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.

Bridge of death

Staff Editorial Anyone who drives over the SH 317 bridge (the one over the railroad tracks on the way to Wal-Mart) will notice a flurry of new construction near the guardrails. Entombed beneath the orange cones and maintenance trucks is the story of a woman who made a fatal fall over a railing fit to protect no one. On Feb. 28, 2007, Marian Chimene, a 68-year-old Belton resident, was found dead under the bridge. While officials never claimed to know exactly how she plunged to her death, a stroll across the shaky overpass shortly after the incident allowed reasonable conclusions to be drawn. Reporters from The Bells found a mere two-foot guardrail that barely reached most of the staff’s knees. Senior mass communication/public relations major, Katelyn Dean, at the time a sophomore, said her legs “shook like Jell-O” every time a car passed, and she was “thankful to get off the bridge.” If a healthy 19-year-old was rattled crossing the bridge, what would happen if a frail, elderly woman tried to make it to the other side? Perhaps we already know. It does not take a genius to realize that a short railing will not stop any adult from tumbling over the side of a shaking bridge. This calls into question the foresight of the bridge’s designers. Maybe they simply were not given height standards. But that is irrelevant now, and it is sad that improvements to the bridge only came because of the elderly woman’s unintentional sacrifice. It should not take the loss of a life to prove to the city or the state the dangers of a piece of architecture, especially when there are clear signs of potential hazards. Because the highway is state owned and Belton monitored,  the lack of communication between both the city and state government entities failed citizens. While the height of the pre-existing railing was shocking, the breakdown in communication between Belton and the state of Texas is the most troubling aspect of this entire episode. Since more safety improvements are going to be needed in the future with the growth of the university, the city and state ought to get a better grasp of citizen needs. Already it is perilous business to pull onto Highway 317 from 9th and 10th streets during heavy traffic. Will a student have to be killed in a car wreck for something to be done? We applaud the fact that improvements to the bridge are now becoming a reality, and it indicates that government can be responsive to its citizens. However, if those responsible for Belton’s roads truly care about public safety, they will be proactive...

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Let the last battle begin
Apr21

Let the last battle begin

By Garrett Pekar Summer break is swiftly approaching. Does anyone else wonder where the year has gone? It seems to have flown by all too quickly, but this year was neither unproductive nor uneventful, by any means. Thinking back, one can recall friendships made throughout the year, and the many fun times shared with those people. Students endured hours in classrooms. At times, working on homework was like trudging through quicksand. It may not have been fun, but it prepared the way for more interesting, major-specific courses. Without mom or dad to cook, wash or clean, students learned to take care of themselves. They demonstrated responsibility and gained independence. A bunch of kids turned into young adults. Besides growing individually, some may have grown spiritually during this school year. God is not hard to find at UMHB. With chapel, Focus and the many churches near campus, students have a lot of support on their respective journeys of faith. Much has indeed taken place in the course of this year. School’s not over yet, though. Do not get in the summer vacation mindset before all the final exams; they’re way too important to blow off. The word “finals” carries a certain weight that makes it seem like some behemoth waiting to destroy unsuspecting students. When it comes up in conversation, those who hear it cannot help but shudder. Finals are not as big and bad as their legends describe, however. Students can defeat them with the proper amount of preparation. Final exams are important because good grades on finals can bring up bad averages, but bad scores can tear an A down to a B or a C. Grades that have been worked for all semester long do not deserve to be thrown away by the lack of preparation for a final test. Summer will come when it comes, and no amount of laziness will bring it about sooner. Prepare and study well for final exams. Don’t be lazy and slack off before upcoming tests. Take them seriously. Try not to stress out about finals too much, if that’s possible. Easier said than done, for sure. Study hard and prepare the mind, and there will be no need to worry. When it is time to take the test, relax and don’t race through it. Savor the taste of the battle with the beast, and claim victory over the dreaded...

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Parking policy unfair to students
Mar31

Parking policy unfair to students

Purple spots are for students, white spots are for faculty and staff and yellow spots are for visitors, right? Wrong. Cars with a faculty/staff parking sticker can park wherever they please, including the best student parking spots. On a daily basis all over campus, faculty/staff cars can be found parked within the purple sanctity that students are meant to enjoy. Students get a $25 reprimand for the same infraction on the tempting open white parking spaces. The heinous double standard allows faculty and staff to park wherever they like without limitation or repercussion while students scramble for the few parking spots left before a class only to find out a professor has taken it. Sure, a class can’t be conducted without a professor, but shouldn’t there be a strict set of parking regulations for them also? Students are given a laundry list of parking rules at the beginning of each semester; they must park inside the lines, cannot back in and cannot park in white spots. But faculty and staff are not held to the same strict color-coded standards when choosing their parking spots. If close parking availability is the reason that professors and staff park in student parking, then welcome to the world of the college students on campus. They have to carry pricey, heavy books to class whether a close parking spot is available or rain is pelting down on their heads. Just because the spot is closer does not mean that faculty and staff should be able to take advantage of what is meant to be a student space. Parking is always available. It just may not be as close to the building as they prefer. Parking standards should be the same for everyone. There should be enough parking available for both students and faculty/staff to park at the building they need to access without having to infringe on student parking areas. The administration should be even-handed with students and faculty/staff. It is important to show students they are equals at the university, and that begins with expecting the same from everyone. Students are equally vital to the continuation of UMHB, so why not treat them that...

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Caring parents raise responsible children
Mar31

Caring parents raise responsible children

By Garrett Pekar It is funny that the record of our relatives is called a “family tree.” Human life is nothing like that of a tree. Trees are a beautiful part of creation, but people are God’s focus. Both people and trees grow old until eventually dying. Both produce seeds for the next generation to live on, but that’s where the similarities end. Trees don’t raise their seeds. This simple fact creates a bottomless chasm separating them from people. As if skin and bark wasn’t enough of a difference, trees just drop their seeds to the ground, paying no attention to whether they take root in good soil or on rocky ground. It takes loving parents to raise a child successfully. According to the Facts for Life Web site, a publication by The United Nations Children’s Fund, the first eight years of a child’s life are vitally important. These early years are the foundation of future health, growth and development. Children learn more quickly during this time than any other in their lives. The Web site also states that babies and young children develop and learn more rapidly when they receive love and affection, attention, encouragement and mental stimulation as well as nutritious meals and good health care. Talk about the importance of good parenting–it can literally make or break a child’s life. The nourishment of a loving family ensures a child’s ability to succeed and be happy in the future. Care, comfort and communication are just a few important pieces of a family that glue them close together and make them strong. Discipline is another extremely important part of raising a child. Parents should not beat their children, of course, but spanking a child for doing something wrong is the best way for them to learn proper behavior at a young age. Most parents who spank their children do not do it because they want to hurt them. They do it because they have to teach them right from wrong. They do it out of love. A young child does not learn anything from timeouts or other ridiculous punishments. If anything, they take advantage of the situation. Spanking is a form of discipline that teaches children how to behave themselves and how to treat others. The values instilled by spanking will stay with children throughout their lives. The most important thing parents can pass on to their children is their religion, their faith in Jesus Christ. If faith is introduced to a child from day one, the child will rarely stray very far from the Lord. Reading Bible stories with children is one good way to help them...

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Today’s modesty lacks clear guidelines it needs
Mar10

Today’s modesty lacks clear guidelines it needs

“Modesty.” The seven-letter word is scattered in the university handbook, and posted next to a full-length mirror in Mayborn gym is the phrase, “Modest is hottest.” Modesty is relative. Don’t believe it? Ask anyone’s grandmother what she was allowed to wear in school. Back then, girls were only allowed to wear skirts and blouses. No pants and definitely no shorts. Girls had to learn a special grace to walk like penguins on their mile walk to school because their skirts were so long. Today, modesty has become a thin line that so many try to walk without technically crossing, and the line is ever elusive. It cannot be objectively nailed down. Should a girl’s shorts be finger tip length or two inches above the knee? What about those with long fingers? Are they just sentenced to wear longer shorts for life because they have longer phalanges? No two people agree. Females are left with more questions than answers, and comical late-night discussions between girlfriends try to answer a few of them. Nobody can seem to decide what the qualifications are for the “hoochie factor.” That’s not to say that some young women don’t obviously need instruction to keep their appearances family friendly. I’ve seen more than my share of wardrobe malfunctions. In my summer English course, one of the requirements was to give a presentation in front of the class. Unfortunately, the girl in front of me gave “presentations” nearly every day, and not the class-appropriate kind, either. At Wal-Mart I saw a girl wearing yellow shorts that were obviously too small. I know she probably got more than one look that day, and perhaps that was her goal. But what about those who don’t want to see that? Why should they have to suffer? It may seem laughable that in the “olden days” grandma had to wear a skirt that fell bellow her knees and always wore a hat to church on Sunday. But the shift toward more casual dress has brought complications of its own. Companies have to provide detailed rules for their work dress code. Baptist churches are adding to their constitutions and bylaws guidelines for what is suitable.  However, universities, such as our own, have avoided being particular. Instead, the 2009 Student Handbook says, “Standards of dress are not minimized nor eliminated by the absence of regulations, but the university administration assumes the students shall continue to accept individual responsibility for appropriate dress as a member of a Christian academic community.” Our “individual responsibility” is relative to each person. I don’t mind. While some may be fine sitting in class with what I deem a...

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Learn to juggle life
Mar10

Learn to juggle life

College life is a lot harder than people make it out to be. Students are dropped off in a random dormitory where their freedom is stolen by curfews, room checks, and all sorts of fines. Some work two jobs while taking 18 hours of class, which means around midterms and finals, anxiety and stress levels skyrocket. On top of that, many want to work out at the gym, play intramural games, spend time with friends, go to Focus on Wednesdays, go out dancing on Thursdays, serve at Reaching Out on Saturdays, go to church on Sundays, and participate in an endless number of other activities. Then there are roommate problems and disagreements. Professors don’t understand the problems of sharing a room with someone who refuses to shut the light off before 3 a.m. and blasts her rap music at whatever hour she chooses. Professors also have the habit of assigning projects and essays for the same week. Then there are the stresses of finding a job in a crappy economy, or piling on thousands of dollars in extra debt for loans to go to graduate school. Of course, there’s finding a spouse. Those who haven’t found their special someones better move quick, because after age 23 it all goes downhill. College students have so much to handle and too many decisions to make. That’s why in the chaos of juggling work, school and relationships with friends and family, it’s easy to become self-centered. It’s popular to blame financial institutions, corrupt media and broken families for screwing up America, but individuals are also at fault. Americans have glued their lives together by indulging in affluent lifestyles. Our society has lied to itself for so long that it is corrupted by selfish patterns and desires. Yes, circumstances are demanding and situations can be tough, but as students at a private institution in a Christian atmosphere with housing of any sort and edible food on the table, we are blessed. Feeling small and victimized is easy with deadlines and varying conflicts, but it is important to remember when money is short, people are demanding, and life is tough, we’re all in this together. Complaining and sulking only adds to the...

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