Issue 10, Volume 89

Page 1

@thedailycougar Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Issue 10, Volume 89

Est. 1934


After a series of cuts to humanities programs across the University, students are making their voices heard. | PGs. 6-7

February 14, 2024 Front Page 8 Pages Color: Full Color



A look at the parties competing in this year’s SGA election. | PG. 3

What makes Jamal Shead the most valuable guard in college basketball. | PG. 4


Wednesday, February 14, 2024


ROBERT DE LA GARZA News Editor @thedailycougar


Report card: 60th SGA administration doesn’t make the grade JORDAN NAVARIJO


Editor’s note: While the reporting contained in this article is objective, each grade represents the opinion of The Cougar’s SGA section. The beginning of election season for the 61st administration of the Student Government Association marks the closing of the 60th, led by President Benjamin Rizk. The 60th administration was vocal about a variety of issues — namely increasing student involvement with SGA, remedying the reputation of the organization and advocating for issues impacting students. However, there were many challenges to attaining these goals, specifically low counts for senators and a low amount of direct legislation passed under his administration.

Student involvement: D+ Increased student involvement was a major priority of the Rizk administration. Many of his executive orders and early initiatives aimed to promote more interaction with the administration’s constituents. “I think we’ve been the best administration in years, specifically in terms of involvement,” Rizk said in a previous article published in The Cougar. “I’m very happy with student involvement in University committees, policy decisions and SGA initiatives.” However, attendance issues in the Senate and delayed town halls quickly became recurring problems that hampered SGA’s ability to attract and retain students. Workload, lack of incentives and student’s unfamiliarity with SGA duties also contributed to the now half-empty Senate. Despite regularly appointing members to the Senate at the beginning of the year, the rate of incoming students eventually dwindled toward the middle and end of Rizk’s term. “I think that part of it is the free rider problem,” former Senator Spiro Hoxha said. “Sometimes people in SGA think that they could slide by and not do any work, and when it gets too much, they’ll just coast. They don’t recognize how much work SGA is.” For other members of the administration, the low reputation of SGA among students was a major contributor

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

to the lack of interest. “The reputation of the UH SGA for the past four to five years has been one that is filled with drama, as well as little action,” said Senator Anahi Ortega. “Some students leave the commitments they had to student organizations because of the time it takes up with little to no return.” Similarly, many of the initiatives meant to increase interest dissolved early in the administration. Events like Walk in the Dark, an annual event that aimed to highlight issues regarding insufficient lighting on campus, saw little turnout. SGA ambassadors, a program initiated by former Director of Outreach Jordan Underwood, were meant to connect the administration and students. However, shortly after their inauguration, few ambassadors attended Senate meetings and little has been heard of the program since. While officially sanctioned SGA events with students were infrequent and small-scale, the Rizk administration and those within his party were prominent in activism with other advocacy organizations. The Gala for Gaza and cooperation with other on-campus protests, for example, were events organized by or with members of SGA.

Legislative changes: CSo far, the Rizk administration has passed around 13 pieces of legislation, nearly double that of the previous presidency but below average compared to the previous five administrations. For comparison, the 55th administration passed 43 bills, and the 56th passed 24. Despite their many campaign promises, Rizk’s party, Students

Unite, was unable to substantially impact student life via direct legislation and policy. Most of the more significant action to come of the 60th administration revolved around the creation of resolutions that advocated for student needs. Of the election code reforms proposed under Rizk, most aimed to reverse the previous administration’s sprawling changes. Among other changes, the 60th administration reverted the voting system to rankedchoice — from first-past-the-post — and significantly decreased campaign spending limits for parties and independent presidential campaigns from $10,000 to $1,200. Though the 60th administration may not have produced much actual legislation outside of bureaucratic reforms, the Senate did manage to author several impactful resolutions. Resolutions, while not affecting procedural change to the university, are able to draw attention from students and other organizations and affirm the administration’s opinions. After the passing of SB 17 — a state law prohibiting diversity, equity and inclusion programs in public universities — Rizk’s administration passed a resolution condemning the removal of DEI programs and expressing solidarity with students who made use of their resources. An initial celebrated victory of the administration was its resolution to create a task force to install Wudu stations in specific areas around campus. Wudu stations around campus would provide designated areas for Muslim students to perform a ritual cleansing before prayer.

However, SGA quickly ran into roadblocks in the form of state legislation and University

on campus. While the Senate was rife with vacancies, membership on significant committees such as the Student Fee Advisory Committee and the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee were occupied and aligned some of their policies with Rizk’s, though the result of their efforts is uncertain. Another way the Rizk administration impacted campus life was to use SGA as a platform to advocate for social issues not directly related to the University. President Rizk and senators in his administration frequently organized and participated in protests and demonstrations on campus advocating for Palestinians in Gaza. The Senate also introduced a bill to create a select committee that would further this advocacy.

While his promises as president speak to a willingness to address campus issues, his follow through these promises may require more than what the SGA is currently capable of. | Regan Grant/ The Cougar

policy. Among other stipulations, UH required the project be funded by non-state entities — a complication which was compounded by delayed response from UH Facilities Planning and Construction. Ultimately, the completion of campus Wudu stations will depend on the incoming SGA administration. Another celebrated victory during the beginning of Rizk’s term was the resolution to affirm the administration’s increase of the minimum wage for students and staff.

Campus impact: C The SGA president is limited in their options to directly impact the campus, but there are other ways for them to use the influence of SGA to influence life

The administration also hosted a small mayoral candidate forum that encouraged students to register to vote in the city elections.

Closing thoughts While Rizk’s presidency was vocal about many issues regarding the University and SGA, his attempts to address them pale in comparison to his proposals and promises. However, this failure to meet promises and expectations is not due to a lack of effort, but the limitations on power that prevent SGA from executing their proposed items on their agenda in a swift and effective manner.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024 ELECTIONS


For All Cougars vs. Students Unite: Meet the parties running for SGA REGAN GRANT


As the Student Government Association election season kicks off two parties have already cast their bid to represent the student body at the head of the 61st administration. The Cougar spoke with Students Unite and For All Cougars top candidates to learn a bit about their stances ahead of the coming race. Voting will begin Feb. 26 and continue until Feb. 29. Students may cast their votes via Get Involved. In addition, a debate is scheduled for Feb. 19, during which candidates will showcase their platforms and respond to questions.

For All Cougars For All Cougars — led by presidential candidate and biochemistry sophomore Diego

students as we can get to be involved, so we can take the voice of each college and amplify them correctly.” Parking emerged as a central concern for the party, with a firm stance against the exorbitant fees students currently face for parking on campus. “Why are students paying hundreds of dollars to simply park on the University campus? Especially now with the Sugar Land shuttle issues they’ve had,” Arriaga said. “I’m a commuter myself, so I definitely want to find a way to reduce the prices and make students’ lives easier.” Following recent incidents of crime at UH, safety has become another major priority for the party. “No one should feel unsafe on this campus,” Arriaga said, citing the importance of collaboration with law enforcement and Facilities and Construction Management to

“I want to build the tradition that UH has because I know we’re capable of becoming a top university.” Diego Arriaga, For All Cougars Presidential candidate

Arriaga and vice presidential candidate and former Homecoming King Austin Craig, a sports administration junior — are pledging to address issues such as parking, campus safety and bolstering campus traditions. With a shared commitment to student advocacy and campus improvement, For All Cougars are rallying behind a platform focused on amplifying voices and fostering positive change. “Whether our party gets fully elected or not, we want to make sure that our main goal is keeping SGA a student advocacy group,” Craig said. “We need as many

ensure a secure environment for all students. In addition to these immediate concerns, For All Cougars underscored the significance of elevating the University’s status by aiming to secure a place among the top 50 institutions nationally. Arriaga emphasized leveraging resources from associations like the Big 12 to foster community and tradition, thereby attracting more students and enhancing academic offerings. “A lot of students come here and want to either transfer to another school or just go to class and immediately leave campus

Mohammed Tabbara (left) is running for vice president of Students Unite alongside presidential candidate Cody Szell (right) | Regan Grant/The Cougar

and that’s not what I want,” Arriaga said. “I want to build the tradition that UH has because I know we’re capable of becoming a top university.” Reflecting on past elections characterized by division between competing factions, Arriaga expressed a commitment to promoting unity among students. “This shouldn’t be aggressive. This shouldn’t be one side against the other,” Arriaga said. “I’ve seen previous administrations try to undo what other administrations have done, and that’s not what I want. We want to keep moving forward, not backwards.”

Students Unite Students Unite, led by political science sophomore Cody Szell alongside his running mate political science sophomore Mohammad Tabbara, are pledging to focus on student academic success, campus affordability and campus community.

Diego Arriaga (right) and Austin Craig (left) are representing For All Cougars as president and vice president | Regan Grant/The Cougar

The party represents the incumbents, and made up the vast majority of the Senate over the past year. While SGA President Benjamin Rizk will not be running for another term, it remains unclear whether or not he will still be involved with the administration should they win the election. The two are veterans of SGA, with Tabbara serving on the executive board as Director of Multicultural Affairs and Szell representing the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences in the Senate. Szell highlighted the importance of tackling academic grievances faced by students, citing concerns such as delays in academic advising and the availability of essential

oversee the Student Fees Advisory Committee and SGA, so student workers need a platform to advocate for themselves.” As the current administration has faced large amounts of vacancies, Students Unite intends to provide incentives for senators to volunteer and maintain active positions. “We want members of SGA to be out there helping people because there is only so much you can do in an email,” Tabbara said. “It’s important to have events and actually talk to the students so they can know what SGA is doing for them.” The candidate emphasized the importance of fostering a culture

“We don’t want a select group of people who know exactly how the school works. We want the Senators to be starry-eyed,” Mohammad Tabbara, Students Unite Vice Presidential candidate

supplies like Scantrons. “There are so many avenues for improvement here,” Szell said. Despite acknowledging the limitations of their role in addressing systemic issues, the two remain hopeful that by addressing these concerns they can lay the foundation for positive change. Students Unite aims to establish a committee dedicated to advocating for student workers. Szell stressed the insufficient representation of genuine issues faced by student workers, highlighting the necessity for a committee to represent their voices effectively. “As a student getting paid $10 an hour, you can’t pay your tuition, meal plan and housing with that wage,” Tabbara said. “This issue connects to administrators who

where senators are encouraged to be strong advocates and are empowered to tackle issues creatively. “We don’t want just a select group of people who know exactly how the school works. We want the senators to be starry-eyed,” Tabbara said. That being said, the candidates outlined their commitment to pragmatic problem-solving by avoiding idealism in favor of achievable solutions grounded in student realities. “We don’t want to be idealistic coming into this with ideas that we cant solve,” Tabbara said. “We want to be idealistic in the sense that we know what the issues are and how to solve them.”


Wednesday, February 14, 2024


STARNS LELAND Sports Editor @thedailycougar


What makes Jamal Shead college basketball’s most valuable player Points guards, of course, are tasked with distributing and taking care of the ball, and in that department, Shead once again holds his own with recent Bob Cousy winners.

had some great leaders here. Jamal is the best leader we’ve had.” In practices and games, Shead can often be seen talking to teammates, communicating

Where Shead may lack statistically among the best point guards over the years is raw offensive stats. His current season average of 12.7 points per game would rank last among the list above and is 561st among D-I players this season, and his offensive rating of 115.8 would tie for ninth among Bob Cousy Award winners. But with all those numbers, perhaps the most important parts of Shead’s value for the Cougars may lie in the unquantifiable. Since becoming a full-time starter midway through the 2021-22 season, Shead has grown into his role as the Cougars’ floor general. Now, as a senior, he’s Houston’s unquestioned “culture leader,” as Kelvin Sampson put it. “These guys follow Jamal. He just has such great control of the game with the ball in his hands, or when the ball’s not in his hands,” Sampson said. “We’ve

what needs to be done, who needs to go where and injecting confidence into players when needed all the while setting the tone for the Cougars’ hardnosed, high-effort style of play. “They look to me, so I try to hold our culture up,” Shead said. “It’s never anything specific. It’s just about little things and going hard all the time.” Kellen Sampson and the Cougars’ coaching staff first spotted Shead’s leadership when he was just 14 years old at Connally High School in Austin. Before he transferred to Manor High School where he earned Third Team All-State honors, the small yet athletic point guard doubted whether or not he would play Division-I basketball. But what caught Sampson’s eye was his ability as a distributor and a penchant for being vocal where many other high school point guards would go silent. “We ask our point guard to do too much for him to be a mute,” Kellen said. “And you got to want to see yourself as a table setter, and somebody that genuinely enjoys playing for others with others. It’s a lot but when it’s obvious as Jamal, it wasn’t hard.” When he came to Houston in 2020, Kelvin began holding private film sessions with the young guard to help create good habits and mold Shead into the player-coach that Kelvin requires his point guards to be. After four years of those

Cougars point guard Jamal Shead is making a strong case for being the nation’s top guard. | Anh Le/The Cougar



Three-quarters of the way into the regular season, senior point guard Jamal Shead is making a strong case for the most valuable player in all of college basketball. The No. 3 Houston Cougars find themselves at 22-3 and atop the Big 12 standings with eight conference wins, and Shead has been the driving force in all of it. Throughout the gauntlet that is Big 12 basketball, Shead has put UH on his shoulders on the way to victory time and time again. After suffering their first two losses of the season in back-to-back road games, he played the best game of his career, scoring a career-high 29 points and adding 10 assists in the Cougars’ bounce-back win over No. 25 Texas Tech. Then, in his hometown of Austin on the road against the Longhorns, Shead dragged UH back from a six-point second-half deficit to an eventual overtime victory, dropping 25 points and playing an astounding 42 minutes. Following another loss, this time to No. 8 Kansas, he went off for 17 first-half points

en route to a blowout win over Oklahoma State. In his less statistically gaudy games, Shead is routinely making crucial plays — like his back-to-back blocks and subsequent four points to tie it up with Iowa State in the second half (a game they would eventually lose) — running the offense and guarding the other team’s best scorer. Game-in and game-out, Shead is the steadying force that keeps the Cougars on the right track. “He’s got an unbelievable feel for kind of what needs to happen in every moment,” said assistant coach Kellen Sampson. “He’s kind of the equilibrium. As long as he’s out there, we’re going to stay balanced.” According to the advanced stats, Shead’s worth to his team is arguably the largest in the entire country, especially among guards. According to the college basketball stats website, the 21-year-old guard is fourth in the website’s “Indispensability” ranking, and second among Power-5 players. Shead’s total BPR of 9.87 — a metric that quantifies “a player’s overall value to his team when he is on the floor” — is second in the country behind only Purdue big man Zach Edey.

Defensively, Shead’s numbers are firmly tops in college hoops. His defensive BPR of 4.6 is comfortably first in the country with only one other guard logging a number above 4.0. In defensive efficiency — a stat that measures how many points per 100 possessions a team allows when a player is in the game — Shead’s mark of 74.7 is second only to his teammate Ja’Vier Francis, and his total efficiency margin is again the best in the nation, and 7.9 points better than the next best guard. Shead was named by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a candidate for the 2024 Bob Cousy Award the best point guard in Division I. Whether or not he wins the award is unknown, but looking at Bob Cousy Award winners of the last decade, Shead’s resume certainly qualifies.


Continues on next page

Wednesday, February 14, 2024



Houston baseball looks to take swing in Big 12 CAMRYN ALBERIGO


Houston baseball’s 2023 campaign came to a halt with a loss against Tulane in the American Athletic Conference Semifinals, leaving head coach Todd Whitting with an expired contract. Now the Cougars look to step into their inaugural Big 12 season, four seasons absent from the NCAA tournament, with Whitting remaining in the driver’s seat for his 14th season in Houston. “This is personal for me because I have been around the University for so long,” Whitting, a former student-athlete said. “There’s a lot at stake in the Big 12.” Whitting attested to the preparedness of his team, who will face top-ranked teams in the likes of TCU, Texas and Texas Tech. All of them tout better records than Houston’s record of 36-23 in 2023 as well as an increase from 23 conference games to 30.

“Week in and week out, every team in this league is good and tournament-worthy,” Whitting said. “Up until the last couple of years the AAC was really good, so we have played on the highest stage, but our preparations for conference play just have to be quicker.” UH will report to the diamond to compete in a series against Binghamton Feb. 16-18 before Big 12 baseball makes its way to Schroeder Park on March 8-10 when the Cougars take on Baylor for the first time since 2017. Whitting points to the team’s balance and veteran leadership as the ball club’s strengths. With top players like senior catcher Anthony Tulimero and sophomore pitcher Paul Schmitz returning to health and new acquisitions, there is much confidence leading up to the season. Tulimero battled through a grueling injury on his catching hand during the 2023 season. Despite being padded up, Tulimero recorded a .991 fielding

Last season, UH finished as a 2-seed in the AAC with a regular season record of 36-23 before being knocked out in the conference tournament by 7-seed Tulane. | Oscar Herrera/The Cougar


Continued from previous page weekly-ish meetings, Shead has gained an extreme understanding of what his head coach wants and what the team needs to win.

serves as the guiding light for freshmen and veteran transfers who aren’t used to the intensity that playing at UH demands,

“He’s a real general and real leader on the court and he just brings us all together.” Emanuel Sharp, UH sophomore guard

“I gotta be his eyes and ears out here. And I’m really grateful for that relationship,” Shead said. “And just being able to talk to your coach like that. Not a lot of people can do that.” With that knowledge, Shead

often answering any questions they may have. For players like redshirt sophomore guard Emanuel Sharp — a player who has blossomed into a key starter for Houston — Shead has been critical to their improvement as

A re-tooled and healthy Cougars squad is set for its first Big 12 season, as key pieces such as Anthony Tulimero and Paul Schmitz returnm from injury.| Oscar Herrera/The Cougar

percentage with 10 homers on the season. “Tuli is one of the greatest catchers I have ever had behind the plate, and I don’t think I would have had the year I had last year without him,” Schmitz said. “I’m very excited about what we can craft up behind the plate this year.” Last season, Schmitz tallied 36 strikeouts in seven starts for a UH pitching staff that recorded a 6.27 ERA in 2023, a regression from the previous season. But with new pitching coach Sean Kenny and a pitching staff that Whitting describes as the deepest during his tenure as head coach, Houston looks to take a curve upward on the mound. Amongst new talents is junior pitcher Jaxon Jelkin, a transfer from South Mountain

much as anyone else. “Throughout practice, I’m always asking him questions. It’s like he’s another coach,” Sharp said. “Since I got it here, he’s really helped with my development as much as any of the coaches.” There may not be another player in the country who impacts winning the way Shead does and as the final weeks of the regular season approach, his value will become even greater as the Cougars look to make their mark in their first Big 12 season. “He really brings all of us together,” Sharp said. “He’s a real general and real leader on the court and he just brings it all together.”

Community College who was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2023 draft. Last season, Jelkin posted a 7-2 record in 14 starts. On the back end, senior utility player Justin Murray and graduate pitcher Jose Torrealba look to close out games. Torrealba, who sustained a bicep injury in 2023, cleared waivers to extend his collegiate eligibility. “Almost every successful team has a back end of the bullpen. I am excited to have Jose back and play a big role for us,” Murray said. “It’s only a good thing for the team as a whole.” Murray, who was named 2023 AAC newcomer position player of the year, led the team in batting average at .379 and recorded 10 saves on the season. He tallied the second most stolen bases for the

Cougars in 2023 with 20, only behind sophomore infielder Brandon Burckel. Murray will be joined in the lineup by senior infielder Jake Rainess, a transfer from Maine, who was recently named the No. 13 shortstop in Division I. Last season, Rainess recorded 38 stolen bases alongside a .321 batting average and 16 homers. The Cougars are filled with excitement to brave the uncharted territories as they match up against some of the best in the country. “There’s a little unknown before every season and that’s what makes baseball great,” Tulimero said. “You never really know how good you are until you get out there and get the dirt on your spikes.”

Jamal Shead has carried UH to crucial wins over teams such as Texas and Texas Tech this season. | Anh Le/The Cougar


Wednesday, February 14, 2024


MALACHI KEY Opinion Editor @thedailycougar


Staff Editorial: UH journalism program in desperate need of repair


The following represents the unified opinion of the Vol. 89 Editorial Board. We do not take pleasure in this. This is not something we do out of hatred, but out of a genuine concern for the future of our school and, more broadly, our profession. The unfortunate reality is that the Jack J. Valenti School of Communications is on life support. While a decaying journalism program is nothing new, the recent cuts to the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences have accelerated an ongoing downward trajectory that culminated in the dismissal of as many as 60% of the school’s adjunct professors at the end of last year, according to emails secured by The Cougar. Alongside these cuts came stop-gap measures to provide students the illusion of normalcy. In the emails, administrators within the college were directed to cut costs by “encouraging professors to teach courses they have not taught recently,” “limiting electives,” increasing class sizes and shifting from in-person to online. “Teaching reassignments must prioritize replacing part-time adjuncts or lecturers and delivering high-demand state Core or degree requirements,” said Todd Romero, associate dean of undergraduate studies for CLASS. “This may mean the faculty member will be teaching a course they have not taught previously or not in some time.” These changes were, of course, tucked safely away from the students who enrolled in courses for the Fall ‘23 semester. Some eyebrows may have been raised when students noticed their course cap rose from 50 to 200, but no one cared enough to kick up a fuss. Those few who did were met with empty apologies from the administration and burnt-out professors.

After all, three years of Covid classes make anything seem normal. But things are far from normal at Valenti. The emails claim CLASS is experiencing a deficit of as much as $3 million — a figure the University officially denies — and that the cuts were necessary as a result. In particular, adjunct professors found themselves on the chopping block as their compensation is paid out of a separate fund than full-time professors. This hurt some schools more than others. Of the most heavily impacted were those programs, like journalism, in which much of the staff are part-time faculty who actively work in the fields they teach. These professors — who, according to the emails, were responsible for teaching as much as 50-60% of all UH journalism courses — provided valuable, local insight into an evolving field. Now, all mostly gone. With them left their ground-level experience, but more importantly, their connections departed as well. As with many fields, networking is key to success as a journalist. What these professors provided inside the classroom was magnified tenfold by what they provided outside of it. Among the fallen include reporters and columnists from the Houston Chronicle, the Kinder Institute and a host of other institutions actively serving the Houston area. These were people who had genuine equity in the school and community — active professionals with a natural desire to see their students succeed. The impact these cuts have had on quality of education and professional development are obvious, but what is less so is the impact it has had on representation within the field. In one email exchange, an adjunct who’s course was cut for the ‘23 fall semester pointed to the lack of Black female representation at the school, and that her dismissal would only worsen the issue.

While leadership at Valenti shared her concerns, they were quick to point out that the department did have “more than two” Black women on staff. The emails also revealed that pay equity has become a concern within CLASS. One professor pointed to the apparent salary gulf between CLASS adjuncts and those at other colleges. According to their data, instructors within CLASS are paid 40% less per course than faculty at other institutions. Now, some of you may think what we do is stupid. You may think it’s outdated, unnecessary or, dare we say, cringe. But the reality is that journalism is still broadly the first draft of history. Historians and culturists often rely heavily, sometimes exclusively, on newspapers and reporting contemporary to significant events in order to get a better understanding of them. And right now, in a lot of cases, the people writing and recording the stories of Houstonians are not from Houston. It’s not the fault of the publications and news stations that cover our area — they, like any other business, choose the best candidates they are given. But, as a result of the low priority the University places on the program, they aren’t coming from UH. That might not seem important, but with a city as diverse and as large as Houston, nuance and experience are key elements in painting the picture of our vibrant culture. It’s easy for someone’s story to slip between the cracks in any city, let alone one that sprawls an area larger than the entire state of Massachusetts. That isn’t to say there aren’t great students or professors in the program right now — many of them are exactly that. We want to make clear that our grievance is not with Valenti or its staff, but with the University for failing to see the value in a profession so core to our democracy it’s explicitly mentioned in the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

But the University’s treatment of its communications department doesn’t end at mere callous indifference. In many ways, it’s outright deceptive. The UH journalism program is advertised as offering a host of courses ranging from investigative reporting to opinion writing and photography. To the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshman, our school looks as though it offers a robust introduction to the field. It won’t take more than a few semesters for them to realize the truth, however. Of those classes already mentioned, none of them are currently offered at our school. Entire fields of journalism are completely unrepresented at UH. Sports reporting for print? Nope. Photojournalism? Nah. Investigative journalism? No, guess you should’ve gone to UT. And look, for many of us, we knew UH was not a journalism school when we came here. But the fact that the University offered a program with a seemingly rigorous curriculum led many to attend UH as opposed to looking elsewhere. In many ways, though perhaps not overtly, the University is tricking students into enrolling in a program it has no business offering. That, then, brings us to the unfortunate conclusion we have arrived at. If the journalism program, in its current state, is the very best UH can offer, then it should not offer one at all. At least then aspiring journalists would be forced to take their fledgling talent somewhere that will value it. Call us pessimists, but the current state of CLASS as a whole does not inspire confidence that our program will do a 180 any time soon. The current leadership’s obsession with research funding and rankings mean that we, the sweet and sensitive liberal arts students, who produce little in the way of quantifiable data, will be left behind.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024



CLASS students demand change, call for signatures STUDENTS OF CLASS Editor’s note: The following is an open letter submitted on behalf of students of CLASS. The petition can be accessed by scanning the QR code. We, the students of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston, often hear the question, “what are you going to do with that degree.” It has become clear to us that our administration is asking us the same question. The intent of this letter is to highlight our grievances and implore the University to rectify them through appropriate policies. Belated and unfulfilled promises being insufficient to overcome the problems we face; we present the following concrete and actionable demands to the administration: We are prepared to protest the disregard of these demands for the betterment of our department.

Renovate Agnes Hall Agnes Arnold Hall is a prime example of the administration’s neglect of the CLASS. The building has gained an infamous reputation for its dilapidation and tragic history. Calls for reform, disregarded for years, are finally being heeded, with the University promising a $38 million renovation for AAH. Today, however, AAH remains encased in fencing with no signs of renovations. Together with the building’s dereliction, it has become obvious that UH is undercutting its responsibilities to CLASS in AAH. We demand that the renovations promised proceed quickly and include expedited remedies to the building’s numerous maladies.

Retain CLASS Faculty While the total faculty on

campus has grown, between 2022 and 2023, CLASS lost 47 faculty — more than all other departments combined.. Not only does this exodus highlight how faculty feel estranged from the administration, but the lack of effort used to stymie this decline betrays an indifference towards the health of our department. Faculty retention is a critical factor in the declining standard of our education, and as it is our University’s obligation to provide students with the quality education we pay for, we demand that the UH administration return CLASS faculty size to 2022 levels, commensurate with enrollment in the department.

Decrease Class Sizes Recently, our administration increased the sizes of upper-level courses in the CLASS from 10 to 20 students to 28 to 35 students. As a result, these courses, which used to feel intimate, have become cumbersome survey courses. Worse still, these changes do not correspond to an increase in enrollment, but rather a decline in faculty. These courses are intended to engage students with top scholars in their fields of study. Now, many professors are relegated to teaching courses outside of their expertise. To remedy this, we demand that upper-level course sizes be returned to the previous size of 10 to 20 students.

Stadium seating. These sums have contributed to athletics’ $26 million budget deficit that surely strips funding from departments like CLASS. Alongside multimillion-dollar projects in retail and hospitality, it has become clear that UH has decided to build its reputation around wasteful novelty programs. To reverse this trend, we demand an end to the budget expansion of programs like athletics and hospitality, and the redistribution of those funds to the CLASS in proportion to its importance to the campus.

Increase Funding to Student Services Student Services, being some of the most important amenities provided by the University of Houston for its students, cannot be overlooked by administrators. While their $27 million budget appears robust, it is undermined by the allotment of $8 million for

athletics, of which only 610 UH students are a part of. Moreover, these services have faced significant budget cuts, while the size of the program’s unallocated reserves have more than doubled. We cannot allow these services to go to waste. We demand the increase and reallocation of funds to aid UH students fully and equally.

Why Humanities? The humanities stand as a cornerstone of education and academia, and as we find ourselves in an increasingly turbulent world, the study of the world and ourselves has found new significance. By signing this letter, we not only call upon the administration of the University of Houston to meet our demands, but also call upon the next generation of UH students to continue to express their beliefs.

Redistribute Funding from Unprofitable Programs

i The Cougar


John Lomax


Cindy Rivas Alfaro WEB EDITOR

Emma Christensen NEWS EDITOR

Robert De La Garza SPORTS EDITOR

Starns Leland


Anh Le


Jose GonzalezCampelo


Atirikta Kumar Camryn Alberigo Grace Rednoske Logan Linder Regan Grant Riley Moquin


Malachi Key


John Lomax Cindy Rivas Alfaro COVER

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Cougar welcomes letters to the editor from any member of the UH community. Letters should be no more than 250 words and signed, including the author’s full name, phone number or e-mail address and affiliation with the University, including classification and major. Anonymous letters will not be published. Deliver letters to N221, University Center; e-mail them to; send them via campus mail to STP 4015; or fax to (713) 743-5384. Letters are subject to editing.

ABOUT THE COUGAR The Cougar is published biweekly on Wednesdays during the fall and spring semesters, on Wednesdays during the summer and online daily at The Cougar is supported in part by Student Service Fees. Copies of The Cougar are free.

Since our University’s primary purpose is our education, it is unacceptable that a massive portion of UH’s funds have gone to unprofitable programs like athletics and hospitality. As of fiscal year 2024, UH has spent $71.5 million on a new football operations facility and $5.5 million on an addition to TDECU

COPYRIGHT No part of the newspaper in print or online may be reproduced without the consent of the director of Student Publications.

ABOUT CSM Freaking out over things you cannot control will only waste your time. Aim to get to the root of any dilemma that comes your way and fixing the things you can. AQUARIUS -- Listen to common sense and focus on cutbacks that make life more manageable. Take the initiative, and you’ll come up with workable solutions. Use your voice and experience to prosper. PISCES -- Collaborate with likeminded individuals who feed your creative mind, and you’ll discover a lucrative way to use your skills. Team up with someone who brings out your best. ARIES -- Backtrack to understand a situation better. Put anger

aside when dealing with people who can influence your future. Listen to others and offer reasonable and factual responses. TAURUS -- Learn from your mistakes, and you’ll gain support. Consider the costs involved before you begin something. Don’t trust others to relay valid information. Go directly to the source for facts. GEMINI -- You can wheel and deal, but you must recognize what’s at stake. When in doubt, take a pass, regroup and start again. Don’t take an unnecessary risk or go into debt for a frivolous reason. CANCER -- Develop a plan that works for you. Don’t feel obligated to follow the crowd or make deci-

sions to please someone else. Do what works for you, and you’ll find a comfortable path forward. LEO -- Simple, affordable plans will bring excellent results that please the people who rely on your judgment. Financial discipline and hard work will set an inspiring example. VIRGO -- Get out, stretch your legs, take a deep breath and start something meaningful. Don’t feel you must overspend to impress someone. It’s your choice to adjust what you don’t like. LIBRA -- Take the initiative to bring about change. Discipline will pay off and allow you to spend more time on personal growth,

self-improvement and upgrading your skills. SCORPIO -- Rely on those you trust to point you in the best direction. Talks will lead to positive change and incredible opportunities. Use your imagination and determination to make changes. SAGITTARIUS -- Study the logistics of any situation you face. Don’t let anyone interfere or push you toward something that benefits them more than you. Finish what you start and do what’s best for you. CAPRICORN -- Don’t allow anyone to take advantage of you. Implement a domestic change to lower your overhead. Use common sense and say no to temptation.

The Center for Student Media provides comprehensive advisory and financial support to the university’s student-run media: The Cougar newspaper, CoogTV and COOG Radio.


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Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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