Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was previously published in print on the Opinions page. Opinions expressed in this section do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff or the university.

FAA keeps economy grounded due to slow regulation of drones
May06

FAA keeps economy grounded due to slow regulation of drones

THE BELLS — The MQ-9 Reaper is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can employ four air-to-ground Hellfire missiles and a guided bomb. It’s the kind of drone that Call of Duty fanatics foam at the mouth for, hopingto use its power during gameplay. But drones are no game. Enemies of the United States can attest to that fact. Drones have been around as agents of war, mostly for reconnaissance purposes, since the Spanish-American War (that is if you count a kite with a camera attached to it as a UAV), but no one doubts their capabilities today. Drones offer us so much more than an upper hand on our enemies.  Commercial America has much to gain if it accepts the use of these vehicles. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos shocked the nation when he revealed his big R&D project to 60 Minutes in December. His “Octocopter” is set to deliver packages to customers doorsteps in 30 minutes or less. UAV’s are predicted to be most useful flying over miles of farmland. According to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, it’s expected that the commercial market for drones will find about 80 percent of its work in an agricultural setting. Kevin Price is an employee of RoboFlight, a Denver based company that sells drones and analyzes field crop data. “It is endless right now, the applications in agriculture,” he told USAToday. Farmers “are going to be able to see things and monitor their crops in ways they never have before. In the next 10 years, almost every farm will be using it.”   The drone industry is in limbo right now due to the Federal Aviation Administration’s slow response to establish guidelines for commercial use. Certainly, much thought must be put into regulating drones. Problems can occur if they inhibit the flight paths of airliners and civilian aircraft. According to its website, the FAA’s top priority is safety.   The FAA has set up two camps of UAV operations: Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems and (UAS) Public UAS. Civil UAS is where farmers would fall. Their website says that “Obtaining an experimental airworthiness certificate for a particular UAS is currently the only way civil operators of unmanned aircraft are accessing the National Airspace System.”   This is causing a holdup, and although the FAA is attempting to improve its current Civil UAS (i.e. farmers) regulations, nearly 100,000 potential jobs sit unfilled. Public UAS is a more complicated issue because much of it surrounds urban areas where commercial airliners dominate the airspace. The FAA must step up and realize the positive economic impact both UAS sectors could have on our...

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Discrimination in higher education
May06

Discrimination in higher education

Owned and published by UMHB, The Bells is a biweekly publication. This content was published previously in print on the opinions page. Opinions do not necessarily reflect the adviser’s, staff and/or the university’s viewpoint. THE BELLS — Controversy is brewing as the Supreme Court last week upheld the University of Michigan’s decision to ban the use of racial considerations in admissions, further strengthening the state’s constitutional amendment, which nullifies affirmative action. This brings up questions of institutions and individuals in the United States engaging in what some like Dr. Benjamin Carson call “reverse discrimination.” If equality of opportunity was what universities cared about, why should race matter?   In a piece he wrote for townhall.com titled “Beyond Affirmative Action,” he says, “…Let’s take a child who is a member of a racial minority with parents who are successful professionals who have given their child every imaginable advantage. The child applies to a prestigious university with a 3.95 grade-point average, excellent SAT scores…. This child would obviously be an excellent candidate for admission.” He contrasts the first student with another. Carson writes, “Let’s take another child who is white, but whose father is incarcerated and whose mother is an alcoholic. Despite these disadvantages, the child still has a 3.7 grade-point average, very good SAT scores and a resume that includes several low-paying jobs. Without taking any other factors into consideration, the choice is clear: The first student would be admitted over the second.” This does nothing when trying to overcome racial discrimination. In an attempt to right the wrongs of the past, minorities have been given preferential treatment when it comes to higher education, scholarships and job applications. To an extent, this may have been warranted, but now as progress is made on the racial front, do we need to keep the same programs in place? Trying to reach the goal of unity by focusing on differences is like riding a bike and staring at a wall you’re trying not to hit. The result is almost always a collision that could be avoided. Is it right for an African-American student to get into an institution while a Caucasian student who has a higher GPA doesn’t get admitted because of a noble intention? No. Where is the equality in that? Why does any state still allow these rules that only artificially level the playing field? Is it racist for a Caucasian to get a job because he or she happens to be more qualified than an African-American candidate who applied for the same position? The fairness that comes from true equality would tell the employer that race is truly a non-factor...

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Staff editorial: Turnitin.com
Apr02

Staff editorial: Turnitin.com

THE BELLS — Turnitin.com may not be convenient for students, but many professors view it as an effective way to prevent plagiarism. As long as students continue stealing others’ intellectual property, turnitin.com may be a burden that everyone must tolerate. The website could be a necessary nuisance. It’s a pain to have to go through the process of submitting papers through the site, but due to the dishonesty that is rampant at all levels of education, it may be for the best. Some believe students should embrace turnitin.com because it could encourage their creativity. The fact that professors can see how unique one paper is from another helps students try harder to be set apart from the pack before their papers are read. However, there are some inherent flaws to the system worth noting. Some users don’t experience problems, but many do. It can become incredibly frustrating, but still others believe it’s a good concept. A lot of people don’t like turnitin.com because it doesn’t detect whether a source has been cited, leading the site to assume that every student plagiarizes. The system could be updated so it recognizes that phrases in quotation marks are cited material. As for now, it’s an unneeded source of stress and aggravation, only adding to the tension students are already coping with. Another solution could be hard copies and a face-to-face turn in. It seems to eliminate a lot of possible technical problems by handing in a hard copy. What if the Internet crashes? Turnitin.com is a massive accident waiting to happen. Unfortunately, that’s already become a reality for some users. There are multiple accounts of students uploading their papers only to have them disappear into cyber oblivion, causing professors to give students zeros or late grades in return for weeks of preparation for papers and research projects. This is a problem that should be remedied. In addition, there is a moral and ethical problem with the website. One of its main purposes is to check for plagiarism. Making students upload their papers to a website to be checked for plagiarism before they’re graded is inconsistent with the American ideal of being innocent until proved guilty. By uploading work,  students have to prove themselves innocent to receive a...

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College of Humanities feeling left out, un-Heard
Apr02

College of Humanities feeling left out, un-Heard

THE BELLS — When people think of the College of Christian Studies, they think of the Meyer Christian Studies Center; when they think of the College of Nursing, they think of the Isabelle Rutherford Meyer Nursing Education Center. But when the College of Humanities is mentioned, no specific place comes to mind. The only building the humanities have now is Heard, which is designed for offices, not classes. “I have heard it said about this building that everyone does a stint in purgatory,” said Dean of the College of Humanities, Dr. Daniel Mynatt. “We’re here now while we’re waiting to see what sort of opportunities open for the humanities. … At the minute, there’s nothing on the drawing board.” It’s time for the university to consider a building for the College of Humanities that houses offices and classes. Without one, the humanities may get left behind as the school continues to grow. This is a dangerous prospect as the value of the humanities is irreplaceable in a college education, a fact that Mynatt points out. “The humanities were designed to teach people how to live better. … They teach students how to think critically and be aware of a large body of knowledge.” The power of having a building to associate with a college cannot be understated, and when there is none, the influence of that college lessens among the student body. “It undermines the importance of the humanities,” said Kelzye Isham, a freshman public relations/political science major. “It undermines the value, which is funny since the humanities are the foundation for all the others.” And not only that, but “Everyone will have to take courses in the College of Humanities,” she said. “… It’s going to affect their education in some way.” Each new semester brings another announcement about record numbers of students, and even though the study of the humanities may be declining nationally,  Mynatt said, “Enrollment for the College of Humanities has been holding its own.” Even so, the college can sometimes feel like an afterthought in the grand scope of the university’s growth. Audrey McCambridge, a freshman English major said, “You say College of Humanities, and you have no mental image. We don’t have a building. … It’s like we don’t have a home.” UMHB is growing like never before, and it’s time to take another look at where the College of Humanities fits in the grand scheme of the university’s master...

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Electromagnetic Pulse Attack: hit from above
Apr02

Electromagnetic Pulse Attack: hit from above

THE BELLS — It’s a military situation that sends shivers down the spine of any commander. A nuclear blast high up the atmosphere creates an electromagnetic pulse that renders electronic equipment obsolete. The playing field is now evened. But picture this same attack on a civilian population: transit systems become stagnant, communication methods become silenced, food and water infrastructures run dry. Chaos ensues. An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP attack seems more science fiction than anything, but it’s not. Newt Gingrich, who was active in pursuing EMP legislation, in an interview with Politico magazine said, “This creates such a collapse of our fundamental productive capacity that you could literally see a civilization crash and tear itself apart fighting … internally.” An EMP attack on America may not happen soon, but it seems to be nearing. And if our nation’s enemies don’t get us, a solar storm just might. John Holdren, the Obama administration’s leading science and technology adviser, told the New York Times in 2011 that a large EMP event “could be big on the order of $2 trillion during the first year in the United States alone, with a recovery period of four to 10 years.” The cost to strengthen our system, according to the EMP Commission: $2 billion. It’s better to pay now than later. Congress doesn’t seem to think so. They have failed to pass the Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act, or SHIELD Act. The clock continues to tick. Russia and China have experimented with EMP weapons, and nations like Iran and North Korea hope to do the same. Many believe that the solution to the problem lies in the hands of those like the Missile Defense Agency. If an enemy nation were to send a warhead to detonate above the United States, a ground-based interceptor would be prepared to smash it before it got in range. Richard Lehner, an agency spokesman, told The New York Times, “It doesn’t matter if the target is Chicago or 100 miles over Nebraska. For the interceptor, it’s the same thing.” He went on to call the potential damage from the EMP attack as “pretty theoretical.” While that system is capable to defend our nation against warheads and other weapons, what are we to do about solar storms? The only long-lasting solution is to follow the advice of the EMP Commission. As they’ve said before, our nation’s backbone lies in our transformers, and we must harden what they can take. This isn’t a wait-and-see situation. It’s time to strengthen America from the inside...

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Packing a suitcase full of procrastination
Feb25

Packing a suitcase full of procrastination

THE BELLS — Many students can relate to the stress of moving into campus housing at the start of each semester. Loads of unnecessary items make their way to school after the break. It’s easy to drive a car full of junk from home to college, but what happens when college is in London? Attempting to fit four months’ worth of clothes into a carry-on and a single checked bag under 50 pounds runs neck-and-neck with surviving finals. It’s dreaded by all, stressful for many and requires plenty of cramming. But we all survive. Right? “Barely…” cry the souls of thousands of mentally drained students. Yet that visual wasn’t enough to scare me into worry. “I can do this,” I said, lugging an awkward rolling suitcase while wearing two coats, two scarves, a backpack, a neck pillow and a camera case, and, oh yes, stomping around in snow boots in the 50 degree Texas winter. I told everybody I just wanted to “be prepared” for when we landed in London, but let’s be honest. This ensemble consisted of my belongings that wouldn’t fit into my already overstuffed suitcase. This trip was the beginning of many firsts—my first international flight, my first full semester far from home and my first time off to college with only two suitcases. Packing for London would be my first feat. I think back, and the only things I had successfully completed the week prior to the trip were the first three stages of procrastination: false security, laziness and excuses. Three days before I left town, I made an effort. I went through my entire wardrobe and took out my favorite clothes, those I could not bear to part with. Six hours later, I was packed—almost. I had two overflowing suitcases full of my favorites, and I hadn’t gathered everything I needed. I was exhausted and annoyed, so I decided to put packing on hold. Two days slipped away so quickly, and I knew I was only prolonging the inevitable. Stage four of procrastination crept up until that evening—denial. “I still have plenty of time,” I convinced myself.  Night fell, thus beginning stage five—crisis. I stayed up rearranging clothes and rethinking my packing abilities. Nothing could begin to explain how I justified each item in my suitcase. A woman really begins to learn her priorities in a situation like this—shoes obviously. At this point I was ready to burn down my closet and start over in London, but some late hour between then and sunrise, I did it. I had two zipped suitcases nearly bursting at the seams and my multi layered outfit and other...

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