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AM Update: Student Occupiers Arrested at UT, Honoring Walter Cronkite, Discussing Wildfire Response

Protesters were arrested for occupying UT President Bill Powers' office yesterday.
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News
Protesters were arrested for occupying UT President Bill Powers' office yesterday.

UT Students Protest for Workers Rights

The Daily Texan reports a total of 19 protesters, not all of them students, were arrested yesterday for occupying UT President Bill Powers’ office. They were there in protest against alleged sweatshop-like conditions where UT apparel is produced.

The protesters are members of the Make UT Sweatshop-Free Coalition and included 17 students and two members who are not students.

According to the Texan, the demands of the protestors was a request for the University to switch to the Workers Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring organization that conducts investigations of working conditions in factories. A statement on the WRC homepage specifically mentions their goal to protect the rights of workers who make clothes.

The peaceful protest began when the coalition members entered President Powers’ office in the Main Building, and sat down with laptops to spread news of the protest via social networks. The protesters eventually moved into the lobby of the building after being warned by police and Assistant Dean of Students Mary Mercatoris that they could be charged with criminal trespassing.

The Texan reports the protesters prepared for their arrests by donning burnt orange clothing; they were eventually cuffed and arrested at 5 p.m., after UTPD issued warnings they would be arrested should they stay on the property later than closing time.

Walter Cronkite to be Honored at UT

The University of Texas will honor legendary journalist Walter Cronkite tonight with the dedication of the Walter Cronkite Plaza and the unveiling of a unique art installation.

Walter Cronkite was known as “the most trusted man in America” during his years on the CBS Nightly News program and boasted a legendary career in journalism. He got his start, though, at UT as a freshman in 1933, says a statement on the UT website.

UT will honor Cronkite with the dedication of the Walter Cronkite Plaza in front of the Jesse H. Jones Communication complex located at 2504 Whitis Ave. at 6 p.m. Following the dedication, UT will feature the unveiling of the art installation created by artist Ben Rubin. The installation entitled, “And That’s the Way It Is,” an homage to Cronkite’s nightly sign-off will project text and quotes, taken from his career, upon the CMA building. The installation will be shown tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the CMA building also located at 2504 Whitis Ave., according to a statement by UT.

Cronkite is remembered for reporting many landmark moments in American history such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and the first moon landing.

Texas House Committee to Discuss Wildfire Response

The Texas House Committee on Agriculture and Livestock is meeting today at Bastrop City Hall to study the wildfire response by the Texas Forest Service and other agencies.

Two people were killed, more than 1600 homes were destroyed, and 34,000 acres were charred in the Bastrop complex wildfires last September. The wildfires blazed through much of Central Texas last fall and burned a huge portion of Bastrop State Park. KUT News reported on the events during the Bastrop wildfires.

The Bastrop wildfires were the costliest in Texas history. The Insurance Council of Texas estimated that $325 million will be paid out to people who lost their homes.

Today the committee will examine how state laws and regulations could be enhanced to improve wildfire response across Texas.

The public hearing starts at 10 a.m. today. 

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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