UT Budget Cuts

The buck stops where?

UT President Bill Powers
UT President Bill Powers (Photo by John Anderson)

While the Save the Cactus Cafe group held its inaugural meeting at Maria's Taco Xpress Feb. 6, the University of Texas administration was scrambling to back the student body and the Texas Union board over their decision to close the venue and terminate the informal classes program. Calling the board "the voice of the campus," President Bill Powers said, "It is my understanding that the board was in full consultation" over the decision. The core issue, he added, was that "this isn't the life sciences building; it's the student union," and so decisions about the future of the space and the program should lie with the student body.

However, the idea that the matter had indeed been a full board decision backed by students is taking a hammering. On Feb. 9, The Daily Texan reported that, according to Student Events Center President Andrew Nash, the only member of the body who knew about the plan in advance of the Jan. 29 meeting was Student Government Pres­ident Liam O'Rourke, and he failed to share that information with his fellow members. Board member Thomas Garza – one of Powers' three appointees to the advisory body – told the Chronicle (see "Off the Record") that neither he nor any other faculty member was present at the Jan. 29 meeting where the closures were discussed and a subset of the board backed (without a vote) the plan presented by longtime Union Execu­tive Director Andy Smith.

"My understanding is that this was a regular meeting of the board that [Garza] was informed of," said Powers. "If that's incorrect, then that's an issue that needs to be addressed." Powers said that he has not spoken to any board members other than O'Rourke. While he has no plans to organize a meeting with them either individually or collectively, he said: "That advisory board is fully capable of giving me whatever advice they want to give. ... If they think I have misinterpreted that advice, they can let me know."

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University of Texas, Cactus Cafe, informal classes, Liam O'Rourke, Andy Smith, Bill Powers

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