and city policies.

Photo Credit: Shannon Kintner | Daily Texan Staff

Mayor Lee Leffingwell endorsed Student Government presidential candidate John Lawler and running mate Terrence Maas last week in efforts to get the city to collaborate on issues affecting students this election year.

Lawler said he received the news about Leffingwell’s endorsement last Wednesday and is very excited to receive his support because he and Maas ran their campaign based on their experience in dealing with city issues that affect students. This is the first time Leffingwell has endorsed an SG president candidate since he took office in 2009.

“Oftentimes it is advantageous for the University and the city to collaborate, and with John [Lawler] at the helm, well have someone who knows the ropes of both entities,” Leffingwell said. “I look forward to working with John and his team very soon.”

Lawler said this year is a big year for students because the city will vote on whether to implement a single-member districts policy for City Council. If voters choose to implement such a policy, each of Austin’s major areas would have its own City Council member, possibly giving UT its own council member. Currently, the city elects its council members from the city as a whole for six at-large positions on Austin City Council.

Lawler interned for Leffingwell in 2009, and he said he has met with members of the mayor’s office and been to many City Council meetings throughout his tenure as a representative.

“We’re not only the candidates running for office that are talking the most about city issues, but we have the most experience and the most support going into this area,” Lawler said. “The moment we are allowed to step into office, we’ve got the relationships built to get our agenda done.”

As I sat in the Travis County courtroom last Tuesday, listening to Judge Tim Sulak deliver the ruling that would extend Terrence Maas’ and my campaign past spring break, I was disappointed to say the least. Our campaign team has been hard at work for weeks now. We were looking forward to the last — and most exciting — days of campaigning and talking with students. We were looking forward to hearing the election results announced on Thursday evening. We were looking forward to celebrating a clean, well-fought and maybe even victorious campaign.

Instead, we have very quickly been handed a new reality, and we’re moving swiftly into uncharted waters. Our campaign is approaching the end of our budget and resources, and to be perfectly honest, we have more questions than answers regarding how these next few weeks will play out. We’re emboldened in our resolve, but we’re preparing for an uphill battle.

At the outset of this campaign, we cast a bold vision. It continues to encourage and inspire us, and we haven’t lost sight of it. We’re in this for the long haul.

John Lawler is an SG presidential candidate.

Computer science sophomore Terrence Maas and urban studies senior John Lawler are one of the executive alliances running for SG president and vice president.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Student Government presidential candidate John Lawler was 10 years old when he served in his first elected position as president of the Oak Trailer Park club. As president, Lawler threw birthday parties for children who could not afford them and planned community activities.

Eleven years later, urban studies senior Lawler and computer science sophomore and running mate Terrence Maas are planning more than hosting community birthday parties.

Standing at 6-foot-8-inches, Lawler is asking the entire student body to “go big” on reducing tuition and costs and bringing forward creative solutions. Lawler has served as the College of Liberal Arts representative for the past three years. He said he wants to demolish the brick wall in SG by changing the way the SG represents the student voice on campus by getting outside students involved.

“Student Government, right now, is not about the people,” Lawler said. “It’s an institution.”

Some of Lawler’s goals include creating a UT chapter of the Texas Student Association, an organization that would bring together students from all universities to talk about issues in higher education. He also wants to allow beer sales at sporting events to create funding for academic programs and work to increase profit sharing from the University trademark.

Many universities, such as the University of West Virginia, accumulate up to $750,000 from alcohol sales on campus and also see their alcohol-related incidents decrease by 30 percent once the sales start. He said SG has been accepting the current budget crisis as something out of their control and have not thought about how to contribute to a solution. SG has been too complacent to push for these bold ideas, Lawler said.

He said one of the problems he has with SG is its top-heavy structure, which gives most of the power to the president and vice president. Lawler said the best way to get students involved is to show them the results of SG legislation. He said, if elected, he will drag his desk out in front of the Tower for office hours to be more accessible to students.

Running mate Maas said he heard about Lawler and went to see “him in action” at the Jan. 17 meeting when Lawler first proposed legislation for a tuition referendum. A New York native and a director on West Campus’s Inter-cooperative Council, Maas said when he saw Lawler, he was convinced Lawler was different and that he could get things done.

Maas said he and Lawler can deliver results, and how they go about doing so is important.

“You can reach one conclusion one way if you have somebody just arbitrarily decide it,” Maas said. “And if you reach that same conclusion by going through a process and asking everybody else — it’s completely different.”

Lawler said he is one of the few representatives in SG to expand SG’s involvement off-campus and with the city of Austin. He served two years on the local West Campus Neighborhood Association, an organization that reviews any proposed recommendations to the area by the city and addresses resident concerns.

While serving on the Association, Lawler opposed the 400 proposed parking meters on West Campus last year and spearheaded the SG resolution calling for a tuition referendum on President William Powers Jr.’s proposed tuition increase. Students will be able to participate in the referendum via electronic ballot during the SG elections Feb. 29 and March 1. Henry Davidge, a computer science sophomore at Yale University, went to boarding school with Maas and said Maas was an independent thinker with a knack for coming up with creative solutions. He said people serving in an entity like student government can get out of touch with their constituents, and Maas’ experience living at a co-op and representing people he sees every day will be a great asset.

“People don’t know how populist he is,” Davidge said. “He’s obsessed with how government should be based on the people and what the people say.”

Davidge said he was impressed when Maas mentioned the policies he would implement as vice president, instead of focusing on being elected, a characteristic prominent in student government candidates at Yale.

John’s sister Katie Lawler, a 2009 UT alumna, ran his campaign for liberal arts representative back in 2009. She said John was the one who got her to care about what SG did, and convinced her that SG made a difference in students’ lives. Katie said in high school, John would ride with their father to community planning and zoning meetings for fun.

“I think something that sets him apart is his authenticity,” Katie Lawler said. “He truly believes and loves what he does, and I don’t know if you can say that about other candidates. If he wins or loses, he will still go to neighborhood association meetings after.”

On Friday, The Daily Texan Editorial Board interviewed each team of candidates running for Student Government president and vice president. The following quotes are from our interview with executive alliance candidates John Lawler and Terrence Maas.

“We would like to create a student neighborhoods alliance to advocate on behalf of student renters who are usually pretty helpless...”
— Maas on how he would increase the influence of student renters.

“There’s just a mindset here on the UT campus, and whenever it comes, especially on the state level, for debating or lobbying for our issues, we simply go in with just a UT mindset. ... We don’t want to see our tuition increase, which, of course, the root of that is is we don’t want to see cuts to higher education funding. Well that’s a universal issue.”
— Lawler on the need for uniting college students across the state when lobbying the Legislature for higher education funding.

“I have a very strong record of fighting guns being brought on this campus both in Student Government and also lobbying at the Texas Legislature.”
— Lawler describing his position against concealed carry on campus.

“Unfortunately what happens is you get a program that goes on auto-pilot, and I fear that’s what happened with TPAC. ... If we want to see any substantial change in the way tuition is set here on this campus, this next year is the year we should be focusing on.”
— Lawler on how to address rising tuition costs next year, a non tuition-setting year. Lawler said he and Maas believe students on TPAC should be democratically elected and that meetings should be open to the public.

“The biggest issue for most students, which is who we’re representing, is very simple and is very universal, and it is the pocketbook. People are going to be facing higher costs in the current economic situation, and that is obviously very hard on a lot of people. As an out-of-state student, I would know.”
— Maas on the biggest issue facing the University next year.