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Monday, April 1, 2013 // Issue 97, Volume 78












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Amanda Knox’s retrial unfair LIFE+ARTS

Fire at Cougar Village The freshman residence hall on campus experienced a small fire at about 6:25 a.m. Sunday in the north kitchen of the seventh floor. Sprinklers were activated and the fire was put out immediately, but several rooms and lounges on the north side of the fifth, sixth and seventh floors suffered from water damage. Residents of the sixth and seventh floors were displaced while Houston Fire Department and UH Facilities extracted most of the water from sprinklers. The cause of the fire is unknown, but officials are investigating. No injuries were reported.

MFA students show off

— Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar


Man with a plan stands in again Youngest UH student body president is sworn into office for second time — a rare occurence Katherine Morris Staff writer

At the Student Government Association’s inauguration banquet for the 50th administration on Friday, SGA President Cedric Bandoh was sworn into office for a second time — something that has happened only a handful of times at UH. Bandoh is also the youngest student body president to be elected at UH. More notable is not his fact sheet, but his undeniable dedication for the university he serves. “I live, breathe and eat the University of Houston,” Bandoh said. “I have a unique passion for the University, and it is a honor to serve my fellow students and be the chief advocate for the students.” Bandoh has the unique opportunity to continue his administration, continuing his work on some of his efforts.

“I want to provide some continuity for SGA and see the full implementation of some of our major ongoing initiatives. This administration saw some major changes within SGA, and another year would allow me to work with my colleagues to put us on a smooth course for the future,” Bandoh said. In the ending 49th administration, Bandoh held his presidency with Former Vice President Turner Harris working alongside him. The duo took office in an unusual way. The president-elect and vice president-elect were disqualified after a court hearing determined they were involved in election fraud. Rather than conducting a new election, the Election Commission allowed the party with the second-most amount of votes: the Bandoh-Harris ticket. For the two students, there was no better time to come in and make a difference in UH’s chapter of SGA. “Adversity often times yields better outcomes, and the election scandal forced the organization to clean house to better serve our fellow students,” Bandoh said. “And as a result, we have a better system of governance today.”

Cougars find defensive lead GET SOME DAILY

ONLINE XTRA The full version of Page Four’s letter to the editor On Friday, the Student Government Association swore in President Cedric Bandoh for his second term in office. “There are so many things I am excited about getting done,” Bandoh said. | Natalie Harms/The Daily Cougar

“It was chaotic for us at the beginning. However, it truly re-energized us for the journey ahead. This caused no hesitation for me to run for re-election. If anything, it motivated me to continue to challenge the status quo and direct our efforts at developing innovative solutions for our challenges and opportunities.” Bandoh and Harris have spent the last year working to improve the campus. The two have had a successful

run together, seeing resolutions on concealed handguns and immigration reform pass, among many other things. Bandoh made it his personal goal to see that changes were made. “It has been such a joy to watch Cedric grow and lead the Student Government Association,” said UH President Renu Khator. “Cedric is a strong and impactful leader because SGA continues on page 5

Coogs take original works to the stage Guest speaker discusses Hong Kong walkways



Day until school is out.

April Fools... We had you didn’t we?

The Daily Cougar

2 \\ Monday, April 1, 2013




Today Quiet Meditation: From 8 to 10 a.m. at the A.D. Bruce Religion Center, students seeking time to pray, reflect or meditate are welcome to attend.

On Twitter @thedailycougar

Careers in...


Intramural Sports: Starting at noon at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center’s Field, intramural sports will host its four-on-four flag football league. It will also have its co-rec basketball league and 6-footunder basketball league at the same time on Courts 1 and 2 in the Rec Center. Admission to these events is free. Shell Seminar: From 4:15 to 5:10 p.m. in Room 110 in Building 4 at the UH Energy Research Park, Duane McVay, the Rob L. Adams ’40 Professor in the department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University and Distinguished Member of SPE, will present a Shell petroleum engineering seminar series entitled The Value of Assessing Uncertainty in Petroleum Exploration and Production.

Tuesday Culture Talk: From 12:15 to 1 p.m. in Room 106 at Charles F. McElhinney Hall, there will be a discussion led by student Khalid Alsomali about music and religion. Students are encouraged to bring their lunch. For more information and a topic schedule, please email Bridget Fernandes at Fine Arts Workshop: From 1 to 2:30 p.m. in Room 110 at the Fine Arts Building, the UH community is invited to join the Blaffer Art Museum and artist Ana Prvacki to make a participatory social artwork. There will be a general overview of Prvacki’s work and an introduction to The Greeting Committee. If you would like to participate, you need to attend the workshop Wednesday as well. Softball: From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Cougar Softball Field, the softball team will compete against Lamar. Admission is free to students with their UH ID. Baseball: From 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Cougar Field, the baseball team will compete against Sam Houston. Admission is free to students with their UH ID.

Wednesday Living Archives: From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Rockwell Pavilion in the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library, there will be “Living Archives: Leaping Into the Future — The History of Contemporary Dance in Houston.” Lunch is included, and admission is free to UH students. Tennis: From to 2 to 5 p.m. at John E. Hoff Courts, the tennis team will compete against Southeastern Louisiana. Admission is free to students with their UH ID.

If you would like to suggest an event run in The Daily Cougar calendar, please submit a time, date, location and brief description to The Cougar calendar runs every Monday and Thursday.

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Issue staff Copy editing David Bryant, Errington Harden

Closing editors Amanda Hilow, Samantha Wong

ABOUT THE COUGAR The Daily Cougar is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters, and Wednesdays during the summer and online at thedailycougar. com. The Daily Cougar is supported in part by Student Service Fees. The first copy is free. Additional copies cost 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 tips and story ideas to the editors. Call (713) 743-5314, e-mail news@ A “Submit news” form is available at COPYRIGHT No part of the newspaper in print or online may be reproduced without the consent of the director of Student Publications. The Daily Cougar is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press.

Monday, April 1, 2013 // 3

The Daily Cougar


Amanda Hilow




Conversing for a cause Students dine with faculty, alumni and beneficiaries looking to donate large sums to an educational institution Mary Dahdouh Staff writer

From whiskey and wine tasting to discussions about politics and apocalypse, The Honors College’s 21st award-winning fundraiser, The Great Conversation, welcomed a variety of conversations between professors, students and donors during its banquet The Great Conversation began in 1993 through the collaboration of founding Dean Ted Estess and alumna Jane Cizik and has served as The Honors College’s most important fundraiser, raising more than $2 million in the past 20 years. “The event has been kept alive and is still very vivid and successful. It is a fundraiser, which is very important, but more than that, it helps raise the profile of the University and The Honors College in the city,� said Cynthia Freeland, a professor at the college and chair of the Department of Philosophy, who has attended the event since it began. “Every year, I look forward to meeting new people and seeing how the conversation goes,� Freeland said. True to its name, The Great Conversation’s purpose is to provide an atmosphere similar to the freshman Honors course, The Human Situation, where students are engaged in a year-long Socratic dialogue with professors and influential literature. Every table at the banquet has a different topic on which the professors, students and donors discuss over a three-course dinner. This year’s discussions brought guests to muse over art, literature, philosophy, science, politics and even wine through topics such as “Frenemies: American Foreign Policy in the Middle East� and “Apocalypse When? Post-Nuclear Dystopias in the Movies.� “I’ve enjoyed Dr. (Lawrence) Currey’s take on the topic this year: ‘The 1960s in America: A Decade of Hope and Horror.’ I’m the only one at my table who didn’t live through the 1960s, so it’s been interesting listening to everyone’s stories,� said political science senior Markley Rogers.

“They’re talking about what they were doing when Kennedy was shot, where they were when man walked on the moon for the first time. It’s just a great opportunity to hear these first-hand accounts and to show the donors my appreciation,� Rogers said. As all proceeds from the banquet go toward scholarships and funding for the University; it is a wonderful opportunity for students to meet and thank their benefactors. “Last year, I received a scholarship called The Great Conversation Scholarship,� said psychology freshman Katelyn Travers. “I joined the committee to help with the event this year because this scholarship was really important to me. As an out-of-state student, I was able to get in-state tuition.� Because of its importance to The Honors College and its students, many alumni and donors help tremendously with the event, and this year’s banquet was of record success. More than 20 years ago, donors exceeded expectations by contributing $25,000 at the first fundraising event. Yet, The Great Conversation raised an outstanding $314,000 for student scholarships this year, said Beth Borck, director of Development in The Honors College. Although the banquet is a delight for professors and students alike, many alumni enjoy the opportunity to reconnect with their alma mater each year. “This is my third year to attend, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every year of it,� said alumnus Chuck Gremillion. “This year, especially, the thrill for me is that the conversationalist is Dr. Lawrence Curry, who taught me American History my only year at the University of Houston 40 years ago, and I made an A in his class both times.� Of course, the heart of The Great Conversation rests in its alumni and benefactors, like Gremillion, who sponsored an entire table. “I’m so impressed with the students,� Gremillion said. “For me, meeting the students really energizes me. I walk away thinking, ‘Man, these kids are so sharp,’ and it makes me wonder if we were this sharp when we were in college.�

Honors College students can attend the The Great Conversation for free if they complete a centerpiece for one of the themed tables, whch tackled topics from history to scientific studies, and more. | Courtesy of Alexander’s Fine Portrait Design

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The Daily Cougar

4 \\ Monday, April 1, 2013



Aaron Manuel




Double jeopardy for Knox


ore than a year after Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted of Meredith Kercher’s brutal murder, they will have to go through the legal process, and subsequently the media circus, all Sarah over again. Backer The Italian Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in favor of a retrial of Knox and Sollecito for the murder of Kercher. The hearing was expected to be a slam dunk in favor of upholding the acquittal; clearly, that was not the case. Junior accounting major Caroline Cowart reacted much like the rest of the U.S. “It is unfair to try her a second time when she has already been acquitted,” Cowart says. “Hasn’t she suffered enough?” The prosecution does not

appear to have new evidence, so there should be no grounds to overturn the verdict. Repeatedly trying someone for the same crime puts excessive financial, mental and emotional pressure on the defendant and his or her family; it is also unlawful in the U.S. In the U.S. Bill of Rights, the Fifth Amendment bans trying someone twice for the same crime, a principle known as “double jeopardy.” The extradition treaty between the U.S. and Italy has a provision that protects against this. In Italy, the prosecution has the right to appeal annulled acquittals, and a retrial does not constitute a “second” trial. Although Italy does not have a ban on double jeopardy, Knox, a University of Washington student, is an American living on American soil. Italy may request that the U.S. extradite Knox in the event of a conviction, and it is plausible that the U.S. may deny the request.

Letter to the Editor: Graduate students of the UH English Department who work as teaching fellows reached out to President Renu Khator hoping to begin a dialogue about teaching fellows working conditions. Low wages are at the heart of matter for TFs, who make between $9,600 and $11,200 per year; rates have not changed since 1993. Without adjustments for inflation, these rates of pay situate TFs beneath the bottom 10th percentile of Houston salaries and just below the poverty threshold as reported in the 2011 U.S. census. TFs pursuing doctorates pay about 16 percent of their annual income back to UH through fees, which

were increased last year to more than $1,600 annually. For TFs pursuing MFAs, this amount is closer to 19 percent of their annual $9,600. Workplace law obligates students to work only for the University, making it illegal for TFs to work the extra jobs. Chances are if you’ve taken an undergraduate writing course at UH, your instructor was a graduate student TF. First-year writing courses are large, capped at 27 students in 2012, but are still the smallest classes most first-year students take. Graduate student TFs are often the only instructors students know intimately. In other departments, teaching assistants function as

Joey Jackson, a U.S. attorney, believes the U.S. would not uphold an extradition request from Italy. “We have principles that are well-founded within our Constitution, one of which is double jeopardy,” Jackson said. “So as a result of that, I think it would be highly objectionable for the United States to surrender someone to another country for which justice has already been administered and meted out. So I don’t think or anticipate that that would happen.” This does not solve the problem. Knox’s family and she are unable to move on with their lives and have to worry about how their future will be affected by all of this. Knox is being continually targeted by Italy because she is an American and the popular opinion in Italy is that she is guilty; neither are reasons for continued prosecution when the justice system has already done its work. Even so,

partnerships between graduate students and senior professors. English TFs are entirely responsible for the instruction of first-year writing courses, of which they teach two sections per semester. Graduate student TFs instruct an average of 54 students per semester — that’s 54 names to learn, 54 individual writing levels to accommodate, 162 papers to grade and 54 final grades to assign — in addition to the TFs’ own course load of three graduate seminars per semester. As if this weren’t enough to juggle, a recent survey revealed that 71 percent of English TFs work an average of 1.9 outside jobs to cover basic living expenses, receiving an average of 42 percent of their income from outside

Amanda Knox and Corrado Maria Daclon, the secretary-general of the ItalyUSA Foundation leave the prison in Perugia, Italy on Oct. 3, 2011. Knox was rushed to the airport that night and flown home to the U.S. She faces the possibility of having to go back. | Wikimedia Commons Knox is ready to fight back. “The prosecution responsible for the many discrepancies in their work must be made to answer for them, for Raffaele’s sake, my sake and most especially for the sake of Meredith’s family. ... No matter what happens, my family and I will face this continuing legal battle as we always have: confident in the truth and with our heads held high in the face of wrongful accusations and unreasonable adversity,” she

sources. The petition the TFs sent to Khator presented a series of statistics displaying the inability of TFs to uphold the University’s mission statement of “creating an environment in which student success can be ensured,” according to the University’s website. The petition culminated in several requests, the first of which was a response from Khator and the initiation of an open, honest and respectful dialogue about student working conditions. Khator has not responded. As members of the UH community, TFs are now appealing to our fellow UH students, both graduate and undergraduate, for support. Our aspirations are simple and pivotal not only to the collective

said. The retrial is expected to begin early next year in an appellate court in Florence, Italy. It is expected that Knox will be tried in absentia. The U.S. should stand by Knox and uphold its laws by protecting its citizens from unlawful foreign prosecution. Sarah Backer is a business sophomore and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar. com.

success of we, the TFs, as we pursue our academic and pedagogical goals, but to our undergraduate students as well. We hereby publically petition for the following: — A fair and just salary of $19,213.00 (Houston’s living wage). — Full remission of fees: $1,685.70 per year. — All insurance expenses to be covered by the University: $766.71 per year. This comes to an estimated raise in pay and benefits valuing $21,665.41 per student per year. The Teaching Fellows of the UH English Department

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR The Daily Cougar welcomes letters to the editor from any member of the UH community. Letters should include 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; send them via campus mail to STP 4015; or fax to (713) 743-5384. Letters are subject to editing.

THE DAILY COUGAR EDITORIAL BOARD Joshua Mann Amanda Hilow ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR Samantha Wong NEWS EDITOR Natalie Harms SPORTS EDITOR Christopher Shelton LIFE & ARTS EDITOR Paulina Rojas CO-PHOTO EDITORS Nichole Taylor, Mahnoor Samana OPINION EDITOR Aaron Manuel ASSISTANT EDITORS Channler Hill, Kathleen Murrill, Jessica Portillo EDITOR IN CHIEF


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.

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; send them via campus mail to STP 4015; or fax to (713) 743-5384. Letters are subject to editing.

and affiliation with the University, including classification and major. Commentary should be limited to 500 words. Guest commentaries should not be written as replies, but rather should present independent points of view. Deliver submissions to Room 7, University Center Satellite; e-mail them to; or fax them to (713) 743-5384. All submissions are subject to editing.

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,

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

ADVERTISEMENTS Advertisements in The Daily Cougar do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the University or the students as a whole.

Monday, April 1, 2013 // 5

The Daily Cougar


Christopher Shelton



SGA continued from page 1

Junior defensive lineman Joey Mbu hangs on to Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson’s leg for one of his 27 tackles last season. | File photo/The Daily Cougar


Mbu pushes line to get better Christopher Shelton Sports editor

Head coach Tony Levine has known about Joey Mbu’s talent since he was a ninth grader. The coaches at Foster High School in Richmond, Texas where Levine had a recruiting relationship, told him about the junior defensive lineman. Levine said Mbu didn’t have the motor of other defensive linemen in his class because he was expending energy on both sides of Mbu the football. Mbu received only one Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offer, and that was from UH. “He didn’t play hard on every play,” Levine said. “And it may have had something to do with why he wasn’t highly recruited, to be honest with you, because you don’t find many 6-foot-3, 300-pound-plus men that have the feet and ability that he has.” Mbu, the team’s only returning starter on the defensive line, has expectations the size of his frame

on and off the field after coming on strong during the final three games last season. Starting over Defensive line coach Ricky Logo said the defensive line started from scratch this offseason. “Really, we had to take a step back and start over again,” Logo said. “For a guy like Joey Mbu that has to be patient because he knows that he can’t do it by himself ... It’s a different group this year, whereas last year, we had a lot of guys with playing experience.” Mbu is also becoming a leader of the defensive line, a role he is starting to accept. “I have to be a leader. I was kind of pushed into the position. We just had the seniors graduate last year and now it’s my turn,” Mbu said. “They told me it was going to happen and now it’s here.” Different style Mbu leads by keeping his teammates loose with humor. The entire defensive line has a nickname that changes often, he said. He challenges offensive linemen with clever banter that brings emotion into the game. He said he plays better in emotional contests.

On the field, Levine said he thinks Mbu will have a big year and add the ability to get a pass rush without blitzing, an element the defense has lacked the past few seasons. He had 27 tackles and one sack during his sophomore campaign. Mbu still thinks he can get better. “I need to work more on my hands and exploding more off the ball,” Mbu said. “My footwork — I still need improvement on that — but the main thing is my hands, and that’ll come with more experience.”

against a spread offense like this, you have to get as much physical contact with your linemen as you can, and that’s what we’re trying to build. ... It’s good for them. It breaks them down and forces them to communicate.” Levine said if Mbu and the squad fulfill their potential, the Cougars could have a good defensive line. “He and I had a long talk in my office a couple of weeks ago, and it seemed like he just got here, and he’s already a junior,” Levine said. “I think the sky’s the limit for his future.”

Pushing the pocket If spring practice is any indication, the Cougars could be in good shape along the defensive line. Levine said the defensive line has improved more than any position this spring. He said the group has gotten quick pressure up the middle on the quarterback with four down linemen. Logo said to become the unit they need to be, the Cougars need to focus on stopping the run during spring practice. “I think for us, we’ve been constantly teaching our guys how to play the run. We get enough pass in team situations. When you play

UP NEXT Positional analysis The Daily Cougar will take a look at each position and break down its prospects. Wednesday: The offensive line returns several starters and a veteran group. Find out which player is expected to take the next step. April 8: The linebacking corp lost Phillip Steward. How will the team replace the leadership?

of his convictions that give him his inner strength.” “His stand on issues is always what’s in the best interest of the students and once he is convinced, he does not give up. To top it off, he does it with a charming smile. I have no doubt that Cedric will be a strong leader in his life’s journey as well,” Khator said. Although Harris made the decision to not seek re-election, he has announced that he plans to continue working with SGA under a new role until his graduation because he says he is eager to continue his work with Bandoh as well as the rest of the new administration. “When I first joined SGA during the last administration, I naturally gravitated toward Cedric because I thought he was a senior,” Harris said. “He, at least in my opinion, was the most intelligent and level-headed person in SGA. I was honestly floored when I learned that he was a freshman at the time and didn’t believe the person who told me until I asked Cedric myself. I then learned about his track record and accomplishments in high school — it’s incredible how much large-scale leadership experience he’s had.” While Harris isn’t Bandoh’s righthand man for the next administration, he said he will have a position in some capacity as well as always being his biggest supporter. “In my opinion, leaders can generally be broken into two groups: the visionary group that always has the best idea and the ‘clear sighted’ group, who can take any idea and break it down into realistic, actionable steps,” Harris said. “It’s uncommon to find somebody who caries both of those traits and Cedric definitely has both.” The 50th administration will assemble today, and Bandoh and the newly elected SGA vice president, Rani Ramchandani, say they plan to make great strides with the new senate for the campus they have a great deal of love for. “Cougars are diverse, motivated, driven and entrepreneurial. Nothing has been given to us, and we excel if given the challenge — no matter our backgrounds. Many of us are the first in our families to go college, many of us our non-traditional students and many come from humble beginnings,” Bandoh said. “As the student body president, it is a rare and rewarding opportunity to represent and serve as the chief student advocate for a university that embodies all of these characteristics.”

The Daily Cougar

6 \\ Monday, April 1, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013 1:00 - 4:30 PM

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ACROSS 1 Not doing much of anything 5 “ ___ cost you!� 9 Bagful on the pitcher’s mound 14 Harvest 15 Chinese dynasty during the time of Confucius 16 Alaskan shelter 17 Wooddressing tool 18 Bowie knife handle, e.g. 19 Computer command 20 Direct order? 23 Type of tray or chest 24 Bother the heck out of 25 Onetime co-star of Teri, Felicity, and Marcia 26 Spinning toy 29 Narrow groove 31 Thread site 33 Feeling of fury 34 Uneaten morsel 36 Chewie’s chum 37 Didn’t have to factcheck

38 What very busy people seem to be? 42 Song from Placido 43 Island side dish 44 Enjoy an entree 45 Catcher behind the plate? 46 Wispy white clouds 48 Cheapskate 52 “___ on a Grecian Urn� 53 Its root is itself 54 Baby’s first word? 56 Yoko’s surname 57 Crude but effective 61 Muscleman’s quality 63 Arthurian lady 64 Twodimensional calculation 65 Musical composition 66 Poker buyin 67 Flippered entertainer 68 “Teeny� follower 69 “Home on the Range� critter 70 Drops in the field

DOWN 1 Some Arab League members 2 Withhold 3 More slothful 4 Fencer’s weapon 5 Blood of the gods, in Greek myth 6 They’re given in November 7 Artist’s studio site 8 Protestant denomination 9 Carpenter’s cutter 10 Fairy-tale meany 11 One use for scissors 12 Electrically charged atom 13 Word that’s often contracted 21 Wonder Woman’s headdress 22 The Oscars and Olympics, say 27 Snackaisle fixture 28 Bench facing the

altar 30 Davenport’s state 32 Church singing group 35 Secretarial skill 37 Visored chapeau 38 Dry as dust 39 Free 40 Disgruntled person 41 Funnyman’s forte 42 Blood system letters 46 Type of fair 47 Set fire to 49 Eagle, often 50 Win the love of 51 Kings and queens, e.g. 55 More eccentric 58 Apt name for a guy in debt? 59 Last Stuart of the monarchy 60 Relaxed condition 61 Upscale auto initials 62 Uncooked eggs

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Monday, April 1, 2013 // 7

The Daily Cougar

LIFE & ARTS Get to know

MVP General Meeting Wednesday, April 3 6 PM-7:30 PM @ Bayou City Room 202






The artists whose work was featured represented the five departments of that make up the UH masters of fine arts program which include graphic communications, photography and painting. | Isabella Serimontrikul/The Daily Cougar


Hot. Fresh. Daily.


MFA candidates work showcased From personal to political opinions, 12 graduating MFA candidates put it all out on the line Yasmine Saqer Staff writer

Artists and art lovers came together Friday to celebrate the 12 graduating Master of Fine Arts candidates and their works at the 35th UH School of Art MFA Thesis Exhibition. The School of Art presents an exhibition each spring for their graduating students as a commemorative send-off at the Blaffer Art Museum. This year’s talented group of artists includes Megan Badger, Christopher Cascio, Erica Ciesielski Chaikin, Fiona Cochran, Carrie Cook, Stacey Farrell, El Franco Lee II, Elicia Garcia, Jessica Ninci, Stephan Paré, Jasleen Sarai and Katelin Washmon. A diverse and refreshing showcase of art, the MFA Thesis Exhibition represents works from the five departments in the UH Master of Fine Arts Program: Graphic Communications, Interdisciplinary Practice and Emerging Forms, Painting, Photography/Digital Media and Sculpture. The exhibit features a variety of

works, including personal photographs by Stacey Farrell, capturing the changing role of women in families with her four daughters. In painting, El Franco Lee II experiments with historically and racially charged real-life crime incidents with actual security camera footage and fantasy scenes among athletes, rappers and other AfricanAmerican figures. Megan Badger, who applies paint to photographs, uses both mediums to highlight evidence of magical realism that can be found every day. Among the still life, Jasleen Sarai gave a captivating performance on opening night as she designed an architectural space on the floor of Blaffer using colorful tape. Sarai constructed five dwellings — intended to represent territory, security, privacy, comfort and luxury — on the grounds between Blaffer and the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. Coming from an architectural background, Sarai’s inspiration came from a desire to improvise with building and demonstrate how you can create your own spaces. “In reality, most of the architecture that’s around the world is not necessarily considered architecture, but more like living spaces — they’re very improvised, they’re BLAFFER continues on page 8



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born out of different constraints, and so that’s why I decided to do this live performance,” Sarai said. Another popular artist of the night, Elicia Garcia, challenged audiences to look at world issues through an American lens and engage their social memory with her cutout fabrics of front pages from various issues of The New York Times. Garcia reveals values, patterns and unintentional photos within the cutouts by displaying only the images printed from the front pages. “There’s repeating things of extreme happiness and sadness with war — this is the world, and this is what happens, and the pattern is really beautiful,” Garcia said. Through her piece, Garcia hopes audiences will understand the connections between photos. “To see what’s happening without somebody’s words telling you what it’s about, so you don’t have to hear somebody in your ear; you get to make your own story,” Garcia said. Like Sarai and Garcia, many of

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the MFA students projected comprehensive studies of different life matters through their creations. Artist Chris Cascio’s installation of objects, images and symbols of narcotics, entitled “Dead Soldiers,” resonated among viewers who hope to see more of his work. “I think Chris Cascio needs to write up something really nice and try to get a grant to make those exact bags into actual bags,” said Nirvana Trey, a patron of the museum. “We’re 20-somethings in Houston, so we can relate to it. His work is so explicit and out there; it would make great novelty bags,” Trey said. The artists also gave audiences the opportunity to experience the art for themselves with interactive pieces including a sewing canvas and a station with individual headphones with different audio tracks. The MFA graduate candidates demonstrate innovation, passion and vision that cannot be contained and their works are a testament of the bright creative future that awaits them. The MFA Thesis Exhibition will remain on display in the Blaffer Art Museum until April 13.

Volume 78, Issue 97  

Bandoh sworn in as SGA president as 50th administration begins, and MFA candidates show off their work