This campaign has been unlike anything we have ever experienced. While both of us have spent years working to improve student life at UT, we feel so fortunate to be given the opportunity to reach thousands of students, staff, faculty and administrators with consolidated thoughts, critiques, and ideas. With that being said, this campaign is not about us. We began this effort with issues and solutions in mind. The first question we asked each other was, “What are your priorities?” We decided to run one week before campaigning officially began. We were told by many that it couldn’t be done, that there was not enough time to plan an elaborate campaign.
When we heard this, our response was simple. We do not need an elaborate campaign. We need to engage the student body on issues that matter, and we need to be able to advocate on behalf of students within the bureaucracy of both Student Government and UT. Our slogan, Recreate, while multi-faceted, comes down to making substantial, feasible, necessary changes on campus. While change implies reform, it also constitutes creation. Recreate culminates in many different aspects of our platform and goals that we hope to achieve if we are elected. Our focus is less on politics, and more on follow-through.
In light of the proposed Title IX rollbacks on survivors’ rights, interpersonal violence prevention is at the forefront of our platform. Working to address sexual assault prevention efforts on campus, we often get asked, “What is the biggest issue that UT students face?” In response, we cite the 2017 CLASE study that states at least one out of every five women and one of every 16 men at UT is a survivor. All the while, survivors are having to balance college while attempting to deal with a traumatic event that could have been prevented. If elected, we would immediately work on increasing the number of confidential advocates on campus, which means students can talk to a formally-trained faculty or staff member without the worry of having to go through a reporting process. Furthermore, we prioritize expanding legal services for survivors, rebranding the “Be Safe” campaign, implementing an IPVP feedback week and adopting the “Texas IX.” These imperative changes could fundamentally shift the responsibility of safety from the student to the University, emphasize the need for further prevention education, streamline reporting and provide additional University support for survivors and the accused throughout the investigation.
With all of these changes, our mission is to create a culture of care and consent for all Longhorns. A culture of care involves advocacy for mental health resources — mental health is a critical issue on every college campus. As students, we inhabit a precarious position during this time of our lives. We are finally independent yet we are expected to know exactly what we want to do after graduation. We want to make counseling more accessible. By expanding the Counselors in Academic Residence program and by introducing virtual counseling, students will no longer have to make the trek to the Student Services Building to meet with a counselor. CMHC appointments are difficult to come by and there can be days where you cannot or do not want to get out of bed. You should not have to miss that potentially critical appointment because of the inability to be physically present. Everyone has a different college experience, so it is imperative every student receives support tailored to their experiences throughout their time at UT.
We recognize this proposed list is ambitious and raises the concern of time constraints. Can all of this be done in one year? By the end of our term, most of these ideas will be implemented.
Some long-term projects will not be, but that does not mean we are going to shy away from working on them. Making continuity a priority in SG is critical to ensuring the next group of student leaders picks up right where we left off. Administrators have walked over student leaders for years — this year, we will not let that happen. We are not afraid to speak up for students and recreate campus alongside every student voice. So, join us and recreate what it means to be a student on this campus.