Big Changes For West Campus Events

Big Changes For West Campus Events

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City of Austin officials called a Wednesday, Sept. 3, meeting with representatives from fraternities, sororities and co-ops throughout West Campus to announce a new plan to crack down on West Campus event ordinance violations, in response to recent incidents and concerns raised by older Austin residents.

The effort will consist of a new plan for event registration that requires new one-stop permit applications to be submitted at least 21 days in advance, with an attached site plan detailing the makeup of the property and party structures, according to announcements made by representatives from the Austin Fire Department and Austin Police Department at the meeting. Officials also said that the effort will include increased enforcement and less leniency on violations.

Captain Stacey Cox of the Austin Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office said the new process is being implemented in response to issues the department has seen recently. “We’ve had several incidents occur in the past, and several agencies haven’t been well informed,” Cox said. “Essentially, the message we’re trying to get across is this is turning into an entertainment district rather than what it should be.” 

Lt. Brad Price of the Austin Fire Department said the push for enforcement was spurred by an increasing number of complaints made by older residents in the West Campus area who demanded that the city uphold the ordinances it was previously overlooking. “People researched city codes and found that these things aren’t permissible and demanded the city do their job,” Price said. 

The meeting was held at the Kappa Alpha house, located near West 25th Street and Leon Street, and lasted roughly two hours. The West Campus area of Austin is home to most of the university’s fraternity and sorority life, along with many non-Greek students. Despite its overwhelming student population, West Campus remains a residential area by law and city ordinances don’t differ much for West Campus in comparison to more family-centric areas of Austin.

Austin Police Department Officer Ray Lopez said live outdoor music, including DJs, will no longer be allowed without a proper permit. He said most houses are not zoned to get permits for live outdoor music at all.  “What’s been allowed previously is going to come to an end,” Lopez said. “Ninety-nine percent of you will not be able to get the permit you need.”

With the addition of the site plan requirement, households who wish to plan an event must submit a detailed, clear map of their residence at the time of application submission. The map should include all planned bars, structures (including fraternity builds), permanent or temporary fencing, marked exits and a full floor plan. The application can be accessed through the City of Austin’s CityStage website, and the 21-day notice is effective beginning Oct. 1. Until then, event applications must be submitted to the department at least seven days in advance.

A separate application must be submitted for each event, and any omissions within the application as well as any objection to plans by a singular department could result in a denial of the application. Cox said the stricter application process is necessary to allow time for each agency to be notified of any precautions prior to each event. 

The Austin Center for Events, or ACE, is comprised of coordinating departments across the city including the Austin Fire Department, Austin Resource Recovery, Austin/Travis County Emergency Medical Services, Capital Metro, the Health Department, Parks & Recreation and the Transportation Department. The division handles permit approvals on a first-come, first-serve basis, and will not consider a permit that is either incomplete or unpaid for. 

According to print materials distributed at the meeting, “After receiving a citation, the organization will not be eligible for another TCOU permit for 30 days. If another unpermitted event occurs during this 30 day period, the period of ineligibility will be increased up to 6 months.”

The changes call the future of UT’s Round Up into question. Price said he personally expects the event to be as big as it was last year, but no official word on the matter has been released by APD. As for negative feelings voiced by a few of the attendees, Price said he hopes no one feels targeted. “This is not something we just made up for you [Greek students]; we make all the bars do this,” Price said. “It’s been this way a long time. There just hasn’t been a good infrastructure or process.”

Frances Hargrove, special events manager for the Austin Transportation Department’s Office of Special Events, urged the students in attendance at the meeting to take action in the upcoming city council elections in November.  “These rules are set in place by the governing city council,” Hargrove said. “We hear the voices of the older residents. You need to make your voices heard if you want the rules changed.”

This November marks the first Austin City Council election in which candidates will not be elected by citywide vote. Instead, the city has been split into 10 districts, and one candidate will be selected from each. District 9 contains the West part of campus, along with the areas to the North, West and South of it, downtown and parts of the South Austin and East Riverside areas. 

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As A Muslim American, My Trip To Jerusalem Revealed That Open-Mindedness Bridges Communities

A life changing trip that opened my eyes up to the optimal dynamics in a community.

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On Dec. 21, my parents and I flew to Amman, a city in the beautiful country of Jordan, where we took a cab to the main part of Jerusalem. We were told by multiple family friends that it is not the safest to directly fly into Jerusalem because of the religious issues and riots going on. As we entered Jerusalem, I put my hijab on. A hijab is a head covering worn to cover a women's beauty in Islam. As I put my hijab on to pay respect to Mosque Aqsa, I noticed a change in perspective from everyone around me because suddenly, there were eyes from everywhere on me — Muslim and Jewish.

After we paid respect to Mosque Aqsa, we went to the hotel to sleep because we were exhausted from our 14 hour flight. The next morning, we woke up bright and early to begin our day by praying at Mosque Aqsa. I wore traditional American clothes, jeans and a top, because it was often worn in Jerusalem, though I kept a hijab on for prayer.

After praying, I was astonished by the gathering of all the Muslim people in the mosque area. This made me want to see the Wailing Wall and the place of the first church to view how others gather for their god. I knew the Wailing Wall was sacred because it was a prayer and pilgrimage place for Jewish people, while for Christians, Jesus was born inside the first church.

As we exited the mosque community, we found a kind man at the kiosk who gave us pomegranate and mangoes. My dad decided to ask this gentleman directions to the Wailing Wall. The man began screaming at me and my dad. He told us we are not allowed to even want to view the wall of the Jewish people. I responded and explained that we just want another perspective on other religions. The man yelled even louder. He told us that the Jewish people would convert us and that we should not leave the Mosque surroundings. With this, he furiously sat back down and did not give us any directions to the wall that was right behind this mosque. My dad and I were quite confused on what had just happened and the way our question for simple directions were handled.

We decided to walk along the sidewalk until we found someone to help us out. It was a 61-year-old man who seemed to be a Jewish person with his religious hat. He happily helped us out and gave us exact directions for the Wailing Wall, though he did say he was excited new people wanted to convert to his religion.

We followed his directions and successfully reached the Wailing Wall. There were gates at the Wailing Wall that had security checks that allowed people to enter as there were at the mosque. Although, the experience entering the wall and mosque was not the same. As a muslim woman wearing a hijab, I was able to walk through the mosque without anyone questioning me, I was easily able to walk in without questions asked.

At the wall, a security guard first made my family go through metal detectors, checked our passports and asked an immense amount of questions about why we wanted to go see the Wailing Wall if we were Muslim. Finally, after various obstacles and issues, we made it into the Wailing Wall.

As I experienced such obstacles, I thought about how different the community in Jerusalem was from the United States. It doesn't matter what group, each religion in Jerusalem was highly conservative. This is quite different from the United States.

The culture in the United States is significantly diverse, which allows the people here to be open minded. As an everyday routine, Americans interact with people of various religions and cultures that they don't question or change their perspective toward a certain race. Yes, there are always racist citizens who are not comfortable with other religions, but a majority of the United States depicts unity because of how culturally different every person is.

This is not how Jerusalem is seen. Religions are significantly segregated with one another through security check, restaurants, hotels and even streets. Every religion has their streets in Jerusalem and going to the one you are not a part of can result in awkward stares along with rude treatment.

As I had previously booked a hotel before arriving to Jerusalem, we were not aware that the street we booked was on the street of the Jewish people. This wasn't a major issue, but glares and different treatment were conveyed. As my parents and I would eat breakfast in the lounge, we would often get glares for the hijab or clothing we were wearing because it was different from everyone else around us. This was quite disturbing because every day we would go inside the hotel or leave and get glares that clearly depicted that we weren't wanted in this hotel. The hotel workers were indefinitely kind and caring at all times, though the people living there were not.

The experience I had was definitely an eye-opening lesson. It depicted the perspective of others in America versus Jerusalem. The people in Jerusalem are not open-minded, which detaches the various religious groups in the nation. It prevents various religions to connect or be able to create united communities to be able to act as one.

As for the United States, there are different religions and cultures blended together with majority of the people who are open-minded. This allows the union of communities, while also allowing people to connect without the similarity of religion. I'm glad that I was able to have a once in a lifetime experience with my family. Although the segregation in the country was a little uncomfortable, I am glad that I was able to understand how lucky I am to live in an open, happy and united country and that I am also able to learn about the significance of open-mindedness in uniting people and communities.

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