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Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | 1

@thedailycougar www.thedailycougar.com Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Est. 1934

Issue 14, Volume 86

‘ACCOUNTABILITY’ Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict in George Floyd’s death sparks relief in the UH community. | PG. 3

2 | Wednesday, April 21, 2021






How and where you can get vaccinated in the Houston area HAYA PANJWANI


With everyone over 18 now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, it’s just a matter of finding somewhere to get a shot. Students have found it difficult to find vaccines, especially since early on there were many restrictions and an insufficient supply. “It’s been a little frustrating, but I also understand why the process is such a mess,” said media production junior Mia Shippey. “We’ve never been through anything like this before, so of course there is no precedent for this. It feels like we’re scrambling just as much now as we were at the beginning of the pandemic.” If you missed out on the University vaccine clinics and still need to find a way to get the vaccine, Houston and Harris County have options available. Harris County is offering appointment-less vaccines as of

UH has held several on-campus mass vaccination clinics as COVID-19 vaccines gradually become more widely available in Houston. | Courtesy of UH

April 21, where if someone is over the age of 16, they can pull into NRG Park and get their COVID-19 vaccine for free. Although, people who are 16 but under 18 are

eligible for the Pfizer vaccine only. If the NRG Park location is too far, the Harris County Public Health website is still offering both walk-ins and appointments for

getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Houston is also leading its own vaccination efforts aside from Harris County, which is only appointment-based for now.

UH also held a few vaccination efforts during the school year, including collaborations with Walgreens and H-E-B. About 4,000 vaccines, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, were given to faculty, staff and students. The University is hoping to administer more vaccines in the coming months. Their goal is to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but with recent news of the vaccines causing blood clotting among seven women, things may change. “We’re hoping to have some smaller clinics, and hoping for Johnson & Johnson so we can do a single dose if it’s safe in the late summer, early fall. All of this is hope,” said Suzy Harrington, UH assistant vice president for Student Affairs for Health & Well-Being. If none of these options work, Harrington recommends calling your healthcare provider to assist in scheduling an appointment. news@thedailycougar.com


UH alumna creates nonprofit to bring cheer with flowers ASHLEY GWANANJI


A UH alumna is finding ways to make days a little brighter in the form of flowers. As founder of the nonprofit organization Floranthropy, former Cougar Lindsey Smith uses her previous experience as a wedding planner to repurpose flowers from various events into vibrant bouquets. Whether it is colorful roses, hydrangeas or orchids, she uses all flowers, often showing the final results on the organization’s Instagram and Facebook pages. With the help of her volunteers, Smith delivers handcrafted flower arrangements to people in different places. So far, Smith and her volunteers have been able to touch the hearts of those in hospitals, schools and shelters over the past decade. In her feature with KHOU, she noted the impact of her flowers, especially during the pandemic. “I can see the difference it makes, and just the smiles people have whenever they receive the flowers,” said Smith. “And some people never get visits. They never get flowers.

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

And so giving these to them, you know, if that can warm a heart or brighten a day, then that’s what we’re here for.” Since starting in 2010, Floranthropy has flourished as

it continues to grace its services to people all over Texas, but with a greater focus in Austin, Dallas and Houston. Part of the nonprofit’s success is a testament to support from

the community. To craft her colorful flower arrangements, Smith heavily relies on donations from grocery stores and florists. With the two combined,

Floranthropy has received $120,000 worth of flowers to fulfill its mission. Aside from florists and grocery stories, Smith also received donations from wedding events; especially last year, when many weddings were postponed due to the pandemic. With each bouquet delivered, an outflow of gratitude is received from its recipients. “It was eye opening for me,” Smith said. “I haven’t really had that experience with, essentially, strangers before.” “Even though we don’t necessarily know each other, we’re still neighbors, and we’re still here to support good causes and do good for the community.” As her nonprofit continues to grow, Smith hopes to continue putting a smile on the faces of others. “We can deliver flowers to your home and we can work on making arrangements,” she said. “We’ll go, really, wherever.” However, with increasing growth comes the need for more hands to help. For students looking to make a difference in the lives of others, Smith welcomes the support. news@thedailycougar.com

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | 3 SYDNEY ROSE & EDITORS AMINAH TANNIR,





UH community reacts after Derek Chauvin found guilty of murder in George Floyd’s death HAYA PANJWANI


Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on three charges, including murder, in the death of George Floyd, which sparked worldwide protests against police brutality. Although Chauvin’s sentence for the charges, which could range from 10 to 40 years, won’t be handed down for another eight weeks, the jury’s guilty verdict sparked joy in some UH students who saw the decision as a symbol of justice. “Honestly, I felt a little bit of hope for the first time in a long time,” said Jazmin Gonzalez, a junior studying journalism. “I was hoping they would hold him accountable for his actions so that we are able to hold other law enforcement officers accountable too. After the verdict was given, news stations across the country panned to Floyd’s family and cheering patrons outside the courtroom. Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, was in the courtroom when the verdict was read and hugged

George Floyd’s death last year sparked worldwide protests against police brutality. Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty in Floyd’s death on Tuesday afternoon. | Mikol Kindle Jr./The Cougar

the prosecutor immediately afterward.   “I definitely teared up the moment I saw the reaction of

his family. The way they cheered and hugged each other was just amazing,” Gonzalez said. “I’m really hoping that this launches

a chain of events and doesn’t stop here.” Other students feel this is just the beginning, and more work needs to be done. “I feel like the verdict was a huge relief for so so many people, but the fact that it’s a relief in general or that it was even slightly possible that it could’ve gone either way is still disappointing,” said Haya-Naaz Ukani, a sophomore studying finance. Floyd was killed by Chauvin, formerly from the Minneapolis Police Department, in May 2020. Footage from nearby security cameras, police body cameras and bystanders circulated worldwide. Witnesses, including those who interacted with Floyd in his final moments, testified on the stand, along with the acting police chief of the Minneapolis Police Department.  “Honestly, this isn’t complete justice, this is just accountability,” Ukani said. “Justice would be George Floyd still here today.” news@thedailycougar.com


Moody Towers North housing available for fall HAYA PANJWANI


Moody Towers North will remain a housing option for UH students for the 2021-2022 academic year. Despite previous speculation, University students can choose Moody Towers North for housing this upcoming fall semester. Students who have already selected their housing option and would like to switch to Moody Towers can do so if space is available. Residents also have until April 30 to amend their housing agreement without penalty. Although, students won’t be able to assign themselves to a on-campus bed space after May 31. There has been no word on Moody Towers South as of yet, which was not a housing option during the Spring 2021 semester. news@thedailycougar.com


Jhair Romero


Donna Keeya WEB EDITOR

Mason Vasquez NEWS EDITORS


Haya Panjwani Ashley Gwananji



Jordan Hart


Juana Garcia


Gerald Sastra COPY CHIEF

Zai Davis


Andy Yanez

STAFF EDITORIAL The Staff Editorial reflects the opinions of The 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 Cougar do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Houston or the students as a whole.

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

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 limited to 500 words. Guest commentaries should not be written as replies, but rather should present independent points of view. Deliver submissions to N221, University Center; e-mail them to letters@ thedailycougar.com; or fax them to (713) 743-5384. All submissions are subject to editing.

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The Cougar is a member of the Associated Collegiate Press.

Moody Towers North will be a housing option next semester as UH plans to gradually return to pre-pandemic life on campus. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar


4 | Wednesday, April 21, 2021






UH to install COVID-19 prevention air filters SYDNEY ROSE


UH Facilities is working to install and spray down air filters on campus to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The nanotech-coated air filters, researched and developed by physics professor Seamus Curran, will have a coating so small on the filters that people will not be able to see the nanotechnology at work. “The virus travels in the air in droplets, and even when almost dry (particulates), it still has moisture surrounding it,” Curran said. “The coatings help block the virus from penetrating the filters.” The air currents for these filters generate by heating, ventilation and air conditioning. These currents take in all particulates including virons, which consists of RNA or DNA with a protein core. In 2020, there was discussion of a heated foam air filter that could kill the virus being an option for the UH campus. Cleaning the filters will be the same as cleaning a normal filter. This will include spraying with anti-microbial or ethanol product before disposing, Curran said. “They cannot help when someone coughs all over you,” Curran said. “But if there are particulates or droplets in the air, it helps in getting rid of those droplets which normally are recycled from room to room when people who are infected are coughing or even breathing indoors.” The air filters have been tested by third

Sydney Rose/The Cougar

party companies Edison Energy and Water Lens. They are able to detect a rise in the coronavirus in wastewater before major breakouts occur. Curran Biotech has a distributer carrying these nanotech-coating sprays for home filters as well.

The nanotech coating Curran uses is able to be applied to filters already installed in a UH building’s HVAC system. “If the building is energy efficient, air will be passed from one room to the next, and this will go for most dorms as well. Where the rooms are treated, this aids in stopping

the spread of the virus,” Curran said. “It does not mean face masks are not required and hand washing must be always be done. But at least we can start cleaning the air.” news@thedailycougar.com


Survey shows Texans wanted to keep state mask mandate MAHEEN-NAAZ UKANI


As Texans continue to navigate the pandemic, a survey conducted by the Hobby School of Public Affairs reveals stark differences in reactions to Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent lifting of the mask mandate between people of various ethnicities, races and political parties. Released to the public on March 25, the survey results showed 56 percent of Texans who took the survey are against the end of the mask mandate, while 37 percent support Abbott’s decision. “COVID and reacting to COVID, has been an unprecedented and defining force in our lives,” said Hobby School dean Kirk Watson. “It’s important to know how people respond to it and the public policy actions related to it.” The decision to lift the mandate was implemented when executive order GA-34 was signed by Abbott

on March 2 and was effective as of March 10. In addition to lifting the mandate on masks, the order allowed businesses to open at 100 percent capacity. The survey shows 49 percent of its respondents opposed the plan to reopen businesses, around 42 percent supported the decision and the remaining respondents had no opinion. The implementation of GA-34 is not an accurate representation of the public’s will, according to Watson. “I worry that the decision creates a false sense and can create damage,” Watson said. Political science junior Sonya Andrews echoed Watson’s sentiments. “Although numbers may go down slightly, removing the mask mandate could make the numbers go back up, creating an even riskier environment while people are not as worried because

the mask mandate is no longer in effect,” Andrews said. In addition to showing general responses to Abbott’s decision, the survey results are categorized by various demographics. When broken down by political party, 10 times as many Republicans support the end of the mask mandate than Democrats. The trend is consistent when looking at opinions surrounding the reopening of businesses, with 77 percent of Republican respondents supporting the decision compared to only 12 percent of Democrats. On top of that, when broken down by race and ethnicity, a larger percentage of AngloAmericans support the order than Latinos and African Americans combined. “The pandemic and how we address it have impacted the day-to-day life of people in unprecedented ways,” Watson said. “It has also resulted in

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

unprecedented illness and death.” As of April 7, almost 50,000 Texans have died due to the coronavirus. Experts say wearing a mask reduces transmission greatly and when more people wear them, the number of cases is less likely to increase dramatically. “I will still be wearing a mask even though the mask mandate has been lifted because COVID

case numbers are still high and relevant, and I would not be comfortable without wearing a mask in public spaces at this time,” Andrews said. “I also plan on continuing to wear my mask after getting fully vaccinated for the safety of myself and others.” news@thedailycougar.com

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | 5 SYDNEY ROSE & EDITORS AMINAH TANNIR,





Sydney Books reviews ‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ SYDNEY ROSE


Romantic comedy as a genre is one that many can find comfort in, usually in the form of films, but when it is found in a book, it truly has to be something special. “Red, White & Royal Blue” happens to be just that. Casey McQuiston’s debut novel of “Red, White & Royal Blue” is a book many may find themselves judging by the cover. With the bright pink background and cartoon versions of the books two main characters – two male love interests – there can be quite the first impression. The reader is first introduced to an alternate United States setting where there is a female president and her son, Alex Claremont-Diaz, is planning himself to be the youngest senator the country has ever seen soon enough. McQuiston wrote the book following the 2016 presidential elections, with the target audience being young people who could identify with the LGBT community. The writing style highlights this as the dialogue is quick-witted and fitting of the generation we live in now. This dialogue of the times is seen the most in Alex, as well

as the music options the reader can see in some scenes. This including “Get Low” by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz in a dancing scene. As a part of this modern take on a romance novel, we see Alex’s love interest introduced as his enemy first, Prince Henry Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor. The dynamic shown between two characters who essentially grew up in the politics of two different countries, and therefore the spotlight is an interesting one that romance books often do not showcase. Both characters, having strong personalities in different ways, are brought together by a scandal and forced to be friends for the public … Which every reader familiar with any romance film or read knows where that is set to go. McQuiston does a great job showing the reader Alex’s internal monologue and coming to terms with his sexuality at the same time he realizes his feelings for Henry. The scenes leading up to a coming out is a fresh take on a character having a “sexuality crisis” that does not always get represented in a relatable way to the media. Arguably, one of the best parts of the novel, and what makes it such a breeze to read through,

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

is the email and text exchanges between Alex and Henry. Corresponding emails is an innovative way to show the development between these two characters, and even through how they write to one another, the reader can see just how full of personality each one is. Maybe Henry’s use of British slang can come off a tad bit cringe, but it is something that can be looked past for the heartfelt and funny moments. These moments are by no

means slim, not just between both Henry and Alex as they form a budding relationship, but between their siblings and friends who the reader meets along the way. Ultimately, if the overall premise of LGBT representation in a modern romance novel has not appealed to you alone, the tear-jerking ending has to. Alex’s mother, who is running for president on her second term, leads to more political scandal for Alex and Henry’s

relationship as their emails are linked and they are forced to come out to the public. This with Alex’s impactful and emotional coming out speech, and Texas turning blue in the election, is sure to bring a special kind of feeling to any reader who takes it in. “Red, White & Royal Blue” is a gem of a book that sets a new precedent for romance novels in the modern age. arts@thedailycougar.com


Valenti School students create semester short film SHIVANI PARMAR


A group of UH Valenti School of Communication students have been putting their classroom expertise to the test as they embark on a journey to create a short film this semester. These students have taken on responsibility this semester as they balance the many aspects of their lives, from attending college as students by day to short film producers by night. “I wanted to write and produce my short film while I was still in school, so I reached out to my friends because I knew they were very talented and that is when the whole process started,” said media production sophomore Comfort Abiodun. Abiodun wrote ‘This is Real Life,” and is directing and

producing the short film. The crew accumulated almost $5,000 in fundraising to transform the simple idea of the short film into motion. “Before we asked for money, we planned everything we were going to need, like how much was equipment going to cost, how much is paying the actors going to cost, and that’s kind of what helped us reach that amount we asked for on Indigogo,” said finance sophomore Hannia Yeverino. Along with donations that were collected, the cast and crew were able to apply for a grant to lock down their projected budget. “Within CLASS, which is what Valenti is under, there is this supplemental dean’s grant, and you can apply for it for like housing for internships and all kinds of stuff,” said

media production and English sophomore Autumn Johnson. “But it has to help you advance in your career, so that is what we applied for.”

Challenges Time was the utmost challenge for the crew of “This Is Real Life,” they said. “Things happen, I feel like, on every set of every movie, every short film, every music video, something happens and you end up going over schedule. So that happened to us a few of the days we were filming, but we still ended up getting everything shot even though we did try to schedule everything ahead of time,” Abiodun said. It was challenging for the crew to be able to shoot all while taking on COVID-19 precautions, but they were able to come up with a

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

game plan that worked for them in the end. “The main concern was you can’t have a whole background of extras or have too many people on set,” Abiodun said. “We had to keep a small crew, we couldn’t be in busy areas, we had to make sure everyone got tested before shoot days.” On top of pandemic precaution, another possible obstacle these students were up against was balancing schoolwork while producing the short film.

“I had a test right before our first shoot date, and I was so worried I would fail it because there was a lot on my mind,” Yeverino said. “But it was good, I was proud that I can work on something I am passionate about (that) motivates me to do better in other parts of my life.” Although taking on this project was time-consuming, some students believe the result is what


Continues on page 6

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New Twitter feature may come with a subscription service ASHLEY GWANANJI


Popular social media site Twitter is working on a new feature allowing users to “undo” their tweets seconds after sending them. The feature will give users the ability to fix any errors, and the chance to reconsider a tweet before it goes public. The option is similar to the “undo send” button from Google’s Gmail, where after hitting tweet, users will have a limited duration to reconsider their post. The undo button will also serve as a progress bar, indicating the amount of time left to hit the button. As a site popular among college students, Twitter actively develops new features to produce high engagement from its users. In June 2020, the social media giant introduced voice tweets, a popular feature used to send voice recordings as tweets. While voice notes were a massive hit, biology junior Bailey Pham sees the undo feature as a potential miss for the social media site. “I think the idea of an undo feature is unnecessary,” said Pham. “Twitter has evolved so much since it first started, and it is a place where people can put out their thoughts and ideas as they see it.” As an avid Twitter user, Pham believes users should take more responsibility for what they post. To her, responsibility involves


Continued from page 5 is really going to matter. “It felt almost like having an internship. It was a lot of time and hard work, but the result is worth it,” Johnson said.

Benefits These students in the cast and crew of ‘This is Real Life” were able to learn valuable skills teaching them more than a classroom could show, and now have hands-on experience in the career field they are seeking. “I am a business major, so it was interesting being able to work on the budget of this film, and I think I would not get this experience in a classroom setting because we usually just do concepts, we don’t apply them to anything,” Yeverino said. Also, these students can utilize the content they are producing and show it to future employers.

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

users understanding thinking before they post. “Many users should know that once they post something, it is out there for good,” she said. “ It is also pretty useless since there is always an option to delete tweets.” While the undo button is in the testing stage, app researcher Jane Manchun Wong discovered the feature might come with a subscription fee. While it may come as a surprise, the idea of charging

“I think that this will look really good on our reels, and I think I got to learn what a producer does and I have all this hands-on experience outside of the classroom,” Johnson said. The short film is targeted towards young adults and is about a college student who doesn’t have her own identity and lies her way through all of her relationships. ‘This Is Real Life” will be premiering on April 30 and will be available to watch on YouTube and Vimeo for now, with plans to expand across more platforms soon. Not only did career benefits come out of this experience, but some connections were made throughout the process. “When you have ten (hour or more) shoot days in a row, you bond with people. So we all formed a huge friendship,” Abiodun said. arts@thedailycougar.com

users isn’t one foreign to Twitter. In addition to developing new features for the app, Twitter has also considered finding additional streams of revenue. The social media giant was one of many companies severely impacted by the pandemic, enduring a 23 percent decrease in revenue, according to Business Insider. A potential subscription service will allow Twitter to charge its users for premium features while loosening their

reliance on advertisement revenue. How much it will cost or when it will happen is unknown, but Pham worries it might drive away many users. “I would not pay for a subscription service if offered,” she said. “I think if Twitter started charging people, they would lose many of the users that have been using Twitter since it first began.” However, at a virtual analyst event, Twitter revealed a

potential subscription service feature for creators in February. Officially named Super Follow, popular users can earn money from their followers with exclusive tweets and posts. In return, subscribers will receive subscriber-only newsletters, deals and discounts. The subscription will cost $4.99 per month, but it is unknown when Twitter will officially make it available to its users. arts@thedailycougar.com

The cast and crew of “This is Real Life” are Valenti School students working around class work to film something they are passionate about. | Courtesy of Hannia Yeverino

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | 7 ANDY YANEZ, EDITOR





Dana Holgorsen: UH’s defensive pressure ‘highlight of spring so far’



After beginning the 2020 season looking like it might be the strength of the Houston football team, the Cougars’ defense quickly crumbled. The Cougars ended the 2020 season giving up 32 points per game and an average of 5.78 yards per play, which added up to nearly 400 yards allowed per contest. While lack of depth due to injuries and COVID-19 issues certainly played a part in UH’s defensive struggles, the Cougars’ defense looked like two different units when comparing their first three games against their final five. This was one of the first things UH head coach Dana Holgorsen noted during one of his media availabilities in the spring. “I thought we started (2020) very good and I thought we were extremely physical,” Holgorsen said. “After three games of (being physical), we became pretty soft and we ended the season pretty soft.” On top of that, lineman Payton Turner and linebacker Grant Stuard, two of the UH defense’s biggest bright spots that combined for 86 tackles and six sacks in 2020, are gone. Despite all of the issues in 2020 and losing two of their top players, Holgorsen and the UH coaching staff are confident that the Cougars’ defense will bounce back in a major way in 2021 because of three main factors.

Linebackers – ‘our heart and soul’ To talk about a unit having a wealth of experience, look no further than the UH linebacking core. From guys like JoVanni Stewart, who has been a Divison I football player since 2016, to Deontay Anderson, who although shifted from safety to linebacker during the 2020 season, has three years of being a starter under his belt, the experience and leadership at the linebacker position are abundant. “We all work together great,” Anderson said. “I think that’s what makes us special, that’s what makes us powerful as a unit.” But no one may be more important to the UH defense than junior linebacker Donavan Mutin, who missed the final five games of 2020 due to injury. His absence down the stretch last season really showed. “We got worse on defense once (Mutin) got hurt after game three,”

Junior cornerback Marcus Jones gets in position prior to a snap during the Houston football team’s recent spring scrimmage at TDECU Stadium. The UH football team’s defensive pressure has been the biggest highlight of the spring, according to head coach Dana Holgorsen. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Holgorsen said. “We were not the same.” Having Mutin back, who is 100 percent Holgorsen said, provides a huge boost for the entire defense, not only because of his veteran experience and high football IQ, but also because he is the gel that holds the linebacking core together. The one positive takeaway from Mutin’s absence for UH was that it gave guys like redshirt freshman Mannie Nunnery and junior Malik Robinson, who Holgorsen called two of the team’s most “freakishly athletic” guys, an opportunity to gain playing time at linebacker. Having guys like Nunnery and Robinson, who stepped up and showed many positives when called upon last year, anchoring the second unit is huge. It will allow UH to keep its linebackers fresh by rotating guys in and out since the coaching staff does not see a major drop-off between the starters and backups at the position. From top to bottom, the Cougars’ linebacking core is the team’s most complete unit because of all the experience and depth they have at the position. “Linebackers are going to be where our heart and soul are,” Holgorsen said.

Improvement upfront Having to replace such a force inside like Payton Turner was

will be a big task, but the Cougars defensive line appears to be up to the challenge. Both Holgorsen and defensive line coach Brian Early have raved about how impressive the D-line has been this spring. “Our D-line looks really good,” Holgorsen said. “They’re disruptive.” Tre Williams and Latrell Bankston, two key transfers with plenty of Division I experience UH picked up over the offseason have been “as good as advertised,” Holgorsen said. Junior Derek Parish has been a wrecking ball inside, with coaches calling him “unblockable” at times. But the player who has turned the heads of the coaching staff the most has been junior Logan Hall. The 6-foot-6-inch defensive lineman has made a significant jump over the offseason and early spring, with Holgorsen saying Hall is playing better than any other player on the team right now. Early echoed what Holgorsen said, calling Hall a future “Sunday player.” “(Hall) has probably improved more than anyone else on the football team defensively,” Early said. “There are times that he completely takes over out there and has been unblockable.” Overall, Early has loved what he has seen from his unit and believes they have enough depth to be able to constantly bring in fresh bodies, which should translate into a better

performance upfront in 2021. “We’ve got really good competitive depth, really good quality depth right now,” Early said. “I feel like I’ve got two units of starters. I feel like there is no dropoff from our level of play when we substitute.”

Strength in the secondary Led by one of the most experienced and skilled cornerback duos in the country in Marcus Jones and Damarion “Pepe” Williams, the expectations for the UH secondary are sky-high. While the Cougars have struggled to create turnovers under Holgorsen, having a full season of Jones and Williams, who are both healthy, together in the secondary should help the Cougars’ defense return to the turnover-creating machine they were in the years prior to Holgorsen taking over the UH football program. “Marcus Jones and Pepe Williams are going to be a fun tandem to watch. Those guys are incredibly talented. They’ve got a lot of experience,” Holgorsen said. “They’ve got really good ball skills which will hopefully result in turnovers that haven’t existed (at UH) in two years.” Alongside Jones and Williams, Alex Hogan, who transferred to UH from Texas Tech, along with Jayce Rodgers and Kelvin Clemmons have stood out to the coaches this

spring and provide nice depth at the cornerback position. As a unit, the cornerbacks have focused on two things over the offseason and spring which they believe can raise their play to the next level: communication and eye discipline. “If we have (communication), I feel like it’s very hard to beat us,” Jones said. “If you got eye discipline and you got your eyes in the right spot, then most of the time you can make the plays.” Along with the cornerbacks’ strong spring performances, safeties Thabo Mwaniki and Hasaan Hypolite have had “spectacular offseasons,” according to Holgorsen, and provide more veteran leadership and experience to further bolster the secondary. Because of the improved play of the secondary as a whole and their ability to hold their own this spring, Holgorsen is confident that the Cougars’ defense will be able to put more consistent pressure on the opposing quarterbacks. “Our defensive pressure has probably been the highlight of spring so far,” Holgorsen. “Just having guys that have the ability to be able to get to the quarterback. We can pop linebackers more than we have the last couple of years because our corners are playing well.” sports@thedailycougar.com

8 | Wednesday, April 21, 2021





Houston ‘fired up for next year’ after accolade-filled 2020-21 season


Cooke saw the evolution of the program during the year. One place specifically that grew was the connection on offense. Cooke’s connection with sophomore outside hitter Abbie Jackson was vital to the team’s success this year.


The Houston volleyball team has been inching up the ladder of success for the past two seasons. In 2019, the program made its first postseason appearance in almost 20 years. This season, the Cougars brought home its first-ever conference title since joining the American Athletic Conference, and they have no plans of slowing down any time soon. “Winning the west was a huge goal for us and a huge accomplishment,” head coach David Rehr said. “Winning championships is our goal for the future.” Before the win streaks, the titles and the records, there was practice, practice and more practice. The COVID-19 pandemic put fall competition on pause, but the UH volleyball team didn’t give up on preparing so easily. The team utilized the unique time to train and get better. After spending so much time on the court, it was no longer a foreign feeling by the time the Cougars faced Rice in the first game of the season, even for the freshmen and transfers. “They felt like they were ready to put the product out there,” Rehr said. It was evident that UH was eager to get back to it. The Cougars quickly moved up in rank with an 8-0 start in conference, which surpassed last season’s seven-game winning streak to start conference play, putting the UH volleyball team’s name on the map. This year, the name was AAC West Division Champions. After finishing third last season, the biggest change Rehr has seen in the program during his time at UH has been the personnel. The Cougars have a lot more to offer than just the starting six.

Jackson’s journey

UH volleyball freshman setter Annie Cooke during a regular season game against Rice on Jan. 24 at Athletics Alumni Center. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Along with a stacked team, UH is a young team, meaning there will be returners in each position, including each player who made it onto the All-Conference team. Rehr doesn’t get too excited about his own accolades, but he’s not afraid to celebrate those that his athletes accomplished, which has left him unbelievably proud as he put it. “That’s one thing I can kind of get excited about because that’s the hard work they put in,” Rehr said. One of those players is freshman setter Annie Cooke.

Cooke’s course Her historic campaign landed her both the American Volleyball

Coaches Association and AAC Freshman of the Year and the AAC Setter of the Year, marking the first time a UH player took home a specialty award since 2005, and the first to snag the freshman prize since 1997. “Before the season started, we all wrote goals down, and my goal was to get conference setter of the year,” Cooke said. “But it doesn’t just show my hard work, it also shows how much this program is growing.” The Woodlands native led the AAC with 11.08 assists per set against other AAC teams, crossed the 60-assists line against SMU and tallied five double-doubles. “We knew Annie was going to be good, we just didn’t know how

good,” Rehr said. While at times Cooke made it look easy to enter a competitive Division I program and lead it to victory, the transition from high school to college was a complete 180-degree turn, Cooke said When she felt the nerves, however, she was always able to ground herself. “The biggest lesson that I learned is to control what you can control because a lot of times this year, I would get wrapped up in the results,” Cooke said. “I can control the effort I give. I can control the passion, my celebration. I can control how calm I am on the court.” It’s simple to see the growth of a team from season to season, but

Jackson, a unanimous selection to the All-Conference first team, led the AAC with 4.68 kills per set, a career and conference-high 32 kills over SMU and recorded five 20-kills performances. “It was really cool to see that all my hard work was paying off,” Jackson said. “It really just showed me that I can do what I put my mind to and accomplish all the goals that I want to.” She feels her freshman year wasn’t ideal, as she was in and out with injuries, but one major area of growth since then has been her leadership. “I think as a freshman I didn’t really know where my place was yet, and I think just this year, I came in knowing that I’m going to have to be that leader,” Jackson said. As a leader and secondyear veteran, Jackson could immediately see how special this team was. “The first time we came in and trained together, you could just tell the whole dynamic had shifted a little bit. We were just hungry for more than we had gotten last year,” Jackson said. Wanting more seems to be a common theme for the team. Although they’ve made history in back-to-back seasons, the Cougars aren’t satisfied with how the season ended during the AAC tournament. “I think we are going to be fired up for next year,” Jackson said. “I think we have so much more potential.” sports@thedailycougar.com


UH focusing on confidence, poise ahead of AAC Tournament SEAN THOMAS


The Houston tennis team sat just one doubles match away from taking the initial point against SMU on April 11. Failing to close it in the final set that made the match so tight, the pair of senior Phonexay Chitdara and

junior Sophie Gerits fell 12-10 in the tiebreaker. This gave the Mustangs the point that changed everything, allowing them to take the advantage in the singles exhibition that went back and forth and allowed SMU to end it in singles, with sophomore Azul Pedemonti’s match going

unfinished, though she led in the tiebreaking set. “In doubles, we need to be more confident and step up and closing the opportunities, we had a lot of opportunities to win the doubles point, (but) we got passive,” head coach Helena Besovic said reflecting on the late loss.

Points were left on the table, and Besovic knows that in order to succeed in the upcoming American Athletic Conference Tournament, her team will have to remember the lesson learned from the stinging losses to SMU. “It’s about experience with being in those situations, now we know how it feels feeling that

pressure,” Besovic said. “We have to believe in ourselves next time and take those points.” The tight doubles match that the UH tennis team failed to close proved to be the decider in the match.


Continues on page 9

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | 9 ANDY YANEZ, EDITOR





Focused and determined: Robert Gasser’s preparation key to his success



Before coming to Houston, Robert Gasser had been the man in junior college, frustrating batters left and right every time he took the bump. Gasser, who began his college career at New Mexico in 2018, transferred to Delta College in 2019 and pitched to perfection, going 14-0 with a 2.38 ERA and striking out 139 in 17 starts, which set a California single-season record for wins and strikeouts. As a result, the California native racked up every accolade imaginable, being named the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings National Pitcher of the Year, California Pitcher of the Year and Big 8 Pitcher of the Year. “The bigger the stakes, the better (Gasser) got. The more focused he got,” said Reed Peters, Gasser’s manager at Delta College. “Everybody fed off of his competitiveness, enthusiasm and passion when he went out on the field.” But Gasser struggled to carry over his success at Delta to UH. In the 2020 shortened season, the 6-foot-1-inch left-hander made four appearances out of the bullpen, and allowed at least two runs each time he took the mound, posting an ERA of 11.05 on the season. As a result, Gasser wasn’t even on UH baseball head coach Todd Whitting’s radar to be a weekend starter when the Cougars began their fall workouts and practices in September 2020. That, however, didn’t deter Gasser, who continued to work on his craft day after day, which slowly began to pay off as the UH coaching staff started to rethink what Gasser’s role would be in December, believing the junior left-hander


Continued from page 8 With the season winding down and the tournament around the corner, Besovic believed the meeting with the No. 37 Rice Owls was the next test to prove themselves, given Rice put up a similar fight and also lost against SMU a few weeks prior. “That will be a good match for us going into the tournament next week,” Besovic said before facing off against the Owls. “We have been working hard this week and that will be a good

Junior left-hand pitcher Robert Gasser has been the ace of UH baseball’s rotation in 2021, posting a 2.19 ERA and striking out over seven batters a game. | Andy Yanez/The Cougar

might have a spot in the Cougars weekend rotation. “Gasser just kept working and working, and every outing and scrimmages he got a little better,” Whitting said. After winter break. when practices for the upcoming season officially began, it only took a few weeks for one thing to become clear: the guy who came into the year not expected to even hold down a starting spot in the rotation would not only be a starter for the Cougars, but would anchor the rotation. “By the time we got a couple of weeks into practice (Gasser) was a no-brainer for Friday nights because he was pitching so well,” Whitting said. But how did Gasser go from a guy whose role in the UH pitching staff was completely up in the air, to the guy that took the ball every Friday night under the lights and go toeto-toe with some of the top pitchers

in the country? Both Whitting and Gasser said the same thing: preparation. “(Gasser’s) preparation has given him confidence, and I think that’s been his biggest turnaround,” Whitting said. “I think the consistency he shows in his outings is the consistency he’s shown in his preparation since back in August. He works with intent and pitches with intent.” Gasser’s preparation, both mentally and physically, going into each start has risen to the next level. Physically, Gasser has become a gym rat. “(Gasser’s) fallen in love with the weight room and has become one of the strongest guys on the team,” Whitting said. Even after throwing 100 or more pitches on a Friday night, Gasser is back in the weight room lifting and does a lot of throwing the next day. Gasser understands that what he

match for us going into the (AAC) tournament.” However, her team came out flat, losing 5-0 in another match where they split doubles and couldn’t close out matches again in singles, making it another tough loss. As the AAC Tournament approaches, the Cougars know that it will likely need to get past SMU to win it all. The question still remains whether the Cougars will be able to beat them, but Besovic remains confident her team can. The UH tennis team will have

little margin of error with the conference tournament being a single-elimination team event that has no individual portion. Besovic hopes her team was able to draw lessons from the SMU loss so that it can make damage in the AAC Championships. “I thought we were very close, it can happen at the tournament and I hope we can put it together and play our best tennis, anything can happen at the tournament,” Besovic said. sports@thedailycougar.com

does Saturday through Thursday is crucial if he is to be successful when he takes the mound, so he takes every opportunity to keep his body in the best shape and as healthy as possible. “It comes down to the week prior,” Gasser said. “Getting into the training room with Korey Brown, our trainer. Just keeping my body right. Keeping it as healthy as possible.” Mentally, Gasser is intentional in everything he does. One of Gasser’s first things after a start is looking at a chart with his first pitch strike percentage, because UH pitching coaches always emphasize how important getting ahead early in the count is. “Getting ahead with the fastball and having really good fastball command is what’s going to separate the good from the great,” Gasser said. As his start day gets closer, Gasser takes time to specifically

focus on his mechanics, especially focusing on his pickoff move and defensive fundamentals, making sure he is executing them to perfection. Whitting compared Gasser’s mental preparation to taking a test. “It’s kind of like when you take a test. When you go in there and wing it, you’re going to do well sometimes and not so well sometimes. But if you’re prepared every time, you have the confidence to go in there and execute,” Whitting said. “(Gasser’s) just going in there and throwing his pitches and executing them because he’s so prepared.” Gasser has reaped the rewards from his top-notch preparation. In eight starts in 2021, Gasser has only allowed 12 earned runs, posting a 2.19 ERA on the season. On top of that, the Cougars’ ace has had three of the program’s highest strikeout games since 2018, striking out 10, 11, nine and a career-high 12 over a four-game stretch from mid-March to early April. While Gasser’s success has been one of the top stories for UH baseball this year, the left-hander believes if he continues the same type of determined preparation he shows each week, then not only will his game rise to yet another level, but his teammates will follow in his footsteps to make the Cougars team as a whole better. “I like to lead by example by how I prepare. I feel like I’m one of the first guys there and one of the last guys to leave pretty much every day,” Gasser said. “Just doing that day in and day out, being relentless with my work ethic. Obviously, the results are what they are and I just want to continue what I’m doing.” sports@thedailycougar.com

UH tennis’ Helena Besovic (right) coaches up senior Mimi Kendall-Woseley during an event. | Courtesy of UH athletics

10 | Wednesday, April 21, 2021






Meghan Markle is brave for speaking out about Royal Family


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Meghan Markle recently had an interview with Oprah Winfrey where she exposed some concerning things about Britain’s royal family. A member of the royal family expressed concern for her son’s skin color, Markle felt suicidal, her child was going to be denied Royal security and much more. She has been met with a lot of compassion, but also a lot of criticism. People have criticized her for complaining when she knew what she was getting into, and that she’s just complaining for attention. Markle is being brave and standing up to racism and an abusive monarchy. The claim that Markle signed up for racism from the royal family is as ridiculous as it seems to excuse their treatment of her just because she may have been aware of their backward ideals. There are plenty of cases where

a person marries into a family that doesn’t like them. That doesn’t excuse their treatment of that person. Markle shouldn’t have to sacrifice being with the man she loves just because his family is racist. His family needs to do better. It’s important to realize how badly Markle was treated by the British media. Everything she said or did was bad according to the public. When she wrote about her miscarriage, people made fun of her, denied her struggle and claimed that she should’ve kept that to herself. Whether someone wants to hear about her miscarriage or not is up to them, but there is nothing wrong with her sharing her experience. It’s absolutely cruel for people to make fun of her miscarriage as those are typically very traumatic. She has dealt with backlash ever since she was revealed to be Prince Harry’s girlfriend. Press made fun of her age, being only

three years older than him, her previous divorce and, most of all, her race. When her bra strap showed for half a second on camera at a wedding, the press freaked, questioning if she did it deliberately. She has been repeatedly dealt with slutshaming and racism from the British press for a long time. That takes a toll on a person. People may say that Kate Middleton must deal with the same criticism since they are both married to British princes. While Middleton has dealt with criticism in the media, it’s nothing compared to what Markle has dealt with. The insults thrown at her by the media were not racially motivated, which is the biggest difference. Middleton has also been implied to be the good one between the two women. There has been some discourse about how Markle is rich and is fairly removed from struggle.

While she may be wealthy, this doesn’t change the fact that she is a victim of racism. No matter how wealthy a person is, racism can always affect them. She was still hurt by what happened. This situation also goes to show that racism is still very prevalent in the U.K. If Markle is affected by racism, imagine how Black, low-income women in the U.K. are affected by racism. Just because this happened to a wealthy woman doesn’t make it OK. It’s no surprise that a monarchy for a country that was the blueprint for western colonialism is racist. No one should be surprised by this. Meghan Markle has clearly experienced horrible treatment in her time with the royal family, and she is brave for speaking out. With all the backlash she’s received, people need to show support for her. opinion@thedailycougar.com

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021 | 11 JORDAN HART, EDITOR





Humans must come together to solve climate change

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Climate change occurs when the typical weather of a region that has been experienced for a long time begins to change in the long term, having many effects on environments, the world and those who inhabit it. Acknowledging the existence of climate change is the first step in preventing and stopping its spread, but many people choose not to take it seriously. For this reason, if things remain as they are, the climate will continuously get worse as the Earth ages. This can’t be allowed to happen, so education on climate change is so important. People need to know what they can do to slow it down and how everyone can come together to fight it. Climate change is also affecting the natural occurrences of the world, which have

remained the same or hardly unchanged for a long while now. Although many of these changes have yet to impact humans directly, they do have an indirect effect. Unfortunately, other organisms are impacted directly. The homes of many living creatures are being altered and destroyed, and people need to do more to stop this to ensure that they don’t suffer the same fate. As the most advanced species, we must protect ourselves, the planet and other living creatures. Many people wonder why climate change is so important and why it should be dealt with. The simple answer is because it ultimately affects every living organism on this planet. It is likely that if the general population continues to ignore climate change, the world will see its detrimental effects sooner rather than later.

As newer generations arise, so do new advances in science and technology, which include finding new energy resources that are not as harmful – or harmful at all – to the atmosphere or any living thing. For a long time now, humans have used up many hurtful resources to create energy, among other things. Now, it’s understood that these resources are harmful to the planet. They pollute the air, making the air in some places unbreathable, and they impact environments in ways that can permanently alter the way the planet runs. There are healthier and less harmful ways to get energy, people just have to be willing to change their terrible habits for the greater good. If Earth is being negatively affected, people, along with numerous other species, will be negatively affected too.

One large effect of climate change is the increasing temperatures in the world. The fact of the matter is that the Earth is slowly, but surely, getting hotter, and it’s only going to get worse until everyone opens their eyes and realizes that humans have the power to create change for the better. The truth is, this is a reason for panic. But humans can still slow down, stop and possibly even reverse the effects of climate change. With the increase in climate change-related effects, many politicians, world leaders and activists have used their voices and power to advocate for climate change action. This is why the Paris Agreement was created, in which President Joe Biden decided to re-enter after former President Donald Trump decided to take America out of it. The Paris Agreement is a

huge step in the right direction. It shows that more people are beginning to take it seriously, but fighting against climate change isn’t limited to powerful public figures. The power to stop it resides in our own hands as the people. There are many ways to advocate and fight for climate change action. Education is the first step, but there is so much more that can be done. So many people still do not see just how harmful climate change’s effects can be, but those who do have the power to help others see that it is a huge problem, not just in the U.S., but throughout the world. The country and the world must do more to ensure that effective solutions to climate change are carried out and that it is taken seriously. opinion@thedailycougar.com

12 | Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Profile for The Cougar

Issue 14, Volume 86 (4.21.2021)  

Issue 14, Volume 86 (4.21.2021)  


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