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@thedailycougar www.thedailycougar.com Wednesday, February 3, 2021

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Change of Plans Almost a year later, the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect student internships. | PG. 2 LIFE AND ARTS The popularity of Squishmallows plush toys has skyrocketed. | PG. 5

SPORTS Lessons of life during and after war still resonate for Helena Besovic. | PG. 8

OPINION Biden made the right move by blocking the Keystone XL pipeline. | PG. 11

Issue 9, Volume 86

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Pandemic alters internships for students seeking experience HAYA PANJWANI


For some students, internships have remained hard to find during the pandemic. Students have worked hard to adjust to online classes. Along with their course load, many students seek experiential learning opportunities outside of the virtual classroom through internships to enhance their portfolios and to prepare themselves for the workforce. But complications caused by COVID-19 have halted or changed internships. “I have not found an internship, and it’s been really hard because there’s less opportunities to network with people in person due to (COVID-19),” said marketing and supply chain management junior Nina Joseph. “I am a person who thrives on speaking with people in person, so having to switch over to Zoom screens has been very challenging because of all the awkward social encounters that come with technology.” With pandemic-induced hiring freezes at companies she once desired to work for, Joseph’s perspective on her long-term goals has shifted. “I initially was undecided of what I wanted to do with my career, but seeing how companies were able to thrive in a global pandemic

via phone and computer screens inspired me to figure out what I wanted to do, which is getting into digital marketing, specifically social media marketing,” Joseph said. “It made me fall in love with the idea of digital marketing even more because it’s so much more interactive, and you get to see people shed the stereotypical corporate lifestyle to interact with consumers,” Joseph added. For students seeking guidance when their initial internship or career plans don’t work out as expected, University Career Services can help them to discover what they want to do postgraduation and to connect with opportunities to help in achieving that goal. “A huge portion of what we do is experiential learning,” said Tiffany Bitting, associate director of UCS. “We’re really big on having students get internships, connect with professionals. So, we do a lot of meet and greets, a lot of prep weeks where we bring professionals to UCS, virtually to connect with students for all majors so that you can have your own little mini network.” By gaining internship experience throughout their college career, students have been able to nab prestigious internships at global companies that can further prepare them to join the workforce. Management information

Gerald Sasta/The Cougar

systems senior Rodrigo Alvarado scored an internship with Amazon as a project manager during the pandemic. Working remotely with other Amazon interns in his time zone, Alvarado attended daily webinars, received an online curriculum fitted to the program and presented a final project. Alvarado found it easier to secure his upcoming internship with McDonald’s after his experience with Amazon. “I went through three rounds of interviews, all virtually, and was supposed to be flown out

to Chicago for the final round of interview, but sadly it was moved to a virtual setting due to (COVID19) and I had to complete the final round from home. McDonald’s sent us $20 in UberEats credit to order some (McDonald’s) on our lunch breaks,” Alvarado said. Alvarado received an offer from McDonald’s for Summer 2021, although he has not received word about whether his internship will be in person or remote. Bitting suggests that students looking for an internship should create a resume and cover

letter and attend the virtual sessions hosted by UCS. She also recommends students do their homework on an organization that they want to work for before applying. “The No. 1 feedback we’ve gotten from professionals in the industry is doing your research on the employer. Company research is key,” said Bitting. “We just strongly encourage students to learn about the company’s mission, their vision.” news@thedailycougar.com


VP Kamala Harris a milestone in female representation RAVEN WUEBKER


The inauguration of the first female and first South Asian vice president, Kamala Harris, carries significance for women across the nation, including those working for equity, inclusivity and accessibility for all genders on campus. For Women and Gender Resource Center director Anneliese Bustillo, Vice President Harris is a reflection of the country and hopes it will have a positive impact on female students. “I hope that female students will challenge narratives they’ve heard in the past about women not being leaders,” Bustillo said. “I am very hopeful that the women currently in politics will continue up the ladder to break

that ultimate glass ceiling and see our first female president. I can’t even begin to articulate how wonderful it is that our first female vice president has so many intersecting identities.” With the change in administration and the influx of women in policy-making roles, the more the presence of women in these positions becomes normalized and the more women that can be elected in coming elections, said Elizabeth Gregory, director of the women’s, gender and sexuality studies program. “As more women get into policy-making roles, they can build momentum around issues of concern to women (like women’s wages),” Gregory said. Harris’s intersectional identity as a woman of color makes her an influential figure, Gregory said. “Harris is breaking multiple

ceilings at once, so she is a particularly powerful image – for women, for African Americans, for African American women, for South Asians and for South Asian women,” Gregory said. Devon Fan, the program manager for sexual misconduct support services at the WGRC, believes that having a female vice president will strengthen the UH community, regardless of their political party, due to the power of female representation and diversity. “As an Asian woman, I know it has been an incredible experience seeing a vice president in office who represents even one of my identities, let alone multiple,” Fan said. “No matter what one’s political ideology may be, it is awe-inspiring to be able to look at the screen and say, ‘I have more in common with this VP

Then-vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris speaks at a campaign event at UH on Oct. 30, 2020. | Donna Keeya/The Cougar

than any other VP in the history of this country.’” Fan also hopes having a woman in the role of vice president will have a positive impact on female students. “I think a huge part of college is the process of introspection and self-discovery; hopefully, having a female VP will add even more depth and nuance to female college students’ academic experiences,” Fan said. “I hope that seeing a woman get sworn in as VP, especially amidst the uncertainty of a global

pandemic, will serve as a sign of the continued fight for gender equity.” Bustillo hopes that the idea of fighting to elect women to positions of political power will become an idea of the past. “I hope we always celebrate the achievements of Vice President Harris, but I also cannot wait for the day that we look back and seem amazed that it was even a fight to have a woman vice president,” Bustillo said. news@thedailycougar.com






SAT changes adapt to pandemic to help students EDITORIAL BOARD EDITOR IN CHIEF

Jhair Romero


Donna Keeya WEB EDITOR

Mason Vasquez NEWS EDITORS

Sydney Rose Cristobella Durrette ASSTISTANT NEWS EDITORS



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.


Juana Garcia/The Cougar



With College Board’s decision to eliminate the writing section and subject tests from the SAT, college students and incoming freshmen discuss how the test affected their admissions while in a pandemic. Many college admissions require SAT scores as a part of the acceptance process, and before the time of coronavirus and social distancing, this could include an optional writing section or separate scores for the subject tests offered by the College Board. Kaplan, a test prep group for the SAT, ACT and more, have been affected by this change in SAT format based on how they help students preparing for college. “The reality is that although there was a lot of initial interest in the writing section, it didn’t live up to expectations and as the years went by, colleges became less enthusiastic about it, citing their existing ability to

gauge applicants’ writing skills through their own application essays,” said Kaplan executive director of College Admissions Programs Isaac Botier. The writing section was originally added to the SAT back in 2005 and became an optional, separately graded portion of the test in 2016, Botier said, and the elimination of the writing section altogether is one less thing for students to prepare for and reduces stress. Hotel and restaurant management sophomore Sydney Hetherington is finishing her first year at UH and said she never took the optional writing section with her SAT. “I think the exam is good as it stands, but it isn’t a sole indicator of the student’s knowledge,” Hetherington said. As the coronavirus pandemic has been ongoing for about a year, psychology and Spanish freshman Briana Azad remembers the added stress preparing for the SAT gave her before being admitted at UH. “My experience with the SAT

was really stressful. I remember taking practice test after practice test trying to perfect my score,” Azad said. “At the end of the day, I feel like the SAT wasn’t the best measure of my intelligence (and) academic capabilities.” Without the writing section and subject tests, Azad said the test may have been a little easier. She felt as though the subject tests did not seem necessary in the long run. “I felt like I needed to make myself look like a better candidate by doing the optional writing section and a few subject tests, which didn’t seem too much of an option when so many universities say doing them is recommended,” Azad said. As students in their high school years are preparing for college by taking the SAT, the College Board permanently eliminating the writing section and subject tests to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic is aimed to be helpful for these future college freshmen.

Azad mentors high school students as they prepare for the SAT and sees the way the test seems to dominate their academic careers, she said. The SAT subject tests and essay will no longer be given to students preparing for college in the U.S., but international students are still able to complete those portions until June 2021, according to The Crimson. “Overall, we think it’s safe to say that neither colleges nor students will be disappointed to see the departures of the writing section and subject tests,” Botier said. “For college applicants, this shift allows them to focus more on the tests that can help them secure college credit and win merit-based aid, which are the AP exams. And a strong SAT score remains an effective way for applicants to distinguish themselves in what continues to be a competitive college admissions process.” news@thedailycougar.com

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.


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UH students frustrated in fallout from GameStop stock frenzy HAYA PANJWANI


Some UH students were among the many who were left frustrated in the aftermath of the GameStop stock debacle that has left Wall Street shaken. Robinhood, a popular trading and investing app, restricted transactions of GameStop stock after its value skyrocketed in the past few days. Some, like finance student Trevor Woeste, have not taken it well. “I think it is absurd that trading platforms are allowed to just ban people from buying shares of certain stocks willy-nilly,” said finance student Trevor Woeste. “People have already said this, but it is similar to unplugging the controller to a video game because you are losing.” Robinhood’s actions garnered the attention of senators on all sides of the spectrum, with

government institutions getting involved. Class action lawsuits has even been filed in New York against the brokerage firm. For finance professor Tom George, the restrictions are unlike anything he’s seen in his career. “Regulators and markets sometimes suspend trading altogether in a security for everyone, or restrict short selling of the security for everyone,” George said. “But this is the first time of which I am aware that a subset of investors was suspended from buying a publicly traded security by their own agent.” The market volatility has largely been fueled by users on Reddit, where hundreds of members of the r/wallstreetbets subreddit coordinated to raise the share price of the company, which allowed them to short the stock prices and make a substantial profit. “Stock prices are determined

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

by supply and demand just like the prices of everything else,” George said. “If demand for a stock increases ( for whatever reason), its price will rise.” George said that the price of a stock is a good indicator of what the value of owning a share in a company could be, but investors said that the new demand is increasing the value of this stock over what the GameStop stock is actually worth. Some students at UH have been members of r/wallstreetbets for a while and have been able to follow how young traders have shaped

the way they trade in the stock market. “One of the cool things about WallStreetBets was how coordinated it became recently,” said Isaac Kunthara, a junior studying finance. “So much consensus and traction behind these analysis posts and movement-based posts, I’m all for this kind of thing.” “The special thing is that it’s extremely transparent,” he added. José R. Reyes, a UH political science alumnus who joined the online community before the recent events, was angry with

Robinhood after its restrictions. “I am upset at this situation,” he said. “After all this, I know I want to leave these brokerage firms who are willingly blocking free trade.” Reyes wasn’t alone in his sentiment. “Last I checked, it wasn’t illegal in a free market to buy stocks that are publicly traded,” said public relations student Alberto Huichapa. “But I guess the people at Robinhood have decided that’s not the case when they froze trading to specific stocks.” news@thedailycougar.com


UH Libraries to continue collecting student pandemic experiences OLIVIA TRAN


The University Archives at UH Libraries will continue their initiative to collect and share stories and reflections from students about their personal experiences during the pandemic through at least 2021. Launched in Summer 2020, the project accepts work across multiples medias, including journals, photographs, interviews, illustrations, songs and monologues. While they hope for a balance between documentary and creative responses, University archivist and project leader Mary Manning said the library is happy to accept submissions of all forms. Manning came up with the idea for the project after communicating with other professionals in similar roles through an online platform. “When the pandemic hit

the U.S. in March of last year, university archivists, such as myself, all over the country were looking for ways to capture students’ response to the pandemic,” Manning said. “I adapted the UH Libraries project from ideas we were sharing across the archives community.” Students preparing to contribute their work to the project are asked to consider how the pandemic has affected their daily life, wellness and family, as well as any lessons they have learned during the pandemic. Submissions will be displayed in an online exhibit that will likely launch sometime in 2021, although a specific date has not been set, Manning said. Students interested in sharing their stories and reflections can log in to the submission form using their CougarNet ID and password. Psychology freshman

Samantha Portele submitted a poem titled “The Hill” to the collection. “I chose to submit because I, someday, would like to publish some of my poetry,” Portele said. “I feel that this pandemic and 2020 itself has brought out a lot of feelings that can be best presented through poetry.” Initially excited for an extended spring break last March, Portele said the grim reality set in when she realized how others were struggling mentally during the pandemic. She grew closer to new people while practicing social distancing and feels grateful for the chance to share her work with others. “I hope that future readers are able to understand the toll the pandemic took on mental health and life itself,” Portele said. “I also hope that readers are able to interpret the different views on the pandemic because that

The UH Libraries will continue collecting stories of students’ experiences during the pandemic through 2021. | Christopher Charleston/The Cougar

offers insight into the minds of many.” Health junior Xinyue Wu submitted a video of what happened when her mother got sick repeatedly during the pandemic and how she had to drive her to the hospital each time. Wu pointed out that it can be a risk to go to the doctor while the coronavirus spreads, as well as how she took all the

precautions she could to prevent catching it. “I think this video is very meaningful and can let more people know my story,” Wu said. “I want to always record the impact of the COVID-19 incident on me and everyone. I believe this will be an unforgettable period.” news@thedailycougar.com






Squishmallows gain popularity on TikTok, sales




Some college students may find their wallets a little lighter and their living spaces a little more colorful in part due to the soft, pillow-like plush toys known as Squishmallows. Released by Kellytoy in 2017, Squishmallows are huggable stuffed toys made from a “super soft, marshmallow-like” stuffing and machine-washable polyester. People can choose from over 500 cuddly characters, which come in a plethora of different sizes ranging from 3.5 inches to a whopping 24 inches long. The round, limbless plushies have grabbed the attention of people of all ages shopping at retailers like Walgreens, Target and Walmart. Although Squishmallows’ marketing, which features candy-colored fonts and images of children half-submerged in a mountain of toys, is clearly tailored to kids, teens and young adults have cornered the market. Squishmallows surpassed 50 million sales across the globe within two years of their launch.

“I think we all need to do what we need to do during the pandemic to stay as healthy as we can psychologically and compared to turning toward drugs or alchol, turning toward a (comfort) object is less problematic.” Carla Sharp, psychology professor And that enthusiasm for these collectible cuddly friends hasn’t flagged. The brand’s limited edition 500th character, a 16-inch black cat named Jack, sold out in less than two hours. But it’s not just Squishmallows that have seen a rise in popularity during the pandemic. Toy sales rose across the board more than $25 billion in the U.S. in 2020, up 16 percent from the previous year. Toys can assuage antsiness in kids with cabin fever, but they can also provide a sense of calm for people of all ages. Stuffed animals in particular can help in coping with stress and anxiety, providing welcome comfort amid all the pandemic-induced uncertainty. We look forward to things

that calm us down and cause chemical reactions in the brain that induce sensations which make us feel good, said psychology professor Carla Sharp. “There’s a lot of research that shows that physical touch … if you are cuddling with something or if you are with an object that gives you pleasure, it does stimulate the reward centers in our brains,” Sharp said. “So physical touch, feeling close to people or things, those are all rewarding experiences that would increase your dopamine and oxytocin levels in your brain and that feels good. Those are the feel-good hormones and chemicals in your brain. It calms you down, so it

makes you feel a little calmer and a bit more secure.” The collectible Squishmallows are not just toys, but characters that come with their own unique identities. Each plushie has a tag that gives the toy’s name and a description of their personality. The brand’s array of colorful plushies includes non-binary toys that use they/them pronouns, as indicated on their tag. Squishmallow plans to expand their offering of nonbinary toys in the future. For example, Bobby the bunny is learning to love their tie-dye print birthmarks and makes Easter eggs to share with the other Squishmallows each year. As peoples’ Squishmallow collections have grown, so have the toy’s popularity on social media. Video-sharing social media app TikTok has provided a platform for teens and young adults to showcase their growing family of plush toys. The soft stuffed critters have garnered 200,000 followers for the brand’s social media and over 20 million video views on TikTok. The idea of collecting stuffed

animals is nothing new, but Squishmallows don’t appear to be heading toward the boom and bust of the 1990 Beanie Babies trend. New Squishmallows are released each month, providing a seemingly endless number of toys to add to your collection. If you’re worried about whether reliance on stuffed animals for comfort and calm as an adult during the pandemic is normal, Sharp said not to fret. “I think we all need to do what we need to do during the pandemic to stay as healthy as we can psychologically and compared to turning toward drugs or alcohol, turning toward a (comfort) object is less problematic,” Sharp said. “So of the coping strategies, this is not a particularly terrible coping strategy. … I think, certainly, for people who have been very isolated, for instance an older person that really cannot see family. I think for these people it’s been very difficult and finding a way that is marginally healthy is completely appropriate.” arts@thedailycougar.com

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‘The Edge of Tomorrow’ is a clever action movie CHIRAG MANGNAIK CONTRIBUTING WRITER

“Edge of Tomorrow” is a clever and competent action movie with great acting and funny writing. In spite of some final act missteps, the movie consistently manages to blend a myriad of different genres with never a moment of dissonance or confusion. At times, it’s a comedy of errors, then a war movie, then an action movie and even a spy movie, yet every part is entertaining. “Edge of Tomorrow” follows former U.S. Major William Cage, played by Tom Cruise, into battle on the frontlines in a war against aliens known as mimics, when the soldier gets stuck in a time loop. From there, Cage, along with Emily Blunt’s Rita Vrataski and Dr. Carter, played by Noah Taylor, figure out how to find the mimics’ brain and destroy it to win the war. “Edge of Tomorrow’s” writing is, on one hand, nothing special. but the interactions and consequences of repeated dialogue consistently feels clever. A character predicting what someone else will say always has something of a juvenile thrill to it and, though it is a cheap exploitation of the time-loop movie gimmick, it’s a fun gimmick. “Edge of Tomorrow” is filled with moments that aren’t really clever the more you think about it, but fulfill that clever feeling excellently. The movie isn’t self-aware per se. There is no distinct fourth wall break, the characters are always fairly reasonable in their actions, yet the entire film seems to poke fun at itself. Bill Paxton plays a sergeant whose lines are overly flowery –

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partly to draw attention to the repeated versions of the lines – but in equal part to rib at his countless other appearances in war movies. Every character in the movie is an archetype, but they’re each interesting enough and believable enough to just play itself reasonably straight to maintain a comedic tone. Sstructure is not “Edge of Tomorrow’s” only strength. The movie has some fantastic alien design. The aliens are completely detached from any real life animal, but they have recognizable faces. The alien’s design and speed works

best when the alien is leaping from soldier to soldier, pushing them as if this were some horrific perversion of Arkham combat. The aliens do somewhat lose their weight by the second half after the audience has seen so many, but that may have been inevitable. While “Edge of Tomorrow” deserves praise for its ability to create something entertaining and original out of the recycled parts of other movies, this feels like it comes to a head by the last quarter. The movie tries to up the stakes once the time loop gimmick has been done away with, but it just

doesn’t work. If anything, the stakes feel lower because it’s so predictable. The appeal of having a timeloop movie is that the audience knows the main characters will succeed, but don’t know when or how. This takes that away because it’d be highly unlikely for the movie to end on a sour note, so the main characters must succeed on the attempt that you’re seeing onscreen. To make the video game analogy, it’s the difference between anxiously watching someone trying to beat a stage versus watching someone play through quick-time

events. None of this is to say that this ending is particularly bad, but it takes away the most entertaining aspect of the story with nothing to replace it with. And the less said about the forced final kiss between the main characters, the better. All in all, “Edge of Tomorrow” is a cut above your standard action fare with plenty to enjoy about it. The cast and the writing shine by working together perfectly. It devolves by the end, but not enough to dampen the movie as a whole. arts@thedailycougar.comw

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 | 7 ANDY YANEZ, EDITOR





Cameron Tyson credits practice for recent success: ‘He’s kept himself ready to play’



For a lot of the season, sophomore guard Cameron Tyson spent time on Houston’s scout team. His role was to be the opposing team’s best player in practice. The Bothell, Washington, native found himself outside of the top five in the Cougars’ guard depth chart, but don’t confuse that with him not being talented. Back in 2018-19 with Idaho, Tyson broke the program’s freshmen scoring record and shot over 40 percent on 3-point baskets. At UH, he just happened to be behind guards DeJon Jarreau, Quentin Grimes, Marcus Sasser, Caleb Mills and Tramon Mark. That, however, did not discourage him from continuing to work on his game every chance he could. Early in the mornings, even on Sundays, Tyson went to the Guy V. Lewis Development Center. After games, he went there too, at times even staying past midnight just to perfect his shot. Some days he aimed for 700 or 800 makes. “He’s a high-level gym rat. He loves to practice,” said UH head coach Kelvin Sampson. “He’s kept himself ready to play … That didn’t stop him from practicing, and preparing and living in this gym.” Then, in early January, Mills decided he was going to transfer away from the Cougars and the door opened slightly for Tyson. He began to see more playing time than before, but his minutes were still not set. One game he played 15 minutes, then in others, it was only seven.

UH men’s basketball redshirt sophomore guard Cameron Tyson rises up for a 3-pointer in a regular season game during the 2020-21 season inside of Fertitta Center. | Courtesy of UH athletics

On Jan. 28, the door moved more. Grimes could not play due to an ankle sprain he suffered in practice. This time, Tyson kicked the door wide open. “It was tailor-made for Cam,” Sampson said. At about the halfway point in

the first half against Tulane, the ball found Tyson’s hands and he rose up for a 3-pointer. Swish. A few seconds later, the ball found his hands again. Tyson shot another long-distance shot. Swish. By halftime, the 6-foot-2-inch

guard had notched five 3-pointers. By the end of the game, he had tied Robert McKiver for most threes in a single-game in UH program history with nine, and had set a new career-high of 31 points. “Oh, you guys know Cameron Tyson now?” Sampson joked on

Friday following Tyson’s big night. “I hadn’t heard his name since he’s been here.” After the countless hours spent in the practice court for UH, it had finally paid off for Tyson. “I’m glad Cam got a chance to show what he can do,” Sampson said. The head coach was first made aware of Tyson by a video intern as the Cougars prepared for a nonconference opponent. There were rumors that he wanted to transfer out, and UH reached out to him. When Tyson finally stepped foot on campus, it just felt right for him. “It just felt like family,” he said. “The love feels so genuine. I feel like everyone has your best interest and everybody here wants to see you win.” Tyson felt that atmosphere again versus Tulane. With each shot he made, his teammates grew louder. Everyone kept telling him to keep on shooting. They got upset when he passed up shots. “They were reveling in his success,” Sampson said. What Tyson’s performance did was let the rest of the nation know just how deep UH’s roster is. “On any given night, you got guys that can go for 30,” Tyson said. As for the newest record holder for most threes in a single-game by a UH player, he knows he turned some heads against Tulane as well. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be on the scouting report,” Tyson said. sports@thedailycougar.com


‘Everyone has something to prove this year’: UH eyes Omaha JAMES MUELLER


Freshman infielder Luke Almendarez celebrates a victory in the annual UH baseball Red-White series in November 2020. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Everyday junior first baseman Ryan Hernandez looks out at Schroeder Park’s outfield walls and sees the numbers: four, two, 15 and 21. They represent important milestones in Houston baseball history: four NCAA Super Regionals, two College World Series appearances, 15 conference championships won and 21 NCAA Regionals played in. After looking at these numbers each day, Hernandez often tells

his coach Todd Whitting that they are going to have to update the outfield walls after the 2021 season, because he believes this year’s team is capable of greatness. “I think we’re going to go to Omaha this year,” Hernandez said. “We have the pitching tools. We have a lineup that you can’t pitch around. And we just have overall competitors, which is what we need in the game of baseball.” Hernandez knows a lot about winning and what makes a great team, as he played for a San

Jacinto JUCO team in 2019 that won 42 games and captured the Region XIV Championship. Hernandez said this Cougars team reminds him a lot of his San Jacinto team and Whitting agreed, calling this year’s UH team the deepest team he has had in his 11 seasons as the Cougars’ skipper. Along with the return of some key starters from last season, UH also brought in a talented group of freshmen and the fifth-ranked


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For head coach Helena Besovic, lessons of life after the Bosnian War resonate amid pandemic

UH tennis head coach Helena Besovic watches on as her team practices at the Winston Tennis Facility. Besovic, who grew up in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, still uses the lessons she learned during and after the Bosnian War in her life. | Courtesy of UH athletics



Somewhere in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in the early 1990s, a little girl’s life was about change. Violence had just broken out in the capital city after Bosnia-Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1992, sparking the Bosnian War. With uncertainty and fear clouding the air, 7-yearold Helena Besovic and her family were unable to flee her hometown. Instead, the Besovic family hunkered down, living in a basement as the city around them was bombed and besieged for 1,425 days. “We didn’t think it was going to last that long,” Besovic, the now-36-year-old UH tennis coach, said. “We were basically stuck there.” Nearly 25 years after the Siege of Sarajevo ended, the lessons Besovic learned during the war

and since ring throughout her life.

Lockdown When COVID-19 began surging last March and the pandemic tightened its grip on the world, the coronavirus pandemic gave Besovic an unsettling reminder of how quickly — and drastically — lives can be upended. “These things, you never expect they can happen to you,” she said. “Now, with what we’re experiencing, it’s happening on a large scale.” As lockdowns spread, Besovic was brought back to when she herself was forced to stay indoors in the early days of the war, as it was too dangerous to leave her house. Like many Bosnian children at the time, she couldn’t go to school or play outside with other kids. She stayed at home with her family, and without electricity, running water or the ability to buy groceries, they relied on

foreign aid to get by. But she found a silver lining, and it’s driven her to get where she is a quarter-century later.

Opening doors Besovic played many sports growing up, but after being introduced by a friend, tennis stuck. Once the war and siege were over and it was safe to go outside again, Besovic quickly fell in love with the sport. “When it all ended, I was so excited to be able to be outside and to play tennis,” she said. “I started doing well, so I took that as an opportunity to do something with my life.” As her talent in the sport grew, so did the realization that after all the years of conflict, tennis could offer her a path to a better life elsewhere. So when the opportunity presented itself, she took it. Besovic moved away from Sarajevo in the late ’90s to study at Ausias March High School in

Barcelona, Spain. From there, she moved to the United States for college, landing at Division II Ouachita Baptist in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. After two seasons, she transferred to TCU in 2004 and became one of the most decorated players in Horned Frogs history. “Tennis opened a lot of doors, and I know it opens a lot of doors for my student-athletes,” she said.

Understanding Having traveled the world playing tennis, Besovic understands how international student-athletes feel being in another, sometimes extremely different, country. When it comes to recruiting and making players feel at home, she’s used it to her advantage. With players from countries like Belgium, Argentina, Australia and Serbia, the Houston tennis team is among the most culturally diverse programs at UH.

And it’s not by accident. “One of the reasons I came to Houston was how much they value diversity,” Besovic said. “I want to have diverse teams, and we want to continue having student-athletes come from different cultures.” For senior Phonexay Chitdara, who is from Belgium, Besovic’s coaching philosophy makes playing at UH comfortable for international student-athletes. “In the team, since we’re all international … (coaches) just understand us,” she said. “It’s just easier like that.” Besovic, who has used her experience during and after the war to shape her, believes her focus on diversity and understanding goes beyond tennis. “We’re better prepared for the world,” she said. “It makes me really proud to see my studentathletes get along and work hard on understanding each other.” sports@thedailycougar.com

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 | 9 ANDY YANEZ, EDITOR





Sophomore middle blocker Rachel Tullos not satisfied with 2019 season, wants conference title for UH JALA MASON


Wake up around 9 or 10 a.m, eat breakfast, attend Zoom classes, head to practice and then return home for another round of virtual lectures. This is the routine of sophomore middle blocker Rachel Tullos during the COVID19 pandemic. Her day doesn’t sound too different from that of the typical student-athlete, but Tullos is far from an ordinary college player. The Lantana native wasted no time in cementing her status as a force to be reckoned with on the volleyball court for the Cougars, but she didn’t expect her freshman campaign to be as significant as it was. Tullos led the American Athletic Conference in total blocks with 185 and came in at No. 3 in the nation in 2019. When it comes to solo stops, Tullos tallied 62 to lead all of Division I, with the next in line being 20 blocks behind. “When I heard that I had the most solo blocks, it kind of surprised me a little bit,” Tullos told The Cougar. “It also made me happy because I worked hard to do that. It was a feeling of accomplishment.” Since then, Tullos has become more confident in her talents. “I learned that I could do more than what I thought I could do. I have high standards for myself,” Tullos said. Her work last season earned her a spot on the preseason AAC All-Conference team, but Tullos is not focused on all of the awards and honors. “She’s humble. She’s a person that doesn’t really care about the accolades,” head coach David Rehr said. “She’s just another kid on the team and doesn’t seek it.”


Continued from page 7 JUCO class in the nation to bolster the roster. “We’ve never had a team with this much depth,” Whitting said. “A lot of that is due to the fact that the MLB Draft was only five rounds last year. We probably have five to seven players on this team that usually would not be here right now.” Sophomore closer and designated hitter Derrick Cherry echoed both Hernandez and

Rehr has known Tullos for over four years and has enjoyed watching her grow. She continues to dominate as a blocker and her offense is getting better, but he feels it’s her mindset that is shifting the most.

Growing pains “She’s a kid that just doesn’t want to see a negative thing happen to her, so she gets really hard on herself when it comes to that, but she’s starting to break out of it a little bit,” Rehr said. “Her maturity is showing every day, and it’s going to be fun to see what happens in three years, four years from now.” Tullos has high expectations, and at times, ends up putting extra pressure on herself. Since arriving at UH, she has looked to take a step back and remain calm when things don’t go exactly as she planned, which is where Rehr has seen her grow the most. “That’s what I’ve been working on over this past year, ‘you know what, if I didn’t get that right, OK, then I’m going to do it again, and I’m going to get it right this time,’” Tullos said. To no surprise, Tullos’ favorite thing to do is block. She’s looking forward to more moments like the win over SMU last season. UH went to five sets against the Mustangs, and it was match point for the Cougars. Knowing SMU was going to set the middle, Tullos got into position for the stop. “I was like ‘I’m going up for this block, and I’m about to get it,’” Tullos said. And she did. “I went up there, and I got the block, and that was probably the most intense, hype moment of my life,” Tullos said. “Everyone was freaking out.”

Whitting’s statements about the depth on this Cougars squad. He particularly focused on the pitchers that each bring something unique to the table. “We have multiple guys that have high velocity that throw really hard. We have guys that throw strikes. We have lefty’s that mix it up in and out,” Cherry said. “This year, pitching staff wise, I think is the best I’ve seen yet since being here.” All the talk about the talent on this UH baseball team, which features an American Athletic

UH volleyball sophomore middle blocker Rachel Tullos extends high for the ball in a game against Rice during the 2020-21 season. Tullos will be looking to build on her successful freshman season with the Cougars and lift UH to an American Athletic Cnference title. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Goals Rehr is also excited for Tullos’ sophomore season, and to watch her get better and better. “We know what she can do on the court as a defensive stopper. Her offense is much improving,” Rehr said. “It’ll be interesting to

see how this season progresses with her.” Tullos has high hopes for this 2020-21 team, and some of her ambitions for the year include upsetting opponents and bringing the conference title to UH. While it’s fun to reflect on the

past, Tullos is eager to get to work tackling these goals. “That was awesome,” Tullos said. “But now it’s on to this year and what I’m going to do this year.”

Conference-leading 13 MLB Draft prospects over the next two drafts, was evident in the program’s annual Red-White series in November 2020. After three highly competitive games, including a series finale that went back-and-forth all night and ended with a walk-off single by sophomore infielder Brad Burckel, Whitting called it the best Red-White series he has been a part of during his coaching career. A major factor to why UH’s fall practices and scrimmages were

competitive each and every day was because every player in the program understands how deep this roster truly is, a starting spot will not just be handed to them. “Every day everybody is coming out here fighting for a job,” Cherry said. “We have so much depth at every single position here. Every day it’s a fight. There’s no free pass that you just get a free (starting) spot.” Coming off a disappointing 2020 season that was canceled just 15 games in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the

Cougars are as motivated and hungry as ever to make a major statement and do something that no UH baseball team has done since 1967: earn a trip to Omaha, Nebraska, to compete in the College World Series. “Everyone has something to prove this year,” Hernandez said. “Everyone is taking it personally and we’re all fueling each other. It’s something that’s super special because it’s something that can just explode at any moment.”



10 | Wednesday, February 3, 2021






How to choose the best way of online learning

Juana Garcia/The Cougar



As the pandemic continues, college students are stuck wondering what type of classes they should take. Since normal in-person classes are now less common and hardly an option for many, students must now adjust to online learning, but there are different types of classes to choose from. Online classes are taught either synchronous or asynchronous. The difference between these classes is important to understand so that all students are able to choose the best option for themselves and succeed during the school year. Synchronous classes attempt to emulate a typical school day schedule. There is a set time for the specific class for students and professors to meet online, rather than in person. Asynchronous classes, however, have no set meeting

hours. Students must work and learn on their own with little to no one on one time with the professor. This type of class does not guarantee a typical learning experience, but there are plenty of positives.

Synchronous classes Since synchronous classes occur at specific meeting times, they allow people to keep similar or the same schedules that they had pre-pandemic. These classes also allow for easier communication with peers and professors, which can be extremely helpful. In asynchronous classes, it would be more difficult to seek assistance from others like people normally would in person. Synchronous classes attempt to recreate the authentic school experiences from the safety of each person’s home. It can bring comfort to many by adding consistency and familiarity

to people in such a time of uncertainty. Although synchronous classes can be a positive suitable choice for many, they do have their setbacks. Synchronous classes typically require a lot of planning and reliable computer access to ensure that students don’t fall behind.

Asynchronous classes Similar to synchronous classes, there are various positives to students taking asynchronous classes rather than meeting up with their classes every week. Asynchronous classes can be an especially convenient option for students who have tight schedules with work or other obligations throughout the week that make routine meetings very difficult to attend and keep up with. This type of online learning is helpful for people who want

to learn at their own pace on their own time. Asynchronous can also help students who feel pressured or anxious showing their faces and speaking in front of their peers during an online meeting. Although asynchronous classes do offer a nice break from the pressures and worries of the classroom, they are a lot of work. In order for students to truly succeed in them, they must remain engaged and focused because it’s their responsibility to remember due dates, assignments and the material as a whole. It becomes the student’s job to have a good understanding of all the material in the class and to prepare themselves for any exams, finals or papers. This can be very stressful for students who are unable to keep up in classes due to getting distracted, other daily commitments or poor time management.

What’s best for you Both synchronous and asynchronous classes have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is ultimately up to each student to choose a schedule that works best for them. For some, their schedules may be full of strictly asynchronous classes or strictly synchronous classes; others may even have a mix of both. As the one year mark since lockdown approaches, most people should have a good idea of what type of online learning works for them. Ultimately, these are just online classes, not the real experience, but everyone must make the most out of this situation and continue to live life because things will get better eventually and we must be prepared for when they do. Kimberly Argueta is a political science freshman who can be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 | 11 JORDAN HART, EDITOR





Blocking the Keystone XL pipeline was the right move by Pres. Joe Biden


The Cougar


ABOUT THE COUGAR The Cougar is published every Wednesday during the fall and spring semesters, and Wednesdays during the summer and online at thedailycougar.com. The Cougar is supported in part by Student Service Fees. The first copy is free. Additional copies cost 25 cents.

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In an astonishing first day act, President Joe Biden revoked the permit for the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. It was meant to transport 830,000 barrels of heavy crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. each day. According to TC Energy Corp, the Keystone XL builder, more than 1,000 construction jobs will be lost. The reason why this decision should be applauded is because it was done to protect Indigenous groups – whose lands were used to build the pipeline – and the environment. This isn’t to say that creating jobs is unimportant; it’s very important for the success of a nation, but not at the expense of poor and marginalized groups. Politicians are often called out for being cowardly and greedy, caring only about money more than humanity. Surprisingly, Biden, a career politician, risked a lucrative business deal with a key ally in order to defend the climate and build better

jobs. World leaders must take note and start making brave, and costly, decisions that value humanitarian causes over money and wealth. The last time a world leader ignored a global threat for the sake of economic interests was former President Donald Trump. He was recorded telling reporter Bob Woodward that he did suppress the news of a COVID19 outbreak in the U.S. so he wouldn’t scare the stock market. Today, the U.S. has the highest rates of deaths and cases of COVID-19 in the world, and its economy is weakening while unemployment is rising. Thus, hiding the COVID-19 news did not result in any economic gains. Revoking the pipeline permit was a great, albeit a bit hurtful, decision because it prioritizes poor people, activists and the environment over the rich. The world is becoming more dangerous to live in today with new variants of COVID19 breaking out and the earth becoming hotter. The Biden

administration made the right choice to focus more on cutting carbon emissions and becoming more green. Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said the climate today is so volatile that it will “play a role in security policy.” She also said, “fossil fuels are like weapons of mass destruction — they need to be kept in the ground.” This should alarm all world leaders of the disastrous consequences of ignoring the wellbeing of the environment. Some might worry that the cancellation of the pipeline permit will negatively affect relations between the U.S. and Canada. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “disappointed” about the cancellation, in which Canada invested $1.5 billion. Trudeau is well known for being very concerned about Indigenous groups, the environment and human rights. In fact, he struggled with Trump, who imposed tariffs on

Canadian steel and aluminum, in addition to insulting Trudeau. Biden is more aligned with Trudeau’s progressive agenda on climate change and human rights, so they will find new ways to create jobs that will not affect poor Indigenous groups. Although Biden’s decision was more environment-oriented, it shows that he cares about ordinary and disadvantaged Americans, especially the Indigenous groups who have been historically marginalized. This should inspire Americans to continue to push Biden to fulfill more ambitious and courageous humanitarian goals that may be politically costly. The pandemic should’ve taught world leaders that countries cannot succeed if the wellbeing of its citizens and its environment are at risk. So, with that in mind, let’s hope for more brave world leaders and decisions. Abdullah Dowaihy is a political senior who can be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com

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Issue 9, Volume 86 (2.3.2021)  

Issue 9, Volume 86 (2.3.2021)