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@thedailycougar www.thedailycougar.com Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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Turning the page As the country moves on from Donald Trump, take a look at the incoming administration of President Joe Biden. | PG. 2 LIFE AND ARTS Movie theater attendance continues to dip as the coronavirus surges. | PG. 6

SPORTS The UH basketball team pushes on as COVID-19 mars its season. | PG. 7

OPINION Biden’s administration must prioritize human rights. | PG. 11

Issue 8, Volume 86


2 | Wednesday, January 20, 2021

NEWS

SYDNEY ROSE & EDITORS CRISTOBELLA DURRETTE,

@THEDAILYCOUGAR

THEDAILYCOUGAR.COM/NEWS

NATION

What to expect from Joe Biden’s presidency CRISTOBELLA DURRETTE

NEWS EDITOR

@ CRIST0BELLA

President Joe Biden has constructed his cabinet and announced his administrative picks, pending Senate confirmation, as he prepares for his presidency. The cabinet includes Vice President Kamala Harris and leaders in 15 executive departments, in addition to other key positions given cabinet-level authority. Biden currently awaits Congress’ confirmation of his nominees, specifically those that will assume national security and economic policy positions.

Domestic security has become even more important in the wake of the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, but impeachment proceedings started against former President Donald Trump could slow the Senate’s confirmation process, said UH political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus. “Most new administrations need a fairly wide runway to be able to accomplish their goals in the first 100 days, so anything else on that agenda is going to complicate that,” Rottinghaus said. “The Senate has dealt with these sorts of things before in big issues on the

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

national agenda as well as trying to confirm an incoming administration’s appointees. The process usually has the Senate split the days between one big national issue that they’re working on, and then half the day is spent dealing with the incoming administration and their appointees.” The Senate has scheduled

hearings for four key officials thus far. Hearings to confirm retired four-star Army general Lloyd Austin as defense secretary, economist Janet Yellen as treasury secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas for the homeland security secretary and longtime aide Antony Blinken for secretary of state will take place

on Jan. 19. College Democrats finance chair Henry Teccsi said Biden’s cabinet and administrative picks have come with little surprise. “No picks in general have been of any surprise to us, other than a handful of selections which we

BIDEN

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | 3 SYDNEY ROSE & EDITORS CRISTOBELLA DURRETTE,

THEDAILYCOUGAR.COM/NEWS

@THEDAILYCOUGAR

NEWS

CAMPUS

Student Government looks back, ahead to 2021 HAYA PANJWANI

EDITOR IN CHIEF

SENIOR STAFF WRITER @HAYAPANJW

The 57th Student Government Association administration spent the Summer and Fall 2020 terms working to increase on-campus inclusivity and addressing national issues like racial justice and the COVID-19 pandemic at a University level. In July, SGA approved the Muslim-Inclusive Reflection Spaces resolution which calls for the inclusion of carpeted floors and shelves in reflection spaces on campus to accommodate students who engage in worship on the floor. The addition requests were passed on to the University architect and the design team in charge of the reflection spaces. “We want to make sure that every prayer space on campus is inclusive for Muslims,” said SGA chief of staff Sterling White. After the Black Lives Matter movement experienced a resurgence over the summer, SGA started the fall semester by enacting legislation intended to tackle racial injustice on campus. The Say Their Names Resolution condemns systemic racial violence and lists direct political action the organization planned to take, while the Resolution in Opposition of Racial Injustice in the United States advocates for racial equity on campus and across the nation. As the pandemic continued into Fall 2020, SGA approved the Coog Strong, Mask On Resolution. The document confirms support for the University’s coronavirus health and safety guidelines, including

BIDEN

Continued from previous page might have believed would’ve been better elsewhere,” Tessci said. “(Biden) kind of did what we expected of him by picking regular centrists.” While it’s unclear how soon the Senate will vote on Biden’s picks, he plans to station career officials as interim agency heads in the meantime. “It’ll be a rare event for some key positions to not be filled, but there is in place in every agency, a sort of continuity plan, that allows things to function even without an agency head in place,” Rottinghaus said. In all, Senate confirmation for Biden’s cabinet picks could take approximately seven months, Rottinghaus said. Here’s who Biden has selected:

EDITORIAL BOARD Jhair Romero

MANAGING EDITOR

Donna Keeya WEB EDITOR

Mason Vasquez NEWS EDITORS

Sydney Rose Cristobella Durrette ASSTISTANT NEWS EDITORS

ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

James Mueller OPINION EDITOR

Jordan Hart

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Juana Garcia

ASSISTANT CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Gerald Sastra COPY CHIEF

Zai Davis

Aminah Tannir SPORTS EDITOR

Andy Yanez

STAFF EDITORIAL

File photo

wearing masks on campus and on-campus COVID-19 testing efforts. Student work groups also began implementing legislation passed in the previous academic year, including the Policy Reforms Act. The legislation aims to prevent a disproportionate police presence at some student organization events over others after Black student organizations reported feeling overpoliced. “Some student organizations felt like they were being over-policed, or more policed than others,” White said. Collaborating with the UH Police Department, the work groups strived to ensure equal policing across University events and encourage providing explanations as to why increased security would be necessary at

National security The riot at the Capitol has raised national security concerns about more unrest. “Everyone’s on pins and needles because of what happened, and the expectations of what could happen in the next few weeks and even the next few months,” Rottinghaus said. “This increases the importance of having key staff and key personnel in place.” Teccsi agrees that the Capitol attack highlights the necessity of domestic security efforts. “The attacks on the Capitol have shaken all of us and we still look as to what will happen next in light of these events,” Teccsi said. “I’m sure I can speak for all Americans when I say that these positions are more important now than ever, and that we need adults in these positions who will keep everyone safe and

certain events. Additionally, the Equity for Students with Disabilities and CSD Support Act called for the prioritization of voices of students with disabilities and supported the expansion of accessibility measures for students with disabilities. The legislation also advocated for the fulfillment of staffing and funding made by the Center for Students with Disabilities, as well as disability inclusion training. Going into the spring semester, SGA is working on key legislation and to support the establishment of new programs to help students feel welcome on campus. White hopes to implement a program to help transfer students engage with the UH community, similar to a peer mentorship group established

for international students in Fall 2020. The International Student Support Act created the program, in collaboration with the International Student and Scholar Services office. The program aims to address the specific needs of international students who may contend with challenges, such as cultural isolation and social differences, and to create meaningful relationships between them. “To be able to see the international student program take off and for people to actually enjoy this semester with this group when they can’t really be enjoying it normally, has been really fulfilling,” White said. “I’m really excited to hopefully do the same for transfer students.”

ensure these things don’t happen again.” Biden’s selected officials will oversee the nation’s intelligence and defense, engage with world leaders and work with international blocs. Among those chosen are several picks who will make history for the position if they receive Senate confirmation. Biden’s longtime aide, Blinken, has been nominated to serve as secretary of state. Blinken worked as the deputy secretary of state and the deputy national security adviser during the former President Barack Obama’s administration. If confirmed, he will lead foreign policy and worldwide diplomacy for the president. Blinken has repeatedly vocalized his multilateral belief in the importance of working with allies and

within international treaties, a departure from Trump administration’s “America first” tact with international affairs. Biden has nominated Mayorkas to serve as the secretary of homeland security, in which position he will advise the president on security issues within the United States, including counter-terrorism and cybersecurity. If confirmed, Mayorkas will be the first immigrant and the first Latino to be selected for the role. Austin has been named Biden’s pick for secretary of defense, although he will need to gain congressional exemption due to his recent retirement from service at the Pentagon. If Austin remains unconfirmed by Jan. 20, Biden will be one

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BIDEN

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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.

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4 | Wednesday, January 20, 2021

NEWS

SYDNEY ROSE & EDITORS CRISTOBELLA DURRETTE,

THEDAILYCOUGAR.COM/NEWS

@THEDAILYCOUGAR

COVID-19

What it’ll take to achieve herd immunity from COVID-19 AMINAH TANNIR

ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR @AMOUNAJT

The term herd immunity is gaining attention as vaccines are being distributed around the country to healthcare workers and high risk groups. Although it seems straightforward, it’s not so easily acquired. Herd immunity occurs when many people in a population become immune, either by exposure to the virus or from vaccination, and it stops the chain of infection. To achieve herd immunity, around 70 percent of the population would need to be immune to the coronavirus. Medical officials are estimating that for coronavirus in particular, the range would be increasing to between 75 and 85 percent. As of Tuesday, over 31 million doses have been distributed in the U.S., but only 12 million have been administered. Around 1.5 million people have taken the second dose. “In order to prevent further loss of life, we must achieve herd immunity now through vaccinations,” said Bhavna Lall, clinical professor at the UH College of Medicine. By reaching herd immunity,

BIDEN

Continued from page 3 of two presidents in modern history to not have the position filled by day one.

Economic, financial and trade policy The pandemic has generated far-reaching economic consequences that extend beyond immediate decline. The Biden administration’s economic, financial and trade policy heads will need to be on the same page to revive the economy, Rottinghaus said. “I think that they need a consistent strategy and they need to have clear execution. That’s been something that the Trump administration has been challenged on and the Biden team cannot afford to have any delays on this,” Rottinghaus said. “(The Biden administration) have made promises that are going to be impossible to keep if they aren’t all really detailoriented, aren’t dedicated to the goal and don’t execute well.” Biden has named Yellen as his nominee for secretary of the treasury, where she would advise

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

Lall said that this could greatly help high risk populations that have a higher likelihood of experiencing severe complications from the virus. Although the vaccine is around 95 percent effective in preventing an individual from contracting the virus, there isn’t research

to prove that the vaccine will prevent an individual from transmitting the virus to others. “We do not know how much asymptomatic transmission occurs if someone vaccinated becomes infected with COVID19,” said Lall. “It is important that people who do get

vaccinated continue to mask and social distance until the rest of the population is vaccinated.” Lall said that the further into the process of distributing the vaccine to the general population, it is a must to wear a mask, wash your hands and continue social distancing. Other

practices to be weary of include gathering in large groups and spending an extended time in indoor settings. “Once we achieve herd immunity, we can begin to return to normal routines,” said Lall.

the president on economic policy and the financial system. If selected, she will be the first woman to run the department. But Yellen is no stranger to breaking barriers; the economist came into the profession at a time when few women entered the male-dominated field and went on to become the first woman to run the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018. Cecilia Rouse, current dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, has been nominated as the chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers. The labor economist previously served as a member of the CEA during the Obama administration and worked on the issue of long-term unemployment following the 2008 financial crisis. If confirmed, Rouse will be the first African American to chair the CEA. Biden has selected the House Ways and Means committee’s chief trade lawyer, Katherine Tai, as the nominee to be the U.S. trade representative. She has previously assisted in passing the revised North

America Free Trade Agreement and prosecuted several Chinese trade practice cases. If confirmed, Tai will be the first woman of color to hold the position.

maximize both responsive and neutral competence.” “The neutral competence is that you’re objectively qualified for a job, and then responsive competence is that you’re going to watch the president’s back,” Rottinghaus added. More specifically tasked with the nation’s health concerns, Xavier Becerra has been nominated to serve as the secretary of health and human services. The California attorney general and former congressman has previously led a campaign of 20 states and Washington, D.C., to protect the Affordable Care Act. If confirmed, Becerra will be tasked with handling the pandemic that has killed almost 400,000 people nationwide. He will also begin overseeing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Health. He would make history as the first Latino to head the Department of Health and Human Services.

Changes may be coming to public health, as well as education. Biden has named Miguel Cardona as his pick to serve as the secretary of education. Cardona, the Connecticut education commissioner since 2019, will be responsible for advising the president on education policy and overseeing financial aid for students. His appointment could lead to significant changes in debt relief policy, but any proposal would have to be couched in larger budgetary discussions. “One of the big issues the Biden administration will confront is whether or not to provide for debt relief for students who are in more serious debt,” Rottinghaus said. “There have been some proposals floated that would potentially alleviate the debt of tens of millions of students or former students. That requires Congress to act, that’s going to be a tough lift because you’ve got some deficit hawks in the Republican and Democratic parties who might object.”

Additional cabinet members Biden has named picks for officials across departments to run the White House and to execute his policy agenda. This includes Ron Klain, who has been named as the White House chief of staff. In addition to serving as Biden’s chief of staff during the latter’s vice-presidency, Klain also worked as the “Ebola czar” under Obama when the disease broke out in 2014. His experience coordinating agencies in response to disease outbreak makes him a good pick for the position, Rottinghaus said. “When we study agency staffing, usually there’s a tradeoff between political connection … And substantive skill in an area. In this case, Klain’s got both,” Rottinghaus said. “This is a good position and a good choice because it’s hard to

news@thedailycougar.com

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | 5 SYDNEY ROSE & EDITORS CRISTOBELLA DURRETTE,

THEDAILYCOUGAR.COM/LIFE-ARTS

@THEDAILYCOUGAR

LIFE ANDNEWS ARTS

BOOKS

Reading books for fun decreases as students start college SYDNEY ROSE

NEWS EDITOR @SYDNEY_ROSEY

Reading for fun can be a common pastime for many people. As students begin their college lives, a common issue with most avid readers is finding the time to read between classes and campus life. Reading books for leisure can sometimes clash with reading books required for courses. Many college students have been turned away from reading in their down time as class readings are taking up time in themselves. “Before college, I used to read at least a book per month and the reason I don’t do it as often anymore is because I don’t have the time,” said English and French junior Alexis Arteaga. As an English major, Arteaga has literature classes where he is assigned books to read and papers or essays to write about the novels. “I would say this motivates me

to read more even if it’s not for fun,” Arteaga said. College can encourage students who used to read across multiple genres to open up and try reading more traditional classic novels for classes. Yet, this can also discourage reading for fun for those who do not prefer classic novels, because it can begin to make getting through a book feel like getting through a chore. After students get to college, reading time shrinks down to about half an hour a day or less, a survey from China Daily shows. Nearly 60 percent of the college students that were spoken to said they were dissatisfied with their reading habits, according to the survey, An interest in reading could also be transformed into a love for media content such as TV shows and movies. With all the media being based on book content, converting storylines from novels into 30 minutes or

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

less episodes of a TV show can help channel a college student’s attention span. Advertisers for TV networks may even begin channeling content meant to be geared towards the college experience and college students, according to The New York Times.

As students begin their life at college, time becomes more dedicated to adult tasks and narrowing down which hobbies will stick with you for the rest of your life, and for some, reading for fun does not make the cut. “I think that what has caused the decline of my reading habits

is the myriad of responsibilities I have as an adult now,” Arteaga said. “Besides school, I also have to do adult things which require much time.” arts@thedailycougar.com


6 | Wednesday, January 20, 2021

LIFE AND ARTS NEWS

SYDNEY ROSE & EDITORS CRISTOBELLA DURRETTE,

THEDAILYCOUGAR.COM/LIFE-ARTS

@THEDAILYCOUGAR

MOVIES

Movie theater attendance decreases as pandemic continues HEBAH AMJAD

STAFF WRITER

With the ongoing pandemic, many businesses have been jeopardized, especially those that typically involve large crowds. Movie theaters in particular have reached an alltime low. All Regal Cinemas nationwide, including five major Houston locations, will be closed temporarily until further notice, according to the Houston Chronicle. However, this decision not only affects moviegoers, but also approximately 45,000 people unemployed due to the Regal Cinema closures. New releases are now being made readily available on virtual streaming platforms such as Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max and more. “(I use) Netflix, Hulu and Disney+, as well as Amazon Prime, about every day, especially now that we are off classes. But before or (on) an average day, I’ll watch like an episode or two of a show or like half a movie,” said biochemistry

freshman Alyssa Delgado. With new cinematic features being readily available at ones fingertips, where will the future for movie theaters stand after COVID-19 passes? “I think that movie theaters will remain open afterwards, even if there are movies on streaming services because going to the cinema is a different experience than having friends at home to watch the movie with,” Delgado said. Delgado said she holds an optimistic approach to the future of cinematic experience. “After the pandemic, I’d still consider going to the movies,” said biology freshman Reyna Amezcua. Both students say they would watch movies in the theater on average once every other month prior to COVID-19, but anticipate theaters to have a better outlook in the upcoming years post COVID-19. Movie theaters could make a comeback similarly to how they did during previous pandemics, according to the BBC.

Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

About a century ago, the Spanish Flu affected millions around the world, alongside the end of World War I. Even though the coronavirus outweighs the severity of the flu outbreak, after

the global crisis, many flocked back to the theaters in hopes of feeling the experience that comes from the movie-watching in the cinema again. “To me, going to the movies

is more about going out. They’re still a good social activity, it’ll just be a while before they make a comeback,” Amezcua said. arts@thedailycougar.com

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | 7 ANDY YANEZ, EDITOR

THEDAILYCOUGAR.COM/SPORTS

@THECOUGARSPORTS

SPORTS NEWS

CORONAVIRUS

Kelvin Sampson, UH men’s team battle through season marred by COVID-19

ANDY YANEZ

SPORTS EDITOR @AYANEZ_5

For years, Kelvin Sampson and his Houston men’s basketball program had a routine for games away from the city. The team left the day before, arrived at its destination in the early afternoon and aimed to get a practice in at the opposing team’s arena. So on Jan. 13, the Cougars did just that. They departed from the UH campus at around 10 a.m. to get on a plane that was set to depart around 11 a.m. Shortly after Sampson’s team touched down in Tampa, Florida, they got the word. South Florida had received positive COVID19 cases and subsequent contact tracing followed. Its game against UH scheduled for the following day had been postponed. The Cougars, now stuck in Florida, scrambled to make the best of an unfortunate situation. One thing the UH head coach did not allow was for his players to whine. “Here pretty soon, the death total is about to be over 400,000 Americans that have lost their lives, I do not want to hear one complaint about a basketball game getting canceled,” Sampson said. “We’ll get over it. We’re fine.” Instead, his team called an audible. The first thing the Cougars did was contact USF to make sure it was safe for them to use their facility to get a practice in. Once they were given the green light, that is exactly what they did. “(We) got after it,” said UH senior guard DeJon Jarreau on the USF situation. “Got a lot of shots up in the gym. Just (to) keep our wind, keep us on our feet. The day of the game, we flew back. It was just a tragic thing that happened. I hope those guys are doing well.”

A break in tradition On Friday after the Cougars were supposed to play the Bulls, Sampson met with reporters in a nearly 20-minute Zoom call. The focus was supposed to be on their upcoming matchup with UCF, but instead, much of the time was spent on COVID-19 protocols and adjustments. “This isn’t a point the finger type of thing,” Sampson said. “As coaches, we need to help. We need to help our medical people.” The Pembroke, North Carolina, native described a conversation he had with the team’s head athletic trainer, John Houston. The two agreed on a change in approaching road games, Sampson said. The Cougars will now wait until they get back the test results of their opponents before departing. Even if it means leaving campus later and being unable to practice in the opposing team’s gym. “That’s OK,” Sampson said. “We’ll get over that. It’s not the end of the world.” The need to change another approach was a reminder of how COVID-19 is dictating this season. The virus already has its fingerprints in

a lot of things UH does, and this just adds another thing. In coaches meetings, UH wears masks. During film study, they wear masks. When they practice, Sampson and the staff wear a mask. They wear masks on the bus, on the plane and going to the hotel. The only time masks are not required is when players are in practice or on the court for a game, at least as of now. Teams playing on the campus of Boston University, of the Patriot League, set a mask mandate during games at the beginning of January. When asked about it, Sampson said that has not been discussed with the American Athletic Conference. He also added it shows a bigger issue of there being no universal rules within the NCAA. “Everybody reacts differently,” he said.

Reaching the finish line Ultimately, the goal of this season is to reach March for the 2021 NCAA Tournament after last year’s competition was canceled. The NCAA already announced its plan of hosting the entire event within Indianapolis Head coach Kelvin Sampson approaches his team’s bench during pre-game introductions in a game against Central Florida at Fertitta Center on Jan. 17. | Andy Yanez/The Cougar and its surrounding area. How teams get there, will be different for everybody. Prior to the Cougars departing for Florida, Sampson was watching Temple’s game against SMU. What caught his eye was the Owls’ record at the time. Entering that contest, they were only 1-3. Four games. That is all they had been able to play. In comparison, at that same time, UH’s record was 10-1. It had managed to play 11 matchups, and that includes a 15-day pause it had to endure in the middle of December. “No complaints,” Sampson said. “I’m just thankful that we’re having the opportunity to play. I gave our kids a lesson in perspective.” As the Cougars enter the heart of their conference schedule, plenty of uncertainty clouds the team. One thing Sampson is confident about is that not all games will be rescheduled. He called it: inevitable. March Madness may start a week or two early this season. Not the tournament, but actual chaos. Fitting for a 12-month period that has been precisely that — maddening. “It’s going to be a little bit crazy,” Sampson said. “I think what is going to happen is the week of the conference tournament, most everybody is going to play Saturday or Sunday (the week before). The conference tournament starts Thursday … Others play Friday.” So that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Sampson thinks there will be teams trying to reschedule games on those days. Whether it happens, only time will tell. “Do you really want to add another game or a possible two games that week?” Sampson said. “Obviously we won’t be able to reschedule all … Some of these games, cannot and will not be made up.” sports@thedailycougar.com


8 | Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | 9 ANDY YANEZ, EDITOR

THEDAILYCOUGAR.COM/SPORTS

@THECOUGARSPORTS

SPORTS NEWS

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Always keeping it 100

How Eryka Sidney has led UH ANDY YANEZ

SPORTS EDITOR @AYANEZ_5

As the game clock ticked away under the two-minute mark in the overtime period, the scoreboard images inside of Fertitta Center on Jan. 25, 2020, flashed with numbers that showed the Houston women’s basketball team holding a fivepoint edge over Wichita State. Clank. Shockers forward Raven Prince missed a three and tracking down the rebound was forward Dorian Branch. She quickly sprinted to the other end of the court. A few seconds later, the ball found her hands again. This time she fired a 3-point shot of her own. Swish. The 3-point basket extended the UH’s lead to eight. It ended up being the final field goal the team made on its way to a victory. For Branch, the shot was only her second made basket of the game. While she was 1 of 8 from the field prior to it, the forward had the confidence to pull the trigger. One of the reasons why was

because of guard Eryka Sidney, who was not even eligible to play due to transfer rules, had continued to motivate Branch to keep shooting throughout the contest, the Dallas native said.

Sidney’s impact For Branch, it was just one example of the 5-foot-6-inch guard’s vibrant personality, or as UH women’s basketball head coach Ronald Hughey described it — infectious. It also showed why Branch had wanted to take Sidney under her wing and guide her as she learned about the UH program. Oftentimes, however, it was Sidney, who also provided support to her fellow players. “As a teammate, she always kept it 100 with us,” Branch told The Cougar in a phone interview. “No matter if we won or we lost, she always was one of those people that would tell us ‘all you had to do was this during a game.’ She was definitely always an extra coach for the players.” Now in her first season playing

for UH as a redshirt senior, Sidney has gotten the opportunity to show her skills on the hardwood. After Saturday’s game against ECU, her 3-point shooting percentage stands at an outstanding 48.3 percent. Sidney even set a single-game American Athletic Conference record for best field-goal percentage when she finished perfect from behind the arc, making five long-distance shots on as many attempts in a game that was, coincidentally, also against Wichita State. “It’s been a learning process,” said Sidney on her adjustment.

Passing wisdom Even though Branch graduated after last season, her lessons have not been forgotten by Sidney. Being a motivational leader is something Sidney has not left behind either. This season, she has paid close attention to freshman guard Laila Blair and junior guard Ca’leyah Burrell. Occasionally, Sidney and Blair sit down to have bible discussions.

UH guard Eryka Sidney (0) dribbles around Tulsa senior guard Rebecca Lescay inside of Fertitta Center on Jan. 13. | Courtesy of UH athletics

The Houston native makes sure to check in with both of them and ensure they’re doing OK from a mental standpoint in a campaign that is always covered by the blanket of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “I never expected the season to be easy or anything less than hard with COVID-19 and other stuff that we had, but I don’t regret it,” Sidney said. “It really builds character and brings a lot of people closer together.” While at times, it seems like Sidney has spent her entire collegiate career at UH based on the attention she commands, it is her personality that enables all of it. “They could be playing a pickup game, and Eryka could get 60

people to come and play just because people would want to be around her,” Hughey said. As the Cougars prepare to enter the middle of its conference schedule, they sit at 7-4 overall and 4-3 against other AAC opponents, and Sidney is not ready to start letting the foot off the gas. Instead, she is leaning on a lesson that she picked up from the UH coaches, and one she hopes spreads to the entire roster. “You always have another gear,” Sidney said. “(Do) not be satisfied with good. Don’t be satisfied at all because there is no finish line. You always have room to improve and here, you got the green light to do that.” sports@thedailycougar.com

MEN’S BASKETBALL

From Dickinson to Holman Street: Tramon Mark seemed destined for UH

JAMES MUELLER

entered the program, referring to him as a “Swiss Army Knife” because of his variety of skills. “Tramon’s greatest strength is he doesn’t really have any weaknesses,” Sampson said. “He does everything pretty good, but I think some of the things he does pretty good has a chance to move up another level.”

ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR @JDM2186

In April 2019, Kelvin Sampson did something he rarely does. He took his entire staff to meet with a recruit: Tramon Mark. Mark, a junior at Dickinson High School at the time, was ranked the third-highest player of his class in the state by 247 Sports and 72nd nationally in the 2020 ESPN 100. Alongside Mark, his parents and high school coach, Sampson and his staff expressed how they believed he was a perfect fit. “We sat in a room and I made sure that (Mark) understood how important he was to our program and that I wanted to coach him,” Sampson said.

High school baller Mark had first caught Sampson’s eye during a game in his sophomore season at Dickinson. The UH coach knew Mark was special. “When I saw (Tramon) as a (high school) sophomore, he had me at hello,” Sampson said. “I knew he was going to be good.” Jason Wilson, Mark’s coach for four years at Dickinson, described Mark as a quiet kid when he entered high school as a freshman, but he had the same feeling gut

Transitioning UH freshman guard Tramon Mark attacks the basket with a defender nearby inside of Fertitta Center during the 2020-21 season. | Courtesy of UH athletics

feeling that Sampson did about Mark. While the guard did not say much during his first season at Dickinson, his talent and pure athleticism spoke loud and clear. “I had little to do with (Mark) just being gifted and talented,” Wilson said. “He was just a gifted and talented player from the jump.”

Mutual interest Not only had many people recognized the 6-foot-5-inch guard’s talent early in his high school career, but he also watched the Cougars from afar. While Mark was widely recruited and received offers from California, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and TCU,

UH really stood out to him. “Watching (UH) play, they just played how I would envision myself playing,” Mark said. “I love watching (them) play and now that I’m playing with them, it’s even better.” Shortly after that April meeting with Sampson and his staff, Mark committed to the Cougars. Mark continued to rack up accomplishments including being invited to the NBA Top 100 Camp and leading the event in assists, as well as being named the 2020 Guy V. Lewis Award winner, an award given to the top high school player in the greater Houston area. Sampson raved about Mark’s talent before he even officially

After graduating from Dickinson, Mark stepped foot on the UH campus and officially became a member of the Cougars. Transitioning from high school to an NCAA Division I basketball player, however, presents many challenges. The biggest adjustment in the transition from high school to college for Mark has not been the physical side of things, but rather the mental aspect. “It’s definitely more mental in college,” Mark said. “That’s something I’m going through right now, just getting my mental toughness right every day. Your mental toughness has really got to be on point.” Along with having to develop mental toughness, Mark has gone from being “the man” on his high school team, to now being on a UH

team full of talent at every position. Switching from being the guy that did everything, to now taking on a completely different role with UH is something Mark is still adjusting to. “If you’re really a good player, you get in where you can fit in easily. I think I’m making that adjustment right now,” Mark said. “I’m just trying to get in where I can fit in on the team and do my thing but still let everyone else do their thing.”

Leaving a Mark While Mark is still adjusting to all the new changes and challenges college presents, he has already made an impact for UH. Mark scored 22 points in his collegiate debut against Lamar and has been named the American Athletic Conference freshman of the week multiple times. This was exactly what Wilson expected Mark to do after seeing Mark grow and develop right in front of his eyes. “Tramon has worked for this opportunity and he’s such a special talent,” Wilson said. “Being able to see him for four years do some of the things he’s done, I’m not surprised at anything he’s doing.” sports@thedailycougar.com


10 | Wednesday, January 20, 2021

OPINION NEWS

JORDAN HART, EDITOR

@THEDAILYCOUGAR

THEDAILYCOUGAR.COM/OPINION

CAPITOL RIOT

i Capitol riot shows that intentions of any movement matters ANNA BAKER

thedailycougar.com

ABOUT THE COUGAR

STAFF COLUMNIST

After supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, there have been many conservatives defending the riot by comparing it to the Black Lives Matter protests. While in both cases, property was damaged, it’s not fair to compare them. The reasoning behind BLM protests is what makes the movement valid. Trump supporters stormed the Capitol based on lies. The motivation of these movements makes them incomparable. One is moral and based on facts while the other is based on false information. On Jan. 6, Trump supporters broke into the U.S. Capitol building with the goal of stopping Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the president-elect. People broke in through windows, ransacked offices and broke into the Senate’s chamber. QAnon supporters and Proud Boys sat in the chairs of Congress with Trump flags around their necks. Representatives and senators had to be evacuated, and a police officer was beaten to death. People in the crowd exhibited a lot of racism, including anti-Semitic statements on T-shirts, Confederate flags and Nazi flags. Following this event, politicians have been condemning the people who stormed the Capitol. However, many Republicans have been calling Democrats hypocrites because of their support for BLM protests. They argue that BLM protests resulted in property damage too, so what difference does it make when Trump supporters do the same thing?

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This argument is ridiculous as it simplifies these protests down to the property damage resulting from them. At some BLM protests, there was property damage, but the BLM movement addresses racist police violence. They don’t aim to destroy property. There’s a big difference between looting a Target and breaking into the U.S. Capitol building with the intent to force Congress people to bend to your will and uproot an entire national election. One is breaking and entering plus petty theft while the other is treason. There are differing opinions as to whether destroyed property is okay or not, but most people can agree that it’s better to harm property over a good cause than a bad one. This is the case when the two

movements are compared. BLM supporters are protesting the wrongful deaths of Black people who were killed by racist violent cops. Their cause is moral and based on truth. Cops are proven to have racial bias, and there are numerous disturbing video evidence of these wrongful deaths. However, these capitol stormers were protesting under the guise that Trump actually won the election but lost from voter fraud. This isn’t true. There has been no proof of mass voter fraud in this recent election. All leads on this theory have been debunked. Despite these ideas of voter fraud being untrue, these people still decided to break into the Capitol and attempt to derail the democracy. One person even came in with zip ties, implying

they planned on physically restraining congress members. These people wanted to violently overthrow the U.S. government, which isn’t OK. The issue when comparing the Capitol riot to BLM protests is that the intentions behind these movements are different. One is based on truth and righteousness while the other is based on conspiracy theories and bigotry. Even if some BLM protests resulted in property damage, the movement still aims for something good, so it should be supported. That’s why the argument that BLM supporters are hypocrites for condemning the Capitol riot is ridiculous. Intentions matter for every protest. opinion@thedailycougar.com

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | 11 JORDAN HART, EDITOR

THEDAILYCOUGAR.COM/OPINION

@THEDAILYCOUGAR

OPINION NEWS

HUMAN RIGHTS

Human rights should be a priority for Biden administration ADBULLAH DOWAIHY

STAFF COLUMNIST

Former President Donald Trump’s administration pulled out of the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2018 with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley stating that it always “makes a mockery of human rights.” The Trump administration accuses the Human Rights Council of being an unfair bully to Israel and ignores other human rights abusers, such as China. All of this is a fair criticism of the council, but the solution is wrong. Now, the U.S. is dealing with its own negative human rights record due to police brutality, military intervention in other countries such as Iraq or Yemen, supporting brutal dictators and an expensive health care system. The U.S. just elected Joe Biden, who promises to “put universal rights and strengthening democracy at the center of (the administration’s) efforts to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

If President Biden seriously wants to succeed in improving human rights at home and abroad, his administration must rejoin the council. The Biden administration must use its power to build a more effective global mechanism that will help improve the record of the U.S. and other countries. No one can deny that the U.S. is the most powerful country in the world for now. It has used its power to intervene in countries and remove its leaders, but this isn’t the right way for the U.S. to use its power. It can use its power to kick human rights abusers, like the Philippines, out from the council. This should inspire other nations to join the U.S. in creating an accountability system by calling out governments in violation. Some countries have important trading and economic ties with abusive nations, but there has to be a stipulation on human rights when it comes to trading. That’s why the Biden administration must use U.S.

trading power to establish a new global economic order. The U.S. also has a messy human rights record with activists around the world who view the United States as a villain, not a hero, on the subject, with its police brutalities and military interventions. The U.S. can set an example to the world by allowing investigators into the country so they can critique its record. The U.S. must also follow the recommendations from any reports on the country. That way less powerful countries can feel comfortable doing the same thing without feeling like they are being coerced by the U.S. This could lead to international improvements, even if it’s still insufficient. It helps facilitate a better understanding of global human rights and makes it part of every country’s national discourse. It’s important for the American people to start pushing the Biden administration to uphold its

Renee Josse de Lisle/The Cougar

commitment to human rights. It is not enough to say that once Trump is out of office, everything will go back to the way things were. We should not want to go

back to normal, but to build a better world where our rights are respected not just with words but with actions. opinion@thedailycougar.com


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Issue 8, Volume 86 (1.20.2021)  

Issue 8, Volume 86 (1.20.2021)  

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