Human trafficking hits close to home: Part I
Oct16

Human trafficking hits close to home: Part I

Modern day slavery is happening all over the globe in the form of human trafficking. In fact, there are more slaves today than ever before in history. And it’s not merely a third world problem that exists in the slums of India or red light districts of Europe. There are thousands of people in the United States every year that are forced into labor and sexual slavery, and Texas is a hot spot for trafficking.           The Problem The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime says that human trafficking is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. This can take on many forms, from individuals who are forced to work in inhumane conditions in homes or factories to women and children that are sexually exploited in truck stops, brothels and hotels.  And it’s taking place right here. “If you think it doesn’t happen in the U.S., think again,” said Marketing Director of Traffick911 Lindsey Speed. “Truth is, there are hundreds of thousands of U.S. children bought and sold in the U.S. each year.  It’s the second largest and fastest growing criminal activity in the world.” Hitting even closer to home, the problem in Texas is greater than almost anywhere else in the country. It contains multiple hot spot cities, including Dallas, Ft. Worth and Houston. “The National Human Trafficking Hotline receives more calls from Texas than any other state except California,” Speed said. “The Department of Justice designated the I-10 corridor as the number one route for human trafficking in the U.S., and Texas is the center point for that route.” Director of Traffick Stop Tomi Grover, PhD said that several things make Texas such a trap for trafficking. Along with I-10, which runs east to west, the state also has I-35 running north to south, making where the two meet a hub for activity. A lack of adequate security along the Mexican border, as well as large port cities like Houston also contribute. “It’s been reported that one out of every four victims of trafficking has at some point been through Texas,” Grover said.  Contributing Factors While a web of infrastructure provides the avenue for trafficking, there is much more beneath the surface that allows the industry to continue growing and spreading. Like any other business, supply and demand is at the core. “The global consumerism we have is what drives demand, whether it’s for labor, goods and services or whether it’s for sex trafficking. We would not have this problem if we did not have a demand,” Grover said. The continued desire for cheaper goods...

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International students get taste of Texas
Oct02

International students get taste of Texas

While cowboy boots and country music may make most students at the university feel right at home, to some, they’re completely foreign. The Baptist Student Ministry recently hosted its annual Texas Party to give international students on campus a chance to experience a little more of the culture they now live in. Students from around the world gathered in Shelton Theatre Sept. 22 to take part in the fun, complete with line dancing and trivia about the Lone Star State. For some, it was a night of firsts. Freshman graphic design major Meredith Liu from China said, “It was incredible. It was my first time to learn how to dance a Texas traditional dance. It was very cool, and I made a lot of friends.” Freshman accounting major Coco Guo said the dancing was not like at home, but she enjoyed it. “It’s very different from China, more crazy. You can do anything you want to do,” she said. For others, the event has become a favorite tradition. This year’s Texas Party was the second for graduate student Kai Zhao, who looked like a natural out on the dance floor in his jeans, cowboy hat, boots and spurs after learning last year at the party. “That was my first time getting to know Texas Two-Steps. I was shy back then,” he said. “This year made me feel nostalgia. One year has passed so soon.” Those who planned the event were pleasantly surprised by the turnout. Sophomore Christian ministry major Madison Prado said, “We couldn’t believe it. At the last minute we brought more food just in case, and we ran out of that food. It was incredible the amount of people we had.” Prado said all of the feedback she received from those who attended was positive. “They thought it was so much fun,” she said. “Even the people who were just sitting around, watching and eating some food, they had a blast. They just loved soaking it in.” The evening is not only a fun way to teach internationals about their new home; it also gives them a chance to make friends. Sophomore nursing major Jessica Walker said that’s the main idea behind the event. “The point is to make connections between American students and international students so they can build relationships and show them Jesus Christ,” she said. Walker helped plan the event and also works with international students at York House on campus. She has enjoyed getting to be involved with them during her time here. “When I came to college, I didn’t really expect to be doing anything with international students, so just to be...

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New social media policy affects student leaders
Sep11

New social media policy affects student leaders

The university has now joined a host of other schools that have implemented a social media policy in an effort to prevent possible slip-ups on the Web from having damaging effects on individual students and the university as a whole. Athletes, along with other students in leadership roles on campus, attended a meeting at the start of the semester where administration gave them the new policy, and asked them to sign and adhere to a set of guidelines. While the university may not have experienced any major Internet blunders like some that have been seen at other educational institutions across the country, Vice President for Student Life Dr. Byron Weathersbee sees this as a preventative measure. “We’re trying to get ahead of the curve. We’re trying to be proactive and educational,” he said. The usage policy gives general guidelines for participating in social media sites, guidelines for the use of words, abbreviations, acronyms and/ or phrases and photo and video guidelines. It also requires students to provide access to their sites so that faculty are able to view them when necessary. “I think the spirit behind this is protection — protection of our students, protection of their future, protection for the brand of UMHB, protection for our Christian mission. And I think we actually owe it to students to help put some framework to it, to help set some boundaries,” Weathersbee said. Senior Vice President for Administration & Chief Operating Officer Dr. Steve Theodore said the purpose of implementing such a policy is to educate. He said, “Mary Hardin-Baylor is an educational institution, and our job is to educate people, not only about math, science, history and nursing. It’s about educating students on life and how to be successful.” Theodore said the administration is not interested in reading every word posted on Facebook or Twitter, but simply in making sure that nothing is written that goes against UMHB standards. “What we’re looking for is just the inappropriate, vulgar stuff,” he said. “It needs to come off. It’s not representative of who we are. I think it hurts our students, and in the long run, I think it will benefit them because they toned it down.” In order to help monitor potentially damaging content, the school is using a service from the organization Field House Media that filters through social media sites and alerts administration if something inappropriate is posted. Both Weathersbee and Theodore stressed that students need to be aware that what they are posting is visible to a wide audience through the Internet. “Everything you put on Facebook, everything you put on Twitter, unless you specifically lock it...

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Requirements for fine arts reshaped to help students

The purpose of the university’s new core curriculum, which made its debut this semester, is to give students a broad-based education. As part of this mission, faculty and administration decided to add a requirement that expands learning outside of the sterotypical classroom setting. From now on, all students who come under the new core curriculum must attend one event designated as a Fine Arts Experience each semester they are enrolled. The events include costume recitals, concerts and art exhibits. Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts Ted Barnes said “The faculty wants to give students the opportunity to be culturally enriched by actually seeing works.” Professor in the College of Visual and Performing Arts Dr. Stephen Crawford is head of the FAE committee and said that the program “gets to the heart and soul of the student, and that’s what the arts are really about.” Crawford explained that the new requirement is something that will aid the university in developing students that have a broad education. “The benefit for the university as a whole is always in the product that we create,” he said. “A university creates students. When (they) receive our diplomas, we want them to be experts in their field, but we also want them to be well rounded.” The FAE does not replace the three semester hours of fine arts that are also required under the new core, but are intended to work in conjunction with the classroom. “The fine arts credits are the book learning components of the arts, but nothing beats going to an actual event where you become an audience member because that means you’re also a part of the artistic happening,” Crawford said. While the courses are important, there is no substitute for experiencing the arts for oneself, he said. “It’s like the difference between reading about football and going to a football game.” Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Steve Oldham said, “We’re hoping students will not only study the arts, but they will go to an event and like it, and maybe go back even though they don’t have to.” Because it is the FAE’s first year, Crawford said it will take a little time to see how the system they have set up will work for the program. “We’ll find out, I’m sure by the end of the semester, how well it’s going and how well we’re doing of informing students as to when the events are,” he said. Most of the events take place on campus. However, as time goes on, Crawford sees the program growing. “At this point, we’re just focusing on...

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Core curriculum prepares students

While continued construction is a reminder of physical transformations on campus, an academic change is also taking place with the start of the semester. A revised core curriculum is being introduced, which will increase the number of required courses in the core for all new students who receive an undergraduate degree. Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Steve Oldham said the new core is comprised of the courses that the faculty and university believe are necessary for a basic education, regardless of a student’s major. “Mary Hardin-Baylor is committed to a broad-based education, so when we ask ourselves, ‘What does broad based mean for us?,’ that’s what a core is about,” he said. “It’s making sure those basic things are accomplished. It’s a broad-based education that prepares all of our students for a very complex world.” Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Cathleen Early, who has been heavily involved with the new curriculum, said it will go into effect starting this semester. “All new students from this point forward, both transfer and freshman, who start at UMHB this fall under the 2012-2013 catalog, or later, will be required to follow the new curriculum,” she said. “Returning students will still follow the catalog that was in place when they enrolled, so long as they graduate within six years of that catalog going into effect.” With a total of 46 semester hours, the new core curriculum is larger than the previous one and has some significant additions. Some of the major changes include an increase in the math and science fields. All undergraduates will now need seven hours of science, and every student will have to take at least one math class. Oldham said, “We think that it’s really important in our age of technology and information explosion that students have an understanding of science and math.” A literature class will also be a requirement; however, Oldham said the English department has expanded its course offerings to include a wider variety of options. “While students now have to take a literature course they may have not otherwise taken, we hope it will be something they enjoy and is meaningful to them,” he said. In addition, three semester hours of fine arts will be required, and students will have to attend one fine arts experience each semester. These events on campus are specifically designated by the College of Visual and Performing Arts as FAEs. Oldham said, “We think the arts are really important for our own flourishing as believers. We believe God is creator. He’s created beautiful things and given us the ability.” Throughout the process of designing the core...

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