Davis vs. Abbott: A historic fight
Oct13

Davis vs. Abbott: A historic fight

Ever since Governor Rick Perry announced last year that he would not seek re-election for a fourth term, Texas students knew it would be a more interesting gubernatorial election cycle than usual, prompting hopes of more involvement among their peers.   Although polls favor Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Democratic state senator from Fort Worth, Wendy Davis, famous for her hotly contested abortion filibuster, is fighting hard to become Texas’ first democratic governor in 20 years.   In the televised debate in McAllen,   Texas, which aired Wednesday, Sept. 24, the two went head-to-head on issues ranging from Ebola to abortion. A particularly hot topic, was border security, especially as it was held in the Rio Grande Valley.   “If the federal government will not act to secure our border, Texas must, and we will. And I did support the surge of DPS troops to our border,”  Davis responded concerning Perry’s contested decision to beef up security using state funds when the federal government has been slow to protectthe U.S. border.   Though Davis was adamant about her passion for border security, Abbott pointed to the fact that she did not present voters with any concrete course of action.   He said, “I’m the only candidate on this stage tonight who’s outlined a plan…. My plan ensures that we add 500 DPS officers to help secure the border…. I add 20 Texas Rangers. I add efforts to ensure public integrity. Plus, I provide tools and resources and technologies we need to better address the problems.”   Abbott also says he will go after the gang-related activity, which is a large source of the violence.   One of the three moderators asked about the Latin American immigration problem and concerns that it has spurred anti-Hispanic sentiment.   Abbott used this opportunity to highlight his 33-year-long marriage to a hispanic woman, saying, “If the people of Texas elect me to be the governor, my wife will be the first Hispanic first lady in the history of this state, and I think that is setting a new tone in our ability to connect with voters across the state.”   Davis responded to the same question in a broader way by saying, “Everyone in our state wants their children to have opportunities … and that we’re providing that for every child no matter who they are, no matter how rich or poor, no matter their race….”   Students are expressing frustration with their peers concerning their lack of engagement in the political     process this election season.   One in particular, senior political science major Loren Cowen, said, “There is no single issue that...

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Web master explains new Canvas system
Sep17

Web master explains new Canvas system

This semester, not only did the Bawcom Student Union change the look of campus, the roll out of the new online system for myCampus changed the look of students’ daily interactions with their classes.   Alumnus and Web Services Manager Matthew Irvine and his department were instrumental in laying out the new interface.   “Web Services was involved in creating a consistent look and feel between myCampus and myCourses. Most schools use the out-of-the-box styling provided by different software titles,” he said. “We believe that it provides a better user experience to have more consistency.”   Irvine’s office was responsible for facilitating a smooth transitional mechanism between two parts of the online system that had once been separate.   He said, “We were also involved in building a bridge between our student information system and myCourses. Since these two pieces of software are provided by two different vendors, we created a mechanism for the two systems to securely pass data back and forth.”   Irvine believes the new look and reorganization have been received well by most people on campus.   “I have heard mostly good things from faculty and students. People generally find myCourses easier to use than the old LMS. Faculty are able to more easily create rich content in their courses, and students are already benefitting from more interactive and feature-rich course content,” he said.   Irvine likes the new conveniences the interface has to offer.   “One of the best features, in my opinion, is the way that videos work now,” he said. “Instead of being forced to download an entire video file and hope that it is compatible with your system, myCourses is built with video support that provides students the ability to stream videos from any Web browser on any operating system.”   Students and faculty have brought forward concerns about one setback, though.   “There has been some difficulty in using the Canvas app. We are working with our vendor to correct this issue, but there is a simple workaround to that problem. Instead of typing the university name, students can complete the login process by entering the full URL of mycourses.umhb.edu, then pressing ‘Go,’” Irvine said.”   Overall, Irvine is pleased with the work of his department and the results it’s produced.   “I love myCourses. It provides a great framework for faculty to provide excellent learning resources to students, and it provides students with a much more intuitive and user-friendly learning management system,” he...

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Cold challenge in hot water
Sep17

Cold challenge in hot water

Every morning, as people wake up and log onto Facebook, it’s increasingly difficult to ignore the growing number of videos in their news feed showing friends having buckets of ice water poured over their heads and then nominating others to do the same.   As some scroll, they dread the day they’ll become the newest nominee dragged into the phenomenon known as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.   Where does the money go? Well-meaning donors, many of whom believe in the sanctity of life should know that large portions of their donations are going to fund stem cell research, to which they may have a moral objection.   In the process of bettering human lives that cope with ALS, money is going to the recreation and destruction of human cells for hit-and-miss scientific analysis––what many consider a most literal crime against humanity.   Also, there’s the breakdown of the funds the ALS Foundation receives. According to data provided by the ECFA, an organization founded in 1979 with the mission to promote the transparency of non-profit organizations, it’s not even a charity.   By that group’s definition, to be a charitable organization it must prove that 80 percent of its funds go to projects directly linked with its cause. In the case of the ALS Foundation, only 27 percent of donations go toward helping victims.   Also potentially disturbing is that the leadership of the ALS Foundation does quite well for itself in the non-profit business.   President and CEO Jane Gilbert makes nearly $400,000 a year, and Chief Financial Officer Daniel Renzikov makes more than $200,000 a year. Aside from the questionable salaries, what many express frustration with is the feeling of being forced against their wills. No one should be nominated for a charitable activity.   Generosity is a personal conviction. Individuals should be able to choose freely if they want to donate and what causes or organizations they donate to.   Further, one could argue the Ice Bucket Challenge is inherently disrespectful as it shifts the attention from ALS, its victims and possible solutions to the admittedly entertaining antics of screaming, gasping, shivering participants and their unsuspecting friends who must now give into peer pressure to continue the frigid cycle.   Another problem with the idea of nominating people for charity is the lack of consideration for others’ finances. What if someone who received that dreaded notification simply didn’t have the money to participate? What if he or she had already allotted an amount to give to an equally noble effort?   Guilt should never be motivation for giving. This leads to an unhealthy environment in which...

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New union excites students, faculty
Aug27

New union excites students, faculty

Students let out a collective gasp of awe as they arrived on campus for the semester. The spacious long-awaited Bawcom Student Union, which forms the visitors’ side of Crusader stadium is finally open and functional for use by the campus population.   The light, airy concept is accentuated by wall comprised almost entirely of windows offering three stories of sweeping panoramas of the football field below. Headquartered in the new facility are the Campus Activities Board, the Student Organizations Office, the Farris Band Hall and administrative offices.   The first floor is dedicated to the Campus Store, residential dining, the 1845 Grill and The Depot, a coffee shop proudly brewing Starbucks Coffee.   “I really like the space,” junior marketing major Jessica Pitcathly said. “It’s really going to change life on campus especially because all the organizations and activities are located here.”   Not only is she impressed with the convenience of the building, but she enjoys the new dining options.   “This is so much better than Hardy (Hall). I really like all the different choices there are of food. The good food and the new space make this a place students want to be,” Pitcathly said.   UMHB alumnus and Assistant Director of Campus Activities is excited to see ‘The Union,’ as it’s popularly called, come to fruition.   “This building is amazing and students are going to love it,” he said. “There are so many little details that really make it a building for students. From a CAB stand point this building really opens up endless opportunities for us to program, and the location of our office puts us right in the flow of students.”   The building brings him joy as a Crusader and ignites his pride for his alma mater.   “As an alumnus, I am super excited about this building. We had nothing like this when I was a student…. But the best part of this building is that it keeps with the core of what UMHB is about and opens the doors for endless opportunities to build community in any setting,” Sutton said.   Another group of people thankful for the new building is the band department now housed in the Farris Band Hall. Assistant Professor of Music, Associate Director of Instrumental Studies and Conductor of the Blackshirt Spirit Cru, Nils Landsberg said is thrilled to have a new state-of-the-art facility for his students to practice in.   Landsberg said, “The students are ecstatic…. Now we have one of the best band facilities in the state.”   Not only is he pleased that current students get to enjoy the benefits, but he...

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Gay: Not the new black

It’s a sad day when people are so uneducated about their country’s history that they indiscriminately compare historical events and attitudes, when in reality, there is no comparison.   There’s a misguided movement within the LGBT community and among those who advocate for it to compare its fight for equality with the troubles of racial minorities who endured centuries of discrimination, violence the threat of physical harm, and in some     cases, even death.   Gay is not the new black.   Those who subscribe to the idea that the two are inherently linked need to ask themselves, “When, because one was gay, did he or she have to leave certain towns by sunset? When, because someone was gay, did he or she have to drink out of a separate water fountain from someone who was straight?”   When did a group of homosexuals have to be escorted into a public high school by the National Guard to keep heterosexuals from killing them before they made it to the door? Do straight people generally buy or sell gays like property because they don’t agree with their sexual orientations?   Have lesbians ever been counted as three fifths of a person? Has a single transvestite been denied suffrage? Is it illegal for a gay man to own land or learn to read?   History would answer with a resounding “No.”   Even groups like Westboro Baptist Church, which spew the rhetoric, which is perceived as the most hateful, don’t take to dressing in sheets, burning crosses and lynching those with whom they disagree.   It’s a slap in the face to African Americans in particular who, as a people, worked with the help of those who sympathized with them to achieve the near reality of a society where blatant racism is mostly a distant memory.   To compare the fight for marriage equality with the Civil Rights Movement is ludicrous and abhorrent to many people who’ve experienced true discrimination.   It shows a lack of ingenuity. There are thousands of people in all minority groups who disagree with the lifestyle choices of gays, lesbians and trans-genders.   Why lump them together and pretend they all stand for the same causes when in countless individual cases, they don’t? Further, who’s to say those of alternate sexual orientations can’t be racist?   Many who identify with the homosexual and transgender effort champion individuality and self-expression but refuse to acknowledge that many of the people in the group with which they try to identify passionately disagree with them. How’s that for profiling?   If the LGBT community expects its cause to stand, it needs...

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