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thebattalion l wednesday,

january 30, 2013

l serving

texas a&m since 1893

l first paper free – additional copies $1 l © 2013 student media

Faithful unbelievers Irreligious students identify outside religious culture Jessica Smarr

The Battalion Scuffed Sunday school shoes lie in the back of a closet, five years too old and three sizes too small. An alarm clock sits idly on a shelf, silently keeping track of the minutes that no one is awake to count. It’s been quite some time since it woke anyone on a Sunday morning. In a study done by the Pew Research Center in 2010, 25 percent of the “millennials gen-

eration” (adults age 18 to 29) describe themselves as religiously unaffiliated, identifying as “atheists,” “agnostics” or “nothing in particular.” This is a significant increase from the numbers reported about Generation X members and Baby Boomers Millennials make up the majority of students filling up classrooms in universities and colleges across the country, creating a unique atmosphere not See Millenial on page 2

Photo Illustration Chase Krumholz — THE BATTALION

a&m vs. ut

What do you think of the recently filed A&M-UT bill?

Presidents, students react to rivalry-game bill filing Mark Doré

The Battalion With the familiar in-state Thanksgiving grudge match between Texas A&M and the University of Texas on an indefinite hiatus following an A&M move to the Southeastern Conference, it took just a season’s absence for one A&M graduate — with unique tools at his disposal — to attempt to do something about it. On the heels of the Monday filing of House Bill 778 by State Rep. Ryan Guillen, Class of 2000, University officials and students voiced their opinions. The bill would require the two state-funded universities to “annually play a nonconference, regular-season football game against one another.” In a prepared statement, University President R. Bowen Loftin said he hopes state intervention wouldn’t be necessary. “We remain hopeful that the game may continue one day through the normal scheduling process,” Loftin said. “Having said that, we, of course, will follow any specific direction from the Legislature.” UT President Bill Powers largely echoed Loftin’s sentiment in a statement to The Alcade, the official publication of UT alumni.

inside voices | 4 The evil lies in the person

“UT enjoyed our conference rivalry with Texas A&M and we were disappointed A&M decided to leave the Big 12,” Powers said. “We’ll leave it to lawmakers to weigh in on this legislation.” Some students said — despite their opionion about the game — that the state legislature should have more pressing matters than football at hand. “It seems kind of silly that they’re regulating football,” said Travis Bates, sophomore general studies major. “Don’t they have better stuff to do?” Bates said a renewal of the classic rivalry might not happen without such actions as legislative intervention. “It probably won’t happen unless the state gets involved because I think UT is a little scared,” Bates said. In the 1940s, with the Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama in remission, the state of Alabama threatened to withhold funding from the two rival schools unless a game was played. Similar precedents can be found in states such as Florida and North Carolina. Should either A&M or UT refuse to participate, the bill calls for penalties that would See A&M-UT on page 3

Would the revival of the A&M and UT game be a good thing?

When do you think the Aggies and Longhorns will play again?

For the latest updates on everything Aggie sports, follow us on Twitter @battsports.

u.s. congress

Surge of Congresswomen shifts political makeup Laila Jiwani

Senior philosophy major Russell Shrauner argues, regarding gun crimes, that the evil lies in the person, not in the firearm he or she may carry.

campus news

Islam Awareness Month The Muslim Student Association will begin “Islam Awareness Month” with an informative introductory lecture by Shaykh Gyasi McKinzie on the Holy Qur’an Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Koldus 111.

BAT_01-30-13_A1.indd 1

Elyse Wudeck — THE BATTALION

Top Left to Right and Down: U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono, Kirsten Gillibrand, Debbie Stabenow, Dianne Feinstein, Mary Landrieu, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, Deb Fischer, Kay Hagan, Amy Klobuchar, Mary Kathryn Heitkamp, Lisa Murkowski, Maria Cantwell, Tammy Baldwin, Kelly Ayotte, Susan Collins, Barbara Mikulski, Elizabeth Warren, Claire McCaskill, Jeanne Shaheen.

Special to The Battalion Women, a historically underrepresented minority in the world of politics, experienced an increase in representation in our nation’s capitol this last election season. With a record-breaking 20 women in the U.S. Senate and 101 females in the U.S. House of Representatives elected to the two chambers of the 113th U.S. Congress, citizens and politically inclined students are discussing how policies could see a stronger female influence. The divide of partisan power in Congress remained relatively similar after November elections: a Republican majority in the House and a Democrat majority in the Senate. However, bipartisanship may be gaining momentum around certain political initiatives, a trend which some believe will be assisted by the new female representatives. Shelbi Sturgess, A&M’s 2012-2013 Student Government Association Executive Council chief of staff and senior political science major, said the increase of women in Congress will help policymakers reach “across the aisles” and become more diplomatic in discussion.

“Women will be more likely to bridge the gap as far as bipartisanship goes,” she said. On the other hand, political science graduate student Grant Ferguson said he believes trends of partisanship will remain the same. “Regardless of whether they are men or women, the best guide to how legislators are going to vote will be their party ideology,” he said. Overall, Ferguson said, the fact that a significant number of the elected women are Democrats will help bolster the strength of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. “They’ll probably help shape legislation,” he said. “Maybe some of these new women will rise to positions of leadership in both the House and Senate — but until we see one of them assigned to a very senior leadership position, it will be difficult to tell.” Holly Scott, vice president of Student Services and junior political science major, said she thinks the increase of women in public office will bring a different perspective to law making. “While I’ve never been one to believe that politics is gender-specific, there are certain areas that women are able to bring a different view than See U.S. Congress on page 2

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Standing before a state government he has led for the past 12 years, Gov. Rick Perry delivered his biannual State of the State speech Tuesday to the Texas State Legislature. Emphasizing education, infrastructure and the state budget, Perry outlined his goals for the four months remaining in the Legislature’s current session. In higher education, Perry discussed the importance of preparing students to successfully enter the workforce. “Currently less than 30 percent of full-time students at our four-year institutions graduate in four years and only 58 percent have their degree in six,” Perry said in his State of the State speech. “That’s why we should tie at least a portion of state funding — I’m suggesting a minimum of 10 percent — based on the number of graduates.” Perry proposed several other higher education initiatives, including a four year tuition freeze for incoming freshmen to give students and their families the certainty that their tuition costs will not raise over their four years of study and a State Constitutional amendment to allow south Texas access to the Permanent University Fund. John Rangel, staff reporter

U.S. Congress Continued from page 1

men, simply because they have a different experience with many of those issues,” Scott said. However, Scott also said the voting in sessions will generally have more to do with party rather than gender. “It has to do with the fact that they’re Democrats,” Scott said. “You’re just as likely to see Conservative policies being pushed from Republican women.” In the Senate, where tensions and political ties can run deeper than in the House, female legislators have been bound together by their gender and a tradition of monthly dinners ar-

ranged by Sen. Barbara Mikulski. Male senators are not invited and the discussions are considered private. “If John Boehner can golf with Barack Obama, I see nothing wrong with the women of Congress getting together to have dinner,” Scott said. “It’s part of Washington politics. It’s possible these dinners will pave some roads for more bipartisan legislation, or at least easier negotiations.” Sturgess said although she’s not feminist, she does like the idea of a stronger presence and representation of women in national politics. “Senate has, for so long, been a ‘boys club,’” she said. “I am very pleased with the idea of these women coming together.”

Millennial

call their own. “It’s a lot harder to ignore any of the hypocrisy or anything that doesn’t quite match up, Continued from page 1 because you see everybody’s take on it if you experienced by the students that filled those same want to look for it,” Breedlove said. “And I classrooms 20, 40 or 80 years prior. The famil- think millennials are looking a lot more than iar labels, terms and backgrounds have evolved other people.” Ali Mendha, senior anthropology major and to create a generation that identifies itself in an “secular humanist,” said many of these culturunprecedented way. Though many millennials grew up with some al changes can be attributed to the new ways sort of religious background or at least a nomi- millennials are viewing themselves, defining nally religious environment, they often do not themselves and then applying labels, rather than feel compelled to maintain this label if they do conforming to the labels that have been given not believe. Students such as junior history major to them. “The generation we’re all from, it’s not about Luis Fayad grew up Catholic but never really following morals as they have been,” Mendha believed in the presented God. “To be honest, God and Jesus were kind of said. “It’s being who you are as a person. Personlike Santa Claus — something you were told hood has become a much bigger part of today’s exists and that he loves you,” Fayad said. “Be generation’s culture.” Mendha said the process of defining himself as good or he’ll punish you, etcetera, etcetera. I never really questioned it; I just went through a secular humanist is important to his own identity, just like students who identify as Christian the motions.” Fayad identifies as an “agnostic atheist,” or Muslim. “My lack of religion is which is defined as one my passion, in a sense,” who does not believe in the existence of a deity My is Mendha said. “It is still my belief system.” and that this existence is The religiously unafmy , in a sense. unknowable as truth. He filiated make up a large attended a Catholic high It is still minority of the country’s school and said his study college-aged population, of the Bible was what and some of these students — Ali Mendha, senior eventually solidified his at Texas A&M say they disbelief. anthropology major find themselves part of “Upon reading it, an out group plagued by I just couldn’t believe stereotypes and misinformation. The Princeton any of it,” he said. “It just seemed way too farfetched. It doesn’t add up with how we know Review ranks Texas A&M the 13th most relithe universe works. It doesn’t add up with stuff gious campus in the country. “People don’t really have a concept of it, bewe know historically.” cause if you grow up in a town where everybody Justin Carpenter, senior political science major and agnostic atheist, said he studied various is strictly Christian, believing that everybody is religions as an adolescent before finally finding [either] strictly Christian or just wrong and possibly evil, you’re not aware of it,” Breedlove said. his beliefs lie outside of religion. “It seemed like going with no answer at all “And people have interesting preconceptions.” Not only do non-religious students report ofwas better than trying to pretend you had an ten finding themselves outside the Aggie comanswer,” Carpenter said. This studious exploration of religious beliefs is munity, but they also said that their views are what Carpenter said he believes is contributing frequently seen as inherently wrong or immoral. to the rise in those that do not identify with any Mendha described being an atheist on the A&M particular religion at all, especially through re- campus as being someone that others perceived sources such as the Internet that were not avail- as needing “repair.” able to older generations. Carpenter said to be an atheist on the Texas “Most of these kids are starting to get access A&M campus is to be define as “other.” to the Internet at an earlier age,” Carpenter said. “I suppose if I were still a Christian, I would “The Internet is an astoundingly liberalizing kind of feel at home here,” Carpenter said. “But force when it comes to information.” really if you identify as anything but Christian at Colin Breedlove, senior mechanical engi- A&M, you tend to place yourself in a pretty small neering major, who identifies himself as “athe- out-group. You begin to walk around with this ist,” said this access to information allows young sense that everybody thinks one way, and you’re adults to explore every facet of the religion they the only one that feels different.”

lack of religion passion my belief system.

whoweare The Battalion staff represents every college on the campus, including undergraduates and graduate students. The leadership of The Battalion welcomes students to participate in the First Amendment in action as you utilize your student newspaper. We are students. Senior English major Trevor Stevens, editor-in-chief The Battalion is published daily, Monday through Friday during the fall and spring semesters and Tuesday and Thursday during the summer session (except University holidays and exam periods) at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843. Offices are in Suite L400 of the Memorial Student Center. News: The Battalion news department is managed by students at Texas A&M University in Student Media, a unit of the Division of Student Affairs. Newsroom phone: 979-845-3315; email: editor@thebatt.com; website: http://www.thebatt.com. Advertising: Publication of advertising does not imply sponsorship or endorsement by The Battalion. For campus, local, and national display advertising, call 979845-2687. For classified advertising, call 979-845-0569. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Email: battads@thebatt.com. Subscriptions: A part of the Student Services Fee entitles each Texas A&M student to pick up a single copy of The Battalion. First copy free, additional copies $1. Call 979-845-2696 for mail subscriptions.

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sports

page 3 wednesday 1.30.2013

thebattalion

A&M-UT Continued from page 1

withdraw state-funded athletic scholarships and grants for athletes. Phillip Kinglesmith, sophomore mechanical engineering major, said a threat to funding might be effective. Because of the financial relationship between the state and public universities, some students said the government is within its bounds in deliberating the matter. “They are allowed to make decisions that affect the economic interest of the state and that game alone produces thousands — if not millions — of dollars for the universities,” said junior kinesiology major Dakota Thompson. Regardless of the means to the end, students have firm opinions about whether such a game should be played at all. Those in favor of the rivalry

draw on the history and lore of the game as something that should be retained, while others believe A&M has moved on. Quentin Holtz, junior visualization major, said the program’s past doesn’t have the hold on the University it may have had previously. “I feel like A&M is at a time when serious change is going on,” Holtz said. “I don’t think that ties with A&M’s past are completely necessary in this new branding of the school.” To sophomore civil engineering major Conor Joyce, however, the rivalry’s sheer scope is the deciding factor. “It’s one of the biggest rivalries in college football history,” Joyce said. “The only thing bigger is Michigan and Ohio State. You want every class to go through that experience.” Thompson said the game is “bigger than the Super Bowl to Texas

native residents.” Morgan Goodwine, senior education major, said the spectacle of the rivalry matters. “The buildup and anticipation is just fun,” Goodwine said. “Even when we lose, it’s still fun to play them.”

A&M softball Two named to All SEC preseason team Senior Meagan May, a catcher, looks to build on a 14 home run, 37 RBI 2012 season. Senior Mel Dumezich ranked No. 10 nationally in home runs (20) and No. 12 in strikeouts thrown (307). Entering its first season in the SEC, A&M softball ranked No. 17 in an ESPN. com poll released Sunday.

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Prior to 2011, A&M and UT had played one another in football every season since 1914.

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‘ voices thebattalion 1.30.2013 page4

MAIL CALL

Letters to the editor: From Russell Shrauner, senior philosophy major

It seems that the primary voice of articles regarding gun control is emotion rather than reason. Undoubtedly, the heinous crimes of the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary are reprehensible and unfathomable, to say the least. This writer, like so many of you, was moved to see the faces of the victims. Unfortunately, emotionally charged situations such as this one tend to cloud reason with passion. Instead of sweeping reform fueled by tears and emotionally charged rhetoric, let us instead analyze the truth about guns. Gun crimes are the result of the reckless, irresponsible and indefensible actions of individuals. The crimes do not speak, in my CH049788B TMP PRODUCTION 1 2012 opinion, to the nature of guns themselves. ALTRIA001 KGOEBEL 4.9375” x 10.5” (4c process) Activists claim that guns are dangerous by their1.30 nature. This is nonsense. Never in the Texas A&M University jb history of armament has any piece of weaponry had a manifested ill will. No gun has ever loaded itself and certainly no gun has ever murdered of its own volition. Guns are not moral agents in themselves and behave in an exact and predictable nature: a round is discharged when the trigger is pulled. Activists will progress their argument and claim that if the criminal didn’t have Each company in the Altria family is an equal opportunity employer that supports diversity in its workforce. access to the weapon in the first place, the crime would never have come to pass.

This is false causality. The opportunity for irresponsibility and criminal action are omnipresent. As Americans, we entrust one another with liberty, understanding the responsibilities that come with our rights. Activists claim that we should limit the caliber, magazine or rate of fire of weapons that citizens can own. Guns of any caliber and rate of fire are equally dangerous if handled without responsibility. Would we ban larger vehicles knowing that drunks could drive and wreck them, causing untold suffering? Would we ban sex knowing an HIV positive individual could knowingly and willingly spread the virus through unprotected sex? The common thread between guns, alcohol and sex is personal responsibility. To diminish the rights and liberties of the many because of the actions of the few is an egregious error. What can be learned from the parallels of alcohol and sex is the value of awareness. Instead of vilifying guns and gun owners, the focus should be to advance awareness of the responsibilities of gun ownership.

EDITOR’SNOTE The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and forum participants in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of Texas A&M University, The Battalion or its staff.

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but not printed. The Battalion will print only one letter per author per month. No mail call will appear in The Battalion’s print or online editions before it is verified. Direct all correspondence to: Editor-in-chief of The Battalion (979) 845-3315 mailcall@thebatt.com

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