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Photo Credit: Brittany Le | Daily Texan Staff

Immigrants living in the United States have faced the plausible threat of deportation since former U.S. President Bill Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act in 1996. While former administrations focused on work site raids and sweeps if immigrants were arrested and in police custody, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, is now also targeting individuals in their homes, whether or not they have any criminal history.  

The anti-immigrant rhetoric spewed by the current administration, and the constant threat of future ICE raids, has perpetuated fear and uncertainty throughout immigrant communities, including those in Austin. In April 2019, federal officers with ICE arrested 280 foreign nationals at a Texas cellphone repair business, the largest such single-site raid in a decade. In June 2019, ICE arrested 52 foreign nationals in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, Laredo and Austin/Waco. According to ICE’s internal statistics, the agency deported 256,085 people in the fiscal year 2018, up from 226,119 deportations in the fiscal year 2017.

Unfortunately, the ICE enforcement actions place the Austin immigrant community at risk because they rarely incorporate safeguards to protect the constitutional rights of immigrants and their families. The burden is shifted to immigrants themselves to know and voice their rights. What can immigrants do? They should familiarize themselves with their rights, consult with an immigration attorney to discuss their specific background and options and create an emergency plan in case an ICE arrest impacts their family.

All foreign nationals without an immigration status should know their rights under the U.S. Constitution. During an ICE raid, for example, immigrants can vocalize and assert their right to remain silent and decline to sign any document without first consulting with an attorney. Immigrants also have the right to confer with their home country’s consulate and place a phone call to a friend or family member.

Consulting with an immigration attorney is critical. Many individuals affected by ICE raids come from mixed-status families, where some family members hold a valid immigration status while others do not. For example, the person apprehended by ICE may be undocumented, but their spouse may be a lawful permanent resident or a green card holder and their children may be U.S. citizens. In such a case, and depending on the foreign national’s immigration background, a recourse or legal remedy may exist to fight a deportation case and remain in the U.S.

Creating a family emergency plan in case of an ICE apprehension is strongly advised. This plan should include collecting important documents and information, such as birth certificates, passports, tax and IRS documents and contact information of close family members. These documents should be stored in a central and accessible location. Opening an emergency savings account will help cover bond payments following ICE detention or other unexpected expenses.

ICE raids have the potential to destroy peoples’ lives and are punitive against the family members of those apprehended, many of whom are U.S. citizens or have other lawful status. In Austin, undocumented immigrants should access all resources available to them, including their home country consulate. As the threat of future raids loom, immigrants should take the reins to investigate their rights and implement a family preparedness plan.

Baellow is an attorney with De Mott McChesney Curtright & Armendariz LLP who specializes in family-based immigration.

Photo Credit: Rachel Efruss | Daily Texan Staff

Whenever I was really overwhelmed with school, it was guaranteed I was going out to 6th Street or a party. Friday night, I would blast some loud music, put some lipstick on and head out to 6th. 

The alcohol made me feel on top of the world and so happy to be alive in that moment. I would dance away every Friday and Saturday night. It all made me feel free and in control of my life. It felt as if after all of that studying and nonstop homework I deserved to enjoy that free time. 

However, the next morning, all my problems from the night before were still there. Nothing had changed. I still had to study for my midterm, write my paper and do my discussion board. 

The only thing different was that I was more behind and more overwhelmed. That meant more cramming and less — or no — sleep on Sunday. 

We like to think it is funny to have to pull an all-nighter, but there is nothing healthy about causing yourself mental instability — it’s psychotic, if anything. 

After a few months of continuing this weekend cycle, I decided to stop causing myself mental distress. I took control of my actions. 

Thankfully, as a social work major, self-care was something we always talked about. I decided to start listening to everything I had learned. 

Social media and capitalism have led society to associate self-care with face masks and wine nights. However, it is so much more than that. It means taking care of yourself mentally, physically and emotionally.  

To me, self-care means doing what is best for you, even if  it is not what you want to do. The easiest way to explain self-care is by thinking about it in the sense of needs vs. wants. 

For example, I wanted to go out and disassociate from my schoolwork reality, but what I needed was to face my reality. Not doing so only caused high anxiety and mental exhaustion. 

Self-care is also about loving yourself with your imperfections, both inner and outer. There are so many people who are not happy with how they look, but from here, you only have two choices: love yourself for who you are or better yourself for who you want to be. 

By not doing so, you are only hurting yourself and your self-esteem. So, choose to love yourself.

Sometimes, all it takes is having a positive perspective. I encourage you to have positive inner and outer thoughts about yourself. Before leaving your apartment, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am __________.” 

When my self-esteem was really at a low and I was feeling very insecure, I would look at myself in the mirror and say, “I am brave and bold. I am a bad a-- b---- and I will conquer.” 

This may sound silly, but after constant self-reassurance, I started to believe I was a bad a-- b----. I became bolder and more confident in myself. It is the little things that create self-love.  

If you get a bad score on your midterm, reframe the way you think of the exam. Remind yourself that a number does not define you. 

Remember, it took Benjamin Franklin more than 3,000 tries to invent the light bulb. If you fail once, give it another 1,000 tries and you can succeed.

Self-care is also knowing when to ask for help. If you can’t sleep, go see a professional. If you sleep too much, go see a professional. If you are grieving, go see a professional. If you are freaking out about postgrad life, go see a professional. 

The incredible thing about UT is they give you free individual counseling sessions — take advantage of them!

Choose to include self-care into your daily routine. Choose to better yourself. You owe it to yourself to be mentally, physically and emotionally healthy.

I am leaving you with this: Self-care is needs vs. wants, being proactive, ignoring instant gratification and self-love.

Lopez is a social work alum. 

Photo Credit: Rachel Efruss | Daily Texan Staff

As the end of the semester approaches, students all over the Forty Acres are beginning to stress about upcoming finals, essays and their final grade in class. 

While stress continues to rise as the semester comes to an end, mental health and self-care begin to decrease. 

Many people believe that college students have no time to take care of themselves, but it is important to remember that without good mental health students can suffer academically and socially. 

Self-care is just one of the many stepping stones that students can take in order to better their mental health. 

When people think about self-care, a lot of the time they believe that you need to set a whole day away to pamper yourself with face masks and salads in order to feel your best. 

However, the reality is that self-care can come in many different forms and students can take care of themselves on a daily basis.

 Self-care can be something as simple as allowing yourself to take 20 minutes to read a book you really enjoy, go for a run to clear your mind, or even meditate for five minutes to collect your thoughts and ideas. 

As a student myself, while I get very caught up in studying all day long, one of the tricks I use to make sure that I do not completely burn out from studying is to break up my study times into 40-minute intervals. 

This trick allows me to study for 40 minutes straight without any distractions and then follow it up with 10-minute breaks where I can get a small snack, stretch and possibly take a catnap. 

This approach to studying has allowed me to become more focused on my studies in a more effective way, rather than going into a blank repetitive state of typing and writing all day long. 

Many people would not consider this small change to my study habits an example of self-care.

 However, while I am still focusing on my studies, taking small breaks every 40 minutes allows me to collect all my thoughts and focus on myself. It helps me protect my mental health in the long run. 

Self-care can come in many different shapes. Self-care can be something as small as buying yourself a coffee every Friday from your favorite coffee shop, or allowing yourself to take the whole weekend to sit back and relax. 

As students, we sometimes worry that we need to be going 24/7, when in reality it is important to take time for yourself. 

As finals are approaching, remember that even if you are at the library all day long, take the time to close your laptop and sit back to enjoy the day as much as possible.

 And remember, there is only a week of class left in the semester before we have a whole month to relax.

Rosales is a psychology sophomore. 

Photo Credit: Rachel Efruss | Daily Texan Staff

As finals season begins, there’s a lot of talk about self-care. Comfort dogs visit campus, clubs hand out face masks and coffee shops become crowded. Students can see self-care as some form of overly luxurious alone time — spending all evening in a bubble bath or applying numerous face masks.

Self-care is often defined as a complete break from responsibility. 

While everyone needs a break, constructing self-care as a stress-free alternative to work can lead to unhealthy ideas of what constitutes self-care and poor study habits. 

Categorizing self-care as simple breaks from responsibility can be used to justify avoidance. It’s easy and convenient to claim that continually putting off work from a challenging class is a form of self-care. Avoiding an assignment or waiting until the last possible moment to submit a paper? Self-care. Going out drinking to forget about an upcoming project? Self-care.

Self-care isn’t all relaxing evenings at home and nights out with friends. 

Self-care is often challenging. Sometimes it’s forcing yourself to start a paper early, so you won’t have to pull an all-nighter. 

It can be setting up a schedule that allots time for both work and spending time with friends, or just by yourself and sticking to it. 

Self-care can be saying no to going out so you can go to sleep early. 

Self-care is supposed to be an activity that decreases stress and allows you to focus on yourself and your well-being. It shouldn’t be something that ultimately makes life harder. 

In this forum, psychology sophomore Alyssa Rosales discusses common misconceptions about self-care and how she applies self-care to her study habits.

UT social work alum Magaly Maldonado Lopez describes the negative effects of using alcohol as a substitute for proper self-care and encourages current students to find self-care activities that don’t merely put off stress. 

As always, if you have any thoughts on this topic or any other, please feel free to reach out to me at thedailytexanforum@gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Brittany Le | Daily Texan Staff

It’s that time of year when nonindigenous United States citizens celebrate the fantasized good relationship between the first immigrants to the Americas and the original occupants of this homeland. For indigenous people, this first encounter was the beginning of the end, and while eating turkey and being with family are the focus of the day, celebration takes a lower priority.

Why can’t we forget that fateful encounter after almost 500 years? Unfortunately that initial contact — which resulted in attempted genocide, destruction of cultures, land theft and diaspora of the living and the dead —
continues to affect us today. 

Let me provide just one example that relates to the University of Texas and highlights the legacy of that first contact. 

According to staff at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory, the University has a “collection” of over  2,000 remains of our indigenous ancestors at their North Austin warehouse that are kept in cardboard boxes and stacked row upon row in metal shelving. No attempt has been made to return these remains to Native people for reburial, as prescribed by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act passed in 1990.

The Miakan-Garza Band, a Texas tribe recognized by state legislature, requested three of those remains March 7, 2016, and to this day, we have not been able to recover those ancestors and return them to the earth.

First, the University said we were not a federally recognized tribe. When this excuse was eliminated, we were told that UT did not have the money to proceed with our request. Next we learned from a Daily Texan article that another tribe had asked for the same remains, and it was UT’s policy for the competing tribes to reach an agreement on who would receive them. 

When we asked who the competing tribe was, we were told we had to file an open records request for that information. When we filed the request, several weeks later we were asked what we meant by the term “our ancestors.” To date, we have not received that information.

Genocide

There are very few of us left — from the varying estimates of the original populations ranging up to 100 million indigenous people in the Americas. This means very few of us are left to fight for the reburial of
our ancestors.

Culture Loss

In our culture, we believe that when a person dies, their spirit goes on a journey to the great mystery of the Cosmos, and when the body is unearthed, that journey is interrupted, and the spirit is suspended in agony. Apparently our culture is of no consequence to administrators, curators and stewards of our “collections.”

Land

We no longer have access to sacred sites where we can perform our ceremonies or to land that can be dedicated to repatriation. Fortunately, we have secured two acres of land in San Marcos, the first Texas city to establish a repatriation burial ground. But other indigenous communities face the challenge of providing a burial ground when the ancestors are eventually released
and reburied.

Diaspora of the Dead

Our ancestors have been carried to places— such as Harvard, the Witte Museum, overseas and, of course, to UT — from their burial
homelands to cardboard boxes.

But it’s not all bleak. The number of people sympathetic to our repatriation work is increasing. More people statewide are becoming aware of this issue and voicing their concerns. 

On Thanksgiving Day we celebrate that we are still here, still fighting the good fight, and for the huge number of good people who have joined our effort to rebury our ancestors.

Rocha is the executive director of Indigenous Cultures Institute in San Marcos.

Photo Credit: Brittany Le | Daily Texan Staff

For many UT students, Thanksgiving is a celebration marked by family, turkey and pilgrims. Most Americans learn a simplified, singular story of Thanksgiving. 

The pilgrims came to America escaping persecution from the English and struggled to survive until the kindly “Indians,” the Wampanoag people of New England, taught them how to grow crops and survive the harsh winters. The pilgrims celebrated their survival and newfound friendship with the Wampanoag with a feast. 

This story is reiterated in TV specials, children’s books and high school history classes. 

However, this is a cleaned-up fraction of a long, bloody and painful history. The arrival of the pilgrims, or English puritans, marked the beginning of the systematic elimination of indigenous populations throughout North America. The peace the pilgrims supposedly celebrated was short-lived. 

Colonists began to thrive in the following decades, pushing farther and farther inland, building towns and settlements and waging war against any tribes that protested colonists seizing their land. 

Over time, indigenous populations plummeted. The ever-advancing colonists brought disease, war and starvation. As the colonists began to dominate North America and establish their own systems of government and culture, indigenous peoples’ traditions were systematically erased and replaced with Western ideals, including this version of Thanksgiving. 

In this forum, Tane Ward, the director of Equilibrio Norte, an Austin-based decolonial organizing project, discusses the ongoing legacy of Thanksgiving and how colonial practices, both modern day and historic, harm indigenous populations. 

María F. Rocha, the executive director of Indigenous Cultures Institute in San Marcos, explains the consequences of the first Thanksgiving and argues that UT’s refusal to return ancestral remains to indigenous Texas groups is part of the painful legacy of colonization. 

As always, if you have any thoughts on this topic or any other, please feel free to reach out to me at thedailytexanforum@gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Charlie Hyman | Daily Texan Staff

The allegations that Coleman Hutchison committed sexual misconduct against his students first surfaced publicly in October of 2017. That fall, the English department held a town hall for graduate students upset over the process, one the students considered a complete failure. Now, with more than two years to consider the situation, UT administration still seems ill-equipped to answer why Hutchison is on the course schedule for next semester. 

Every bureaucracy has some level of incompetence. This runs deeper than that. UT administration has known for years now that Hutchison displayed a consistent pattern of sexual misconduct against graduate students. Through every step of this process, UT has shown it would rather endanger its female students than punish predatory male professors. 

In the course of writing this column, I tweeted a link to an anonymous Google Form asking UT students to tell me about times UT employees had made them uncomfortable. In response, I heard about professors standing so close to their students that they breathed on them, TA’s asking out their students and a now-retired professor making racist statements and giving a back massage to a female student while she was taking an exam. 

Per one former Hutchison student, “he should not be on the UT campus. The fact that he’s making $120K a year while grad students are trying to make ends meet at $14K is nauseating. He shouldn’t be allowed. F--- that s---. He should be working at Best Buy.” 

Parker Chambers was a sophomore resident assistant in the fall of 2018 when a student he knew told him about her experience with a male professor at UT. During the course of a normal email exchange about making up class assignments, he repeatedly called her “beautiful” and asked her to go out with him. She originally laughed off the emails as an awkward situation, but eventually expressed her discomfort over being sexually harassed by her professor. Even after she left his class, he continued to email her, asking her to come over to his class. 

As a mandatory reporter under UT guidelines, Chambers filed a Title IX report through University Housing and Dining on her behalf. The student was too afraid that the professor might “do something to hurt her” and declined to pursue the case. Chambers says he never heard back from UHD or the Title IX Office. The professor still teaches undergraduates, despite a reputation beyond this case for harassing female students. 

The current round of student protests against Hutchison and Dr. Sahotra Sarkar, who has also been found in violation of sexual misconduct policy, have been an incredible display of student power. But I’m concerned UT administration will fire these two professors and declare their job finished. Provost Maurie McInnis has said that her office has dealt with 11 cases of inappropriate professor contact in the last four years. There were 131 complaints filed by students against UT professors last year alone. 

UT isn’t properly investigating when students speak out. UT isn’t adequately punishing its professors when they sexually harass students. And UT isn’t protecting its students, including victims of sexual assault. Fire Hutchison and Sarkar. And then do a hell of a lot more than that.

Price is a government senior.

Photo Credit: Abriella Corker | Daily Texan Staff

Sustainability. It’s the spirit of the times and it resonates particularly strongly with college students. But what does a sustainable city look like? Solar panels on every home? Electric, autonomous cars running down glow-in-the-dark highways? I’d argue, probably not. To me, a sustainable world is right on our doorstep — a glimpse into a sustainable world is our beloved West Campus. 

So, what makes Austin’s student neighborhood a model for sustainability? Well in short, it’s all about density, mixed-uses and walkability. 

West Campus hits all three and our lifestyles revolve around using the greenest modes of transportation — walking, cycling and transit. And even when West Campus residents do use a car, the trips are generally short and therefore have lesser carbon emissions than suburban trips.

Our neighborhood’s urban form has encouraged us to lead greener lifestyles, without even making us work for it. That is, it’s easy to live sustainably in West Campus and that’s a real success in a society that’s seemingly paralyzed by the environmental crisis. 

But how sustainable is the West Campus area really? I made a Qualtrics survey that probed student transportation patterns. 

Based off of 95 respondents, I found that about 80% of all trips to and from the University are made on foot, by car 3%. Of West Campus residents, only about 60% of people have a car with them, and when drivers do drive, they tend to drive about 1.3 hours per week. 

Compare that to your average Austinite’s 8.7 hours per week. This research is in line with global research connecting population density with drastic drops in transportation energy usage. Per person, residents of dense cities like Paris use significantly less energy to get around than sprawled places like Houston. What’s clear is that urban density is crucial to building an energy efficient planet. 

The zoning laws  — laws that govern what can be built where and how — that overlay West Campus have also emphasized creating a pleasant streetscape. For example, new buildings must include 12-feet-wide sidewalks, maintain street trees and provide trash cans and benches. 

Furthermore, new parking garages are required to be at ground level and be accessibile — which is why we have a Pluckers on Rio.

As opposed to another urban form where we all jostle in metallic boxes, competing for limited road space, getting road rage at strangers we can only honk at, the urban form of West Campus is much healthier and humanistic. 

Is West Campus a perfect example of sustainability? Not quite. I still have gripes and wish there was a bike lane on 24th to connect the Rio bike lane with campus. I wish there was some form of rent control and more affordable housing. Prices for standard apartments such as studios or two bedrooms can be steep, costing more than an apartment would in other areas of Austin. 

And I also think that having some office buildings would help the street shops in the neighborhood. Several businesses have folded this year alone near West Campus, most notably on The Drag. While students may like these shops, due to limited student budgets, they are often not able to frequent them enough to keep them in business. 

But most of all I wish there was a block which was designated as a park so that we could all get some fresh air and space when we inevitably need it. If West Campus’s future includes these things I think that it would become the model urban neighborhood in the state.  

Quist is a civil engineering senior. 

Photo Credit: Abriella Corker | Daily Texan Staff

Exploitation is ingrained into American higher education. College students are regularly recruited to work, unpaid, under the guise of “gaining experience.” 18-year-olds can be forced to choose between putting themselves in tens — and sometimes hundreds — of thousands of dollars in debt or going into a workforce that will not value labor despite the skills they already have. Graduate students are often expected to teach, despite being paid stipends that don’t cover living expenses. 

The commodification of college students isn’t restricted to an academic setting, however. The need that students have for housing allows corporations and  landlords to wield the naivety of young adults against them. Around UT, this manifests itself in the shady housing practices that have come to typify West Campus. 

While landlords are often exploitative no matter where they are, there are a few aspects of West Campus leasing that make renting here particularly daunting. First, the West Campus leasing schedule puts renters at a severe disadvantage by forcing students to decide where they want to live for the next year in the early fall.  

For freshmen who just arrived on campus, this creates a particularly frantic housing search, not even taking into account that these students have just moved from home. Even for students who may already be living off campus, in many instances the early leasing schedule forces tenants to choose whether or not they want to re-sign before they’ve had a chance to acclimate to their apartments. As a result, the stress of finding housing can goad people back into their leases, despite the rate increases that many apartments impose between years.  

Even aside from these factors, early leasing allows complexes to raise rent throughout the leasing period as they have more time to do so — and the stage at which students become desperate for housing is often many months before complexes become desperate for renters.

The combination of this West Campus housing rush and the naivety of students, many of whom are renting for the first time and must search for apartments on their own, allows landlords to inflate rent  and to write unfair provisions into leases. These are rules uncommon outside of student housing. For example, some West Campus leases allow landlords to enter apartments for inspections or tours without prior notice.

Aside from lease clauses, landlords can allow unsavory conditions to develop, knowing that students don’t have the power to challenge them. 

Landlords realize that, in many cases, students won’t challenge them. There’s little need to fix broken amenities or to clear out infestations, both of which would diminish their profits. What would be the point if students don’t force them to respond? 

Even outside of legality issues, every aspect of living is turned into an extra charge. Want to live above the 7th floor? That’ll cost extra. Do you have a pet? You need to pay for that, too. While these experiences may not be uniform throughout West Campus properties, there is commonality in that students are often charged for little things that should be a given when it comes to housing. But these charges aren’t so little when added.

And while some students may be able to afford the economic blows that renting often entails, many can’t. 

This problem isn’t getting any better. Corporations continue to buyout affordable housing in West Campus and demolish it to build luxury properties. Austin City Council approved the construction of the Domain in Riverside, displacing many students from one of the few areas with plentiful affordable housing. Renting practices aren’t improving while the stress on the system increases. It’s time for students to band together to advocate for our rights as renters. A student tenants’ council would allow for collective action against predatory landlords, ensuring that the concerns of students be addressed.  

In the meantime, the Austin Tenants Council advocates on behalf of renters throughout the city. The University also offers free legal advice to current students. In many cases of landlord misconduct, a letter from a lawyer is enough to correct the issue. Students are constantly under attack by our housing institutions, making the University less accessible than it already is. It’s time for us to fight back.

Comiskey is a Plan II and biochemistry sophomore.

Photo Credit: Abriella Corker | Daily Texan Staff

After their first year, many UT students choose to live off campus. Apartments in West Campus are popular. They’re close to main University buildings and popular restaurants, there’s a short commute to class and West Campus is considered one of the centers of UT social life. 

While Austin residents have raised concerns about urban planning and space in downtown areas, West Campus’ high-rise style apartments continue to provide a growing student population with convenient places to live. 

West campus’ proximity to UT encourages students to bike, walk or bus to class, cutting down on traffic and car emissions. 

However, while West Campus has taken steps to ensure accessibility and sustainability, there are still many improvements that need to be made. Some streets lack adequate bike lanes, constant construction causes lane closures and transit delays and many students face unfair housing practices.

Students are often overcharged and misled. Most students have little knowledge about finding an apartment for a good price. It’s easy for a landlord or realty company to advertise good prices for quality units and uniformed students to take them at their word. If they’re being misled, they most likely won’t know how to file a claim against their landlord. 

West Campus offers students opportunities to live near campus in sustainable, urban housing. However, West Campus can still improve by making apartments more accessible, affordable and convenient for students. 

In this forum, Plan II and biochemistry sophomore Aidan Comiskey discusses how many students face unfair housing practices when they live in West Campus and urges students to organize for improved rental rights. 

Civil engineering senior Kevin Quist explains what sustainability housing looks like and how West Campus can make changes to become more sustainable.

As always, if you have any thoughts on this topic or any other, please feel free to reach out to us at thedailytexanforum@gmail.com