Student Voices Go Unheard

Student body absent from student-body-made decision

When it comes to the Cactus Cafe and informal classes, President Bill Powers is careful to say that he backs the student body in whatever decision it ultimately makes. But with two rival plans for the Cactus' future up for discussion at the Texas Union board's Feb. 26 meeting (see "Off the Record," Music), there's a question as to which students get their voices heard.

Hayley Gillespie, co-founder of Student Friends of the Cactus Cafe, said, "The first thing [the administration] said was, 'Oh, it's the students that want this,' and we all looked at each other and said, 'Hmm, not so much.'" Part of the problem, she suggested, is the board's composition: Even though graduates registered in fall 2009 account for 22.5% of students, there is no graduate representative on the board.

The cafe's closure would mean the loss of the only full bar in the Union. Explaining his concerns about having beer in a building frequented by undergraduates, Executive Director Andy Smith said, "Aggressively selling alcohol ... is something we can't appear to be doing." That presumption may come as a surprise to the 39% of registered students – including 99.5% of the 11,127 graduate students – who are of drinking age.

It also seems that not all former students are getting an equal voice. Smith has forwarded messages of support from certain UT alumni and the Texas Union Advisory Council (see "Still Prickly: UT Students vs. Cactus Cuts," Feb. 19) to help bolster the board's resolve. However, Whole Foods Vice President Michael Clifford has withdrawn from the Management Information Sys­tems Steering Committee at the McCombs School of Business in protest of both the closure of the cafe and the discontinuation of the classes. In an e-mail to other committee members, he attacked "the arrogance [the University of] Texas is demonstrating," and added, "The argument that these programs take benefits from the students has to be balanced against what the students get from the community in return."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More University of Texas
<i>Walking Waller Creek</i> Is a Tour Through Wildlife, Wild Flora, and Wild History
Walking Waller Creek Is a Tour Through Wildlife, Wild Flora, and Wild History
Take this self-guided tour from UT's Office of Sustainability, and learn how much wildness this waterway is home to

Robert Faires, July 31, 2020

UT Austin Offers Free Tuition to Low Income Families
UT Austin Offers Free Tuition to Low Income Families
Incoming Longhorns to receive more financial aid thanks to oil revenues

Austin Sanders, July 12, 2019

More by Richard Whittaker
Shock the Vote Invites You to a Shocking Halloween Party
Shock the Vote Invites You to a Shocking Halloween Party
Drive-in double-bill of Halloween treats

Oct. 30, 2020

AFF Review: <i>Film Fest</i>
AFF Review: Film Fest
Film making comedy is painfully on point

Oct. 29, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

University of Texas, Informal Classes, Cactus Cafe, Bill Powers, Hayley Gillespie, Student Friends of the Cactus Cafe

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle