Preventing sexual assault has become a priority for colleges
Nov07

Preventing sexual assault has become a priority for colleges

After the attack on a student near campus Oct. 3, sexual assault has been a topic on many students’ minds. Since then UMHB has joined the national conversation as government and university officials work to combat the issue.   “Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported, underrepresented crimes,” says Suzanne Armour, director of Families in Crisis, an organization that provides support services in Bell County.   “It’s an intimate crime that many don’t want to talk about.”   Every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey. The problem is not limited to dark alleyways or empty parking lots.   College campuses across the country are hotspots for attack with an assault happening once every 21 hours on campus grounds, according to a National College Health Risk Behavior Survey.   The recent assault took place near campus with the suspect representing himself as a police officer by wearing a black pull-over shirt with the word “police” on it and a baseball cap with a police badge on it.   “Generally, all UMHB officials wear a police uniform and are not dressed as the suspect in this case,” UMHB Officer Gary Sargent wrote in an email to students. “All police officers are required to carry an identification card …You should feel comfortable in asking to see an officer’s identification. If you would like an escort on campus, contact the UMHB Police Department at 295-5555,” Sargent said.   Many students are wary of attacks by strangers, but researchers say in 90 percent of cases survivors knew their perpetrators. The epidemic particularly affects college women; an estimated one in four women will experience rape or attempted rape during her academic career. According to the National Institute of Justice, about half of attacks against college women happen in the context of a party or date.   UMHB has several resources for students to report sexual assaults including a new link on the Student Life section of their website.   “A student can report to UMHB officials in person, in writing, by mail or by email to the officials listed on our ‘Report It!’ website,” said Vice President for Student Life, Dr. Byron Weathersbee.   “It is important to know that a university official will help a student report the incident to law enforcement,” he said.   Some officials say one method of prevention is to instruct students about the use of alcohol in these cases.   “It is a societal problem that needs to be addressed. Seventy-five percent of sexual assault cases involve alcohol,” Weathersbee says. “In my opinion, a good place...

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Illiteracy: Reading into the real issue
Oct12

Illiteracy: Reading into the real issue

Tucked away in the passages of Hardy Hall, the former dining building that still smells like lukewarm pizza, junior nursing major Dania Paraan helps a student learn the inner workings of the integumentary system for an anatomy and physiology test.   “My students seem to know what they’re doing,” Paraan said. “They just need help transitioning to college life.”   Paraan, who works as a tutor at the university’s Center for Academic Excellence says most of her students have the literacy skills needed to succeed in college.   “It’s just learning to put knowledge to paper,” Paraan said.   While most UMHB students have the basics of reading and writing down, 19 percent of Texas adults still struggle to read the newspaper.   “Statistics (of illiteracy) are overwhelming. It’s a greater problem than we realize,” said Beverly Luedke, member of Altrusa International of Temple, an organization working to support literacy around the world.   In Bell County alone, 13 percent of adults lack basic prose literacy skills, meaning they range from being unable to read and understand any written information to being able only to locate easily identifiable information.   “We see a relationship between literacy and poverty. Two-thirds of children who live in poverty do not have a single children’s book,” explained Dr. Joan Berry, chairperson of the UMHB education department.   “We see tax dollars diminished for public libraries and the decline of newspapers which helped adult literacy in the past,” she said.   Berry pointed out the growing digital divide between families in poverty and more affluent families as reading materials are moved to computers and smart phones as technology rapidly develops.   “So much of our information now is accessed from our phones which may not be possible for a family living in poverty. We must work on community projects that place reading materials in the hands of those living in poverty,” Berry said.   Illiteracy isn’t just an educational or subjective issue; it also has economic repercussions.   According to the United Ways of Texas, high school dropouts cost taxpayers in Texas, an estimated $9.6 billion.   “We have so few jobs in Texas and everywhere really that if a person is not able to read well, they will be impacted negatively,” Berry said. “It hurts them economically … their mobility.” Berry also mentioned how the inflow of non-English speakers affects literacy levels in Texas.   “We have a growing number of people whose first language is not English who really need help. UMHB has ESL courses as part of our curriculum for this.” Students from the ASTRA club of UMHB, an offshoot of...

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International students bring cultural traditions to celebration
Jan29

International students bring cultural traditions to celebration

THE BELLS — Fireworks. Celebration. Resolutions. Black-eyed peas for luck. The United States has multiple traditions to celebrate the New Year. One aspect of our country’s culture is the integration of customs from other countries. On campus, international students from China to Nigeria are gearing up to welcome 2014. Students from the Chinese Mission of First Baptist Church Belton will host an event to observe the Spring Festival. “Next Friday, Jan. 31, we are going to make dumplings and celebrate together,” graduate business major Vivien Du said. Chinese New Year, or Nónglì Xinnián, marks the first day of the Chinese calendar and symbolizes the coming of spring. “In China, there is a movement of people to their hometowns for New Year. People will take plane, train, car, whatever it takes to see their families,” graduate education major Sun Shishu said. After reaching their hometowns, many people will visit with relatives, watch the CCTV Spring Festival Gala on television and pop firecrackers. “The Spring Festival Gala is a big show that includes various performances such as songs, dances, acrobatics and comic dialogue,” master of business administration student Wendy Liu said. Another custom is for older relatives to give gifts for luck. “The elders would give children money in red envelopes for good wishes .… This is the most exciting thing for Chinese children,” Liu said. While the New Year has a key role in countries like China, other places like India do not emphasize the holiday. “New Year’s is not very major in India. Most people just have parties or go to temple. We go to church and then have dinner at a restaurant,” sophomore biology major Sahana Gollapalli said. Other students like those from Nigeria celebrate the New Year with friends, family and their church. “On New Year’s Eve, everyone gets together. A lot of cooking would be going on. One of the most significant things we take seriously is the church service that would launch us into the New Year,” junior nursing major Sonia Ike said. Another tradition the United States and Nigeria share is the use of firecrackers. “I know in the States they are pretty strict about fireworks, but in my country it is not so. My dad goes to the market the day before and buys a bag of them. We call them “banger” or “knockout.” Everyone in their respective homes just throws them for fun and excitement,” Ike said. Nigerians travel to their hometowns to celebrate and spend most of the night worshipping, partying and welcoming in the New Year. “Everyone is so eager to hear the word of God … after the church...

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Rebound from disaster inspires art
Jan29

Rebound from disaster inspires art

THE BELLS — Out of the wreckage of a city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina comes a new collection from artist John Barnes Jr.  The solo exhibition, Eschatology, is on display in the Baugh Center for the Visual Arts until Feb. 5.  Barnes uses scorched wood and mixed media from the rebuilding of New Orleans to create a mood of sinking ships, urban youth and the struggle to survive and dwell after disaster. “Eschatology has to do with end times, the ultimate destiny of humankind. These works emulate my ideas concerning the… aggregate decrepitude… of the new New Orleans,” Barnes said. Having survived the disaster, Barnes had much to say about the crisis while working through his own creative and personal issues. “Art is about being honest…. My last collection I was just making cool stuff because, let’s face it,… it was cool stuff. I had to grow up.  I’m still dealing with my past.” Barnes kept his collection on a small scale: most works are no larger than 30 inches. The sculptures look like a hybrid of the hull of a sinking canoe and a shotgun-style home typical of New Orleans. The dwellings were painted in graffiti style with phrases like “Looters will be shot” and “Whitness,” a play on words alluding to the idea that if people from certain neighborhoods reported to the police, they could lose their credibility and would be shot. Barnes does not just tell the story of a city battered by nature, but the demolition that came afterward as residents fought to endure. The collection speaks of a society forgotten by government: a post-apocalyptic world. The artist presented a gallery talk to students and faculty  Jan. 14 in the Baugh Center. He told students to be honest with their art. They should be able to speak at length about anything they create. “In your work, you should be able to explain every mark you make. You should be able to talk about it for days.” Barnes said. He encouraged students not  to be afraid to take risks and that insecurity is vital to the artistic process. “Uncertainty is where you get the juice. If you’re approaching your work with certainty, then you’re just seeking acceptance. You can get really good at one thing. You can be the best metal worker around, but you won’t be able to explain the human experience.” Students who attended the lecture took away insights on using creativity and form to speak about social issues. “I enjoyed how he was able to capture so many different ideas about subjects like poverty with one simple shape,” senior psychology major Kelsey Knowles...

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