New standard demands stricter GPA requirements

Buildings and parking lots aren’t the only things going up in the fall semester. Academic standards are rising as well. Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Steve Oldham explained that though standards are changing, they aren’t as much rising as transferring. “Really we’re just moving the target for student academics from the junior year down to the sophomore year,” he said. The requirement has been that students must have a 2.0 by their 90th hour for graduation. Under the new system, that 2.0 must be achieved at the end of the freshman year instead of the end of the junior year. “It really allows them to make the progress they need to in order to be ready for graduation,” Oldham said. “ And, hopefully, it will prevent situations like we have now where a student comes to their senior year and there’s no way they will have that GPA in time, so they’re left with debt and they might have to extend their education a year or two more.” The idea for this change started with the faculty, who are in the classrooms with students and understand how grades affect the student’s future college career. Oldham said, “This was primarily a faculty-driven issue, and they made a recommendation and I affirmed it, so it’s going into play this fall. We began conversations in Academic Affairs but at the same time, or really before that, the faculty assembly took a look at our academic standing, and they had been discussing it for a little while about increasing it.” He said there were two reasons for changing the requirements – the federal government and earlier student notification. The government changed the standard for financial aid to a 2.0 last year, so it provided a good time for the university to change its standard as well. In addition to the financial aid requirement change, moving the standard to the sophomore year offers students a better chance at being successful in their educational career. “It’s very difficult for someone to raise their GPA a significant amount once they have amassed a large number of hours already,” Oldham said. “It’s kind of like a major league hitter who’s got a low batting average in the first couple of weeks of the season. No big deal as long as they can start hitting well. But if you have a low batting average in the last couple of weeks of the season, you’re not going to raise it hardly at all. (It) doesn’t matter how many times you go to bat.” Senior marketing and management double  major Clayton Giraudin believes the new requirements will...

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Graduating editor’s farewell

Someone told me when I was 18 that college is the time in life when you have the most freedom coupled with the least amount of responsibility. With graduation less than two weeks away, I’m realizing I will probably never again get to live life the same way I have been for the past four years. Gone will be the days when your closest friends live within walking distance and almost never lock their apartment doors. Gone will be the days when it’s necessary and possible to go to the lake every time the weather permits, which is the majority of days in both semesters. And gone will be the days when the primary goal is to learn and be challenged to think and grow. Sure, I will miss some aspects about college, but there are so many I’ve learned the past four years that need to be shared with those who haven’t yet graduated. Make Belton home. This entails a few  things. Become a member of and get deeply involved in a local church. You will live in this area for the next several years; get to know families who live, work, worship and serve here. It’s incredible how much God taught me from my seemingly short time at FBC Temple. I learned what it means to love the church, not a worship style or a preacher or a small group but what it means to love the institution of the church despite its faults and failures. Seek out people to invest in your life for personal and professional matters. Many people have been incredibly successful at life who have come before you. Ask them to share their wisdom. I was lucky to have church people adopt me as their foster college child. Having a home in the area to escape to for sleep or studying and adults who care about what’s going on in your life are      invaluable. I also had a couple of great supervisors for my work study jobs who challenged my skills and talents because they knew I was capable of more. Spend weekends in town. Though the Belton/Temple area might be laughable compared to where you grew up, this is where you live now, and it has a lot to offer if you’re willing to give it a chance. Be involved in campus activities, but don’t overdo it. College events are fun, but it is crucial to get career experience before you graduate. Get out of your comfort zone with what you do and who you are with. Some of my favorite memories are from times when I tried something I had never...

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Ensemble breaks cultural barriers
Mar27

Ensemble breaks cultural barriers

Commonalities exist that cross cultural boundaries, drawing together people who would otherwise remain complete strangers. Members of the Jazz Ensemble discovered that music is one of those common threads as they performed at universities in China over spring break. “We were only there for 10 days but we touched the lives of thousands of people in just 10 days.  I think that’s something unique about the medium of the arts,” Assistant Professor and Athletic Bands Director Nils Landsberg said. It took more than 30 hours of travel to get there, but that didn’t seem too long. The trip had been planned for almost two years, and when they arrived, they knew it would be quite the experience. Landsberg said, “Immediately upon our arrival in Guilin, we were met by a group of about 15 students and the dean of the international college, and when they saw us walking into baggage claim they started cheering.” The band was mobbed after each show  by enthusiastic students wanting pictures with the performers they so greatly admired. “Every performance we had the auditorium was full. Our smallest performance we had was probably about 400, and the largest was probably close to 1,000,” Landsberg said. “I knew that our students would get a warm reception and get a lot of pictures taken, but we didn’t comprehend that we were going to be performing for people who had never heard jazz music before in their lives and some of whom had never seen a foreigner before.” Performing seven shows in nine days wasn’t an easy task, but one thing that did make it easier was having all the instruments provided for them in China by Jupiter Instruments and Mapex Percussion. That allowed them to focus less on logistics and more on the relationships they were building. “Our students found that despite the language barriers that we had, they were able to connect through music instantaneously. We weren’t able to understand through speech, but they were able to understand our energy and our spirit through our performance,” Landsberg said. The trip grew from a partnership with China Cast, an organization that owns three private universities in the country. They want to expand the relationship they forged with UMHB to other areas of the school and bring more people over to their campuses. Associate Professor and Music Department Chair Mark Humphrey said, “My hope is that this becomes a major partner with us. It’s this big convergence of mission work, of academics, of social justice, the arts and cultural exchange.” The students in the ensemble didn’t just go, perform and leave. Their global perspective was altered as...

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Hunger Games feeds cravings of excited fans

The announcement of “May the odds be ever in your favor,” started the bloodbath that is the 74th Annual Hunger Games as the movie hit theaters March 23. Long anticipated, the film had a lot of critics to impress. Millions across the world caught the hunger bug that infected them with an unappeasable desire to know the life of Katniss Everdeen. The pit of that desire couldn’t be completely filled until they saw the book-made-movie on the big screen. No movie is ever as good as its literary counterpart, Hunger Games included. It’s impossible to show the full scope of someone’s characteristics in the couple of hours that a movie lasts. Someone who hasn’t read the books might appreciate the well-made film, but it wouldn’t be nearly as intense an experience for them as those who have read it are sure to have. Since the main action of the movie focuses on teenagers forced to slaughter each other in an arena for public entertainment, it’s no surprise that the film shocks and keeps those in the audience on edge, often holding their breath in anticipation of the next brutal attack. It’s an emotional ride from the very beginning as main character Katniss offers to take the place of her younger sister Prim when the annual reaping selects her as the female tribute to fight for her home district. As the story rushes forward, it not only continues entertaining but also silently poses questions about humanity. Seeing the action played out by real people as opposed to reading about it in a book forces the ideas of oppression, freedom, government control and the debatable goodness and evil of humans into the open, into the arena of the mind, vulnerable to any opposition that might come whizzing toward it. The majority of the movie will have those who previously read the book thinking, “That’s exactly how I pictured it.” Some letdowns, however are evident. Hometown friend Gale,  played by very-easy-on-the-eyes Liam Hemsworth, barely has any lines in the movie, making it a bit difficult to understand his character and the tight connection he shares with Katniss. Peeta Mellark, almost comes off as a bullied wimp to be pitied, instead of a confident yet reserved young man. One of the most entertaining facets of the movie is how the people from the Capitol are portrayed. Colorful and strange in the book, the movie does a great job of showing the surgically altered and vibrantly decorated citizens who find nothing but enjoyment in the annual gladiator-style bloodbath among teenagers. With a running time right at two and a half hours, the movie is...

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Lenten season should be embraced
Mar06

Lenten season should be embraced

For many good Protestants, especially Baptists, the season of Lent doesn’t get any closer to the doors of their churches than drinking or gambling do. They see it as a Catholic thing, an odd tradition established by a religious institution that is outdated. But if people took the time to research it and were even bold enough to try it, they would see that Lent is not a stale practice but is a time for refreshment of faith. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, and many get a cross marked with ashes on their forehead that they wear throughout the day as a reminder that from dust you came and to dust you shall return. For the next 40 days, something that is common in a person’s life is sacrificed as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. On Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and every Friday during Lent, church officials encourage participants to abstain from meat, except fish. Lent is wrapped up on Easter with the joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection — the foundation for the Christian faith. Lent is to Easter as Advent is to Christmas. It’s intended to be a time to prepare for a celebration and remembrance of the basis of the Christian faith. It’s also a time to seek God and focus on praying and serving others. The idea is to look beyond ourselves and focus on what God has called his people to do and how we are to respond to that calling. Instead of rushing into Easter and spending only a few brief moments reflecting on the sacrifice of Christ, believers should consider participating in Lent and remembering daily that sacrifice as they themselves are sacrificing something from their lives. Whatever it is that the believer chooses to sacrifice for the duration of Lent could vary from physical to spiritual things. Some choose not to give something up but instead set a goal to read a book of the Bible every day or pray the rosary every night. If people choose to give up something tangible, such as soda or sweets, their bodies will physically yearn for those things that they are used to. The physical yearning of our bodies should reflect the spiritual yearning of our hearts for Christ. In Pope Benedict XVI’s message on Lent this year, he emphasized that “this journey is one marked by prayer and sharing, silence and fasting, in anticipation of the joy of Easter.” Taking the time to remember the basis of the Christian faith will do believers good. In this fast-paced world, it’s too easy to rush into the sacred Easter celebration...

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