Texas educators explore generative AI adoptionBy MATTHEAU FAUGHT Presentation Editor @TheEtCetera
Generative AI is poised to change education forever.
Students are now using programs like ChatGPT to cheat on their assignments by generating anything from short-answer responses to multipage essays.
While fears run high among educators, some say there are potential benefits.
Recently, a survey released by the Walton Family Foundation found that ChatGPT is used more by teachers than students.
The survey reported that 51% of teachers used the technology with 40% using it at least once a week.
This is in contrast to 22% of students saying they use the tech on a weekly basis or more.
A majority of students and teachers surveyed agree that “ChatGPT is just another example of why we can’t keep doing things the old way for schools in the modern world.”
Many of the AI users in the Walton survey said they see the technology as a way to accelerate student learning.
“As a professor, we have very little resources,” said Jason Alvarado, a cybersecurity instructor at Dallas College Richland Campus. “Using something like ChatGPT as a research assistant, I can typically take complex course planning, which will typically take five to 10 days to generate outlines and basic summaries and then a lesson plan, and I could condense that down into a day or less.”
Alvarado isn’t alone. Karen Magruder, a social work instructor at the University of Texas in Arlington, has adopted ChatGPT to assist her in class preparation. Utilizing ChatGPT, she has generated case studies for discussion in her course.
“It’s been really helpful for saving me a lot of time and legwork and generating that type of content that then I use with students,” Magruder said.
Magruder incorporated ChatGPT into her cognitive behavioral therapy course, in which she posed questions to ChatGPT and had her students analyze its responses in small groups.
“They had to be able to say what’s accurate and support that with empirical research,” she said.
According to Magruder, ChatGPT has stimulated critical thinking among her students by encouraging them to delve deeper into their evaluation and analysis.
It also enabled her to simulate interactions with clients on a telehealth platform by asking ChatGPT to play the role of a client with a particular issue. Students were then able to interact with it in real time.
“I think that anything that is going to save a little bit of extra time and allow me to use higher-order skills is going to be a benefit,” Magruder said.
UTA’s ‘Center for Research on Teaching and
Learning Excellence’ is currently hosting an ‘AI in Education’ initiative.
CRTLE supports faculty in enhancing their teaching practices, including the integration of technology like ChatGPT to create innovative pedagogies.
Similar initiatives are being undertaken at schools across Texas on smaller scales.
In March, English professor Kendra Unruh hosted a session for faculty about ChatGPT and how she plans to utilize the technology in the future.
As the technology becomes more popular, students may see more educational institutions across Texas adopting ChatGPT in the classroom, given its potential.
There could be drawbacks to using AI to supplant gaining real skills in a field. Alvarado compared this to using ChatGPT to generate code for a game he was developing. Though not implemented, he said that if it was and he ran into any problems, he wouldn’t know how to fix them because he wouldn’t have learned how.
“It is not a replacement for earning the knowledge,” he said.
Programs like ChatGPT could also hinder the way students engage with their material.
“You’re not finding your own voice if you’re using AI to write your paper,” said Tuesday Hambric, a psychology and learning framework instructor. “That is plagiarism in the highest sense because it is not your own voice.”
As instructors automate the more tedious parts of class preparation with AI, they are af-
forded more time to engage with their students.
“If you don’t spend quality time with your students, getting to know their thoughts and the things they’re interested in offering, you won’t know whether or not a student is writing their own paper,” Hambric said.
Magruder suggests that it might change the types of assignments faculty offer students.
“We’re thinking about ways that we might change how we assess learning outcomes,” she said. “Like being able to do a skill demonstration video as opposed to a discussion board or easily duplicated writing assignment.”
Examples of these alternatives include handwritten writing prompts the students turn in or videos that are more demonstration-based as opposed to theoretical.
“I really apply the same strengths-based perspective to this new technology,” Magruder said. “It’s here and we need to learn how to make the best out of it so we can harness any potential while minimizing negative impacts.”
Survey reveals ‘a lot to address’ at Dallas CollegeBy CARMEN GUZMAN Managing Editor @TheEtCetera
Employees ranked Dallas College high for its student focus in a recent survey, but the college’s institutional structure received sweeping criticism.
Almost 1,700 faculty, staff and administrators, more than half of Dallas College’s employees, replied to the PACE Campus Climate Survey last summer, which asked 46 questions on four climate factor assessments: institutional structure, supervisory relationships, teamwork and student focus.
Items with the most comments got the most criticism. Institutional structure netted 839 comments and the lowest overall score of 3.093 out of 5. Student focus received 378 comments and scored 3.816.
Supervisory relationships had 219 comments and ranked 3.844 while teamwork received 181 comments at 3.875, meaning they were not seen as mean problem areas, said Brad Williams, vice chancellor of operations.
“We have a lot to celebrate as an institution,” Chancellor Justin Lonon said. “But obviously, we have a lot to address.”
Dallas College is forming a collaborative action plan in response to the survey results. Lonon pledged to increase opportunities to provide feedback on the survey.
“These roll into the creation of a collaborative action plan that then allows us to hold each other accountable for how we're managing,” Williams said.
All results, including comments, are available for employees to view on Sharepoint.
“Together, we’re in an effort to rebuild Dallas College and this is a big part of that,” Lonon said in his 60 Minutes With Lonon video.
Institutional structure comprised
the entire bottom 10 scoring items, and seven items scored below the 3.0 mark.
“I found the reorg placed new roles and responsibilities on numerous departments, causing confusion amongst the seven colleges on who can best support them within the new structure,” one commenter wrote.
The section aggregated opinions on the consolidation and the administrative structure of Dallas College, which employees reported was rife
with communication issues, poor administration and favoritism.
“DC is spread too thin,” wrote one commenter. “We were supposed to be united, but it seems like we are more separate than ever and this seriously inhibits communication.”
The lowest-scoring item was “This institution is appropriately organized,” which scored 2.457.
“What has really impacted our students is the switch to Dallas College and we're still finding our way,” said Lenora Reece, deputy chief of operations.
Dallas College proposed inclusive communication to address dissatisfaction toward the consolidation.
While this PACE survey was exclusive to full-time employees, parttime employees can voice their feedback in future surveys.
Lonon said Dallas College wants to “implement a seat at the table” approach in response to the communication concerns voiced by employees, which was one of the action items that received the most engagement in the survey.
“Proactive and receptive communication is important because we think communication is a one-way funnel sometimes and it's two-way,” Reece said.
Student focus had four items in the top 10 and was the second-highest ranking climate factor overall.
“Dallas College is committed to providing a high quality, low cost education to all students. I think we do that well,” a respondent wrote.
Reece said that the amount of responses and high scores indicate the quality of Dallas College’s commitment to students.
“People feel strongly about why we're here, and there is a very strong student focus,” Reece said. “We know we're here to support our students.”
Items such as student diversity, career preparation and learning engagement also received high marks from respondents.
Job relevance was the highestscoring climate factor overall at 4.397.
“I am happy to work somewhere that is so future-oriented and forward-thinking,” a respondent wrote. “Those qualities are also important in how we prepare our students for success.”
With a score of 3.844, the thirdhighest on the board, career hier-
archy scored high but employees voiced concern over job stagnation.
“The lack of opportunity to move up in the organization is frustrating. I like the work that I do, but my direct supervisor makes the working environment difficult,” one comment read.
Supervisory relationship items received 155 favorable votes and 64 unfavorable votes. Although tied with student success with four items in the top 10, problem areas include staff shortages and administrative procedures.
“Dallas College offers career paths and career planning and those types of things, but we can stand to do a much better job on the employee side,” Williams said.
Some employees expressed that the consolidation has made it more difficult to identify supervisors and look for assistance from higher-ups. However, the item “My supervisor expresses confidence in my work,” was the second-highest ranking of all possible items with a 4.205 score.
“Those become important conversations that we build into the HR function on learning and development and what is an overall career
See SURVEY, page 12
Facilities adopts eco-friendly landscaping practicesBy CARMEN GUZMAN Managing Editor @TheEtCetera
Facilities has adopted a zero-waste initiative according to standards posted by Dallas College’s sustainability office.
Around $27,000 of electric trimmers, edgers and other related equipment replaced gasolinepowered equipment previously used by landscaping, said sustainability coordinator Ted Spradley. New equipment will now be checked to maintain low carbon emissions.
“They cost a little more but we consider this part of our future-proofing efforts,” Spradley said.
Reducing expenses by going green is a key component of those efforts.
The sustainability office at Eastfield identified emissions, fuel and water usage as problem areas that needed to be addressed.
Although total zero-waste landscaping is impossible to attain, there are benefits in cutting waste, said facilities manager Adam Qualkenbush.
“Not only does it save water, but it’s also cutting down a lot of the emissions we put out,”
The change to electric equipment meant facilities could cut fuel expenses almost entirely.
“We just have to charge the batteries,” Qualkenbush said.
Facilities is also investing in a smart irriga-
tion system for all Dallas College campuses.
The irrigation system can anticipate weather and water accordingly. Flow monitors within the system detect leaks and automatically shut off the system, preventing water from being wasted.
Changes were only recently possible.
“If you asked us to use electric-powered equipment two or three years ago, it wasn’t powerful enough for us to do it,” Qualkenbush said. “It worked for a homeowner who ran it for 15 minutes, but our guys run it for eight hours a day.”
Although the new equipment is a net boon for the facilities department, the remaining gas-powered equipment won’t be replaced for a while.
“Once the technology is available, we will look to broaden our electric toolsets,” Spradley said.
For now, sustainability and facilities opt for diesel vehicles that are clean-idle, where gaspowered motor emissions are lower than federal limits by reducing consumption when the vehicle is not actively cutting.
Vehicles are also checked to ensure they meet the sustainability office’s standard for low emissions.
Qualkenbush anticipates a full leap to electric once the technology advances further.
“The technology is finally getting to where it makes sense for us to [switch],” Qualkenbush said.
College preps Blackboard replacementBy CARMEN GUZMAN Managing Editor @TheEtCetera
When students log in to courses for the fall semester, they will no longer see the familiar gray layout bordered by class elements in black sidebars and headers.
Dallas College is sunsetting Blackboard after nearly two decades of use. Its successor, Brightspace, boasts a centralized user interface with mobile compatibility. The new learning management system also simplifies setting up courses, which will be migrated from Blackboard.
Technical and interface issues present in Blackboard were considered when shopping for its replacement, said Jason Busbin, associate dean of faculty onboarding and support.
“There’s a lot less clicks to get things built, edited, modified or removed in Brightspace,” he said. “The ease of use is a lot better than what we have on Blackboard.”
Brightspace’s modern user interface is the biggest difference, reducing the amount of menus needed to access content rather than making instructors manually organize their courses.
“You open it and everything is already there,” English instructor Shazia Ali said. “It’s easy for students to access as well. Everything is literally one click away.”
Ali, who used the platform while teaching classes at other institutions, praised the centralized course elements. Brightspace was selected for its responsive design; screens will resize according to a student’s device. Assignments can be uploaded and accessed directly from one’s phone, contrary to Blackboard limiting users to a personal computer.
“Brightspace is way ahead of Blackboard in terms of layout,” Ali said.
An activity feed is a new collaboration-based feature that has a layout similar to Blackboard’s announcements and combines it with the discussion board, which used to be its own menu.
“I think students will be more comfortable using Brightspace and finding the things they need, as opposed to Blackboard, where there is a lot of clicking to get what you want,” Ali said.
For specific actions, such as emailing and video calling students, Ali said she currently uses Microsoft Teams. However, the lack of con-
resulting shift to online learning revealed limitations in Blackboard's ability to manage coursework.
“I’ve had to ensure students don’t fall through the cracks with multiple reminders, orientation videos, all those things,” Ali said. “If anything goes a little haywire, they’re lost. And with Blackboard, things do go haywire.”
The learning platform needed to modernize, said Busbin.
One of the reasons Brightspace shined was by putting course reminders front and center.
“I’m not saying Blackboard is bad. All I’m saying is Brightspace is better,” Ali said. “[Blackboard] worked for us for so many years … but Brightspace is better equipped to deal with this particular time.”
Brightspace was chosen for its “robust features” that met student and faculty technology needs, said Pamela Luckett, chief digital engagement officer.
nection between the learning system and extensions can make it difficult to keep track of her class.Brightspace removes the middleman by integrating video calls, recordings and more.
“If I have to give feedback, I have to record an audio or video, then insert it into that feedback box with Blackboard, which is quite cumbersome,” Ali said. “It’s extra steps.”
Gradebooks in Brightspace clarify how grades are weighed. Faculty had to build that in with Blackboard, but the new software handles the math.
“On the student side, it gives a lot of great insights on where you stand in the course,” Busbin said. “On the faculty side … it’s really efficient and easy to use so faculty don’t have to spend so much time building the gradebook.”
Instructors will no longer have to set up tabs for coursework or contact information. Most courses in Blackboard have tabs for student resources, but those have to be plugged in by instructors. The results vary depending on how much work an instructor puts in. Brightspace widgets allow instructors to build detailed profiles, complete with a profile picture and social media plugs.
“Like a digital business card,” Busbin said. “As soon as you load up the course … it’s right next to the announcements. It makes it easy for you to contact them.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and
“There’s consistency in the course navigation, which makes it easier for students to access content or the syllabus from course to course,” Luckett said.
As the spring semester comes to a close, faculty are already getting to experience the new platform. Students can log in to Brightspace starting Aug. 16. Detailed announcements about the switch will be released over the summer.
“We don’t want to say ‘this is coming’ and then something happens where we push the date back,” Luckett said.
A training module for students will be released in May. Dallas College will also send out quality assurance members to assist faculty and students with any issues.
“It’s another way we are making sure that students know exactly what’s coming,” Luckett said.
When thinking about the switch to Brightspace, Ali pointed out a difference between the two systems: familiarity. Despite all its kinks, Ali managed to make do with Blackboard, she said. The instructor said students could have trouble learning the new platform.
“Anything new is uncomfortable, even if designed for the better,” she said.
However, even Ali had to adjust to Brightspace before preferring to the new learning system.
“There’s the learning curve … But I think our students will adapt to Brightspace very easily,” Ali said. “They will love it.”
Accessibility encourages autism awarenessBy RORY MOORE Photo Editor @TheEtCetera
Dallas College is ramping up its efforts to raise awareness of autism spectrum disorder and accommodate students on the spectrum.
The college’s measures include resource fairs at all seven campuses, accommodations for academics and collaboration with organizations that assist autistic individuals.
“We just want to put a spotlight on it and make people aware of this diagnosis, and that it’s not really a disability,” said Vivian Davis, case manager for Accessibility Services at Eastfield. “People just learn and think differently from us.”
According to Davis, Dallas College students 3,000 receive accommodations from Accessibility Services, and 10% of them are autistic.
“Even though they come to our office, a lot of them don’t receive services because once they get here and get comfortable, they really don’t need much from us,” Davis said. Davis said it’s important for employees and students to understand that conflicts involving an autistic person can easily be avoided.
“If someone is acting different, it’s not necessary to call the police or get us involved,” Davis said. “If someone’s doing something like making noise or doing something inappropriate, you can just tell them to stop whatever they’re
Such incidents happen at least twice a semester on campus, usually involving a student unknowingly causing a disturbance, Davis said.
The Project HOPE Foundation estimates that 1 in 36 children are autistic. Symptoms can be displayed as early as 10 months old, including deficits in social communication and interaction, repetitive patterns of behaviors and activities, insistence on sameness and strong interest in sensory elements.
Eastfield offers resources to help autistic students integrate with the campus environment.
Brandi Ragsdale, a professional counselor at Eastfield, co-leads a social skills group of autistic students. In this group, she has students engage in activities that improve their skills and prepare them for academic endeavors.
“We work with students on developing work, recognizing social skills, emotional intelligence, nonverbal and verbal communication skills, improving those skills, and getting feedback,” Ragsdale said. “We also help people with having interactions with your neurotypical partner ... for practice.”
Ragsdale said the group has made a difference for students socially and academically, even after leaving Eastfield.
“We’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from UNT saying that when they’ve had some of our students transfer up there, those students have been more successful on campus and in classes,” Ragsdale said. “And they said that the students in their program who have come from Dallas College are more likely to complete their degrees than other students.”
Caitlin Do, marketing and events coordinator at the nonPareil Institute, a post-secondary nonprofit organization that assists adults with autism by offering technical training in 2D and 3D art, self-advocacy, communication and social engagement opportunities, participated in a recent autism resource fair at Eastfield.
Do said awareness of students with autism
is “super important. She said there is a societal stigma that causes some of the issues autistic people face, such as anxiety, depression, bullying and discrimination.
“I think a lot of people just aren’t fully aware of what individuals with autism are like and what they’re capable of,” she said. “They’re truly incredible people, and hopefully, we spread that awareness and acceptance for this community.”
Many autistic people trained at the nonPareil Institute have succeeded in their careers.
“Some of them end up becoming full-time staff members in the future,” Do said. “They work towards becoming an instructor, or they’ll move on from the program, and they will get a full-time job in something that they’re passionate about.”
While Do is encouraged that people have become more accepting and aware of autistic people and what they go through, she believes there is more progress to be made.
“More workplaces are being more inclusive to those on the autism spectrum, but definitely a lot more can be done to be more accepting and aware of this community by being more open,” she said. “Companies are slowly hiring those on the autism spectrum.”
The advice she gives to people with autism is just to be yourself.
“Let people listen to who you are,” Do said. “Show how unique and awesome you are.”
Schlarb fosters inclusivity on campusBy ALEXIA MUNOZ Contributor @TheEtCetera
When Chris Schlarb’s parents found out they were transgender, they threatened to kick them out.
The disapproval made for a rough home life, so Schlarb turned to school for sanctuary. Schlarb spent most of their time on the Purdue University campus to avoid the conflict. They would wait until their parents were asleep to return home.
“I remember my dad yelling at me and saying I need to wear women's clothing and stop wearing men's clothing,” Schlarb said. “For me, that wasn't comfortable, so that wasn't gonna help with my confidence.”
Schlarb took on several campus jobs and formed connections with university employees who became big influences in their life. They spoke with department leads about their college majors and how they got their positions. These conversations encouraged Schlarb to attend graduate school and pursue a career in student services.
Inspired by that college experience, Schlarb has made it their purpose to create a safe space for LGBTQ students and employees as a student life coordinator at Dallas College.
“My favorite part is working with the students — seeing them learn, grow and develop as people and expand their skill sets,” Schlarb said.
Schlarb credits Dani Witzigreuter, one of their student affairs advisers in college, for encouraging them to attend graduate school and starting them on this higher education journey. She helped Schlarb complete applications, practice for interviews and, most importantly, grow comfortable with themselves.
“She really helped me process, reflect and figure out how to navigate difficult situations,” Schlarb said.
Even with Witzigreuter’s guidance, graduate school was difficult. Schlarb struggled with issues most college students face such as financial stress and feelings of hopelessness. But they also had to deal with uncomfortable situations because of their trans identity.
“Navigating gendered spaces and trying to be successful while you're
still having that internalized gender dysphoria or internalized transphobia is kind of a battle,” Schlarb said.
“I had a lot of things I was struggling with when it came to gender issues and trying to find LGBTQ safe
Despite the challenges, Schlarb graduated from Michigan State University with a Master of Arts in student affairs administration.
Schlarb began their Dallas Col-
lege journey in 2018 as the service learning and civic engagement coordinator at Eastfield, where they also started the PRISM organization to support LGBTQ students. PRISM meetings allow students to discuss LGBTQ topics, participate in community-building activities and connect with new people.
“Even if you don't want to be part of the LGBTQ club, to see that positive visibility and know that there is an LGBTQ club on campus helps when it comes to support and climate,” Schlarb said.
Schlarb also impacted other Student Life employees such as Jide Carew, who helped co-advise PRISM Carew said he was not familiar with some of the struggles LGBTQ students face, but Schlarb helped him see the importance of inclusivity.
“They brought a lot of accountability and helped me understand a section of our students that I didn't necessarily have an in-depth amount of knowledge about,” Carew said.
Schlarb transferred to Brookhav-
en about six months ago. After noticing the lack of representation for the LGBTQ community on campus, they felt a need for resources there as well.
Schlarb helped start the LGBTQ employee resource group and is now the group’s co-chair. Their goal is to educate staff and faculty on the community to help make it a safer and more affirming place for students.
They also started a PRISM student club at Brookhaven. This is where Schlarb met Emmy Hardy, who joined PRISM last semester and is now the president of the organization.
“It's been great working with Chris because they're awesome and so supportive, and they really care about students,” Hardy said.
Schlarb’s passion is ensuring that all students have the resources to thrive at Dallas College.
“Finding that sense of community and finding that group that is really supportive, where you can just be yourself, learn more about the community and find support – I think it's
Fun Things to do in Mesquite this summer
Fun Things to do in Mesquite this summerBy SEAN STROUD Contributor @TheEtCetera
With summer break just around the corner, everyone’s trying to figure out where to go and what to do with all of their vacation time. Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to go anywhere. That’s right, save your gas and explore the city because believe it or not, there’s plenty to do right here in Mesquite.
Grab a bite to eat
I’m sure enjoying your summer has worked up an appetite, so go ahead and sample some of the food trucks at the Mesquite Farmers Market. I can personally attest to the greatness held within the tamales from El Tejas Twist. Sip on one of the seasonal drinks from Bear Cave Coffee to wet your whistle. If you’re brave enough, make the drive into Sunnyvale for some of the best sushi around at Thai Square off of Collins Road. They even have a buy-two-getone-free special for sushi rolls during the week.
Go visit a park
When you’ve been stuck inside for too long, sometimes the best remedy is some fresh air. Hit up some friends for a pick-up game of baseball at Loncy Leake Field behind City Lake Park. If the weather’s right, you could even cool off at the City Lake Aquatics Center while you’re there.
Take a stroll down the Bruton Park trail or around Valley Creek to clear your mind. Bring a football and play a game of monkeyin-the-middle while you’re there.
Come Shop Around
If you’re looking for somewhere to spend your hard-earned time and money, go check out the Antique Gallery on the corner of North Galloway Avenue and Town East Boulevard. Boasting an absurd 36,000 square feet and over 170 vendors, you could easily spend the afternoon browsing people’s stalls and only make it through half the building. If spending the day inside isn’t your style, make your way over to Front Street Station and give the Mesquite Farmers Market a once-over. Open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., running April through November, there’s something for everybody. Need a gift? Grab a
bath bomb or a candle from Naturally Lush Bath and Body. Spice up your pantry with some Firecracker Pickles from S&J Canning or grab a basket of strawberries or a sack of potatoes grown locally by Heddin Farms in Canton.
If you haven’t been to the world-famous Mesquite Rodeo yet, go grab a ticket and cross it off your Texas to-do list.
Catch a race at Devil’s Bowl Speedway or peruse the gun show at the Mesquite Convention Center. If none of those catch your fancy, you can go to visitmesquitetx. com for a whole list of events such as Movies In The Park on May 19
All events listed are free entry
The exhibit focuses on Picasso's lovers, who served as muses throughout his career.
Date: All summer
Located: Dallas Museum of Art 1717 North Harwood, Dallas
The farmers market celebrates Cinco de Mayo with Folklórico dancers, food, drinks and familY-friendlY activities.
Latino-owned businesses will be featured.
Date: May 6 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Located: Dallas 920 S. Harwood St.
Bring your swimsuits and floaties to the City Lake Aquatic Center, where you can float in the pool while watching a movie.
or the Texas
Convention on July 8 and 9.
Volunteer your time
Giving is good for the soul, so if you can find a spot in your schedule, donate your time to an organization like Keep Mesquite Beautiful. They host trash bashes and recycle days throughout the year to help keep our community clean. Want to spend more time with animals but don’t want the hassle of having a pet? Volunteer at the animal shelter and pet a cat or walk a dog. If you’re more of a people person, go down to the senior center and listen to some of their stories.
Date: June 9, 7 p.m.
Located: 200 Parkview St. Mesquite
This celebration of Black music and culture takes place on Father’s Day. Dru Hill will headline performances. Compiled by Shakayera Davis
Date: JulY 1, 7-10 p.m. Located: KlYde Warren Park, Dallas
Looking for some quality books to read over the summer? Here are five sci-fi books that are sure to keep your attention and take you on a thoughtful, fulfilling journey.
A Psalm for the Wild-Built
Author: Becky Chambers
Becky Chambers is incredibly talented, and a lot of her books focus on allowing the reader to follow characters who are dealing with philosophical issues in a peaceful way.
In “A Psalm for the Wild-Built,” she comforts the reader with a story about a society where robots gained sentience and decided to go on strike, not wanting to be laborers anymore. The humans granted their request, and the robots undertook a quest to understand themselves. Centuries later, a tea-brewing monk who has a dream of hearing the songs of crickets takes off into the wilderness and meets one of these robots. Through their conversations, they explore various topics, including ecology, philosophy and history. Chambers has a way of investigating these topics that leaves you thinking about them in your personal life. The topics can be scary sometimes, but it’s less daunting to inspect in Chambers’ comforting world. She is definitely my favorite sci-fi author, and I want to be her friend in real life.
The Murderbot Diaries
Author: Martha Wells
I had to add The Murderbot Diaries to this list because, honestly, I had never read a series quite like it. The series focuses on a security robot that was able to hack its governor. The governor is the piece of hardware that restricts the security robot’s actions and keeps it from, well, murdering things.
Curiously enough, it continues on as if it hadn’t hacked its governor for the purpose of consuming media. Its favorite is a TV series called “Rise and Fall of Sanctuary Moon,” which the bot regularly devours. The books are filled with the witty dialog of a robot pretending to still be a robot while becoming more humanlike.
Author: Andy Weir
Two things drew me to Weir’s style of writing: his ability to mix the current world with science fiction and the way he captured the authenticity of his characters’ thought processes in stressful situations. “The Martian” drove me headlong into a plausible adventure of space travel and what it would be like to live on Mars.
With the ongoing NASA project “Artemis,” a mission to establish a permanent base on the moon in order to facilitate future missions to Mars, this storyline doesn’t seem so science fiction anymore. Weir’s enthralling storyline about a botanist astronaut who gets left behind on Mars and is faced with challenges to survive until he is able to contact Earth for help is truly a masterpiece.
Weir’s depiction of resourcefulness became a quiet symphony as he described the astronaut’s ability to endure the arduous journey of sustaining his basic needs in a small habitation. This book is a wonderful bridge into sci-fi for those who are interested in space travel. It is also witty and fairly scientifically accurate.
This is How You Lose the Time War
Authors: Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Red and Blue, the main characters in this story, are two time-traveling agents who can exchange letters in very peculiar ways throughout time. The entire story is about how they build a relationship while their warring factions try to take each other out for disrupting the timeline. I love this book because it is extremely imaginative.
The Past is Red
Author: Catherynne Valente
This book tells the tale of life after an apocalypse that flooded Earth and left people living on a giant floating patch of trash. Its focus is on a young girl who just tries to do what’s right, but ends up being hated by everyone for it. There are a multitude of twists and turns as she shambles her way through life, and I ended this book hoping for a sequel.
Passion launches Spohn to state SGA presidency
Hannah Spohn’s passion for student government shines in her role as president of the Texas Junior College Student Government Association. Appointed at age 19, she became the youngest member to take the organization’s reins. Spohn spoke with Et Cetera contributor Raine Caldwell about the role of student government and her future aspirations.
What is TJCSGA?
TJSGA is the Texas Junior College Student Government Association, and it oversees every community college, technical college and junior college student government in Texas. We helped oversee, for example, the Community College Day [in Austin] back in January.
What is your role in TJCSGA?
Well, as the president, I get a unique position of pretty much overseeing what everybody else does and getting to hear firsthand their input into what they want for a better future.
QWhat kind of programs does TJCSGA have for the betterment of junior colleges across the state?
You can join a committee and help with community service events across Texas. We have regional positions where you can make T-shirts and let your creativity shine through. Then we have positions where you can help lobby laws to go to Congress. And on our community college days, we have different advocacy events open for students.
What would you like people to know about TJCSGA?
That it’s a lot more than planning parties and planning social events. Definitely a really big perk of being in SGA is you get to plan conventions, conferences and local events. You also have the impact and the resources to plan food drives and community service events, like giving supplies to a women’s shelter. … You have access to so many resources to help people in such a diverse group, because at community college, we
don’t just have 18-year-olds fresh from high school. We have people coming back to get degrees. I feel that kind of has an extra importance when you look at how many people and how many demographics we’re impacting. We have a very broad impact.
QWhat makes student government important?
AI’ve made so many friends in student government, and there’s so many people that I could not live my life without, from advisers to other students to people who have graduated and gone on to different universities. To me, the people make student governments so much fun. They have brought people together through a passion for leadership and helping each other. … Without the students, it’s nothing.
Q How did you get involved in student government?
ABack in 2020, in the height of the pandemic, I was [attending class virtually]. Everyone was virtual. I felt very isolated from having a traditional high school or college experience, so I decided to join the club fair at [Eastfield], which was on Zoom. I got there and they were saying, “Every leadership position for SGA is open. Do you want to run?” And I was like, “OK, sure.” So I ran for local secretary. I won. I was
really glad about that, but then in my first meeting they said, “Hey, they’re looking for a regional secretary. Would you be interested?” So I was like, “OK, sure, I’d love to as well.” And within a couple of weeks, I was planning the first conference for a whole region of students from every Dallas College campus, from Tarrant County College, Weatherford and a whole bunch of schools in North Texas. And it was all on Zoom, but it gave me this first look into how student government functions even when we’re apart by a global pandemic. When things started to get back in person in 2021 and 2022, I really felt my leadership skills flourish because I had conquered probably one of the hardest aspects of leadership, which is leadership when nobody’s around.
QHow important is student involvement to you?
AStudent involvement is crucial. I found that from even being virtual. Having students who are passionate about making an impact and passionate about growing their SGA, that’s always been the most important thing to me.
Q What do you want to tell people who are looking to join student government?
AMake sure that you can commit yourself to it, because a lot of people join, thinking, “Oh, this is good for a resume,” or, “This will be cool for college applications.” But then when they realize that it takes a lot of hard work and countless hours of just giving your time away, they may be deterred from doing that. So before anyone joins SGA, I would say make sure that you have not only the passion but the time to commit yourself to other things beyond mental health and keeping your grades up. It’s super important to have personal time.
QWhat does leadership mean to you?
AIt isn’t being super strict. It isn’t super powerful. To me, leadership is knowing what people around you want, being a voice for them. I often find in student government, I’m representing people who don’t have a voice and who feel like they can’t make an impact. So for me, leadership is being able to project your voice to help others.
QWould you say that student government is inherently selfless?
AOh, definitely. At Dallas College we’re not getting paid to do any of this, so it really comes from wanting to make a better future for other students. My little brothers, for example, will be going to community college doing dual credit in the next few years. I want to leave not just my student government, but the whole community college better for the next generation, which in my case, is my brothers’.
QDo you have a certain role model in mind or anyone that you would like to work with?
AOne politician that I really look up to, because of how he approaches his campaigns and his followers, would be Beto O’Rourke. I really like his platform of trying to reach and connect with everybody. I don’t know if I have a specific role model per se, but there’s definitely different politicians whose campaigns and leadership styles and the way in which they carry themselves, their diplomacy, I take inspiration from them. And Beto O’Rourke is definitely a very big inspiration for me.
QWhere do you see yourself in five years?
AI think in five years I will be at law school. But one of the goals that I have pretty short term would be working under a politician, whether it’s an internship or a paid job, where I get to experience politics from above a community college level and get real experience into everyday life with one of them.
QWhat do you want the world to know about Hannah Spohn?
AThis isn’t just about me, per se, but that every community college leader is not just the leader. We are all people with our own time commitments and our own personal goals for the future. I hope that everybody treats each student government officer, executive board member, senator and, in general, member with respect. And also honoring the time commitments that they [make] and just taking a moment to appreciate everything that we’ve done throughout the year. We’re all more than just student government officials.
The views expressed on the opinion pages and other opinion pieces and cartoons in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of The Et Cetera, Dallas College. The Et Cetera is published by a student staff.
First Amendment Right Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
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Over half of Dallas College employees responded to the PACE climate survey about the college’s operations.
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Reactionaries don’t belong in news
The firing of media pundits such as Tucker Carlson signals a shift that journalism needs: away from stoking emotions and more toward speaking the facts.
Opinions have become rampant in broadcast news. Hopefully, this starts a chain reaction where other news organizations remove their talking heads. But it’s saddening that it took offensive comments and misinformation to get here.
One of the reasons the nation is so divided is because these talking heads are stoking the flames. It’s less about bringing attention to issues and more about creating an
audience. Broadcast networks need viewers, after all.
Carlson has gotten away with claiming immigrants make our country “dirtier” and leading the cries of a stolen election in 2020. Even during the Jan. 6 riot, the culmination of election denial, Carlson downplayed the incident with, “these were not insurrectionists. They were sightseers."
When COVID-19 dominated the headlines, right-leaning networks hit the gas on conspiracy theories. Carlson even likened vaccine requirements to Jim Crow laws.
Fortunately, Dominion’s 10-figure
defamation lawsuit settlementregarding its voting machines are kicking these opinionated organizations in the right direction.
This is a perfect opportunity to replace these media personalities with anchors who care about the news more than their opinions.
News organizations normally provide a platform for communities to voice their concerns. It shouldn’t be one person peddling an opinion.
Newspapers remind their readers that opinion sections don’t reflect the opinions of the publication. But when networks like CNN and Fox News make pundits the face of their
network, they undermine faith in journalism.
Viewers are sharing fewer clips about important news stories and are instead spreading the rants of a pundit, equating the outrage to fact.
Broadcast news is not the enemy, however. It’s the massive networks and media conglomerates that are galvanizing their audience. The key isn’t to change the channel, but to distinguish when we’re listening to someone’s opinion instead of news.
The firings and defamation lawsuits show that this discourse poisons journalism.
Off with the talking heads.
Internships help students entering career pipeline
Last June, I received an email from Tanya Tillman with Dallas College Internships and Apprenticeships inviting me to apply for an internship.
I assumed the probability of me being selected to participate in this amazing opportunity was low. I didn't have a high GPA and didn’t participate in any extracurricular activities. I figured the worst they could do was deny my application if my lack of spectacular achievements was an issue.
Despite my doubts, I was selected to participate in the internship. That’s when my perspective on the attainability of internships changed. I was still very tense when thinking of how my internship experience would be. Internships are commonly depicted negatively in television shows and movies. I assumed internships were that harsh in reality.
My internship experience was the complete opposite. It consisted of genuine concern for my wellbeing, free breakfast on Saturdays and support. This did not hinder my ability to learn new tasks as a business administrator.
During my internship I learned to complete tasks like data entry, professional communication via email, phone and in person. Leadership assisted me in my work, checking in frequently to ensure I was comfortable doing these tasks. Once the leadership at the company was comfortable I was able to effectively handle these tasks without feeling micromanaged, we met only twice a day, once at the beginning of my shift to talk about tasks for the day and lastly to review the work I’d completed.
Something I was so critical of turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. I have found employers hiring for administrative positions become enthusiastic when they see the experience from working my internship, when I
previously had trouble getting an interview. I urge Dallas College students to take heed of internship opportunities regardless of doubts.
There are resources offered by Dallas College and other community organizations to help you succeed in finding an internship that prepares you for a successful transition into the workforce.
Experiential Learning (ExperientialLearning@ dallascollege.edu) allows students to gain handson experience in their field of study, this could potentially be a paid work opportunity.
Title V grants (https://www.dallascollege.edu/ grants/dhsi/pages/default.aspx) provide Hispanic students with many opportunities including internships and apprenticeships. Title V grants also offer free internship preparation.
Financial Aid (https://www.dallascollege.edu/ paying-for-college/financial-aid/pages/default. aspx) can help students who are looking for work acquire a work-study job on campus. These jobs are designed with the student's lifestyle in mind, taking into account the amount of time needed to study for courses.
There are also community resources for students seeking internships involving organizations such as the All-Stars Project, Dallas Independent School District and more. The All-Stars
Project (https://allstars.org/youth-programsapplications/) is a national nonprofit that offers workshops that progress into paid internships with business leaders in your community. This local program is called the DSY, one of the many professional building tools All-Stars offers. People ages 16 to 21 are eligible for the Development School for Youth program.
Also, the Dallas Independent School District offers summer internships (https://bit. ly/3ohG4NP) for students ages 16 and up. This is an amazing opportunity for dual-credit students as the guide mentions flexibility and credit that could be earned from this work experience.
Dallas College also offers workshops and career and internship fairs (https://www.dallascollege. edu/resources/career-transfer/pages/default.aspx) throughout the school year.
There are internships for students who may not have an excellent achievement status. Even if you are not confident you’ll be chosen, applying for the opportunity can lead to an amazing experience. Don’t miss out on hands-on learning because of doubts.
Cowboys have solid but not spectacular draft
Picks addressed several key needs
The Dallas Cowboys had a very under-theradar draft, continuing the trend from last year, and that is exactly what they needed. There were no flashy picks, but they found talent in positions of need.
In the first round, they selected Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith to help bolster a defensive line that allowed over 124 rushing yards per game last season, which ranked 22nd in the league. Smith is a not a refined talent, but the upside is immense. He has the prototypical size to be elite at his position at 6-foot-3, 323 pounds and 34-inch arms. With the correct development, this could be one of the best picks of this year's draft.
Luke Schoonmaker, the tight end from Michigan, was taken in the second round with the goal of replacing Dalton Schultz. The Cowboys must not be over the moon with Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot, both from the 2022 class. Schoonmaker projects to be a
Day 1 starter and a valuable piece in the run game as a blocker.
Wrapping up Day 2 of the draft they took Texas linebacker DeMarvion Overshown in the third round, adding key depth. Outside of Micah Parsons, there is no standout linebacker on the roster. Dallas has invested many laterround picks in linebackers, but none have hit yet.
Overshown will not be a Day 1 starter but hopefully take the stride many of those other linebackers have not.
Viliami Fehoko, the defensive tackle from San Jose State, was taken in the fourth round to add depth to the middle of the defensive line. At this point in the draft, none of these picks are expected to start right away, but
stars can be found and developed. Fehoko is another high-upside pick at a position that lacks depth.
In the fifth round, the Cowboys took Asim Richards, the offensive lineman with guard/ tackle versatility from North Carolina. With Zack Martin and Tyron Smith in the latter part of their careers, finding project players is a great insurance policy. As long as the injury bug doesn’t strike again this season, there will be plenty of depth on the offensive line.
Cornerback Eric Scott Jr. of Southern Miss was taken in the sixth round after the Cowboys traded up. The cornerback slot opposite Trevon Diggs was a hole for most of 2022, and the team addressed it with a trade for Stephon Gilmore.
But that is a stop-gap solution for one, maybe two years, and then there will need to be a long-term answer.
Scott is a raw talent with elite traits who has the potential to be an effective starter. He’s nowhere near ready to start, but he’s someone to look out for a year from now.
Finally, a running back was drafted. Deuce Vaughn was taken in the sixth round out of Kansas State where he had an electric career.
The team must see a lot of promise in Malik Davis to pass on a lot of the quality talent that was available in the previous rounds. Vaughn expectedly fell this late due to his extremely small size at 5-feet-5, 179 pounds, but the talent is there.
It will be interesting to see how Vaughn’s skills translate to the NFL level, but if they do, this will be an absolute steal.
With their final pick, the Cowboys took receiver Jalen Brooks out of South Carolina. This pick didn’t seem to fit since he had extremely limited college production and his speed tested out horribly at the combine. Given it is a seventh-round pick, maybe Jerry and Stephen Jones know something I do not.
Overall, the Cowboys’ needs were addressed, and depth was added. Like with any draft, only time will tell how successful this draft was.
The Cowboys have not developed much talent in later rounds from the past three classes, and that does not give me reason to believe they will now.
If recent history repeats itself, more and more pressure will be on the first and second round picks to produce.
Experience Link’s most legendary adventuresBy GABRIEL CARLISLE Contributor @TheEtCetera
“The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,” the highly anticipated latest installment of the Zelda series, will be released May 12. The Zelda series changed the world of video games with its first title, “The Legend of Zelda,” the first game with openstructure play. Since its 1986 debut, the Zelda series has produced 20plus additional games and continues to revolutionize the gaming industry to this day.
Here are my top five picks for the best games within the Zelda series.
“Majora's Mask,” released in 2002, is known as the darkest Zelda game. The foreboding atmosphere and unique gameplay make this game truly unforgettable. Link becomes lost in the lands of Termina, a strange parallel realm to Hyrule. This world is threatened by Majora, a powerful deity confined to a mask and worn by an imp child. The moon is falling at Majora's behest and will destroy Termina in three days' time. Link is able to time travel to the beginning of the three-day cycle, allowing him unlimited time to figure out how to stop the moon from falling but also trapping him in a time loop.
Throughout the three-day cycle, Termina's residents shift between several stages of grief as they come to accept their oncoming doom. “Majora's Mask” was a major departure from the often bright and cheerful stories seen previously in the series. While previous games did have heavy moments, no other game has had such a heavy overall theme. The time loop offers an extremely unique game structure, and the mysterious lands of Termina create a profound
Survey shows mixed opinions
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Link has been trapped within the dream since the start. By waking the Windfish, Link will have to say goodbye to all of the friends he's made on the island and acknowledge that these people he'd grown to love were imaginary. This game was arguably the first time a Zelda game had a deeper plot. The previous games in the series were almost exclusively action based.
Released in 2006, “Twlight Princess” was a departure from the usual art style of the previous Zelda games, which had been limited to a cartoonish look by the technology of their time. “Twilight Princess” was the first game in the series with a more mature art style.
plan for an employee,” Williams added.
One of the problem areas listed was favoritism.
Some employees also mentioned low wages.
“We already have the technology and talent to fix this place up, but they’re not utilized,” a respondent wrote. “I’m usually not one to complain about my pay because I used to think it was fair, but I’ve been doing more than 2 full-time jobs for a while now, partly because no one else will take one for the tragic salary offered.”
sense of adventure.
For these reasons, I rank “Majora's Mask” as the best game in the Zelda series so far, although I do have hopes that the upcoming game, “Tears of the Kingdom”, will surpass it.
“Breath of the Wild,” released in 2017, was the first truly open-world Zelda game. The player has complete freedom in exploring the kingdom of Hyrule and even has the option to go to the final fight right after the tutorial phase.
In this game, Link wakes up on an isolated plateau without a single memory. From the plateau, he is able to see Hyrule Castle in the distance under siege by a monster known as Calamity Ganon. Link soon discovers that he has been asleep for 100 years recovering from a fatal injury while Princess Zelda has been holding back the Calamity and awaiting his return.
Link must explore the vast world of Hyrule in search of his lost memo-
ries and piece together the events of a century past to discover what went wrong in his previous attempt to vanquish Calamity.
This game is the only Zelda game where Link fails to defeat the great evil threatening the lands of Hyrule, featuring a story about redemption. The story's themes and the enormous open world earn it this spot on the list.
“Link's Awakening”, released in 1993, was limited by the technology of its time, but the story's themes more than make up for it. Link is lost at sea and washes up on the shores of the mysterious island of Koholint as a deity named the Windfish slumbers at the peak of Koholint's mountain. Link's quest is to wake up the Windfish using magical instruments he collects as he beats dungeons and defeats the “nightmares,'' monsters plaguing the Windfish's sleep.
By the end of the game, it is revealed that Koholint Island is merely a part of the Windfish's dream and
In this game, Link is dragged into the middle of a war between light and darkness. While traversing the dark realm, Link is limited to a wolf form and is forced to ally himself with a mysterious imp. He must save not only the kingdom of Hyrule but the Twilight realm as well. The dark atmosphere, compelling characters and the novelty of Link's wolf form earn this game its spot on the list.
Released in 1998, “Ocarina of Time” was the first ever Zelda game using 3D graphics. In this game, the main character, Link, starts off as a young boy but must time travel to the future to fulfill his destiny as the Hero of Time and save the kingdom of Hyrule. He is able to travel backward and forward through time, becoming a child or an adult as needed to progress in his journey.
It features a phenomenal soundtrack, unique dungeons and interesting gameplay. This game is a fan favorite with it being many fans' introduction to the Zelda series.
Several items in the supervisory category can be chalked up to improving the communication funnel, said Williams. That starts with gaining more feedback on policy changes.
Although teamwork had the fewest comments, positivity was near unanimous with 162 favorable responses and 19 unfavorable replies, bringing its score to 3.875.
The category featured two items in the top 10.
“We’re trying to empower people to work as teams, allowing teams to work towards an ideal state that allows them to function in ways that support student success,” Williams said.
However, some recipients said short-staffing downplays the quality of collaboration at Dallas College.
“There is inadequate support staff on multiple levels to effectively and efficiently operate the organization to assist and promote student success,” one commenter wrote.
Other responses noted the consolidation hurt the chain of communication by not defining where employees can give feedback.
“Decisions are made without engaging with the people on the ground doing the work,” one commenter wrote.
When presenting results of the climate survey, the administration stressed transparency in the process, including the adoption of a third party to organize the results. Overall, the goal is to promote accountability toward Dallas College’s administration.
“The creation of a collaborative action plan allows us to hold each other accountable for how we’re managing,” Williams said.