BREAKING: Trinity University Postpones Spring Semester Until Jan. 31, 2022

While enjoying their winter break, Trinity University students received an email this morning notifying them of the new plan for returning to campus for the spring semester, which was scheduled to begin on Jan. 12, 2022. As of this morning at 11:16 am, Wed. Dec. 29, the spring semester will not begin until Jan. 31, 2022. 

In an email from Tess Coody-Anders, the Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University, students learned that the decision was made due to the “dramatic increase” of positive COVID-19 cases in the Trinity community. Throughout the winter break, students have been responsible for self-reporting any positive COVID-19 diagnoses or any close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Trinity’s Nerve Center has taken these numbers into consideration when making this decision in an attempt to keep students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy. 

One of the concerns of the university is how contagious the Omicron variant of COVID-19 seems to be. If the virus spreads quickly among students, faculty, and staff on-campus, the university is concerned that it will be overwhelmed and not able to properly accommodate individuals who must quarantine on-campus for their own safety or the safety of their families or roommates. 

When asked to comment, Coody-Anders said that the academic calendar for the Spring 2022 semester is being adjusted and that faculty will adjust their syllabi accordingly. Students’ spring break will not be changed, postponed, or canceled. The decision to start the semester should not interfere with athletic events or activities, and the university is doing all that it can to protect students, faculty, and staff from COVID-19.

Article updated 12/20/2021 to include comments from Tess Coody-Anders, VP for Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University.

Chinese Infiltration of the Lone Star State

China’s growing influence in the US is noticeable to anyone who doesn’t ignore it, but what is even more concerning is China’s growing influence in our very own state of Texas.

Sun Guangxin, a Chinese billionaire connected to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), planned to build a wind farm on the 15,000 acres he owns in Val Verde County. In total Sun owns more than 144,000 acres of land, all of which is not only near the Texas border, but also Laughlin air force base. 

In June 2021, Governor Abbott signed the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act which prevented Sun, and anyone else connected to countries like China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea, from building critical infrastructure in Texas. However, the law does not do enough to protect Texas from foreign adversaries who use their financial resources to infiltrate Texas’ borders. Despite Abbot blocking Sun from building his wind farm, he still owns the land and could use it for other malignant purposes. 

Texas leads the nation in foreign-owned land with 4.4 million acres, which is more by far than any other state. Six states actually ban foreign ownership of farmland, but Texas still allows it. In Houston, Chinese investors are buying up homes not to live in the US, but to make money off Americans by renting out the properties.

Sun is not the only businessman or business connected to the CCP who is currently operating in Texas. There are many, and each one represents a potential national security risk to not only the Lone Star state, but to the country. 

DJI Technology Co. Ltd, a Hong Kong-based drone manufacturing company, has been under heavy scrutiny recently for the security risks its drones pose due to the company’s closeness to the CCP. China Chengtong Holdings Group Ltd, a state-owned enterprise, described DJI as China’s leading company that “adheres to the standard of Xi Jinping’s socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.”

DJI has sold its wares to many companies, local agencies, and even Federal agencies. During the tail-end of the Trump Administration, Washington made it a priority to mitigate the dangers that Chinese drones pose in the US. The U.S. Commerce Department added DJI to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist in December 2020, and in January 2021 Trump signed an executive order prioritizing their removal from service. 

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office operates four DJI drones as of 2018, according to data compiled by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College. Across Texas 42 police departments use a total of 73 DJI drones.  

In addition to the business sector in Texas, the CCP has also tried to infiltrate our education system. In one of the CCP’s boldest moves in Texas, it attempted to use a Hong Kong foundation to fund the University of Texas’ China Public Policy Center (CPPC). 

The Center opened in Aug. 2018 and was tasked with making “fresh and enduring contributions to the study of China-related policy topics while advancing U.S.-China relations and Texas-China relations.” Former foreign service officer David Firestein, who proposed that the Hong Kong-based foundation China United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) funds the Center, currently leads the CPPC. The CUSEF’s leader is Tung Chee-hwa who is vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a united front organisation. United front groups are the primary agents used by the CCP for foreign influence operations, with hundreds of United Front and United Front linked groups operating in the US.

Luckily Senator Ted Cruz and the White House pressured UT not to accept the funding, but the fact that a major state university was about to fund a Chinese research institution using a CCP front organization’s money shows how much influence China has already seized in the US and in Texas.

Some dramatic acts were taken by the Trump administration to combat Chinese intelligence operations in the US. The Chinese consulate in Houston was a hotbed for spies and the theft of intellectual property by CCP agents before Trump closed it down in July 2020. This action led to frenzied scenes of consulate workers burning huge amounts of classified documents to prevent the US from getting access to them. 

Policymakers in Austin and Washington, DC must make combatting Chinese influence in America a priority, especially as China continues to increase its aggressive threats towards Taiwan, and continues to oppress Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. Congressman Chip Roy has been vocal about this issue, and his Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act would have prevented members of the CCP from buying US farmland. Even these efforts, had they been successful, would not be enough. Most of the influence China has gained in the US has been indirect through front organizations. The CCP now has allies in every layer of the US echelons of power. We must remain vigilant and on the offensive against the influence they have accrued. 

We welcomed Chinese capital into the US for decades for cheaper and cheaper trinkets made with Chinese labor, all in the hope that as a developed nation it would have to democratize. We bet wrong, and it is time to face that fact and reverse course before it is too late. We must begin decoupling, limiting Chinese investments coming into America, and bring manufacturing back from China to the US. China is now a threat to the US and we must treat it as such. Hopefully the current administration will have the backbone to do so, and we must call on our government to protect American citizens and infrastructure from foreign dangers. 

CCP Delenda Est

Perspective on Libertarianism

Being a libertarian woman, in my experience, is lonely. It’s like being part of a club with only three people, and one of them is your cousin. I’ve found myself running parallel to a lot of people in what they think and how they perceive me. I am close to being enough for either political party, but there is always a limit, a barrier, that keeps me from fully engaging. I’ve felt isolated from most political discussions since I was in high school. While I was accepted as democratic from my democratic friends, and conservative by my conservative friends, I felt like I could never be honest with either group out of fear of being judged.

 I can say, genuinely, that I have met very few women who were libertarian. Even professors I have had classes with consider libertarianism for men in their 20’s. It’s not that I am uncomfortable being a libertarian, it’s more so that I feel like I am being forced to either vanilla or strawberry ice cream when all I wanted was a chocolate bar. Most people I have been honest with typically consider me an anarchist. I don’t see myself as an anarchist, just as someone who wants options and variety in voting and representation. 

Just because I’m a libertarian doesn’t mean that I hate the government. Actually, I would like to one day work in foreign service. I don’t hate public schools, the USPS, or feminism. I’m this weird creature that exists in the rare forgotten, in between the two parties, without feeling myself in either. I can have a progressive voice while retaining certain conservative values, and I think that’s great. Again, I like options, but I wish more people saw libertarianism without thinking of a frat boy high on Atlas Shrugged.

I would like to comfortably say what I think without being labelled as a part of a “phase” or a “Texan version of a Democrat.” Is it really so erroneous to lie between the two extremes? I’m not one to be extremely political, and I don’t really believe in pressing my beliefs on other people. I don’t see organizations for libertarian women, instead we get grouped in with conservative women like we believe the exact same things.

 Most libertarians don’t bother voting in elections because neither party really exhibits their platforms. Voting for libertarian candidates is often considered a wasted vote. It’s unfortunate enough that the political system attempts to pull libertarians either way, but it’s worse to see it within your own friend groups. 

Many people like to think of politicians and Washington, D.C. as some distant and poor reflection of real society, but we as a community have internalized the same exact polarization. Before you as a reader dismiss this idea, think of this: How many friends do you still have that you disagree with either politically or religiously? Why would someone not seek these different ideas/ people out?

It’s lonely to be a libertarian woman because of these polarized groups we form amongst ourselves. It’s hard not to be enough for either party, not to feel comfortable voicing my own opinions when I know the social pressure tells me to go along with or accept things I disagree with. It’s hard to be dissected by people who claim to know your political identity better than you do. I’m dismissed by the political system, discounted as someone with a juvenile interpretation of parties, and shamed for wanting something more than what is offered. 

Even though I don’t always feel welcomed in political conversation, I like being a libertarian. I really enjoy having a foot in both doors. I like agreeing with some parts of liberalism and some parts of conservatism, it makes things more challenging and conversation on why I’m not socially conservative/ economically leftist more interesting. 

It’s kind of a problematic notion that someone should fit into two distinctive categories without room in between. In essence, I’m not going to change because someone wants me to, or because my demographic is underrepresented in elections. I would like to think that there is room for an “independent woman” in politics who believes in access to birth control and less federal tax. I don’t think libertarianism is as much of a fad as it is perceived as, if anything it is a change in generational thinking. 

UTSA is Not Just Trying to Erase Texas History

The “Come and Take It” flag denounces tyranny, and only tyrants want to be rid of this important symbol.

UTSA announced on Sep. 7 2021 that it would end the tradition of unfurling a large “Come and Take It” flag before home football games and would remove any trace of the phrase from the school’s campus and website. This comes after an online petition that garnered less than 1,000 signatures argued that the flag was racist, pro-slavery and “anti-Mexican.”

When those without backbones, who either sympathize with or openly support anti-historicists, control institutions like universities in our society, they eventually wage war against history and tradition in the name of “wokeness” and “inclusivity.”

This is the most recent of a long war against our history and traditions that has been waged by the left, and shows that they are showing no signs of letting up. When those without backbones, who either sympathize with or openly support anti-historicists, control institutions like universities in our society, they eventually wage war against history and tradition in the name of “wokeness” and “inclusivity.” Some, like Kevin P. Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, have stood up against UTSA’s decision by calling it the “abandoning [of our] traditions and history.

Ian De Koster, Class of 2024 at Trinity University, doesn’t see any problems with the flag. “As a Mexican-American and a Texan I can attest on my own account that it is not a point of grievance for the Mexican-American community. I don’t know anyone in the Mexican-American community who has felt attacked by the flag. Mexican-Americans today who understand what the flag means, are not provoked by it. I understand it can be used in negative contexts, but strictly in regards to the present day Mexican-American community, I don’t see the open wound they refer to.”

The [“Come and Take It”] flag was created in support of a cause, the cause of freedom and liberty.

But in this specific situation, what makes the “Come and Take It” flag so offensive? What makes it politically incorrect in this day and age? According to the left-wing activists it has anti-Mexican connotations. Yet what it was originally created for and what it still stands for are not in any way related to racist, anti-Mexican sentiments. Texas was about to launch a revolution against Mexican dictatorship and used the flag as a rallying cry against the tyrannical government of Santa Anna. The flag was created in support of a cause, the cause of freedom and liberty. It was not created to target a specific group. This is as ridiculous as if someone accused the Gadsen flag or the Betsy Ross flag of being insulting to British people today. These banners stand for something far greater than the narrow definitions that the Left uses to try and take them down. Or tries to “Come and Take It” down, if you will. 

The “Come and Take It” flag represents a direct challenge to tyranny. The words “come and take it” are eternal from when they were uttered by Spartan King Leonidas I as “molon labe” at Thermopylae, to when Texans flew them on that white flag over the battlefield at Gonzales. They represent far more than a single battle, war, or cause. They stand for every patriot who stands against a tyrannical government trying to infringe upon his life, liberty, or the pursuit of his happiness. Throughout history, the heroes we celebrate today like William Wallace, William Tell, and Spartacus refused to bend the knee to a tyrant. Instead they proudly cried the words “come and take it.” We can not allow such an important phrase to be ripped from public display by those who do not understand, or are actually against, what it symbolizes.

The “Come and Take It” flag denounces tyranny, and only tyrants want to be rid of this important symbol.

Texas Heartbeat Bill Is Here to Stay

In a victory for Pro-Life groups, the Supreme Court of the United States did not strike down Texas’ Heartbeat Act (SB 8) last week. The law limits abortions to before the first heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks. While the law allows for abortion in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, it bans nearly all abortions, since 85-90% of abortions in Texas happen after the sixth week of pregnancy.

13 other states have tried to pass similar laws, but all were struck down. The new Texas law is unique because instead of putting the enforcement mechanism in the hands of the state, it instead hands it to private citizens. Anyone can now sue abortition providers if they perform an aborition after a heartbeat is detected. The woman who elects abortion is never under the danger of a lawsuit, only the abortion provider, as the law states “this … may not be construed to authorize the initiation of a cause of action against or the prosecution of a woman on whom an abortion is performed.”

The vote in the Supreme Court was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent. The majority opinion was unsigned, and stated that an injunction would not be issued for the law due to the abortion providers who challenged the law not answering the “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions” the law raised. The majority states that their decision “is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law.”

Each dissenting justice filed his or her own opinion, either asking for a return to status quo ante (before the law went into effect) and to kick it back down to the lower courts to decide in the case of Roberts, or rejecting the majority’s view on the germaness of the unique procedural mechanism in the law. 

In Texas SB 8 has already caused a reaction from abortion providers. Three of the four major aborbition clinics in San Antonio have ceased providing aborbitions, and across the state others are following suit rather than risk lawsuits. 

The Court’s decision will likely lead other Republican-controlled states to try to pass similar laws, though the Biden Administration is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. President Biden called the law an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights,” and that the decision required an “immediate response.” The Justice Department launched a lawsuit against Texas on Thurs.,  in an attempt to try and strike down the law, but it remains to be seen how successful it will be after the Supreme Court’s first ruling. 

Young America’s Foundation Holds 43rd National Conservative Student Conference in Houston

Over 500 college students at the Marquis Marriott in Downtown Houston, TX enjoyed a week filled with a star-studded list of speakers and interaction with like-minded peers at the Young America’s Foundation’s (YAF) 43rd National Conservative Student Conference. The conference was held from Aug. 2 to Aug. 7, 2021.

The conference was held in Houston as opposed to its usual location in Washington, D.C., due to the mask mandate in the Nation’s capital. Houston was ideal because it served as a central location that allowed students from all over the country to attend.

The event began with Ben Shapiro, who gave his first in-person speech since the pandemic began, and then spanned a whole five days of speakers and socializing. The list of speakers included Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21), Rep. Byron Donalds (FL-19), Rep. Dan Crenshaw (TX-02), Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-08), and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton among many others.  

Students were also able to listen to in-depth lectures on hot button issues from experts like James Lindsey on Critical Race Theory, Dr. Ryan Anderson on the Transgender Movement, Veronica Arnold Smither on Abortion, Declan Ganley on Crony Corporatism, and Dr. Burt Folsom on Free Markets and Race. 

Jules Accomazzo, a freshman at Grand Canyon University who attended the conference, thought that the conference was a positive experience. 

“My first YAF conference was very different than I imagined. It was more intense than I thought it would be, but overall it was a good experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone. My favorite part of YAF was “networking” with other students. I enjoyed connecting with people and making friends with like-minded views across the country!” 

On Tuesday night, more than a hundred students walked through Downtown Houston on a sightseeing tour of the many prominent monuments and buildings Downtown Houston has in store. 

Former Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker, now President of YAF, was a constant presence at the event, taking pictures with students, eating meals with them, and running a 5K on Friday morning with a small but determined group of students. 

José Quijada, an immigrant from Venezuela who now attends Lone Star College, also enjoyed his time at the conference. 

 “It was an amazing experience! Like nothing I have ever done before. People were professional and friendly, which made it super easy to make new friends. Seeing Ben Shapiro for the first time was great! But I will say being able to be with like-minded people for a week was AWESOME. Love[ed] the experience and will do it again.”

YAF’s next conference is September 24th at their headquarters in Reston, Virginia. Titled “Road to Freedom Seminar: Secrets to Advancing Free Markets Over Wokeness,” speakers will include Rachel Bovard, Andrew F. Puzder, and Governor Walker. 

Cover image used with permission of Young America’s Foundation.

Texas Takes a Baby Step Toward Election Integrity

This article is a repost and was originally published on July 19, 2021 by Capital Research Center.

Following the lead of several other states in the wake of the 2020 election (and the public distrust of elections that ensued), Texas passed its own legislation restricting the use of private money in elections.

According to research conducted by Capital Research Center, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) gave $33.5 million to Texas county election offices across 117 different counties. Election administrators in these counties applied for CTCL grants and used the money for COVID-19 safety measures including drive-thru voting, mail voting sorting assets, polling place rental expenses, labor expenses and hazard pay, personal protective equipment, and voter education and outreach.

The most money (over $15 million) was granted to Dallas County, and the smallest amount was just over $47,000 given to Maverick County. Our own Bexar County received $1.9 million from CTCL. While CTCL claims the money was purely for COVID-19 relief for elections offices, Public Interest Legal Foundation tracked the 14 counties with the most significant donations from CTCL and found that blue-leaning counties received far more COVID-19 aid than red-leaning counties. Public Interest Legal Foundation also found that the total amount of money granted by CTCL in Texas could be over $36 million.

CTCL-funded counties gave President Joe Biden 69 percent of his Texas votes and former President Donald Trump only 25 percent of his votes. Of the $33 million to $36 million donated to various Texas counties, counties that voted for Trump received about $0.55 per capita from CTCL, while counties that voted for Biden received an average of $3.22 per capita.

In addition to the $350 million Mark Zuckerberg donated to CTCL, the nonprofit is also funded by left-leaning funding organizations like the Democracy Fund, Knight Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 2283 on June 12, 2021. The bill prohibits the joint elections commission, county elections commissions, and county elections boards from accepting private donations of $1,000 or greater without the written consent of the secretary of state. Before giving consent, the secretary of state must get the unanimous approval of the governor, lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the house of representatives. Donations less than $1,000 need only the written consent of the “relevant political subdivision.” While HB 2283 decreases the influence of private funding on elections, it does not fully ban private funding in elections altogether. Six other states have already passed laws fully banning “Zuck Bucks,” so why is Texas holding back?

With as much private money as flowed into Texas during the last election, it is not surprising that a bill like HB 2283 passed. The surprise is that Texas passed one of the weakest bills banning private funding in elections.

HB 2283 limits the amount of money that groups like CTCL can donate to Texas counties. It is a fine solution while those in power in Texas are staunchly opposed to private funding in elections. However, if Texas is one day run by politicians who support private funding in elections, HB 2283 will do little to protect Texas elections.

When compared with bills passed in other states, Texas’s HB 2283 falls short. Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, North Dakota, and Tennessee all passed laws fully banning private funding in elections. Unlike Texas, these states left no loopholes for future administrations and election officials to abuse.

HB 2283 falls short not only of the standard set by other states but also of expectations the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) created for the 2021 session. In 2020, RPT established election integrity reform as a top priority for the 2021 legislative session. The omnibus bill (SB 7/HB 6) of election reforms did not get through both the Senate and the House before the end of the 2021 session. As a small consolation prize, Texans must satisfy themselves with HB 2283 among several other smaller bills that touch on election integrity.

Admittedly, HB 2283 is a first step, a response to the 2020 election rather than a means to protect future elections. While public scrutiny into CTCL’s influence over the 2020 election may prevent it from interfering in future elections, it is probably too weak to prevent other organizations from doing the same in 2022 or 2024.

A second bill (HB 3) has since become the focus of a political circus, with Texas House Democrats fleeing the state to prevent the quorum required to vote on legislation.

Trinity Wants to Have Its Cake and Eat It Too

The administration at Trinity University has made it clear that it wants to put temporary safety over the eternal liberty and trust of its faculty, students, and staff. It will charge students the full price of tuition to attend a limited university. Trinity claims to offer one of the highest quality educations in the United States, but it is not allowing students and staff the ability to take full advantage of that high-quality education.

Over these past two weeks, the administration of Trinity University has sent out two emails to all students outlining the new COVID-19 restrictions that will be on campus, despite giving the impression in the Spring Semester that there would not be a return to COVID-19 restrictions in the Fall. These new restrictions include an indoor mask mandate for everyone regardless of vaccination status, a maximum of 4 persons in a residence hall room (with masks), no outside group or visitors to campus, limits on event sizes, and a requirement of Trinity’s version of a COVID-19 green pass to access campus.

There needs to be mass civil disobedience and non-compliance over these new regulations.

Nathan Darsch, Class of 2022

Trinity stated that some of these policies would be re-evaluated come mid-September, but that only leaves open the possibility for even stricter regulations.

The problem is not just what Trinity will do but also what Trinity has failed to do. It did not even consider getting feedback from the student body on what COVID-19 measures, if any, should be implemented. I know as a club president that I was never consulted over this past summer on what the university needs to do to make sure their student organizations remain active. 

How many student organizations have effectively died because they were unable to meaningfully recruit new members, because they were unable to host events, because they were unable to maintain interest and required membership numbers? My student organization was lucky to have enough members to survive and get through the past year, but I know others cannot say the same.

The university has also not given students any information on how it is expanded its health services–if it has expanded at all. Many students need additional support, especially in the form of counseling, during this time.  How many students now suffer from chronic depression and anxiety, and suicidal thoughts because of the university’s draconian lockdown measures over the previous year? How many students lost their scholarships because they were unable to maintain the GPA needed because of their worsening mental health?

Trinity is once again going down the road that will kill its student body’s spirit and sense of community.

Trinity says it is following CDC guidance and “trusting the science,” but how can we fully trust the guidance given when the chief people in charge of it have either undermined the very science they now promote or have flip-flopped on too many issues to keep track of? Trinity needs to trust its students to be mindful of their own health, not health and policy experts that have shown they are willing to lie to the American people. 

Trinity University has already reached effective herd immunity, in part due to its strong “recommendations” to students to get the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the American Lung Association, 70-90% of a population needs to have some form of immunity for herd immunity to be reached. Trinity University is currently 91% vaccinated (as of the last update on August 9), and at least 81% of the San Antonio adult population has had at least one dose (as of the last update on August 4). When combined with natural immunity, Trinity University and San Antonio have effective herd immunity or will have it very soon.

I am very thankful for the student body’s work to vaccinate themselves, especially those with risk factors, but we need to recognize when enough is enough. There needs to be mass civil disobedience and non-compliance over these new regulations. If we roll over and allow the university to take these measures freely, it signals that they can continue to make restrictions with impunity. We are a young and healthy student body, and it is time we start acting like it instead of allowing our lives to be dictated by fear.

Trinity University Reinstates Masks and Other COVID-19 Safety Procedures

Article updated on 8/5/2021 at 10:45pm CT. We included new information from an email sent to students earlier this morning.

Trinity University detailed its COVID-19 safety measures for the upcoming semester in an email sent to all students on July 30. While over 80% of students and faculty will be fully vaccinated by the beginning of the semester and had few COVID-19 cases during the spring semester in 2021, Trinity University decided to impose further restrictions on students, faculty, and staff. These new restrictions are due to the impact of the Delta variant and for Trinity “to promote a healthy and safe semester as we return to in-person learning and living.”

New restrictions include: 

  • the wearing of “well-fitting masks… by both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in indoor public settings at all times” and the wearing of masks outside if one finds himself in a setting in which he is in a crowded space or cannot social distance
  • The testing of all students and staff regardless of vaccination status upon returning to campus
  • Weekly testing of all unvaccinated students and staff
  • A green badge from the ProtecTU Daily Health Check for all students, faculty, and staff for entry into public spaces or classrooms
  • Completion of the vaccination status form to be let onto campus and register for classes

Trinity stated in the email that it would re-evaluate these protocols come mid-September, but the university left the possibility of stricter protocols open. This may only be the beginning of stricter COVID-19 regulations due to the Delta variant.

Tess Coody-Anders, VP For Strategic Communications and Marketing at Trinity University, informed The Tower that the university currently stands at an 86% vaccination rate that continues to climb. However, these vaccinations do not entirely protect them from getting infected and carrying the “same viral load as unvaccinated persons.”

When asked about whose guidance they are following for these protocols and if they are imposing a mask mandate, Coody-Anders said that Trinity “will follow CDC guidance as we have throughout the pandemic and return to universal mask wearing for all” and that after a few weeks of testing unvaccinated individuals they will “re-evaluate the need for the vaccinated to wear masks.” Trinity University will also be checking statements and figures provided by the South Texas Regional Advisory Council to understand better how COVID-19 is affecting San Antonio.

Coody-Anders also informed The Tower that Trinity University is “fully committed to providing students in-person learning” but did not say whether or not the university is planning on potentially going partially or fully online again this semester.

However, Coody-Anders was unable to answer many, perhaps just as important, questions at this time. Of the questions asked, she did not provide answers to the following questions: 

  • If the university has expanded mental health services to accommodate students struggling due to the impact of COVID-19
  • If the university received feedback from students before finalizing the COVID-19 safety procedures
  • Whether students can have off-campus guests in their dorm rooms
  • Whether students can have guests who live in other residence halls in their dorm rooms (this was forbidden in Fall 2020 and for the beginning of Spring 2021)
  • Under what circumstances the university will remove the mask mandate
  • Whether students are able to report one another for not following these rules, as they did during the last school year
  • Why Trinity requires students to report their vaccine status if the vaccine is not required
  • What will happen to professors who do not enforce or check whether or not their students completed the Daily Health Check and got a green badge
  • What will happen to students if they are unable to display a green badge due to not having an electronic device on their person
  • Whether Trinity University believes these new rules are an infringement on the liberties of students, staff, and faculty?

Trinity University and Coody-Anders did try to make it clear that the administration at Trinity does care about its students and wants them to have as close to a normal semester as possible. However, the university has created many unanswered questions, and students are looking for answers that the university can not give at this time.

Update 8/5/2021: Trinity University sent a follow-up email to students on Aug. 5 to clarify some of the new COVID-19 procedures. The email stated that on-campus meetings will be limited to 50 persons for indoor settings and 250 for outdoor events. Off-campus guests and visitors will not be allowed on campus. Furthermore, residence hall dorm rooms will be restricted to 4 people maximum, and masks must be worn while guests are over. They reiterated that these rules will be reconsidered in mid-September.

The Darsch Report: July 26 to August 1

Bexar County Mental Health

On Mon. July 26, Bexar County officials announced that a pilot program that brings mental health professionals together with Bexar County sheriff’s deputies will expand less than a year after its formation.

    In October, the Bexar County Commissioner’s Office allocated $1.5 million toward the Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team (SMART). Under SMART, dispatchers who identify a mental health call send a clinician and trained paramedic to the scene. Deputies will respond to the scene if they’re needed, but the goal is to keep people suffering from mental health crises out of jail.

Initially, the group was operating on a limited basis, but they will now operate for longer hours after refining the process.

    Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar stated that the program has “surpassed expectations” and that “working with our other partners, it just fell together.”

The full briefing can be watched here.

Texas Bans Mask Mandates

    On Thurs., July 29, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines, saying that protection against the virus should be a matter of personal responsibility, not forced by a government mandate.

    “To further ensure that no governmental entity can mandate masks, the following requirement shall continue to apply: No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face-covering or to mandate that other person wear a covering,” the executive order read.

    Local government entities that institute mask mandates may be fined up to $1,000.

    The order also specifies that government entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Governmental agencies, public entities, and private entities that receive public funding cannot require people to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of receiving services.

The order, however, does not stop nursing homes or living facilities from requiring residents to be inoculated.

Abbott defended the move in a statement, arguing, “Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19. The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

Biden, Congress Allow Eviction Moratorium to Lapse

A nationwide moratorium on residential evictions expired on Saturday, July 31, after a last-minute effort by the Biden administration to win an extension failed, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while tens of billions in federal funding intended to pay their back rent sit untapped.

    Unable to fight the Supreme Court on further extending the moratorium, the Biden Administration gave the responsibility to Congress on Thursday. However, after an unsuccessful rally by Democrats on Friday, the House of Representatives went into Recess and could not draft any quick legislation.

    The Senate, meanwhile, has been focusing its efforts on finishing the bipartisan infrastructure plan.

    Efforts to bring relief to renters and homeowners have been further struggling. To date, only $3 billion of the $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program has been disbursed.

“Really, we only learned about this yesterday,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had publicly and privately urged senior Biden Administration officials to deal with the problem themselves.

Many Democrats are still voicing anger and frustration, though, with Democratic leadership.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Sunday, Aug. 1, that Democrats have to “call a spade a spade” after the deadline expired.

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the chair of the Financial Services Committee, said Saturday on CNN: “We thought that the White House was in charge.”

“We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a floor speech in a rare Saturday session as senators labored over an infrastructure package.

“We have the tools, and we have the funding,” Warren said. “What we need is the time.”

US Economy

The stock market did not do well over the past week. The Dow Jones decreased to 34,935.47 on Friday, decreasing by -126.08 points, or -0.36 percent over its July 23 close of 35,061.55. The S&P 500 increased by -16.53 points or -0.37 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -1.11 percent.

DOJ vs. Texas

    The U.S. Justice Department, on Friday, July 30, filed a lawsuit against Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott over an order the Republican governor signed barring ground transportation of migrants who could be carrying COVID-19.  

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District in El Paso, the Justice Department said Abbott’s order interferes with the federal government’s ability to deal with immigration.

“In our constitutional system, a State has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations,” the DOJ argued in a motion asking the judge to block Abbott’s order, adding “this restriction on the transportation of noncitizens would severely disrupt federal immigration operations.”

Governor Abbott argued that the order was necessary to counter the rise in illegal immigration under the Biden administration and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 across the US Southern border, going so far as to accuse the Biden administration of being complicit in the spread of COVID-19 across the southern border.

“The Biden administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” Abbott said in response to Garland’s lawsuit. 

He also said he would not back down because his “duty remains to the people of Texas, and [he has] no intention of abdicating that.”

San Antonio Urgent Care Reaching Capacity

In San Antonio, both hospitals and local clinics are feeling the effects of increasing COVID-19 cases, with some local urgent care clinics reaching near capacity.

    “We are up about 30% in terms of patient visits from the last week of June, first week of July,” said Dr. David Gude, Texas MedClinic chief operating officer, and practicing physician.

Gude said they are seeing more COVID-19 patients, more COVID-19 testing, and even an increase in vaccinations.

The wait times on their website show just how busy they are.

“We’ve never let go of social distancing. So we either get people into an exam room, or if we’re full, we may ask them to wait in the car, or we may ask them to come back in an hour so,” Gude said.

Gude said staff members are also feeling the pressure. According to Gude, one staff member recently told him it felt like he is “going through the stages of grief right now.”

“He can’t believe that we’re back at the point that we were at. We were just at this point a few months ago and certainly last year,” Gude said.