Bleah B. Patterson

Protesters, activists take to the Quad

Protests and rallies are not uncommon in the Texas State Quad and can create change using different techniques.

Texas State has a designated free speech zone in the Quad where students often protest and rally to create awareness of different issues. Students have witnessed a range of activism this semester, from silent protests to speeches, at the Fighting Stallions.

Rallies and protests are not a fad, and activism has driven historic change for decades, said T. Jane Heffelfinger, history senior.

Heffelfinger has protested regarding a variety of issues since she was in high school, including gay rights and police brutality.

Faculty Senate opposes statewide campus carry

Faculty Senate and liaisons approved a “proclamation in opposition” of a campus-carry bill proposed at the ongoing 84th Texas Legislative Session.

Faculty Senators held a joint meeting with liaisons Feb. 18. Liaisons are faculty members elected by their departments to represent interests to the senate.

“I believe there is enough support to begin drafting a statement by the senate and show the president and the provost next week,” said Michel Conroy, faculty senate chair.

Conroy said officials from the University of Texas and Texas A&M University have already sent proclamations to the legislature, creating a push to expedite the process.

UT opposed the campus-carry bill, and A&M approved of it, Conroy said.

Regional organization plans improvement to highway congestion

 

An Austin-based group has proposed methods to relieve Interstate Highway 35 of its congestion.

Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (C.A.M.P.O.) lobbies for transportation legislature on behalf of Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties. The organization began the 2040 Plan early last year. The plan proposes a strategy to clear up congestion on IH-35 by the year 2040, said Ashley Johnson, C.A.M.P.O. director.

Johnson spoke to citizens during a luncheon Feb. 17 in conjunction with San Marcos City Council, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Technical Advisory Committee and Transportation Policy Board with updates on the 2040 Plan.

Faculty Senate debates shared governance petition

The University of Illinois Faculty Senate has reached out to Texas State’s Faculty Senate after an incoming member’s employment was revoked due to hate speech on Twitter.

Steven Salaita applied for a teaching position at the University of Illinois (UI) for the fall 2014 semester and was hired as a professor of indigenous studies.

Salaita had to wait for the university’s board of trustees to approve his application before officially being employed. The job offer was withdrawn Sept. 15, 2014 after the university saw anti-Semitic tweets on Salatia’s Twitter account.

The UI faculty senate was not included in the decision to revoke Salaita’s job offer, said Michel Conroy, Texas State Faculty Senate chair.

Distance learning program receives national recognition

The success of Texas State’s online learning department may be the school’s best-kept secret.

Some campus administrators were not aware of an award the department won in November 2014. The university was given the nationally recognized 2014 Effective Practices Award by the Online Learning Consortium, or OLC, for the second year in a row.

The OLC awards colleges and universities with “innovative” procedures that maintain the quality of online learning and provide an exceptional student experience, said Joshua Book, assistant director of correspondence studies and course production.

Enrollment growth dictates legislative priorities for Texas State

The Texas 84th Legislative session has begun, and university officials hope to receive more funding as enrollment continues to rise.

Texas educators will take concerns and proposals to their districts’ representatives during legislative sessions, and the delegates will present them before Congress.

The Higher Education Assistance Fund (HEAF), which is granted to state public universities, is at stake. This fund would not go to the University of Texas and Texas A&M, which collect their own grants from the state exclusively. The amount allotted is chosen once every decade and reevaluated every five, said Bill Nance, vice president of Finance and Support Services.

Faculty Senate favors change in Incomplete grading policy

Faculty Senate held a discussion at its Wednesday meeting about shortening the time frame for graduate students to earn a grade in a course in which they receive an “incomplete” before failing.

The policy and procedure currently state that graduate students who receive an “incomplete” or “I” in a class have one year to earn a better grade before failing that course. The proposed policy would hold graduate students to a higher standard by giving them less time to retake a course and earn a complete grade.

Proposed passenger rail to connect major Texas cities

Students and San Marcos residents attended an open house Monday night to voice their opinions on a proposed project to connect Austin and San Antonio by rail.

The Lone Star Regional Rail project is expected to improve mobility along Interstate Highway 35 by creating a passenger rail service from north Austin to downtown San Antonio. The rail will include 16 stops with major ones at Texas A&M University, downtown San Antonio, airports in Austin and San Antonio, Texas State University, downtown Austin and downtown Round Rock.

A committee kicked off a tour through central Texas holding open houses to get feedback from cities on the proposal.

Benefits, drawbacks of new complex remain uncertain

San Antonio developer Darren Casey of Casey Development Ltd. is moving forward with an approved 13-story apartment complex downtown after the city council denied the addition of two levels.

Councilwoman Lisa Prewitt, Place 1, voted against the addition to the Concho Commons apartment complex. She said she could not support the plan in light of a decision made by the council last year to strive toward more affordable housing.

She believed the density the addition would add, paired with cost of the apartments, would not be conducive to socioeconomic diversity and would attract only an exclusive group of renters.

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