An Open Letter to My Alumni Association
To: Del Williams, President of Texas Exes [firstname.lastname@example.org] and Dorothy Guerrero, Editor-in-Chief of Alcalde magazine [email@example.com]
From: Mark Pulliam, Life Member, Texas Exes; UT School of Law 1980
Re: Feedback on the March-April 2018 Issue
When I received the March-April issue of Alcalde in the mail recently, I had to scratch my head and wonder how Texas Exes felt that it was serving the interests of its members. I have two complaints.
First, the article “Lives on Hold,” by associate editor Danielle Lopez, is a sympathetic profile of three illegal aliens (or “Longhorn Dreamers,” in SJW parlance) who fill coveted seats at UT—displacing Texas residents who are U.S. citizens—and, due to the generosity of Texas taxpayers, pay heavily-subsidized in-state tuition. Despite these benefits, along with perks such as spending a semester studying in Washington, D.C., internships, cushy part-time jobs at city hall, and participation in the UTeach program, the subjects of the profile exhibit little gratitude, but instead display a raging sense of entitlement: engaging in noisy protests, agitating through slick, well-funded activist groups (Jolt, ULI), and stridently demanding amnesty and citizenship.
The article reads like a press release from an open-borders advocacy group. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is depicted uncritically, instead of as an illegal executive edict that conflicts with federal immigration statutes enacted by Congress. Even though President Obama stated numerous times—prior to issuing the unlawful edict—that he lacked the constitutional authority unilaterally to override statutes passed by Congress, the article faults President Trump for rescinding DACA, accusing him of “rattling the lives of DACA recipients.” Then the article tendentiously describes President’s Trump’s proposed DACA compromise—which was dismissively rejected by congressional Democrats—and quibbles with the term “chain migration.”
The so-called “Longhorn Dreamers” featured in the article are illegal aliens—not “undocumented immigrants”–brought into the country in violation of federal law. Their parents committed a crime by crossing the U.S. border illegally. Illegal aliens are trespassers—scofflaws. Celebrating them and presenting them as “victims” is an insult to law-abiding Texans, as well as to immigrants who followed the rules, waited in line, and obtained permission to live and work in the United States. Austin may be a liberal enclave with a SJW mayor, but UT stands for the University of Texas. “Texas Exes” means Texans who graduated from UT. Your editorial perspective seems to be slanted toward the progressive element that dominates the administration of UT, not the alumni population as a whole.
With more than 28 million residents, Texas is a huge state, with diverse views. But recall that President Trump carried Texas by a wide margin, based in significant part on his pledge to build a wall, secure the borders, and enforce federal immigration laws. For decades, Texas’ voters have elected only Republicans to statewide office. Austin is a blueberry floating in a bowl of tomato soup. A pro-illegal alien/pro-DACA/pro-amnesty/anti-Trump slant may be appropriate for Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, Texas Observer, the Austin Chronicle, or similar left-leaning publications, but Texas Exes purports to be a politically-neutral alumni organization, and Alcalde is supposed to be its non-partisan magazine.
By engaging in thinly-disguised political advocacy, you have betrayed your 106,000 members, who did not join Texas Exes to be proselytized or preached to. With an enrollment of over 50,000 students, UT-Austin has many interesting, hard-working, and talented students you could have profiled. Picking three illegal aliens is disgraceful and clearly agenda-driven. You should be ashamed.
Second, Texas Exes seems to have lost sight of the fact that it is an alumni organization, not the public relations department for UT President Greg Fenves. The cover story written by Alcalde editor-in-chief Dorothy Guerrero, “The Fenves Effect,” is an embarrassing puff piece. Your 106,000 members (and the estimated 482,000 UT alumni overall), especially those with children attending UT, are concerned with many things: the high and rising cost of tuition; the toxic climate of political correctness on campus; the burgeoning academic bureaucracy; the indoctrination of students by professors using their classrooms as political pulpits; the infringement of free speech on campus; and the party culture that leads to casual, alcohol-fueled hook-ups among students.
President Fenves has done nothing to address any of those issues. Instead, as I have documented in a series of articles for The American Spectator (here and here), Law and Liberty, American Greatness (here and here), City Journal, and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, President Fenves has presided over the removal of historical statuary, abused the university’s Title IX policy for investigating sexual assaults (resulting in the denial of due process and exposing the university to litigation), condoned the one-sided application of dubious campus speech codes, issued a risible “rape survey” that conflated poor judgment with forcible rape, and allowed the subject of campus free speech to be monitored by identity politics zealots associated with UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.
Moreover, President Fenves’ virtue-signaling tenure has been marred by travel scandals, campus assaults (including a brutal murder), a mediocre athletic program, and opposition to state law protecting UT students’ Second Amendment rights. Nonetheless, Texas Exes continues to function as a cheerleading section for the UT administration, with Texas Exes President Del Williams leading the cheers.
I know that President Fenves’ beleaguered predecessor, Bill Powers (who was forced to resign in disgrace), used UT funds to “buy” favorable publicity from Texas Exes during his scandal-plagued tenure, and I suspect that this suspect practice has continued. What other explanation could there be for the obsequious coverage that Alcalde provides to President Fenves? Cronyism, obviously, plays a role, as one looks at the administration insiders who populate the leadership of Texas Exes, and the overlap with other—ostensibly independent—organizations, such as the UT Law School Foundation.
Texas Exes exists to serve UT alumni, not to uncritically promote UT’s administration. “Working the Problem” is a fawning encomium unworthy of an alumni magazine. President Fenves is apparently trying to reshape UT into the image of his alma mater (M.S.E., PhD.), the University of California at Berkeley. I doubt that many UT alumni share Fenves’ ambition in this regard.
Cc: Danielle Lopez, Assistant Editor, Alcalde magazine [firstname.lastname@example.org]; Chuck Harris, Executive Director, Texas Exes [email@example.com]; firstname.lastname@example.org