Human rights violations haunt Tindouf
Apr12

Human rights violations haunt Tindouf

Nestled in the west of the Sahara are refugee camps where people are held and not permitted to leave. Here, a word against the leaders could land someone in prison. These are the conditions in Tindouf, on the borders of Algeria and Morocco and controlled by the independence- seeking Polisario. The society is 80 percent women who participate in government. The country has a high literacy rate and sends pupils overseas to continue education. Yet they endorse slavery, torture people who speak against the government and imprison unwed mothers. When the Center for Religious Liberty held its lecture, “Dangers in the Desert,” students were provided with an in-depth look at a site said to house some of the worst human rights violations occurring today. The session wasn’t a history lesson for eager students, but a call for awareness and tangible help. “Americans can develop the region and help the U.S. government take a position in support of Morocco,” speaker and civil rights attorney Leah Farish said. “Many Texans speak Spanish, so they would have an advantage over the language barrier.” The camps were opened in 1976 when Morocco and Mauritania clashed for control of the western Sahara and its populations. But the Sahwari people who live in the desert resisted both nations. Their front group, the Polisario, has held the land since then, blocking some of the Sahwari from leaving or seeing loved ones in Morocco. The vast desert has become a massive, sandy Berlin Wall. Nancy Huff, former teacher and founder/ president of the nonprofit organization Teach the Children International joined forces with the Polisario to help them fight for independence and assist the poor Sahwari. But she realized that the Polisario were not interested in dialogue with Morocco, the strongest nation in the region. As she learned that the Polisario was teaching children to hate the Moroccan king, she knew it was time to change sides. “That was an a-ha moment for her,” Farish said. The lecture discussed the history of the struggle and the Morocco and U.S. stance that the region should become autonomous with Morocco. Hamdi Cherifi, president of Al Intimae NGO for the development of human rights and coexistence in Laayoune , also spoke of Tindouf. In an interview, he told a story of an ex-polasario Sahwari man who traveled from Morocco to Tindouf to see his family. The man had made comments supporting an autonomous government with Morocco, and his words caused with three months of captivity instead of the embraces of his family.  The man has been prohibited from ever seeing his family. “The international community and (our NGO) need to apply...

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New master’s programs create more opportunities for careers
Apr12

New master’s programs create more opportunities for careers

With the economy still in a recession, more and more students are looking to continue their education instead of jumping into the workplace right after graduation. To keep up with this trend, UMHB has added two new master’s programs: Master of Science, Family Nurse Practitioner and Master of Education in Administration of Intervention Programs. This is the College of Nursing’s third master’s program and the College of Education’s sixth. Both are expecting a receptive response from current students as well as people looking to receive their master’s from the university. Professor and Master of Science in Nursing Program Director Dr. Margaret Prydun, credits the location of the campus with the need for the new program. “We are in a unique position because we are the only provider of higher education in our area,” she said. “There are other nursing programs that have bachelor’s or associate degrees, but to go to a graduate school, you would have to travel north or south on I-35.” The College of Nursing decided to add the new program after receiving numerous calls from nurses in the community who were looking to advance their education and more specifically as a family nurse practitioner. As a licensed FNP, they will perform many of the same duties as a physician and will be able to serve a much higher population. “They can work in the physician’s office and work independently in clinics,” she said. “They can counsel, teach patient education, be a patient advocate, receive prescriptive authority and be involved in research. There is a great amount of care a FNP can give.” The two-year program will be a hybrid of 2/3 online work and 1/3 in a classroom.  Currently 14 students fill the 20 spots, and enrollment is still open until June. Dean of the College of Nursing Dr. Sharon Souter is excited about the possibilities the program has to offer students. “It gives them the opportunity for advances in employment,” she said. “We believe that the more education one gets, the better prepared they are. We believe in lifelong learning.” The Master of Education in Administration of Intervention Programs is aimed at preparing teachers to address the changing needs in school districts and provide professional assistance to at-risk students ages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Professor and director of the new program Dr. Karen Estes said, “In order to effectively work with students, who need additional support, whether as an interventionist or an administrator of intervention programs, individuals with specific training are more likely to be successful in assisting these students.” The program is designed to accommodate the hectic schedule of a graduate student by meeting...

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Synthetic drugs cause new policies
Mar29

Synthetic drugs cause new policies

Synthetic marijuana has become a major threat to public health, having hospitalized and even sent individuals to their deathbeds. As a result, UMHB administrators have taken steps to protect students from the dangers of “fake pot.” Synthetic cannabis is designed to mimic the high attained from marijuana. When school officials recognized synthetic marijuana was a threat to students, they confronted the issue with a new policy. Vice President of Student Life Dr. Byron Weathersbee discussed the university’s intentions of goodwill toward   students. “Sometimes we come across as having a lot of rules and cracking down—no—we’re just trying to navigate a good, healthy, clean environment where people can thrive and be at their best,” he said. Weathersbee further explained his desire to preserve the quality of life on campus. “UMHB is a unique place …. It’s a great place to come and engage the mind, engage the spirit, engage in life and have fun doing it,” he said. “Our hope is that people will live … good, healthy, moral lives.” Many recognize synthetic marijuana by the brand names Blaze, K2 or Spice. It’s often marketed as incense or herbal smoking blends, making it legal, but not anymore. As of March 1, the Drug Enforcement Administration temporarily banned five chemicals (JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47, 497, and cannabicyclohexanol) used in producing synthetic             marijuana. The chemicals will be controlled for one year and possibly an additional six months as the DEA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study them. According to the DEA, synthetic cannabinoids have been banned in at least 18 U.S. states and other countries due to rapid and significant rises in abuse of the substances Based on current scientific data, the five substances have a potential to be extremely harmful and threatening to public safety. A 19-year-old father overdosed from using synthetic drugs and died at a party in Minnesota during spring break while ten others, ages 16-22,     were hospitalized. According to the DEA, using synthetic marijuana could result in agitation, anxiety attacks, elevated heart rate, convulsions, nausea and vomiting. Last fall, UMHB administrators treated synthetic marijuana similar to the university’s policies on alcohol. At the beginning of the spring semester, UMHB established a “zero tolerance” policy outlined in the student handbook. Dean of Students Ray Martin described the university’s sudden change on this policy. “We had a choice. We could be proactive and protect our students, or we could wait and wait until somebody makes a rule,” he said. Crusaders will find the university’s stance on synthetic marijuana along with the disciplinary sanctions that will follow if...

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Ministry reaches out to area youth

Monday March 20 was a scene of controlled pandemonium at the Belton Christian Youth Center as kids from Belton High School played elbow tag and kickball. After the games, the bedlam became a little less controlled as students were treated to a plastic rain gutter full of ice cream. The event was sponsored by Young Life, a Christian organization dedicated to ministering to high schoolers. Young Life hosts clubs every Monday Matt Lambro, the area director for Mid-Tex Young Life said, “At club we sing songs. We play games. It is a lot of humor. It is very surface level, but we present the gospel in bits and pieces over the course of a year.” As an organization, Young Life is intentional and relational. On average most leaders spend 12 or more hours a week with the kids in their ministry. The Young Life chapter of Belton started two years ago. Lambro began his ministry in the school cafeteria. There, he met an unusual student. “He was crazy. We were like who is this guy trying to talk to us? I had that impression for a while, but he turned out to be a pretty cool guy. He gave good advice and good insight,” he said Most Young Life leaders become close to the young people in their ministry. To get involved in kids’ lives, leaders will attend sporting events or go out to eat with them. Many appreciate the friendship and mentoring that comes from their leaders. A Belton High School sophomore said, “Having someone there means a lot.” Sophomore pre-physical therapy major and Young Life leader Katilee Ralph said, “It has impacted my life. Yes, I’m here for the kids and I have impacted them, but they in turn have affected me in such a positive way. I go home and my mom says, ‘You have grown up so much.’ I tell her it is Young Life. Honestly, Young Life helped me grow to be a better person.” The organization has been around for more than 70 years. The word “teenager” was not used until the 1940s. It was around this same time that Jim Rayburn, a seminary student at Dallas Theological Seminary, founded the organization for adolescents. “He started the Young Life campaign and rented a tent and put it in Fair Park in downtown Dallas. He put the word out and told everyone on the radio,” Lambro said. “At his first talk he opened by telling people about someone who knew how to turn dirty water into the best tasting alcohol that anyone had ever had and that was his niche. He was talking about...

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Alums turn idea into livelihood
Feb21

Alums turn idea into livelihood

Alumnus Luke Nunnally is often seen with his Macbook Pro in Bodega Bean working on his website Belboard.com. He sips a Red Bull as he and his business partner and fellow alum, Eliot Barcak, discuss the next sale for their company – a business they began as students at UMHB. Now they own the biggest local websites in both Belton and Waco. Nunnally saw that Bell County really didn’t have an outlet for local advertising. He came up with Belboard to fit that need. “When I was a junior here, I found out about Nami (a local Japanese restaurant), and it’s really great,” he said. “There is no excuse for you to be a junior and not know about it.” The concept of Belboard is simple. The site has a large grid that is covered with ads of local businesses. Every time registered users click on ads, they are sent to that business’s home page. But Belboard randomly makes some ads lucky – meaning some clicks will get users anything from a free California roll from Nami to one of the promoted “Big Ticket” items – like an Xbox 360. Belboard sells the ad blocks to  businesses that will normally get a spike in Web traffic shortly after the ad hits the site. Every click means more Internet traffic for the advertiser and more relevancy for Google searches than before. Sites with more traffic show up higher on searches than less visited sites. Getting their page to the top of Google search results is a marketing goal for most businesses. The idea has been so successful that the alumni also have sites in Waco, Wacoboard.com; College Station, Tamuboard.com; and even a satellite site in Athens, Georgia, Athensboard.com, due to a partnership with the University of Georgia. The coffee shop is an ideal location for the Belboard guys to get work done. They spend much of their time traveling between cities where they operate sites, and a local space with free Wi-Fi is perfect to meet with business owners who may be interested in a chunk of Belboard’s space. UMHB Associate Professor and Chairperson of management, entrepreneurship and marketing department Dr. Barbara Dalby sparked the idea for the site in Nunnally. She was teaching about The Million Dollar Homepage, a site that an English student broke into pixels and sold to universities to raise money for his education. The website made $2 million dollars in two weeks. “I noticed Luke was in the back of the room, and he was asking questions,” Dalby said. “By the end of class, he had bought a domain name on his iPhone.” Nunnally was...

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Carriage rides for raising money
Feb21

Carriage rides for raising money

February 14 marks a special day for love for most of the world. Like many people, UMHB students also celebrated Valentine’s Day as a chance for loved ones to express themselves. For about two hours during the evening and night hours on that special day, couples who wanted a spin around campus received carriage rides. The sponsor of this event was the newly created Crusader Riding Association. This is the first semester the members have actually been able to go out and ride the horses. Senior English major Sara Lewis explained how the 10 members of the organization have the means to ride the horses. “We found a barn with horses, and the lady gave us a very generous deal on that, but we still have to raise money. So we did the carriage rides as a fundraiser, and I think it was pretty successful,” she said. Milo Johnson, the owner of the carriage ride business and the man who actually gave the rides to students, has been providing the buggy service for about 15 years. He has been around horses ever since he was a little boy and has been riding since the age of six. “I had seven (horses) but now I’m down to two at the moment and one nice donkey named Joyess,” he said. The horse pulling the carriage around campus on the night of Valentine’s was named Parnell and was 12 years old. Sophomore psychology major Jenny Binford went on the carriage ride. She enjoyed the ride and getting to pet Parnell. “I thought it was a good way for an organization to raise money,” she said. “I went later at night with my boyfriend, and it was a really peaceful thing to go do. The weather was also a plus, so that was good, too.” She believed it was a great way to enjoy Valentine’s Day with someone special. “I think a carriage ride is such a loving way to express to the person you love that you love them,” she said. “The horse was sweet, the driver very nice and talkative. All in all, it was a great way to finish up Valentine’s Day.” New to riding, Lewis is happy that she had a chance to go outside on a beautiful day and ride a horse. She likes how the carriage rides turned out because that means more money for the riding club. Out of 24 possible rides, the riding club sold 15 and raised a total of $150. Senior education major Joanna Schildwachter was another student who took a carriage ride. “I went earlier in the evening, so the sky was...

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