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Million-dollar question: ‘What should we do with the Dome?’

April 18, 2012

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Issue 106, Volume 77

STUDENT GOVERNMENT

Senator to introduce biker legislation Bill would make parking easier for handicapped motorcyclists

Joshua Mann

THE DAILY COUGAR The Student Government Association senate will have a first reading of a bill that would change the University’s policy on motorcycle handicap parking. The discussion will occur during the third senate meeting at 7:30 p.m. today in the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library Rockwell Pavilion. If bikers park in handicap spaces, they have to hang a UH handicap tag from their motorcycle even if they have state-issued handicap licence plates or risk getting a parking ticket, said College of Social Work Senator Josephine Tittsworth. “You’re dealing with a very small minority of people who are handicapped and ride a motorcycle,” she said. While motorcyclists already have their own special parking areas, they are not always as close to the students’ destinations as handicap spaces, Tittsworth said. Students, faculty and staff can park their vehicle in the handicap spaces with a UH handicap pass, but the pass is not safe when hanging from a motorcycle.

APPOINTEES

Newest appointments Student Government Association President Cedric Bandoh and Speaker for the Senate Stephen Cronin will be appointing several students to positions within SGA today. !!

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Presidential appointment of Mark Solano to Director of External Affairs Presidential appointment of Lauren Rosenbaum to Director of Public Relations Presidential appointment of Sieda Omar to Director of Finance Presidential appointment of Tanzeem Chowdhury to Senator At Large #1 Presidential appointment of Husain Kapadia to Education Senator #1 Speaker appointment of Danny Alexander II to Chair of the Student Life Committee Source: Third Senate meeting agenda

“If you hang a placard on a motorcycle, anyone can come by and steal it,” Tittsworth said. Tittsworth said while she uses a UH handicap pass in her car, she doesn’t use it on her motorcycle and has not yet received a ticket for parking in a handicap space

UH offers special motorcycle parking, but handicap spaces may still be better for some students or staff. Motorcyclists who park in on-campus handicap spaces without a special UH permit risk getting a ticket, even if they have handicap license plates, said College of Social Work Senator Josephine Tittsworth. | Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar without the pass. Also at the meeting, the Senate will go over several presidential and speaker appointments to fill senatorial positions

and positions on the executive branch of the SGA. news@thedailycougar.com

Hungry like the Wolffest

T

eams of students from the Bauer College of Business Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship gave students, faculty and staff an alternative to University Center dining Tuesday with Wolffest. The students competed for the best bottom line and earned capstone credit for the Wolff Center. Wolffest will continue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today and Thursday on the UC North patio. | Nine Nguyen/The Daily Cougar

ORGANIZATIONS

Forensic society focuses on charity John Loner

THE DAILY COUGAR After a four-year hiatus, the Forensic Society returned to UH in 2002 and has since re-established its place on top in competitions — winning 37 national championships since its revival — and in charity work.The focus of the program is to build unity first and win second, zooming in on its voluntary efforts on homeless shelters, Shriners Hospital for Children is hosting debate tournaments at the middle and high school level. “Volunteering has as nothing to do with winning trophies, but has everything to do with being a team,” said Michael Fain, director of the FORENSIC continues on page 3


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NEWS

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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Have information on these or other incidents of crime on campus? Call 713-743-0600

The following is a partial report of campus crime between Thursday and Monday. All information is selected from the files of the UH Department of Public Safety. The information in italics indicates when the event was reported to UHDPS and the event’s location. Information or questions regarding the cases below should be directed to UHDPS at (713) 743-0600. Traffic Offence: 6:27 p.m. Thursday, Lot 16B — A student reported that someone struck her unattended vehicle and failed to leave the information required by law. The incident occurred between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday. The case is active. Disorderly Conduct: 11:16 p.m. Thursday, Quadrangle — Two visitors were involved in a physical altercation. Both were issued Harris County Citations and released. The incident occurred at 11:16 p.m. Thursday. Criminal Mischief: 1:31 a.m. Friday, Cougar Village — An unknown person(s) set off the fire extinguisher on the third floor causing residents to evacuate. The incident occurred at 1:36 a.m. Thursday. The case is active. Warrants: 2:48 a.m. Friday, Law Center — A visitor was arrested for open warrants and released to Pasadena Police Department. The incident occurred between 2:48 and 3:01 a.m. Friday. The case is cleared by arrest. Theft: 4 a.m. Friday, Lot 20A — University police recovered a golf cart that was later determined to be stolen. The cart was released to the owner. The incident occurred between 8 p.m. Thursday and 4:01 a.m. Friday. The case is active. Graffiti: 12:13 p.m. Friday, Bayou Oaks Apartments — Complainant reported that someone spray painted a word on the west side of Townhouse #14. The incident occurred between 5 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. Friday. The case is active. Traffic Offense: 5:47 p.m. Friday, Lot 16B — A student reported that her unattended vehicle was struck and the driver of the striking vehicle failed to leave the information required by law. This incident occurred between 9:13 a.m. and 4 p.m. Friday. The case is active. Burglary of a Motor Vehicle: 11:29 p.m. Friday, public street — A student reported that someone

burglarized his or her secured, unattended vehicle. This incident occurred between 2 and 11:30 p.m. Friday. This case is active. Public Intoxication/Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor: 2:46 a.m. Saturday, Lot 1A — A student was arrested for public intoxication and released to Harris County Jail. Another student was issued a Harris County citation for consumption of alcohol by a minor and released. Both received UH Student Life Referrals. The incident occurred between 2:40 and 2:50 a.m. Saturday. The case is cleared by arrest and citation. Burglary of a Building or Habitation: 11:57 p.m. Saturday, Cullen Oaks Apartments — A student reported the burglary of his residence. The incident occurred between 6 and 11:45 p.m. Saturday. The case is active. Criminal Mischief: 1:29 a.m. Sunday, Cullen Oaks Apartments — An unknown person(s) broke the glass from a fire extinguisher box. The incident occurred at 1:10 a.m. Sunday. The case is inactive. Traffic Offense: 5:57 p.m. Monday, Lot 20C — A student reported that someone struck his unattended vehicle and failed to leave the information required by law. The incident occurred between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday. The case is inactive. Traffic Offense: 11:47 p.m. Monday, Cullen Oaks Parking Garage — A student reported someone struck her unattended vehicle and failed to leave the information required by law. The suspect student was located, arrested, issued a Student Life Referral and released to Harris County Jail. The incident occurred at 10:30 p.m. Monday. The case is cleared by arrest. For the complete report and to view past reports, go to thedailycougar.com/crime

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ABOUT THE COUGAR The Daily Cougar is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters, and Wednesdays during the summer, at the University of Houston Printing Plant and online at http://thedailycougar.com. The University seeks to provide equal educational opportunities without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability or veteran status, or sexual orientation. The Daily Cougar is supported in part by Student Service Fees. the first copy of the Cougar is free; each additional copy is 25 cents. SUBSCRIPTIONS Rates are $70 per year or $40 per semester. Mail subscription requests to: Mail Subscriptions, The Daily Cougar, University of Houston, Houston, TX, 77204-4015. NEWS TIPS Send news tips and story ideas to the News Desk. Call (713) 743-5314, e-mail news@ thedailycougar.com or fax (713) 743-5384. A “Submit news item” form is also available online at thedailycougar.com. COPYRIGHT No part of the newspaper in print or online may be reproduced without the written consent of the director of the Student Publications Department.


NEWS

The Daily Cougar

FORENSIC continued from page 1

society. “We are a different type of program, where one-third of our activities are competition and twothirds are voluntary work.” UHFS hosted a national qualifier for high school debate teams on April 11, and then hosted a middle school tournament Saturday. The hosting of these two events are key factors in what the program does these days.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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Volunteering has as nothing to do with winning trophies, but has everything to do with being a team. ... We are a different type of program, where one-third of our activities are competition and two-thirds are voluntary work.” Michael Fain, on the goal of the Forensic Society Of the 300 members, only 35 are involved in competitions with the most recent accomplishment being first year competitors taking fifth place in the National Novice competition.

UHFS is involved in 60 different events year round, whether in competition or some form of voluntary activity.

Join the conversation. Comment on any article at thedailycougar.com

news@thedailycougar.com

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Hungry students try tasty truck treats

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tudents lined up to buy lunch from two Korean-Mexican fusion food trucks in front of the University Center Tuesday. The trucks, Oh My Gogi! and Coreanos, will return to serve lunch today until 4 p.m., respectively, and Oh My Gogi! will be back again Thursday. | Nine Nguyen/The Daily Cougar

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UH Earth Day Carnival to feature free games, food The University of Houston will host an Earth Day Carnival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at Butler Plaza. There will be several departments and vendors out to engage students about the University’s sustainability efforts including the Corral the Grease program, Green Houston Program and the National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. Honest Tea representatives will also be at the carnival passing out samples to students as they walk by. Students will be able to enjoy food and games during the festivities hosted by Green UH. Several UH departments, including Parking and Transportation Services, Dining Services, the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center, HRM Green Team and the Division of Administration and Finance, will participate and offer activities in which may students engage. A weather balloon will be launched from students from the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. “Our goal is to make this year’s Earth Day Carnival fun and exciting as well as educational for all of the students,” said Billy Garner,

Marketing Coordinator for Auxiliary Services. “We encourage and invite all students to come out to Butler Plaza to have some cake and help us celebrate all of our accomplishments in sustainability this past year. It would be a good break in between classes to enjoy some games and refreshments.” For more information about Green UH, go to www.uh.edu/ green. — April Gutierrez

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Sorority to host National Day of Silence freeze mob Gamma Rho Lambda will meet with University students at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in front of the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library to hold a flash freeze mob in recognition of National Day of Silence. National Day of Silence was created to bring attention to school bullying of LGBT students, said the UH calendar entry on the event. The freeze will take place at 11:45 a.m., and participants will hold signs promoting “DOS and equality,” the entry said. “Our silence will represent the voices that are no longer heard because of bullying and

harassment.” Gamma Rho Lambda will also host a table from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the University Center selling jewelry and buttons for the event. — Cougar News Services

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Symposium to host lectures, discussions on immigration The University of Houston will host a symposium titled “Immigration and the Immigrant Experience: Houston and Beyond” from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday in Agnes Arnold Hall and Farish Hall. The first section will last until 12:30 p.m. at the UH Writing Center in rooms 212 to 216 of Agnes Arnold Hall and will feature panel presentations. Presentation topics include establishing community, communication, medical issues, women and children, music and literature and a presentation titled “Diverse Approaches to Immigration: Narrative, Politics and Theory,” according to a news release. After an hour long lunch, the symposium will host speakers from 1:30 to 5 p.m. including keynote speaker Charles C. Foster, who is a founding partner at FosterQuan LLP, the second largest immigration law firm in the US. — Cougar News Services

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THE STUDENT PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE IS CURRENTLY ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR THE POSITION OF

EDITOR IN CHIEF of The Daily Cougar for Summer/Fall 2012

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 5 p.m. April 20

ELECTION:

4 p.m. Thursday, April 26 To request an application or for more information, visit Room 7, UC Satellite, call 713-743-5350. The SPC meets monthly during the academic year to hear updates from the department’s units, to give a forum for public comment and to elect the editors in chief of The Daily Cougar. For more information, visit www.uh.edu/sp/committee

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Daily Cougar

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EDITOR David Haydon E-MAIL opinion@thedailycougar.com ONLINE thedailycougar.com/opinion

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EDITORIAL BOARD EDITOR IN CHIEF MANAGING EDITOR NEWS EDITORS SPORTS EDITOR LIFE

& ARTS EDITOR

OPINION EDITOR CHIEF COPY EDITOR

Daniel Renfrow Mary Baak Taylor McGilvray, Joshua Mann Joshua Siegel Jose Aguilar David Haydon Amanda Hilow

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Cake not a good symbol for genital mutilation

F

ew would attest the claim that cakes are generally pretty inoffensive. There have been few notably offensive cakes — or references to cakes — in the history of the culinary concoction. Marie Antoinette made perhaps the most famous offensive reference to the pastry when she allegedly uttered the phrase “Let them eat cake.” However, Marie’s cake fiasco may soon be overshadowed by another, greater fiasco — one that would make her turn her head in horror if it were still attached to her head. Moderna Museet Museum of Modern Art in Skockholm, Sweden held an instillation Sunday to highlight female genital mutilation. An artist for the instillation produced what many are calling the most racist cake ever. The cake was in the shape of a naked black woman’s torso. Makode Aj Linde, the creator of the cake, hid under the table holding the cake. He wore blackface and held his head above the table, right where the cake ended. Every time someone cut into the black frosting and red, velvety insides, he made exaggerated groans and screams as if he were a victim of genital mutilation. Linde uploaded a video of the instillation on to Facebook and of course, uproar occurred. The African-Sweedish-Association called it a racist spectacle. The art was provocative by design, it was bizarre on purpose and no doubt it raised awareness of female genital mutilation. But still, attention whoring is attention whoring. There’s nothing worse than an artist who smears the medium of art in order to appear edgy and popular. “In our view, this simply adds to the mockery of racism in Sweden,” said Kitimbwa Sabuni, a spokesman for Sweden’s African-Swedish Association. He’s right. While the cake may have been meant to draw attention to the issues of racism and genital mutilation, it made a mockery of those issues instead.

E D I TO R I A L P O L I C I E S STAFF EDITORIAL The Staff Editorial reflects the opinions of The Daily Cougar Editorial Board (the members of which are listed above the editorial). All other opinions, commentaries and cartoons reflect only the opinion of the author. Opinions expressed in The Daily Cougar do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Houston or the students as a whole. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Daily 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 Room 7, University Center Satellite; e-mail them to letters@thedailycougar.com; send them via campus mail to STP 4015; or fax to (713) 743-5384. Letters are subject to editing. ADVERTISEMENTS Advertisements in The Daily Cougar do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the University or the students as a whole. GUEST COMMENTARY Submissions are accepted from any member of the UH community and must be signed with the author’s name, phone number or e-mail address and affiliation with the University, including classification and major. Commentary should be kept to less than 500 words. Guest commentaries should not be written as replies to material already printed in the Cougar, but rather should present independent points of view. Rebuttals should be sent as letters. Deliver submissions to Room 7, University Center Satellite; e-mail them to letters@thedailycougar.com; or fax them to (713) 743-5384. All submissions are subject to editing.

Don’t forget CCTV Twitter and Facebook hype distracts from old school spy-tech

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he heat is off for traditional privacyinvading devices — like surveillance cameras — thanks to all the attention on data mining in social media. But there is no doubt — surveillance cameras are not obsolete. Privacy International estimates that there are more than 25 million closed-circuit television cameras in operation right now. They’re in the gas station at Scott and Elgin. They’re in the cab you David took to get to downtown Haydon yesterday. They’re on the street corners, albeit deactivated. They’re on campus as well. The University of Houston Department of Public Safety monitors approximately 500 security cameras. These cameras cover parking lots, inside and outside buildings, corners, high traffic areas and any other nooks and crannies. Frighteningly, they’re only adding more. Why add more? The UHDPS website has an explanation: “The safety of our campus community is the driving force of UHDPS. Reducing the opportunity for individuals to commit crimes on campus is crucial to providing a safe learning and working environment. This is the primary reason we are implementing a plan to install additional video security cameras in selected areas.” UHDPS wants to monitor criminals. That’s fine, although monitoring everyone to monitor criminals treads murky water. UH cameras record 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. UHDPS says the cameras are intended to monitor crime, but they’re also monitoring you as you walk to class, when you pick your nose and when you adjust your bra strap. UH cameras are looking when you sit and smoke a cigarette, but since the cameras are grainy, it might be a

joint for all they know. Are these cameras invading student privacy? UHDPS says the system is not in restrooms, locker rooms, living quarters or the examining areas at the UH Health Center. Since being in public is by definition not private, they’re in the clear. Security cameras aren’t a problem by themselves. They’re cheap, low-quality and can’t tell who is who through the grainy image that feeds into the 24-hour monitoring room. The problem is in the law and the technology. Houston voters banded together to ban the controversial red-light cameras in a referendum last year. The legal battle took months, and millions of dollars were on the line for both the city and for the company that set up the traffic-violationtrapping lenses. However, these were legally contracted public cameras. The law on hidden cameras varies from stateto-state. Of course criminals and voyeurs don’t care much for following the law, so why would they have scruples about installing a hidden camera inside a dressing room or over an ATM? The increase in digital technology is just as concerning as the law. Face recognition software is too pricey for UH, but in areas like the UK, closed-circuit television cameras have already gone through the trial version with good success. German airports use the software with ease and the US Department of State has approximately 75 million photos in its face recognition database for processing visas. The issue of privacy is not trivial. Proponents of cameras say they’re no big deal, and that people who have nothing to hide need not worry. The argument is if you buy a laptop with a camera or own a device with a lens on it, you have no right to worry about surveillance.

Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who jumped to his death two years ago, would probably disagree. Clementi felt the need to commit suicide after his roommate used iChat messaging software and a pair of webcams to spy on Clementi’s romantic life and then tweet about it. The Lower Merion School District in Philadelphia issued laptops to students in 2010, which contained pre-installed webcams (in addition to remote-activation software). The school acknowledged that webcams were remotely activated 42 times over 14 months, “to find missing, lost or stolen laptops” since many students took the laptops to and from school. Without student knowledge, the schools remotely accessed the laptops to secretly photograph students, read their chat logs and record which websites the students went to. The school agreed to pay $610,000 in the resulting class-action lawsuit. The students hopefully learned a lesson about leaving laptops on 24 hours a day. Still, keeping a webcam off isn’t difficult. What about a hidden camera? With $45 and a debit card you can get a pinhole-sized spy cam that will easily fit just behind a ventilation shaft, inside a smoke detector or a fake sprinkler. This is not even mentioning the different software programs that allows remote control of desktop, laptop, smart phone and tablet cameras. Keep in mind, this isn’t even government-level tech. Spy cams are so readily available even a poor James Bond could afford one. There’s a good chance a camera is staring you in the face right now. Say cheese. David Haydon is a political science senior and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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EDITOR Joshua Siegel E-MAIL sports@thedailycougar.com ONLINE thedailycougar.com/sports

The Cougars began playing football at the Astrodome in 1965. The Dome was also where UH defeated UCLA in the “Game of the Century” that pitted Lew Alcindor against Cougars’ legend Elvin Hayes. | | File Photo/The Daily Cougar

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Not worth saving the Dome Joshua Siegel If the Astrodome were to vanish tomorrow, like poof it’s gone like magic, would you notice? Would your daily life change in any significant or insignificant way? No, most likely not. It would be nice if the fate of the Astrodome was a simple, “Should we keep it or blow it up?” kind of situation, but it’s not. The once one-of-a-kind arena is now a financial burden and will be whether it stays or goes, just how much of a burden is the question. “It’s time to make a decision on the Astrodome and move forward,” County Judge Ed Emmett said to the Houston Chronicle.. “Once Commissioners Court

makes a decision, just given the cost, we’re going to have to go to the voters and say, you agree or you don’t agree with this? The alternative could well be, ‘If you don’t like this best solution then it’s coming down.’” As early as November, residents of Harris County will be able to vote on the future of the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” The county still owes $29.9 million for the original construction of the building. Paying that cost is unavoidable, but what residents can decide is how much more of their tax money will go towards the Dome’s salvation or doom. To implode the Astrodome will cost a pretty penny, but to keep it around or even revive it in some other form would be even more expensive. According to the Houston Chronicle, a 2010 report suggested that it would cost

$78 million to demolish the Astrodome. But similar structures like the Kingdome in Seattle and the RCA Dome in Indianapolis were demolished for $10 and $13 million, respectively, so that figure might be exaggerated. Getting rid of it would be the easy answer — stop the bleeding. But it’s not so easy to just obliterate a structure that has played an important role in the cultural history of the city and UH athletics. The Cougars began playing football at the Astrodome in the 1965 season, and the Dome was also the home of the “Game of the Century” where No.2 UH took out No. 1 UCLA and John Wooden in the first primetime nationally televised college basketball game. A KUHF report estimates that renovating the Dome to be back in usable condition would cost “upwards of $300 to

$500 million.” The Dome has been an important symbol for our city and a landmark unlike anything else when it opened. But, is it worth hundreds of millions of dollars to revive just so more money can be sunk into it to keep it up and running? Then there is the question of what to do with it if it was saved - the Astros aren’t moving back in. Things come and go; people come and go; stadiums come and go. If the Yankees can knock down Yankee Stadium, then I think it’s ok to cut our financial losses and say goodbye to the Dome. It’s legacy is secure. It was a revolutionary structure and a part of the city’s history and culture, but to keep it sitting like a longdormant volcano is not worth the cost. sports@thedailycougar.com

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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EDITOR Jose Aguilar E-MAIL arts@thedailycougar.com ONLINE thedailycougar.com/arts

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First annual Foreign student explores America, UH poetry event takes place Coog travels from across the world to come study in Houston, seeks better opportunities

Channler Hill

THE DAILY COUGAR

Student organizations collaborate to bring new activity to campus, invite lyricists to speak Kim Grady

THE DAILY COUGAR The Student Program Board and the Council of Ethics Organization hosted the first annual Poetry Slam featuring poets Bobby LaFebre and Carlos Robson on March 13 at the World Affairs Lounge in the University Center. Cultural Programming Director Erica Pat helped put together the Poetry Slam and expressed her enthusiasm for the event. “Having the two performers talk about their walks in life and raising multi-cultural awareness and diversity is just really awesome,” Pat said. The two poets were able to sit down and get up close and personal about their history as poets while beverages and free food were served. “I studied the elements of hip-hop in college which established me with the abilities to rhyme,” Robson said. “I filled in for a poetry event and it all started there.” The two poets spoke about humanity, race and religion. Some of the poems were parodies from actual situations. LeFebre also expressed his feelings about culture diversity. “Maintaining a culture and being informed about culture is key, there are a lot of trends and statistics,” LeFebre said. While LeFebre speaking about culture, Robson spoke about war and life-learning lessons. He mentioned the subjects of living and existing. The poets concluded their presentations by ending the night with questions and comments from audience members. arts@thedailycougar.com

Saudi Arabia, a country of 27 million people whose primary language is Arabic, was home to 18-year-old Yousif Shams, a recent level-five language student who came to the United States in 2011 in hopes of obtaining the American dream. Shams was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and was the third child of four who had longed to move to the US to obtain a future filled with success. After his older brother moved to the US, Shams possessed more than enough motivation to embark on his own journey to America. “I came to the US so that once I graduate I will have a better chance to have a good job back home after finishing my bachelor’s and master’s (degrees),” Shams said. He aspires to be a surgeon. “I expect on graduating in 10 years from the University with both degrees.” Overall, Shams enjoyed the transition process from Saudi Arabia to the US. This is especially after being greeted by a group of Arabic students on the day of his orientation that helped him feel welcome. “The process was okay,” Shams said. “It’s going — there are always things that can be made better and faster, but for the most part it’s okay.” Drawing is one of Shams’ hobbies, but he was unaware of various art organizations such as the Blaffer Student Association that would match his outside interests. “I would like to get involved in an art organization on campus,” Shams said. “I wish I had been informed about it earlier. All the clubs and organizations should be present on orientation days to better inform students of the groups that match their interests.” Foreign students like Shams may have a more difficult adjustment to adapting to UH. A transfer or foreign exchange student group may help suffice this

Foreign exchange student Yousif Shams experienced a culture shock when he first landed in America. He looks forward to returning home for work after graduating. | Courtesy of Yousif Shams issue. “If there was a transfer organization I would join it,” Shams said. “I would like to see something like that on campus in the future.” Still, Shams enjoys the freedom and endless opportunities that are offered not only as a student, but as a citizen too. “The culture is different,” Shams said. “It’s more of a freedom culture; you can do whatever you want. In Saudi Arabia, the culture is stricter.” Shams initially thought his transition was going to be difficult as he knew he would face language issues by picking up English as a second language in the US. After 10 months of language courses, Shams came to refute his original

transition process. “It wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be (learning fluent English),” Shams said. “It’s not hard, but it does take practice.” Outside of school and drawing, Shams is enjoying the stateside and likes being close to his older brother who lives in San Antonio. “It’s fun here,” said Shams. “Especially hanging out with friends downtown and meeting other foreign people who come from different cultures, I miss my bed at home, but nothing else. I want to show that nothing hurts. I had a good transition.” arts@thedailycougar.com

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Student editors gather for final reading of graduate journal Camila Cossio

THE DAILY COUGAR Members of Houston’s writing community — young adults, UH creative writing students and professors — all gathered together Friday in the Brazos Bookstore for the final installment of the “Gulf Coast Reading Series.” The event was lively and sad all at once as readers Zach Bean, Ian Stansel and Rebecca Wadlinger said their goodbyes to Gulf Coast, a distinguished journal of literature and fine arts founded in 1986 within the English department at UH. Gulf Coast intern Randall Tyrone reflected on what literary journal has provided him throughout his semesters at UH. “My experience at Gulf Coast has been nothing short of amazing,” Tyrone said. “I’ve not only learned countless skills from Ian and Becca, but they showed me how the skills I already knew could be utilized in a literature centered work environment.” Bean, Glass Mountain graduate advisor and creative writing and literature doctoral student who graduates this May, opened the reading with his fiction. Tyrone said that he enjoyed the unexpected subject matter of Bean’s piece as well as the balance between the

dark and light tone. “The waitress and the hitchhiker that they come across shape how the narrator views humanity,” Tyrone said. “He basically loses hope, but as he spends more time with the hitchhiker and his mom, he begins to gain the ability to properly address his feelings about his mother’s imminent death.” “The story was dark but had its humorous moments between the waitress, hitchhiker and mom.” Brazos Bookstore was the perfect setting for the reading because of its history and local flavor, which created an authentic literary ambiance compared to more commercial bookstores. Wadlinger, Gulf Coast managing and doctoral student read a variety of poems including “Scenes with Gertrude” and “A Highly Pleasurable Feeling.” Her pieces were clever and hilarious with simple, but poignant language as seen in one of the sections from “Scenes with Gertrude” where the narrator muses on being in love with Gertrude Stein. Wadlinger created a whimsical atmosphere with her sparse but beautiful language. Tyrone reflected on the guidance Wadlinger has provided him during his Gulf Coast internship. “Becca read some of my writings and made some great suggestions on how to improve. Needless to say

that was exceptionally helpful in my growth as a writer and I can’t thank her enough for that.” After Wadlinger read, the event closed with Stansel’s piece about a mom, a small town and a moth-man. Stansel is the Gulf Coast editor-in-chief and a fifth-year doctoral candidate who recently passed his dissertation. Stansel’s story was longer than the rest and a perfect ending to the night because of his subject matter — the supernatural, science, relationships and moth-man. He had entertaining lines in between the seriousness, similar to Bean’s style, with quick but thoughtful images, “Why the voice of God when we have Nina Simone and Jeff Buckley?” He ended his piece with uncertainty, never actually establishing if the moth-man was real, but instead left the audience to linger on the impressions that his words gave them. “It’s always a treat to listen to mentors and friends present their art to the public, but that reading kind of marked the end of the Ian and Becca Gulf Coast era,” Tyrone said. “Although that is a little depressing, it does signify that they are moving on to continue their success.” arts@thedailycougar.com


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