Town Hall Recap: Cactus Fans Still Angry, Reactions Mixed To Texas Exes’ Offer

Cactus Cafe supporters packed the Avaya auditorium Tuesday evening for President Powers’ town hall meeting, intended to answer questions on the proposed budget cuts.

Powers touched on the state’s request for 5 percent budget reduction plans and emphasized that serving students and facilitating research remained the top priorities while these cuts were planned across campus.

Relating to the Cactus Cafe, Powers said that while he understands and appreciates the value of the Cactus Cafe, the Texas Union serves the student body through student fees and has an advisory council made up mostly by students.

“In their view, they would like to reconfigure the use of the Cactus Cafe to something that in their view is more responsive to the needs and the interests of the students,” he said.

A few members of that advisory council were present but refrained from commenting during the program. Liam O’Rourke, Student Government president and Union advisory council member, told individuals afterward that the decision was made prior to them meeting.

The group, he says, simply gave their input and support as an advisory council after being briefed by Texas Union director Andy Smith on some possible cost-cutting measures.

Powers said he would be delighted to hear what people had to say about the issue.

And he listened for two hours as some people offered their sympathy to him for having to make such cuts, while others likened the closure of the Cactus Cafe to tearing down the Tower or paving over Barton Springs. One man went so far as to call him the Cactus’ Pontius Pilot.

Though he didn’t say so directly, by the end of the forum Powers’ tune may have changed a bit. In response to a woman who touted the healing values of music, he closed by saying, “If music helps in times of woe, I think I’ll go home and listen to some music.”

To which someone in the crowd responded, “Go to the Cactus!”

While Powers was careful not to say that the position would be reconsidered and several times shared his support and respect for the Union’s board and its decision, he did mention as a possible solution the offer from the Texas Exes to move the Cactus Cafe to the Alumni Center as part of a building expansion project, set to be complete in late 2011.



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