Tag Archives: atx

Mid-semester Madness: A Personal Reflection

Tired and overwhelmed — the two perfect words to describe how I’ve been feeling lately. 

There’s a certain sensation that buzzes around in the October air that looms around for quite a while, almost pulling and tugging at you as you try to live out your day: Midterm season.

It seems like just yesterday you were opening your syllabus for the first (and hopefully not last) time. Then, all of the sudden, we’re mid-semester. While it’s nice to be able to say that you’re halfway through your semester, it’s also scary to think about how much more there is to come. 

Midterm exams, projects, deadlines, registration and literally everything else makes the never-ending to-do list even longer.

While I’m now in my junior year of college, it somehow feels like the hardest one I have experienced thus far. Having spent my first semester completely in-person pre-COVID and my second fall semester completely online, it seems like this weird hybrid semester has been so much worse.

Whether it’s because of the difficulty of my classes as an upperclassman or just having to get used to actually attending my classes in person and not from the comfort of my bed, this semester has been a different beast altogether.

To be frank, I started this semester with such high expectations considering the fact that I registered for five classes, became involved in three organizations, added a second major and even got a job. While I was somehow able to juggle all of that only a few months ago in my spring semester, this became a struggle this school year. 

I’m not too sure if maybe it’s just me feeling this way or if others can relate at all but it hasn’t been very fun. 

On the other hand, there could be much worse things happening. While I’m struggling this semester, there’s still a tomorrow. 

While my professors and peers may not be too thrilled about my performance this semester, there is still in fact more ahead of this. 

Everyone has a hard time at some point in their college career and it just so happens that this is my struggle semester. So, it’s absolutely okay if this is your struggle semester, too. 

We will all get through this weird, difficult period together.

Featured image by Lucero Lopez

What’s on the ballot?

Early voting in Austin has begun! From Oct. 18 to Oct. 29, Travis County residents are eligible to vote. Election Day is on Nov. 2. If you want to make an informed decision, keep on reading to find out what’s on your ballot.

The Austin ballot is composed of Propositions A and B and Propositions one through eight.

But what do propositions do? They suggest a program or plan of action. 

Propositions A and B are Austin local plans that will affect policing and parkland.

There are two options when voting for Proposition A: voting YES or voting NO (you have to choose).

Voting YES for Proposition A means:

  •  Increasing police staff to meet the minimum staff required to match Austin’s population. There would need to be two police officers per 1,000 residents. 
  •  Add 40 hours to police training 
  • Increase compensation for officers who are bilingual (or proficient in other languages), officers who enroll in mentor cadet programs and officers recognized for honorable conduct.

Please note that proposition A does not include the funding for these plans. Funding will come from an increase in taxes or cutting funding from other departments such as the fire department. 

Similarly, there are two options for Proposition B: Voting YES or voting NO (again, you have to choose.).

Voting YES for Proposition B means:

  • Authorization of land swap; Austin will trade nine acres of city parkland for 48 acres of waterfront property to turn into a park

The nine acres of parkland the city currently owns is home to ATX’s Parks and Rec Central Maintenance Complex and because the property is considered parkland, the city must vote to get rid of it

Onto propositions one through eight!

Did you know the state of Texas has a constitution? All states do! It’s what allows them to be their own state.

Like any other constitution, this one has amendments. Propositions one through eight  are amends to the Texas constitution, so let’s figure out what they will change:

Proposition 1:

This amendment would allow sport teams to hold raffles at rodeos.

Proposition 2:

This amendment would allow counties to issue bonds (money) to fund infrastructure and transportation projects in undeveloped areas. It also prohibits counties that issue such bonds from pledging more than 65% of that money.

Proposition 3:

This amendment would prohibit the state from passing a law that limits religious services and organizations.

Proposition 4:

This amendment changes the eligibility for state judges. The most prominent changes are:

Must be a Texas resident and U.S. citizen

Must have 8 – 10 years of attorney/judge experience

Proposition 5:

This amendment would allow the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to investigate candidates of the judicial office. 

Proposition 6: 

This amendment would allow residents of assisted living facilities to have an essential caregiver that cannot be prohibited from in-person visitation. 

Proposition 7:

This amendment would allow the surviving spouse of a disabled individual to keep a homestead property tax limit (reduced school taxes and $10,000 tax exemption) if 55 years or older.

Proposition 8:

This amendment would qualify the surviving spouse of a military member (who has died or been severely injured) for a total homestead property tax exemption (so they don’t have to pay property taxes).

Now that you know what each proposition is, go vote! The current propositions are critical to the future of Austin. Voting stations are available at the Flawn Academic Center and Gregory Gym!

ATX: An Outside Perspective

I am not from Austin, Texas. In fact, I am from the opposite of Austin, Texas— a small, country town with only a school and a gas station to its name. During my first few days living in the city, I experienced mixed feelings about my new home. I despised waiting for 20 minutes just to cross the street and having to walk a mile to Target to get an overpriced toothbrush. But I loved the bustling energy of The Drag and the millions of lights that shone throughout the city at night. After my experience, I wanted to talk to some other first year students who aren’t originally from Austin to see how their first impression of Austin compared to mine. 

Leonel Castillo is an aerospace engineering major from San Antonio, Texas. He also participates in the engineering student organization Longhorn Racing.

Leonel Castillo

What is the biggest difference between Austin and your hometown?

San Antonio is significantly more sprawled, meaning less people packed together and better traffic, but you need a car to get everywhere. San Antonio also is rich in Mexican heritage, and as a Mexican, it makes me feel right at home. Austin doesn’t have any of that cultural spice, so I have yet to find that sense of being at home.

What was your first day living in Austin like?

It was overwhelming, because of the new city-scape and the whole not knowing anybody thing.

What do you like about Austin? 

The food, the people, urban planning, the emphasis on transit (busses, rails, bike lanes) and the capitol building.

What do you dislike about Austin?

The hills. It’s difficult to ride my bike. Campus is very hilly, and so is much of downtown. I also dislike how unsafe it feels after 8 p.m. off-campus.

If there was one thing you would change about the city to make it more accommodating for you as a student/resident, what would it be?

I’d increase the number of buses that go around campus and take students directly to shopping centers and such. Or maybe even open more supermarkets closer to campus.

Before you arrived at Austin, what initial expectations did you have for your new life here?

I expected to travel wherever I wanted without a car because of the great urban planning, but also was aware of the homeless people and tents creeping near campus that could offer some trouble.

In your first few weeks in Austin, if you have shared Leo’s concerns about safety, consider traveling with a friend or using transportation services such as UT Night Rides or SureWalk. If you’ve found yourself struggling to bike up a formidable hill or missing a hometown that is rich with your cultural heritage— you’re not alone. Austin is an extremely diverse city, so the various cultures tend to blur together— it can be overwhelming. Go out and explore the city. I promise that you will find the “cultural spice” you’re looking for.

Featured image by Tara Phipps