February 24, 2014
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Mercury staff predict big winners at Academy Awards
All that glitters is not gold: A new look at the Olympic medals 10 THE MERCURY | UTDMERCURY.COM
JUSTIN THOMPSON | STAFF
Brain Matters Scientists create device to study concussions PARTH SAMPAT Sports Editor
With a $3 million grant from Texas Instruments, Robert Rennaker, director of UTD’s Texas Biomedical Device Center, is expecting to debut by Feb. 28 a prototype of a system to better detect concussions. The Center for BrainHealth developed the BrainHealth Institute for Athletes to comprehensively address brain health issues related to sports concussions and other injuries in aging athlete’s brains.
→ SEE CONCUSSIONS, PAGE 5
CONNIE CHENG | ASST. PHOTO EDITOR
Cognitive health rests on a good night's sleep ANWESHA BHATTACHARJEE Web Editor
When students juggle a lot of activities on a daily basis, one of the first things they cut out is sleep, but longterm sleep deprivation can lead to severe physiological effects — this was the message James Maas wanted to get across to his audience at his lecture, “Sleep for Success,” on Feb. 11. CENTER FOR BRAINHEALTH | COURTESY
Maas, the man who coined the term “power nap” 38 years ago and CEO of “Sleep for Success!” and “Sleep to Win!” was invited to speak at the Center for BrainHealth’s ongoing “The Brain: an owner’s guide lecture series” about his findings on sleep deprivation and its effects on the human body. Since his retirement in 2011, Maas
→ SEE SLEEP, PAGE 4
Events explore diversity in body image perceptions SHEILA DANG
When Kevin Miller moved from his small Christian hometown to attend UTD, he had more opportunities to meet other gay men, but also began to feel the notion that maybe he didn’t fit the image ideal. “When I was in high school, I never really thought much about how I looked in retrospect of fitting in,” said Miller, an ATEC junior.
“When I got to college, I was exposed to a gay community, and it became more of an apparent issue that I don’t look like what these guys look like. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but there’s an understanding that if you want people to be interested in you, you need to look a certain way.” Body image is an issue some students can struggle with during college, regardless of sexual orientation or other differences. It’s this the Student Counseling Center, or SCC, will address in bringing the National Eating Disorder Awareness Week to UTD
→ SEE BODY IMAGE, PAGE 5 CONNIE CHENG | ASST. PHOTO EDITOR
LINA MOON | GRAPHICS EDITOR
THE MERCURY | FEB. 24, 2014
Just the facts
THE MERCURY UTDMERCURY.COM Volume XXXVI No. 4 Editor-in-Chief Lauren Featherstone email@example.com (972) 883-2294
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A Center for Students in Recovery is set to open on campus. The center will provide specialized counseling for students with addictions and safe, sober events for those students. Although there is no confirmed date on when the center will be available to students, the center most likely will be located in the Phase I Clubhouse, which is currently used for storage, said SG Vice President Charlie Hannigan at the Feb. 18 SG meeting. Other UT campuses, including UT Austin, UT Arlington and UT Tyler, already have centers providing such services. The center at UTD will be modeled after UTâ€™s, Hannigan said. Technology Committee chair Brook Knudtson said the senate is working on creating video newsletters. The purpose of these videos is to provide students with information about SG, its events, and other updates through a new medium. Knudtson said SG hopes to make these videos regularly and show them on UTD TVâ€™s website. Students should expect to see the first video in two weeks. t4UVEFOU"GGBJST$PNNJUUFFDIBJS Casey Sublett said the UTD Police have made changes to their lost and found policy. The police will now contact students after receiving the lost and found inquiry forms to let them know if they do not have an item. In the past, the police only contacted students if they received
items that matched the description provided on the inquiry form. t 3FTJEFOUJBM "GGBJST $PNNJUUFF chair Katie Truesdale said University Village apartments, except for those that were previously called Waterview, will be refurnished with new appliances beginning March 17. t 5IF GJSTU $PNFU $IBUT FWFOU PG the semester will be held at 8 p.m. on Feb. 26 in The Pub. Matthew Polze and Jared Pickens, who are both faculty at the Jindal School of Management, will give short speeches and answer studentsâ€™ questions at the event. ti.FFU:PVS4FOBUPSTwFWFOUTXJMM be from 12-2 p.m. on Feb. 26 in JSOM, 12-2 p.m. on March 19 in NSM and 12-2 p.m. on April 17 in EPPS. Students can meet with senators and discuss any concerns they have. The senate allocated $100 for UIF +40. i.FFU :PVS 4FOBUPSTw event to cover snacks and refreshments. t -FHJTMBUJWF $PNNJUUFF DIBJS Sidd Sant updated the senate on the i,OPX:PVS3JHIUTwFWFOU4BOUTBJE that the event has been rescheduled to take place from 12-1:30 p.m. on March 3 in one of the Galaxy Rooms. The purpose of this event is to educate people on what to do in different situations involving the police. t 5IF TFOBUF BMMPDBUFE GPS SG election campaigning materials such as flyers, door hangers, banners and advertisements. t 5IF OFYU 4( NFFUJOH XJMM CF BU 5:15 p.m. on March 4 in one of the Galaxy Rooms.
Staff Writer Pablo Arauz Contributors Zainah Asfoor Zachary Benedorf Esteban Bustillos Animesh Chowdhury Emily Grams Manar Haseeb Ali Khanian Alison Kwong Sarah Larson Joseph Mancuso Sunayna Rajput Tasfia Rouf Justin Thompson John Thottungal Shyam Vedantam Mailing Address 800 West Campbell Road Mailstop SU 24 Richardson, TX 75080-0688 Newsroom Student Union, Student Media Suite SU 1.601 FIRST COPY FREE NEXT COPY 25 CENTS The Mercury is published on Mondays, at two-week intervals during the long term of The University of Texas at Dallas, except holidays and exam periods, and once every four weeks during the summer term. Advertising is accepted by The Mercury on the basis that there is no discrimination by the advertiser in the offering of goods or services to any person, on any basis prohibited by applicable law. Evidence of discrimination will be the basis of denial of advertising space. The publication of advertising in The Mercury does not constitute an endorsement of products or services by the newspaper, the UTD administration, the Board of Regents or the Student Media Operating Board. Opinions expressed in The Mercury are those of the editor, the editorial board or the writer of the article. They are not necessarily the view of the UTD administration, the Board of Regents or the Student Media Operating Board. The Mercuryâ€™s editors retain the right to refuse or edit any submission based on libel, malice, spelling, grammar and style, and violations of Section 54.23 (f ) (1-6) of UTD policy, which can be found at policy.utdallas.edu Copyright ÂŠ 2014, The University of Texas at Dallas. All articles, photographs and graphic assets, whether in print or online, may not be reproduced or republished in part or in whole without express written permission.
UTDPD Blotter Feb. 7 tA student reported his rear Texas license plate was stolen from his pickup truck while parked in the Phase 8 lot at around 4 p.m. t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEIFSMBQUPQXBTUBLFOPVU of her apartment in Phase 1 without her consent at around 9 p.m. Feb. 9 t0ĂŻ DFSTXFSFEJTQBUDIFEUP6OJWFSTJUZ7JMMBHF in reference to loud noises. At around 1 a.m., citations were issued for consumption of alcohol by a minor and disorderly conduct. Feb. 11 t"TUVEFOUXBTJTTVFEB$JUZPG3JDIBSETPODJ tation for a fire lane violation, and UTD Police Officerâ€™s seized three signs in Res Hall West at around 4 p.m. t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEBUIFGUJOUIF.D%FSNPUU Library at around 7 p.m. Feb. 12 t"TUBĂŞNFNCFSSFQPSUFEUIFCVSHMBSZPGB coin-operated machine in Residence Hall West at around 1 p.m. Feb. 14 t"TUVEFOUXBTBSSFTUFEJO3FT)BMM8FTUGPS possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and minor in possession of alcohol at around 3 p.m. Feb. 15 t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEUIFCVSHMBSZPGBNPUPS vehicle near Phase 5 at around 12 a.m. Feb. 16 tA non-affiliated person was arrested for driving without a license and no insurance on Floyd Road at around 11 p.m. Feb. 17 t"QSPGFTTPSSFQPSUFEIFSDBUBMZUJDDPOWFSUFS XBTUBLFOPĂŞIFSWFIJDMFXJUIPVUIFSDPOTFOUJO-PU B at around 7 p.m.
LEGEND VEHICULAR INCIDENT THEFT DRUGS & ALCOHOL OTHER MAP: UTD COMMUNICATIONS | COURTESY
Feb. 20: Graffiti was located on the southwest exterior door of the Physics Building at around 2 a.m. Feb. 15: A student reported unknown person(s) who damaged the rear window of her car.
Feb. 8: Officers responded to a fire alarm pull station activation at around 5 p.m.
FEB. 24, 2014 | THE MERCURY | UTDMERCURY.COM
Interest payments on loans too burdensome for some students JOHN THOTTUNGAL COMMENTARY
No student in America should have to forgo higher education for the lack of financial resources. There are scholarships for students offered by universities, colleges and many for profit education institutions such as DeVry. But what about students who are not able to get the limited number of scholarships or those who don’t qualify because their parents make a little more money that precludes them from scholarships or even federal student financial aid programs? This leaves all the students who make the choice to take loans from public and private institutions. Financial Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, loans along with other federal government subsidized loan programs, such as the GI bill for veterans, all help students who want to attend or return to school. The question to ask in this underperforming and shaky economy, where the stock market jumps every time there is a slight decrease in the unemployment numbers, is whether the U.S government need to make this much money off the backs of students who are paying the economy back by getting jobs, earning more and spending more? $185 billion and $1.2 trillion are some of the numbers being thrown about when it comes to the topic of student aid and loans from Forbes and the New York Times. The joy of finding a job and getting your first paycheck is reduced when a chunk of it is doomed to go to the butchery of loan
payments. One’s total earning potential over the course of a career is diminished as interest payments on the total loan ensure the absence of equity that could have been put towards a mortgage or a down payment on a house. Over the next decade, student loans are projected to bring in $185 billion to the federal government, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO estimates an average of 36 cents of profit for every dollar worth of loans taken by a student. When you take the amount of $185 billion and spread it over the next 10 years, it makes the student federal agency one of the 20 most profitable companies in the world according to Shahien Nasiripour of the Huffington Post. It is usurious to make this much money off the back of students who bring more money to the economy once they graduate and get jobs. A monthly payment of $300 can be used to pay down a mortgage or built up a retirement nest egg, reducing the burden on the economy and Medicare. Foreclosures and bankruptcies would be reduced if there would be more disposable income floating around. Even if one were to make the argument that people are more likely to spend the money and not save it, it still benefits the economy, especially one that is dependent on the retail and housing market. The NYT has written about how future generations of students will have to pay for the overhaul of the federal loan program, but this is not a solution, nor is it even a bandaid to stop the bleeding of money that leaves the pockets of students when they graduate. A more permanent solution that ensures that
every student in America should be able to study if they choose to is required. A lack of this solution will set up the American economy for another windfall as more students who are unable to keep up with payments will default, which will have a ripple effect. This is reminiscent of the housing market crash not too long ago. Once again, America is more alone in this situation amongst the countries of the G8, as it is with many other issues such as health care. Most colleges and universities in other countries offer degree programs that are free or almost free for its students. Other developed nations offer interest free loans, or loans that have a higher chance of being forgiven. Free higher education in America will not happen, and one should not even have any expectation of that. The best one can hope for in terms of a permanent solution, rather than just an overhaul, are interest-free loans as a best-case scenario. It is important to keep in mind that students here do have the option of applying for loan forgiveness, and there are programs that allow lower monthly payment or payment deferral for student loans. Interest-free loans may be one solution, but that would require a change in the answer to the fundamental question of garnering profits off the backs of students who choose to take loans. I am not sure that America is ready to answer that question, but this will be one of the central issues that face politicians in the next election. Until then, it is best to start looking for the first and second job after graduation, and one shouldn’t forget the possible advantages of paying a dollar each week for a lottery ticket of which some of the profits go back into the school system.
Comets and Craters Editor’s Note: In an attempt to expand the scope of this opinion page, the editorial board created this column to higlight the significant high and low points of campus life, administrative decisions and news at UTD. If you think we missed something or have a suggestion, we encourage you to contact us. You can find the best ways to reach us in the information box at the bottom of this column.
Coffee from The Pub: There’s nothing like burnt coffee to wake you up in the morning. If The Pub’s version of Starbucks is going to charge Starbucks’ prices, then it should produce the same quality coffee. It’s the caffeine in a cup of joe that’s meant to give you a jolt, not the subtle taste of soot. Revitalization of the Plinth: There’s three main parts to any college student’s watering hole: a nearby source of food, plenty of seating and a steady stream of music. With all the music and daily events out on the Plinth recently, it seems poised to become the hangout spot it’s always wanted to be. Cecil Green blocked off: There’s a slew of inconveniences the north mall renovation is causing students but none as grave as denying them the chance to rub Cecil Green’s head. Don’t be surprised if the school’s collective GPA plummets. The parking garage glory days: After a rough start, the parking garage is finally coming into its own. There are spiffy colored lights to designate areas, changing levels during inclement weather and an accurate display of available parking spaces. Now, if people would stop knocking down the guide poles, it’d be perfect. The rise of the clickers: If you haven’t been required to purchase a TurningPoint response card for one of your classes yet, it’s likely that you soon will. These clickers are becoming more and more popular amongst professors; however, not all professors have seemed to hone in on the real value of this trending technology. Students are wasting their money for classes that only use the devices for quizzes and attendance, which could more affordably be done with classic pencil and paper. Where these tools really show their worth is in quick, interactive and anonymous feedback to engage students and get accurate responses for tough subjects.
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et m o
“Does it affect you when people smoke on campus?”
LINA MOON | GRAPHICS EDITOR
n e mm
“Yes. I’m allergic to cigarette smoke, so I tend to go away when they are smoking.” Julia Pinto Mathematics junior
“I think it does. There are some people who are considerate and blow smoke out of the way, but some people just blow it and it ends up in the person’s face, behind them or next to them.” Christopher Lin Biology senior
“It doesn’t affect me as long as it’s outside. I really don’t know why it should bother anyone.” Haad Fazlani Accounting and finance senior
“Honestly, as long as there is a designated area for people to smoke and it’s not really conflicting pathways, I don’t see why they shouldn’t have the area to fulfill their addiction.” Omar Hamed
Molecular biology junior
“It does. I wish this place becomes a smoke-free zone or at least have some place where people can smoke.” Danny Matthew Sundaresan Business administration junior
THE MERCURY | FEB. 24, 2014
Tobacco bans go unenforced Excess credit hours lead to higher costs Abundant smokers and lax policy lead SG to spearhead iniative for stricter rules MANAR HASEEB Mercury Staff
There’s nothing out of the ordinary about seeing someone smoking on campus. With more than 21,000 students, plus faculty and staff at UTD, the occasional smoker is only to be expected. However, many of the people who smoke on campus do so in direct violation of the tobacco-free policy. “The tobacco-free zone isn’t followed at all. There are people smoking all the time,” said Casey Sublett, student affairs chair for Student Government. The current tobacco-free policy was created in part due to a mandate by the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas, or CPRIT. All organizations that receive more than $25,000 of funding from CPRIT must have a tobacco-free policy, and UTD is one such institution. The policy prohibits the use of tobacco products in university buildings or vehicles and within 10 meters (about 33 feet) of the entrances of any campus building. Additionally, the parking lots, walkways and sidewalks adjacent to Berkner Hall and the Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory are required to be completely tobacco-free zones, as CPRIT-funded research takes place in these two buildings. The problem occurs when it comes to enforcement. Though there are signs reminding everyone not to smoke in certain areas, there are no real penalties. The enforcement section of the official Tobacco Free Policy states, “students, staff and faculty are empowered to respectfully and courteously inform others of this policy to enhance awareness and encourage compliance.” If that doesn’t work, policy violations can be reported to the Office of Administration and repeated violations may result in disciplinary action, but this is an infrequent occurrence. “Over the last year, we have received fewer than 10 reports,” said the Vice President for Administration Calvin Jamison. “Most have
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speaks to more than 100 high schools, professional athletic teams and college students each year about the importance of sleep and why adolescents and teenagers fail to reach their full potential due to sleep deprivation. “Sleep deprivation helps significantly (increase) risk for hypertension and certain types of strokes, type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and cancer,” he said. “All of those things weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable, and that’s just the physiological effects. Then there’s irritability, anxiety and even clinical depression, and a tremendous effect on your brain waves and the cognitive processing. You can’t remember, you can’t maintain creative and critical thinking skills, you take risks and it manifests into how long you’ve got to live.” Effects of sleep deprivation Sleeping less than six hours increases the body’s susceptibility to viral infections by 50 percent and 23 percent more likely to be obese than someone getting the adequate sleep, Maas explains in his book, “Sleep for Success.” For teenagers and adolescents, right from puberty until about 24 years of age, a full night’s sleep is actually 9.25 hours of sleep each night for proper body and brain functioning, Maas said. For adults older than 24 years, the need for sleep drops to between 7.5 to nine hours of sleep each day. An estimated 30.9 percent of 2,330 people in the age group 18 – 24 years sleep less than seven hours a day on average, and 4.5 percent reported to have nodded or fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the
CHRISTOPHER WANG | PHOTO EDITOR
While UTD’s tobacco-free policy prohibits the use of any tobacco products within 33 feet of building entrances, students, faculty and staff can often be seen smoking within the range.
been more general and refer to an area of campus rather than an individual’s name. For example, concerns were voiced regarding smoking around NSERL when construction of the Bioengineering and Sciences Building began. Smokers had been displaced due to construction fencing. We have since increased signage around the building and held a town hall meeting to discuss alternative smoking areas that are in compliance with CPRIT requirements.” CPRIT relies completely on the institutions it funds to deal with the issue of enforcement. “We ask the institutions, the institutions tell us they’re doing it and we believe it,” said CPRIT Senior Communication Specialist Ellen Read. “We can’t go to the institutions. We don’t have the staff. That’s their problem.” The reason that CPRIT created these requirements was to further its goal of cancer prevention. Its tobacco-free policy statement explains that it wants to work with organizations that are serious about fighting cancer. “What we were basically saying when we put out this requirement is that if we are funding this research, and it is going on in Building X, there cannot be any smoking in Building X or the surrounding areas. Many institutions have used that as a jumping-off point,” Read said. “There are some things you can’t control, but stopping tobacco use is controllable.”
30 days prior to the survey, according to the last released sleep statistics in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Mar. 4, 2011. Of the 7,428 participants in the American Insomnia Survey, 23 percent were seen to have insomnia, with a higher prevalence among those who had a college degree, according to the survey results released in 2011. A 2012 research estimated that insomnia-related disorders cause combined economic losses of $31.1 billion in the United States annually. One of the most common consequences of sleep-deprivation is a selective loss of rapid-eye movement sleep, or REM, which occurs only after a few hours of sleeping, and the lack of which leads to memory and other cognitive impairments, said Lucien Thompson, program head for neuroscience at the School of Behavioral and Brain sciences, in an email to The Mercury. “The brain's attempted solution the next day is a phenomenon we call REM-rebound: The brain tries to snatch a few moments of REM whenever it can, i.e. whenever you're sitting down, comfortable and can get away with it,” he said in the email. “While this sometimes works, it has noticeable side effects: You lose muscle tone when in REM sleep, so if you're sitting in class, your eyes close, your head bobs forward or backward, you may drool on yourself … The consequences are much worse if you're driving or operating heavy machinery: Losing muscle tone and attention to your surroundings is not safe at any rate of speed, and can be fatal.” Alison Perez, a doctoral student at the Center for BrainHealth who works on healthy aging symptoms, said she found through her research that sometimes cognitive decline due to prolonged sleep-deprivation can
Though some may believe that the tobacco free policy might as well be ignored, SG is attempting to have it seriously enforced. “We are in the process of working with the administration on this,” Sublett said. “As far as students correcting each other or other people on campus, I don’t see that being successful. So right now, I just don’t think it’s enforced at all.” The SG student affairs committee is in the process of scheduling a walkthrough of campus with administration in order to demonstrate how many smokers disregard the policy. The committee hopes that a firsthand look will encourage administration to take steps for stricter enforcement. “Awareness and education are key to compliance, and we are working with SG on an initiative to help the campus community be more mindful of this policy,” Jamison said. “We also place signs on the buildings throughout campus, introduce the policy at new student, faculty and staff orientations, and offer cessation programs for students and employees in an effort to provide proactive reminders and encourage compliance.” In addition to dealing with the issue of enforcement, SG hopes to expand the policy in response to student complaints. Sublett and her committee have compiled a list of problem spots on campus where they are hoping to reduce smoking. These problem spots, such as the courtyard at JSOM and the breeze-
ways and halls between apartment units, include areas where smoking is technically allowed but causes discomfort to students. While many students defy the tobacco-free policy, others do their best to abide by it. Several student smokers said they felt neutral about the policy and only break it unintentionally. Assistant professor Jeremiah Gassensmith, despite being a smoker himself, said, “I think that the whole campus should be tobacco free. It’s more of a health benefit to everybody if smokers simply abstain from smoking while on campus.” Many universities nationwide have adopted 100 percent tobaccofree campuses. In Texas, Abilene Christian University, the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Austin are just a few examples. The enforcement policies at UTA and UT are similar to the enforcement policies currently in place at UTD. Voluntary compliance is expected, and students, faculty and visitors are encouraged to ask people not to smoke on campus if they see it occur. However, at ACU, tobacco usage is a more serious violation and can result in a fine. ACU has been a completely tobacco-free campus since 1994, long before the recent trend. On the other side of the issue, a nationwide student organization called Young Americans for Liberty, or YAL, has been protesting campus smoking bans for the past several years. In November 2011, the University of North Texas chapter protested a smoking ban referendum by handing out free cigarettes and obtaining signatures on a petition. Though the referendum failed to pass, UNT became a smoke-free campus in 2013 anyway. However, it appears that UTD will not become a completely tobacco-free campus anytime soon. “UTD chose to keep a tobaccofree building policy over a tobaccofree campus because it has been a better fit for the needs of our campus community at this time,” Jamison said.
TASFIA ROUF Mercury Staff
While some students may think taking more courses is beneficial, having too many credits can cause expensive consequences. In fall 2006, the Texas Legislature began to implement the excessive hours policy. The policy states that, depending on one’s major, if an undergraduate resident student goes 30 credits over their credit count, they will be required to pay out-of-state tuition for the remainder of their classes. Over the last four years, from spring 2010 to spring 2014, a total of 576 students had to pay out-ofstate tuition due to the excessive hours policy. This resulted in a grand total of more than $1.5 million extra that the students paid, according to the Bursar’s office. As a whole, this issue usually comes up for students who transfer in with too many credits from other colleges or universities. However, others may be affected, such as first-year students who enter with a high number of college credits, said Bonnie Doughtery, an academic advisor in BBS. This issue arises when students lack organization as they plan their classes. “The main step to take so that this does not happen is to come into advising,” she said. “One of the things we are constantly doing with students is providing them with information, and warning them if they are getting very close to these hours. It generally happens if students are not paying close attention to their studies.” One group of people that may be more worried about this issue are high school students who enroll with a large number of college credit via dual credit high school programs. Some first-year students come in with more than 50 college credits. Samiha Chowdhury, a senior mathematics major at UTD, faced a similar problem. She
went to Richland Collegiate High School, where students take dual credit courses and can potentially graduate with both a high school diploma and associate’s degree. Chowdhury came into UTD with almost 80 college credits. “In my junior year at UTD, I received an email from the Bursar’s office about the excessive hour policy,” she said. “I did not understand the email, which is when I went to my advisor to obtain more information. After reviewing my degree plans, she told me that at the time I had 150 credits, and by the time I would graduate I would be around the 170 credit mark.” However, Leah Barfield, an academic advisor in BBS, said there are exceptions primarily for high school students. AP credit, CLEP credit and IB credit are exempted. Credits from Richland Collegiate or Texas Academy of Math and Science will not affect students with regards to the excessive hours policy. With this being the case, Chowdhury was able to file an appeal against the policy. “The financial aid office told me to write an appeal, explaining my situation,” she said. “My advisor also provided the financial aid office a letter to verify my appeal. After about three weeks, the office approved my appeal and did not require me to pay out-of-state tuition.” Barfield said the policy was implemented in an effort to make students more serious and organized about their choices when it comes to taking classes. Timely graduation is encouraged and even rewarded by the state. An example of such a reward is the “$1,000 Tuition Rebate for Certain Undergraduates” program. In order to be eligible to receive this rebate, undergraduate students must graduate within no more than
→ SEE CREDITS, PAGE 5
be misdiagnosed as early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. “It’s concerning to think about it like that but I do think that if you don’t have a good sleep habit for long enough it really does impact cognition in a negative way,” Perez, who attended Maas’ talk, said. Causes of sleeplessness Stress is one of the primary known causes of insomnia, Maas said, and needs to be countered in any way possible — yoga, meditation, exercise or even time management — to eliminate the cause of the stress. “Stress is the main culprit; that and caffeine after two in the afternoon, and any liquor within three hours of bedtime and certainly drugs — all can lead to stress,” he said. One of the functions of sleep (particularly the sleep early in the night, which is largely slow-wave or synchronous sleep) is restorative, Thompson said. The brain essentially powers down to idle, letting the complex network of cells in the brain using a disproportionate share of the body's glucose and oxygen supply to detoxify and recycle materials for more active moments later, he said. One of the other major functions of sleep, which occurs later in the night, involves alternating large amounts of REM with the earlier synchronous sleep is also memoryrelated. The brain eliminates temporary memories such as events of the day that catch attention, and focuses on consolidating a much smaller number of memories into longerterm storage, Thompson said. “Sleep is a way to reenergize the brain; it’s a way to get back all that expended energy and the reserve that you pull from all day long,” Perez said. “So when we don’t get enough
MIGUEL PEREZ | LIFE & ARTS EDITOR
Stress, caffeine and use of electronics may negatively impact quality of sleep and lead to health issues.
sleep, it’s like we’re operating on a half-empty tank of gas: You’re going to run out, and you’re going to run out more quickly than you would if you’d had a full night’s sleep.” Are sleeping pills the answer? Adjusting the sleep cycle and getting adequate sleep in a multi-tasking society is easier said than done, partly due to societal reasons but also due to physiological ones. Teenagers find it difficult to get to bed early, primarily due to the release of melatonin, a growth hormone secreted late at night. Sticking to a prebed ritual can help establish a healthy sleep cycle, although sleeping extra during weekends or sleeping during the day cannot compensate for the hours of sleep lost at night, Maas said.
While a short power nap — a 15 or 20 minute state of rest — can help relax the brain, sleeping too much in the middle of the day can disrupt the normal sleep cycle at night and induce grogginess, he said. Good sleeping habits depend not only on the quantity of sleep, but also on the quality of sleep. Having a bright light on an alarm clock while sleeping, watching television before going to bed and sleep interrupted with phone beeps inhibit a good night’s sleep. Maas is famous for having taught the largest live lectures with 2,000 students at Cornell, and in 1969, he gave up other research interests to become a sleep educator. Until his retirement in 2011, his classes dealt with sleep, effects of sleep deprivation and a study of sleeping pills, he said. “Sleeping pills can kill you,” Maas
said. “They can cause cancer, heart attacks, strokes, memory loss — they’re not a good idea.” Instead, he recommends alternate behavior therapy, learning the rules of good sleep hygiene and valuing sleep. There are also different compounds that are coming into the market that can help teenagers change their sleep cycle, which are good, Maas said. Time management, however, is the best strategy to get the amount of sleep needed by the body, he said. Instead of waiting between classes wasting time, students can finish all they need to do in 16 hours, for which they now use 19 hours a day. “The problem is, in our society, we still think it’s macho to get away with as little sleep as possible, but literally, sleep deprivation makes you clumsy, stupid and it shortens your life,” he said.
THE MERCURY | FEB. 24, 2014
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The study on concussions is critical as there is a growing concern about repercussions of repeated head injuries among families of kids who play high school and college football. The nation’s largest youth football program, Pop Warner, saw participation drop 9.5 percent from 2010 to 2012, a sign that the concussion crisis that began in the NFL is having a dramatic impact on youth sports, according to a study conducted by ESPN’s Outside the Lines. Early detection in Athletes A myth about concussions is that an individual must be knocked out or lose consciousness to have a concussion. Lori Cook, director of pediatric brain injury programs at the Center for BrainHealth at UTD, said patients lose consciousness in just 10 percent of the cases. This myth may contribute to why a huge percent of concussions go undetected. This is quite common in an athletic environment when an athlete fails to report a concussion. It falls on the athlete’s teammates to ensure that the player is capable of playing and if they notice something wrong, they report it, because athletes who return to the game could possibly sustain a second concussion. “What can happen is that the cumulative repeated injury can cause even more potential for long-term concern,” Cook said. “Whereas, if you have the one hit and take them out, the chances are that you will have very good chances of recovery.” Rennaker is working in collaboration with Texas Instruments to develop a system to detect concussions in athletes. “We are trying to empower parents to be able to make informed decisions about the health of their kid,” Rennaker said. “Or at least be able to tell
→ BODY IMAGE
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for the first time, through a series of events from Feb. 24-27. One is a panel discussion on Feb. 27 called “Fitting into your cultural ‘genes,’” which will feature several SCC staff members, all of whom have diverse backgrounds in terms of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The discussion will explore how one’s culture can impact body image along with media and societal influences. Jenna Temkin, a psychologist at the SCC, will be on the panel and said she hopes students will be able to connect with the diverse staff. “Hopefully it’ll offer students a chance to see aspects of our background they can relate to, messages that we received growing up about body image from parents and our culture, but really just recognizing the impact the world, culture and society we live in has on the way we think about ourselves and our body,” she said. For Miller, Grindr, a popular geosocial app geared toward gay and bisexual men, has exemplified a superficial focus on the stereotypical body types of buff, or wiry and thin gay men. “If you don’t look as ripped or muscular, or you’re not as thin as the guy you’re trying to talk to, they just won’t respond to you or they’ll block you sometimes,” he said. This example of the pressure to look a certain way can lead to an unhealthy body image, which research increases the likelihood of developing into an eating disorder, Temkin said. The main idea for this year’s awareness week is everybody knows somebody who struggles with an eating disorder or negative body image, even if they might not realize it. And indeed, the statistics show this may be true: Potentially between 4.4 and 5.9 percent of teens enter college with
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their doctors, ‘this is what happened, what should we do?’ It’s going to give them knowledge.” The main focus of the research is to understand the type of hits that lead to a concussion, to ensure early and correct detection. “So, how I get hit matters,” Rennaker said. “If I get hit and my whole body goes forward or if I get hit and my head goes back relative to my body, that may be a completely different energy. So, what I need to know is the head’s position relative to my body.” The head’s position relative to the body is the essence of understanding how the forces of an impact are translated to the rotation of the brain relative to the spinal column, and the ability to measure this is what separates this system from those available in the market, Rennaker said. The system designed by Rennaker and TI includes an Sshaped device that attaches to the athlete’s head, a magnetic reader for understanding the severity of the hit and a special pair of goggles for testing. The S-shaped device includes multiple sensors to measure the frequency, the force and the di-
rection of impacts measuring up to 200 g-forces. “So with two sensors, I can measure the relative rotation and acceleration of the head to the body,” Rennaker said. After an impact, a trainer can wave the magnetic reader over the device, triggering a green or red light. A red light indicates that the hit was severe and that the player requires further attention. The injured player would don a special pair of goggles — the ‘neural triage’ component — with cameras, which will conduct several tests with visual stimuli. The change in the brain’s response with the baseline recorded before the start of the game would indicate whether the hit was a serious one. Rennaker is going to collaborate with Hongbing Lu, associate department head of mechanical engineering, to test the device on a test bed. The bed will be able to accelerate the device up to 200 g-forces, the maximum force a player can face on impact, and do rotational acceleration. After the bench test, the device will be sent to a national lab
a pre-existing and untreated eating disorder according to the National Eating Disorder Association, or NEDA. Additionally, the average age of onset for people who develop anorexia is 19, 20 for bulimia and 25 for bingeeating disorder. From Feb. 25-26, the SCC will hold two tables in the Student Union from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for students to participate in Operation Beautiful, a national campaign to end negative self-talk by leaving Post-it notes with positive messages for others to find. “It’s an idea that came from one woman’s own project: She had been feeling badly about her body one day, and left a Post-it note on a mirror and just created a campaign to do that,” Devdas said. “We’re going to set up a table with Post-its, markers and crayons and people can fill out whatever they want. The idea is to post it in a place where people might normally have negative thoughts about their body, like the bathroom mirror or in the dining hall.” Similarly, the Delta Delta Delta sorority hosts Fat Talk Free Week every fall semester to promote positive body image and eliminate fat talk from conversation. This past semester, the UTD Tri Deltas teamed up with the Student Wellness Center and the Activity Center to sponsor Zumba classes and host guest speaker events. The chapter is looking to add events in the spring and eventually build into a year-round campaign, said Hannah Steiner, vice president of public relations and interdisciplinary studies sophomore. “We’ve had an awesome response (to the events) … a lot of people feel ashamed talking about eating disorders or even talking about their own bodies,” she said. “Sisters came forward with stories that I would have never known they were struggling with.”
Neetha Devdas, outreach coordinator and psychologist at the SCC, said she’s excited to do the same at UTD considering the diverse student body. “When we think of eating disorders in general, we do think of it being a white American kind of thing,” she said. “But it crosses a wide range of races and genders, and I think that’s often forgotten.” While women are the majority of patients who seek treatment for eating disorders, the NEDA estimates 43 percent of men are dissatisfied with their bodies and more than 10 million American men will struggle with a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives. Newer research is delving into the issue of men and body image, Devdas said, but the statistics are still blurry. For their part, the Tri Deltas are working to increase support for both genders in their events. “We open our events to men, and we’re definitely getting better at that,” Steiner said. “Our events are usually geared toward women but we recognize that it’s also a problem for men and needs more attention, so we’re working on more inclusion for our upcoming fall events.” General information regarding healthy body image and how to reach out to loved ones who may be struggling will be available at SCC tables in the SU on Feb. 24 and 27. What needs to be changed, Miller said, is to better educate people to be less judgmental. “It’s about knowing there’s more to people than just a six-pack or being tall and lean,” Miller said.
and an independent lab to validate the recording of the device. After approval, the device will be tested on some high school sports teams. Rennaker expects the validation of the device to be done by the end of the summer. However, the correlation of impacts to the head with neurological injuries is expected to be a two- or threeyear study. “We are going to try to instrument as many kids as we can,” Rennaker said. “We are trying to talk to University of Iowa again to instrument them this year, as we did them last fall.” Rennaker has also approached the FC Dallas U-18 soccer team in a bid to equip them with the system. He said he hopes to talk to the NFL in a year to set some of their players up with the system. Rennaker said he hopes the system would cost less than $100 per unit. Understanding Concussions A concussion injury can occur as a result of the force experienced by the brain that causes it to move inside the skull.
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three hours in excess of the minimum number required to complete the degree under the catalog under which they are graduating. All in all, one may be over-
the injury, Cook said.
“There is a misnomer out there that everybody thinks that you have to be hit in the head to have a concussion,” Cook said. “Believe it or not, it could just be a force that travels up the body to the head, but ultimately it is about the movement of the brain within the skull.” The movement of the brain causes the white matter, underneath the different regions of the brain to stretch or sometimes even tear. Structural injury apart, a concussion is also a functional injury. “It is a functional injury in the sense that what can happen is almost like a storm in the brain, a metabolic injury that can cause a change of effects of a concussion,” Cook said. As more research comes in, experts have realized that a concussion is both a functional and structural injury and that the brain must heal both ways. The most common short-term symptoms of a concussion are dizziness, headaches, memory loss fade and sensitivity to light and sound. Amber Vanhecke, a sophomore neuroscience student, suffered from a concussion when she hit the ground on being tackled during a rugby game. Vanhecke was checked by the trainer for all the vital signs like blood pressure, pulse, and for pupil dilation and reaction. The cognitive effects include when an individual expresses a feeling like he or she is in a fog, which means that the brain is not operating normally. Others express the feeling of information overload; this is what is called ‘cognitive fatigue,’ which means that they tire out more quickly doing cognitive tests than they would before. “Pretty consistently I was nauseated, dizzy and saw dots in front of my eyes,” Vanhecke said. “I felt different afterwards, felt a little sleepy and tired.” Concussions are now being called ‘a mild brain injury’ and the terminology is changing so people realize the seriousness of
The key to healing is managing the injury well, which involves resting the brain, according to Cook. With athletes, it is not only important to take them out of the game and ensure that they don’t engage in physically strenuous activities, but also guarantee that they don’t engage in mentally strenuous activities either. Vanhecke was suggested a new recovery pattern by her doctor, based on some recent studies. “Prior to this concussion, I was told I shouldn’t sleep for up to 10 hours after getting a concussion,” Vanhecke said. “But, most recently I was told I can sleep but not for more than two hours at a time for at least 24 hours.” The healing process for a concussion includes minimization of light and sound stimulation, Cook said. People have a fear of sleeping after suffering from a head injury, he said, but what the brain needs the most is to sleep. “This is especially hard for a young person because we are talking about very much limiting the time in front of screens, on the internet, on the phone and even listening to music,” Cook said. “So often times, schoolwork, homework and exams are to be taken out of the equation while you are in a (concussed) state.” It then becomes critical to maintain this seclusion until the symptoms of headache, and sensitivity to light and sound decrease. Then the activities can be gradually reintroduced. If the symptoms resurface it is pertinent to dial down the activities again, Cook said. It’s a gradual return to both physical and cognitive activity. Researchers are still trying to find out how concussions may cause long-term effects, but according to Cook, if a concussion is identified quickly, managed well and the brain is given time to heal, the vast majority of the people will make a good recovery.
whelmed by the numbers and idea of planning their degree to this ultimatum of a certain amount of credits. Many degree plans overlap and classes count for various different majors, often allowing students to complete a double major with
only taking three or four more classes. If a student falls into the problem of changing majors that are unrelated, it is often not too difficult to deal with, as advisors try to mesh as many classes as they can to fit, Doughtery said.
FEB. 24, 2014 | THE MERCURY | UTDMERCURY.COM
And the Oscar goes to...
Mercury film critics predict who will take home the gold for primary categories at 86th Academy Awards airing March 2 MIGUEL PEREZ COMMENTARY
Best Actor NOMINATIONS Christian Bale (American Hustle) Bruce Dern (Nebraska) Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
History dominates the acting category this year. On one hand, there’s the deeply harrowing account of a man kidnapped and sold to an antebellum plantation in 1841. On the other, there’s the intriguing story of a Dallas low-life cowboy who contracts HIV in the mid-80s and deals with the trials and misconceptions of the disease’s initial outbreak in the United States. At the end of the day, these two performances, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup and Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof, are the strongest contenders for Best Actor. In “Dallas Buyers Club,” McConaughey’s character begins to smuggle prescription drugs that are more effective in moderating HIV-related illnesses and less toxic than the FDA-approved standard. The actor has been burning up the awards circuit, having already picked up a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Globe for his role in the film. McConaughey’s also been on a roll with a slew of challenging roles in well-received films (“Mud,” “Bernie” and “Killer Joe”) in recent years. All bets are on him to win with his subtle and captivating depiction of a drug dealer with a conscience. But, Ejiofor should win. It is his portrayal of Solomon Northup, a black freeman living in New York, which frames this portraiture of one of America’s darkest periods. “12 Years a Slave” will go down as the best historical narrative about American slavery in recent memory for director Steve McQueen’s careful and considerate method, but it is Ejiofor who brings it to life in the eyes of the audience.
Best Picture - Shyam Vedantam Picking a film to exemplify a great year in cinema is interesting in theory but difficult to qualitatively identify. The Oscar tends to go to a film that sends a message or pays tribute to a group. Look to 2013’s winner “Argo,” in which Hollywood takes part in saving hostages in an international crisis, and 2012’s winner “The Artist,” an ode to Hollywood’s early beginnings, as recent examples of this. This year, the essentially two-horse race can be summed up as a look to the past and a leap toward the future. “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” stand head and shoulders above their competition. “12 Years a
Slave” is shot with a painter’s tech- film itself forward. 3D and IMAX nique and viewpoint depicting a are utilized to their fullest capacity, to a degree that has terrible era with only been touched striking and punNOMINATIONS by “Avatar” and ishing realism. The “Life of Pi.” Two film is an example American Hustle astronauts, played of how the arts are Captain Phillips by Sandra Bullock an important way Dallas Buyers Club and George Cloofor humanity to Gravity ney, are cut off reflect on itself. A Her from their space free black man is Nebraska station and have taken into slavery, Philomena to try to find a way and it’s from this 12 Years a Slave to survive among perspective that The Wolf of Wall Street the vast emptiness director Steve Mcof space. The forQueen forces the mal elements of audience to relive film — the cinematography, misewhat this society was truly like. “Gravity” pushes the medium of en-scéne, editing and sound design
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12 Years a Slave
— are truly remarkable. It’s an exemplar of how technology can be used to advance film into the future. “12 Years a Slave” is an almost masochistic catharsis while “Gravity” is a visceral experience that won’t be replicated in the foreseeable future. In the end, “12 Years a Slave” will win Best Picture. It has an unbelievable story, brilliant performances by talented actors and strong direction. It is a way for the Academy to hold high to the world this achievement in drama. To be fair, “Gravity” will get its due in most of the technical awards and also will probably win Best Director.
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The Wolf of Wall Street
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Best Actress NOMINATIONS Amy Adams (American Hustle) Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) Sandra Bullock (Gravity) Judi Dench (Philomena) Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
Oddball performances seem to be a running theme in this category. Adams plays a lowly con artist who gets involved in an FBI plan and gives a lively performance; she becomes the focus of a scene in which every person in the shot is a big name actor. Dench, as a simpleminded British woman who wants to know more about the son she gave up for adoption, gives a relatively smaller performance, but she carries the film she’s in. Streep is overly emotional in “August: Osage County,” and is the weakest and least-nuanced performer in the group. Though not an oddball character, Bullock gives a truly great, but understated performance. By herself, in a machine in a studio against a green screen, she gives herself to the camera without anyone to lean on. However, Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine” is the outright favorite in this category, and duly so. It’s a role none of the other actresses in this category could have done as well (disregarding age). Woody Allen has always written strong, emotionally engaging and interesting female characters, and this character is no exception. Blanchett plays a New York socialite who loses her wealthy lifestyle and must return to San Francisco to live with her estranged step sister, and she carries the film. She’s able to transcend the neurotic tendencies Allen writes into his characters that hamper so many other actors who are just trying to impress Allen.
NOMINATIONS Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
NOMINATIONS Captain Phillips
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Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave) Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Lupita N’yongo (12 Years a Slave) Julia Roberts (August: Osage County) June Squibb (Nebraska)
In her film-debut performance, Lupita N’yongo plays Patsey, a young woman who endures violent mental and sexual abuse at the hand of her plantation owner in “12 Years a Slave.” Her performance, like others in the film, is one that you just melt into, without being aware that what you’re watching is a dramatization. Something is so well-executed in the film’s portrayal of suffering that you’ll have to wait a long while before you can stomach it again. Lawrence, in her role as the neurotic housewife of a New Jersey con man in “American Hustle,” could win, but it’s doubtful considering she was awarded an Oscar for a similarly neurotic character in “Silver Linings Playbook” just last year.
Best Supp. Actor
Best Supp. Actress Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
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This year’s Oscars includes nominations for critically acclaimed films like “12 Years a Slave,” a period film about American slavery; “Gravity,” a technically stunning film about astronauts lost in space; and “Her,” a Spike Jonze film about unusual love.
Best Director - Miguel Perez A quick glance at recent winners of Best Director and Best Picture (which are usually one and the same) shows films that have entered into the canon of great American film: “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Schindler’s List,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Brokeback Mountain” to name a few. A great film should also capture and keep your attention, never letting a space open up for the audience to leave the world within the film. “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave” both have these qualities. With one looking at the past and
the other slightly into the future, and she will never know anything both films are bewitching in their but pain her whole life. Slavery was not a faceless own way. experience Based off the NOMINATIONS defined by title, “12 Years David O. Russell (American Hustle) numbers; a Slave” carries it was an the expectation Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) painful perthat there will sonal realbe a generally Alexander Payne (Nebraska) ity for Solohappy ending Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) mon and for Solomon. every slave It is during the Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street) involved. relieving scene McQueen of his rescue when he looks back at Patsey that it communicates that with every deliis realized: There is no rescue for her, cate detail.
“Gravity” is unexpected considering it’s Bullock and a green screen for the majority of the film. Cuarón manages to take a terrifying notion — being lost in space — and molds it into a beautiful film. Even with all the crashing space debris, the film manages to find a sense of balance. Cuarón has made something that feels so refreshing, so new in its execution that he will win the Oscar for Best Director. No one will forget the movie about the astronauts hurling through empty space.
As a Somali pirate, Abdi’s first film role stuns and he holds himself well against acting veteran Tom Hanks. Hill plays Robin to DiCaprio’s Batman as disgusting Wall Street brokers who give in to carelessly to their id. Cooper’s performance is overrated in “American Hustle.” He gets a boost from the amazing cast he performs with, but if he wins the Oscar, it will truly be shocking. It comes down to Fassbender and Leto. Fassbender disappears as the psychotic and maniacal plantation owner. Leto pulls off an acting stunt, losing an unhealthy amount of weight, but it is the vulnerability that Leto brings to the role that mesmerizes. Fassbender should win this category. His pairing with director McQueen has yielded two awardworthy performances, and this role should be the one that finally gets him the Oscar. However, Leto has been sweeping the awards circuit so far and has momentum in his favor, so if anyone is betting money, it should be on Leto.
THE MERCURY | FEB. 24, 2014
Non-stop action makes ‘Speed’ worthwhile
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The charisma between Aaron Paul (left) and Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi (right) in the upcoming “Need for Speed” is a major highlight of the film. Paul plays Tobey Marshall who works as a mechanic in the day and competes in illegal street races by night. Mescudi’s character acts as an overhead spotter as Tobey races across the country. The film is an adaptation of the video game and premieres March 14.
Action-packed flick based on popular racing video game franchise enjoyable for sportscar enthusiasts, general moviegoers alike
JOSEPH MANCUSO COMMENTARY
Based on one of the most iconic franchises in gaming history, “Need for Speed” brings the thrill of racing back to the big screen. Though it fails to sell the emotional ties used to advance the plot, director Scott Waugh (“Act of Valor”) helps craft an exhilarating, edge-of-your-seat experience.
Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) plays the two-sided Tobey Marshall, a mechanic whose garage struggles to make ends meet and a driver who burns rubber in less-thanlegal street races. When he and his team are approached by the wealthy ex-NASCAR driver with a shady past Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper) to rebuild a legendary Ford Mustang, Tobey and his crew see an opportunity to save their business. Promised a share of the profits from selling the car, Tobey goes behind Dino’s back and takes the finished Mustang out to the track to show car broke Julia Bonet (Imogen Poots) just how fast the car can go. Al-
Pop culture expo comes to Richardson
though Bonet and her buyer are impressed with Tobey’s ability behind the wheel, Dino feels threatened and challenges Tobey to a race that ends in death and conspiracy, leaving Tobey behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. The game this film takes its namesake from is arcade in nature and lacks any significant plot, though a few plot elements are reminiscent of the 2011 installment of the series, “Need for Speed: The Run.” Tobey and his crew embark on a crosscountry journey, dodging police and quasibounty hunters to clear his name and beat Dino in a winner-takes-all race. Police em-
ploy the same tactics as used in the games to stop the street racers and, also like in the game, racers are able to listen in on the police. Even if they aren’t visible in the shot, the audience constantly has the sense that the racers are being pursued by the law. Waugh’s use of first person cinematography throws the audience right into the driver’s seat, immersing viewers into everything from the passing of other cars to the sudden impact of a crash. With his aversion to computer-generated effects, Waugh ensures that every crash, jump, slide and stunt feels real. “Every single stunt was practical; we
actually did it,” Paul said after a preview of the film at Cinemark West in Plano. “There was no CGI.” While there are attempts at establishing meaningful connections between the characters, “Need for Speed” falls short of selling many of these relationships. Any romantic connections in the film feel hollow and expected, and while the sorrow and anger expressed by the characters appears genuine, it’s difficult for the audience to empathize. Unlike similar action films, “Need for
→ SEE SPEED, PAGE 8
Gaming culture grows on campus
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ATEC Building’s gaming library notable part of flourishing video game community EMILY GRAMS | STAFF
New comic convention to host famous actors, graphic artists as panelists PABLO ARAUZ !"#$%#&'()*+
Fans of “Star Wars,” “Power Rangers” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” will have a chance to see some of the shows’ stars at the Dallas Comic and Pop Expo from Feb. 28 to March 2 at the Richardson Civic Center. The expo will be DFW’s newest and affordable pop culture experience with 15 celebrity guests, four comic icons, 44 dealers and more than 50 vendors, said promoter
Lance Wheeler. The event costs $20 per day or $30 for the weekend and is free for kids ages 12 and under. “That’s really inexpensive. I’ve seen so many others that are crazy expensive, but I think it’s going to be really cool,” said Ruchi Kumar, an undeclared sophomore who plans to attend the event. While many comic book and fiction-based conventions
→ SEE COMICS, PAGE 8
PABLO ARAUZ !"#$%#&'()*+
Deep in the halls of the third floor of the Arts and Technology Building on campus is an archive of video games that students can play for fun and educational purposes called the gaming library. The library contains over 300 video games, board games and over 15 consoles, including the ancient Atari 2600. It also contains rare and hard-to-find games such as E.T. and Superman 64. Leighton Lucky, Arts & Technology graduate student, works at the gaming library and said the library makes sure that students get
the things they need to check out. His job is to keep inventory and make suggestions for students. Game education Lucky said the library got its start out of the office of Monica Evans, gaming narrative professor, when she was lending games out to students who needed to play a game so they could discuss them in class. Evans focuses her extensive research on narratives for games and other interactive systems. She also works with members of the video game industry with companies such as Gearbox Software, Pixeluxe Entertainment and iD
Software. Her work includes recruiting industry professionals who can provide students with internships and adjunct teaching opportunities. Arts & Technology graduate student Peter Wonica also works at the gaming library and studies video game design. “Working with video games is just like working with any other artistic medium: It’s stressful, it’s exhausting, but it’s always rewarding to see the wide range of emotions that you can spark through your work,” he said in an email. However, Wonica said that instead of working in the gaming industry, he wants to someday work
in the educational sector teaching game design to at-risk and marginalized youth. Gaming culture Video games are an integral part of student life at the Computer Science LLC where computer science freshmen Sean Tucker, Eric Dilmore and Andrew Julian spend their free time gaming. The three each have interest in working with video game programming using a variety of coding languages. Tucker became interested in these languages at an early age and
→ SEE GAMING, PAGE 8
THE MERCURY | FEB. 24, 2014
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can be overwhelming and have crowded audiences, organizer Zachery McGinnis said this one differs in its pricing and atmosphere. “A lot of the shows are too big for families now, and they’re just not really family friendly,” he said. “We want to welcome the kids, so that’s why we’re giving free tickets to the kids.” The event kicks off on Friday with a karaoke event with Nicholas Brendon from “Buffy the Vampire
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Speed” should be praised for avoiding the use of sex or profanity in an attempt to make the audience believe what is overall the least important aspect of the film. The racing adventure was not crafted to pull at the heartstrings, and
Slayer.” Two panels on “Star Wars” featuring Peter Mayhew, the original Chewbacca, will be held on Saturday at 12 and 4 p.m. Several comic book artists will be on a panel at 3 p.m. on Saturday, including Shane Davis, illustrator for “Superman: Earth One,” and Phil Hester, creator of the awardwinning comic “The Wretch.” Walter Jones and David Yost — the Black and Blue Power Rangers — will also make appearances. There will be no additional charge to attend the panels. Other events include a sci-fi
speed dating and a cosplay contest and panel on both Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday morning, there will be an actors’ audition technique session held by actors Mari Deese and James Hampton from the 80s movie “Teen Wolf.” Finally, a panel on paranormal sightings titled “Ghosthunting 101” will be held on both Saturday and Sunday. McGinnis said he has already started planning for next year’s pop culture expo, hoping it will be bigger and better.
laughing at some of the more emotionally serious moments can actually add to the value of movie. Between the charisma and comedy provided by Tobey’s friend and army pilot Benny (Scott Mescudi, more commonly known as Kid Cudi), it feels natural to keep smiling throughout the movie. The bond that he, Tobey and the rest of the crew share results
in an ample supply of welcome banter and wildly unexpected laughs. “Need for Speed” hits theaters March 14. The film packs plenty of action so that even someone without a passion for racing can enjoy. Though not a great movie, it will appeal to a wide audience and is worth the watch.
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Tracy Kennedy performed for the Faculty @ 5 series on Feb. 12 in the Jonsson Performance Hall. Elledanceworks Dance Company, co-founded by Arts & Humanities professor Michele Hanlon, followed with an open discussion.
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learned programming throughout high school, where he studied the Java and C++ languages. Dilmore learned coding on his own using a Macbook and a program called AppleScript. “I thought it was the coolest thing, to write a program and it’ll do something on your computer. All of a sudden you have Windows flying across the screen just because I can do it,” he said. Julian, who also learned coding on his own, said that game programming is a creative outlet
for him to entertain other people. “(Games are) an art form; they can convey the same things that books and movies can except that they can actually interact with the user, and I feel that they can affect us on a deeper level,” he said. Dilmore said that gaming has provided an outlet for less-popular media, such as classical music, to be shown to people who would not be exposed to it otherwise. “Everybody plays video games at this point, or if they don’t play video games, one of their friends does,” he said.
As for the industry, Tucker hopes to someday work for Gearbox Entertainment while Dilmore and Julian have prospects in programming and creating video games as a hobby. Tucker said that despite the common belief that games can be a waste of time, they actually can be therapeutic. “It’s kind of a way to get away from reality for a bit,” he said. “If you have something wrong going on in your life, everything just seems to be bad, you need a way to just feel happy for a bit and enjoy the time you’re playing them.”
SPORTS COMMENTARIES BY
PARTH SAMPAT SPORTS EDITOR
FEB. 24, 2014 | THE MERCURY | UTDMERCURY.COM
Shooting for Glory Men’s and women’s basketball teams end stellar regular seasons as No. 1, 2 seeded teams in ASC championship
The men’s basketball team wrapped up the regular season title with a 19-1 ASC record — the program’s best ever — and captured the rights to host the championship tournament from Feb. 28 to Mar. 2. However, regular season statistics mean nothing in a knockout championship, where one bad game or even one bad half can potentially end a team’s title hopes. The Comets, ranked 17th in Div. III by d3hoops.com, are most likely to be crowned champions. The team has performed exceptionally well this season, trouncing national runner-up Mary Hardin Baylor 70-58, snapping a sixgame losing streak against the Crusaders that dates back to the 2009-10 season. The Comets then went on to defeat defending ASC champion Concordia with a resounding score of 9549 two days later. UTD has been an offensive powerhouse, with four players averaging in double-digits. The team has shot better than 50 percent 13 times, scoring more than 80 points in eight of those games and averaging 83.1 points per game. The Comets, mainly a man-to-man defensive team, have effectively played zone defense on a couple of occasions to shut down their opponents, but committed more fouls while using this strategy. Head coach Terry Butterfield expressed his worries about the defense and said he hoped to solve the fundamental mistakes the Comets have been committing before the tournament. But he admitted there isn’t sufficient time to do so. Statistically, UTD is the best defensive team in the conference, as their opponents average 64.6 points per game against them. The untouchable offense and a firm defense has helped the Comets to stand head and shoulders above other teams in the league with an average scoring margin of +15.2, nearly double of Mary Hardin-Baylor who takes second place with an average margin of +7.9. While the brackets for the tourney will not be released until regular season ends, UTD will undeniably face in the opening round an opponent it has effortlessly defeated twice this season. As the no. 1 seed, the Comets get to host the championship tournament at home, and with a 11-1 home record, UTD will look to capitalize on home turf and bank on fan support to take them all the way to the trophy. With the toils of travel avoided, the discomfort of a hotel stay at bay and fans by their side, UTD will enter the tournament fresh and confident.
The defending ASC champions have recorded another winning season with just five losses so far. Head coach Polly Thomason’s team had a dream run in the 2013 ASC tourney and will be looking to replicate last year’s performance. The women’s team will be traveling to UT Tyler, the no. 1 seed, to play the championship tournament from Feb. 28 to Mar. 1. The Comets sealed the no. 2 seed with victories over Concordia and Mary Hardin-Baylor on Feb. 20 and 22, respectively. The team has performed to its usual standards, falling to regular season champions UT Tyler by a meager margin of 4 and 5 points on each occasion. The other three losses speak the same story as the Comets let a half-time lead slip away from their hands, losing marginally to Mary Hardin-Baylor, Louisiana College and LeTourneau. The Comets are ranked third in the league in field goal percentage, shooting 43.3 percent. The team leads the league in free throws and three-pointers, shooting 77 and 36.7 percent respectively. The team set a new ASC single-game record when it shot 19-of-19 from the charity stripe in its game against Hardin-Simmons on Jan. 27. The Comets were ranked sixth in the NCAA D-III regional poll released on Feb. 19. In contrast to last year, the team has performed exceptionally well on the road with a 9-2 record. The Comets have faced three tough games on the road, coming out victorious in just one of those occasions. They defeated HardinSimmons 77-67 in overtime, outscoring the Cowgirls 14-4. However; they lost 67-71 to UT Tyler and 73-78 to Louisiana in double overtime. The Comets can take away a lot of positives from these harsh losses and build on them for the upcoming post-season tournament. The team has three players averaging in double-digits: Senior forward Morgan Kilgore, who was named MVP of the ASC tournament last year, averages 17.7 points. Junior guard Jo’Anna Davis and junior guard Christina Brosnahan average 12.1 and 11.8 points per game respectively. Kilgore is ranked third in the league in scoring points and second in the league in field goals, shooting 56.7 percent. Junior guard Madi Hess ranks third in the league in assists, aiding 83 times, averaging 4 per game. The Comets should look to build on their away record and take one game and
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Baseball wins first three games Big city country boy Point Guard Ryan Smith serves as leader on court, within athletic department for final season SARAH LARSON Mercury Staff
MARCELO YATES | STAFF
An undivided conference poses a new challenge for the Comets, who have made a solid start with a 3-1 run. The Comets will look to continue this performance throughout the regular season, which began on Feb. 21.
Comets to play every team in American Southwest Conference for first time ESTEBAN BUSTILLOS Mercury Staff
The baseball team opened up its season in Frisco from Feb. 14-16 with a 3-0 start — their first perfect start since 2008. The Comet beat Whitman College 11-5, the University of Puget Sound 6-4 and Hendrix College 7-1. Their perfect start came to a halt on Feb. 18, however, when they lost 6-3 at Southwestern University, leaving them with a 3-1 record. Despite that setback, head coach Shane Shewmake was satisfied with his team’s performance in its first three games.
“We came out swinging,” Shewmake said. “We hit the ball, our pitchers threw really well and we played really good defense. We’ve seen now what we’re capable of if we just play our game.” Along with accomplishing the team goal of winning their opening games, individual members of the team achieved personal honors. Sophomore shortstop Jimmy Norris was named ASC conference player of the week and was named to the NCAA Division III national team of the week after his debut over the weekend for UTD, earning nine hits and scoring seven runs.
Another standout was junior pitcher Calvin Campbell, who was a second team all-ASC East pick last season and was tabbed as a player to watch by the ASC’s preseason poll. Speaking after his winning start over Hendrix on Feb.16, in which he threw three strikeouts and had a 1.29 ERA, he shared his thoughts about the win. “It’s a great feeling to start it off. The pitching was great, we had great defense and we hit the ball tremendously,” Campbell said. “It was definitely a little
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Men’s basketball point guard Ryan Smith has developed as a player in the past four years, coming a long way from his humble start in a town with one traffic light. From the small town of Chandler in East Texas with a population shy of 3,000, Smith said he longed for something different and was looking for a chance to move to a larger city toward the end of his senior year of high school. “Basketball is actually what brought me here to UTD,” Smith said. “I’d never heard of UTD until the coaches recruited me when I was in high school.” The business administration and marketing senior has played basketball competitively since the second grade. While he dabbled in other sports like baseball, football and ran track, he ultimately stuck with basketball when he was scouted for UTD. The transition from small town life to big city living was something Smith had wanted to do because of the opportunities presented and his general discontent with living in the countryside for so long. “I graduated with 155 people in my class. I knew everyone,” Smith said. “Coming to Dallas was a huge change.” Smith credits basketball for keeping
PARTH PARIKH | STAFF
Smith shoots 45 percent from the field and 39 percent from the three-point arc. him motivated to maintain his GPA. Smith has also used his love of sports to join the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which is a group of student leaders serving the athletics department. As for becoming a better basketball player, Smith said the proof is in how much longer he plays in a game now compared to his first year playing.
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THE MERCURY | FEB. 24, 2013
one opponent at a time, as they defend the title. With an 18-2 record in ASC play, regular season champions and hosts UT Tyler are the most likely to win the championship. They have improved phenomenally the past two years under their new head coach, recording their most wins in program history last season and then winning the regular season this year. They have defeated every team in the league this season and have successfully painted a bulls-eye on their backs, as each team will try to take them down. Mary Hardin-Baylor, Howard Payne and UTD are entangled in a staunch contest for second, third and fourth seed. The final seedings, which will be released at the end of regular season on Feb. 24, will play a huge role in the outcome of the tournament.
No. 2 seed Hardin-Simmons holds the bragging rights as the only team to defeat the Comets in the regular season. The Cowboys (16-4 ASC, 16-7 overall) are undefeated in their last 10 games. HSU is lethal from the three-point range, averaging 8.6 three-point field goals per game. An exceptional comeback by Mary Hardin-Baylor in the second half of the season has opened up a tough contest for the No. 3 seed. Concordia, the leading offensive team, plays an exceptional full court-press and created a lot of problems for the Comets’ offense last year when the Tornados defeated UTD in the semifinals of the tourney. Mary Hardin-Baylor made a bad start to regular season, losing three of their first four games, but has found its stride at the right time and will be a threat to the Comets.
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MARCELO YATES | STAFF
The women’s basketball team beat Concordia 81-69 and Mary Hardin-Baylor 81-70 in the final games of regular season to clinch the no. 2 seed of the ASC tournament. The Comets shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half against Mary Hardin-Baylor.
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“I’ve gone from playing 19 minutes a season to 19 minutes a game,” he said. Smith has had a prolific season this year, shooting 45 percent from field goals, 39 percent from the three-point line and shooting 42-of-49 (85.7 percent) from the charity stripe. Last year, he was named Academic All-ASC, a title given to strong players who maintain at least a 3.0 GPA. Accounting senior and basketball forward Kyle Schleigh, Smith’s roommate since freshman year, said Smith is still the chill, fun guy he has known since the beginning, but has worked hard to get where he is now. “He’s put in a lot of work during the summers,” Schleigh said. “He and I have been doing a lot of drills and shooting over the past couple of years. And he works extremely hard during the off-season.” Yet, he still finds time to keep
his roommates in check when it comes to a tidy house. “He’s definitely cleaner than me and our roommates,” he said. “We used to leave stuff like shoes or food out in the living room, and he would just hide it around the place to try and motivate us not to leave stuff out in the open.” Smith has two more games and a conference tournament left in the season with a chance of making it to the NCAA D-III national championship tournament. After that, all Smith has left of his college career is a walk across the stage. “It’s sad, I guess,” Smith said, “I’ve been playing since second grade, so not playing anymore after the next couple of weeks is going to be a lot different, since sports has pretty much consumed my life.” After college, Smith intends to use his degree and his passion for sports to enter the sports marketing field.
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MARCELO YATES | STAFF
The men’s basketball team became just the third team in the ASC to win 20 games in the regular season, as they finished 20-2. The no. 17 ranked UTD will host the ASC tournament from Feb. 28 to Mar. 2, and will look to with their third championship trophy.
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MARCELO YATES | STAFF
Smith was named Academic All-ASC last year because of his solid performance on-court and maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA.
THE MERCURY | FEB. 24, 2014
nerve-racking going into that first start, but I had a great team behind me to back me up.” Campbell praised the performance of his teammates in their first three games. “Even before last weekend we knew this team was good, but coming in and winning that first series 3-0, we could see that we really do have something special here,” Campbell said. The Comets have been predicted to finish in fourth place in the conference according to the ASC’s preseason poll. The team finished last season with a 21-21 record and a berth in the ASC tournament. This year presents a unique challenge to the Comets, as it is the first time that every team in the ASC will play one another in the same division. In seasons past, the conference had been split up into an Eastern division and a Western one, but now the ASC is undivided. “This is the first year that I’ve been
here that we play every school in the conference,” Shewmake said. “It’s going to be really fun getting to play everyone this year. Sometimes you only get to play teams if you meet them in the playoffs, whereas this year you get to play everyone.” The Comets ended last season by failing to make it past the first round of the ASC playoffs, where they lost in two consecutive shutouts to Concordia University. It was only the second time since the teams’ inception that they had been eliminated in the opening round of the tournament. “The anticipation is very high,” senior catcher Trevor Clifton said. “All of the guys that were here last year have a bad taste in our mouth from how things ended and are looking to regroup, come back and do some better things this year. As long as every player fills their role and does their job, we’re going to be really tough to beat this season.” Clifton, along with Campbell, was marked as a player to watch this season by the ASC. Clifton, who had a .228 batting average last year
and had two doubles and two home runs, earned honorable mention All ASC-East honors last season. He started two games over the weekend, earning four hits. UTD’s three-win start kicked off their 29-game regular season, which ends May 3. They are looking to qualify for the ASC tournament once again and advance farther than last season. “Our expectation every year is to win a conference championship, go on and win the regional, and get to the national championship,” Clifton said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to get there, but if we play the game the right way, we’ll make those goals.” Shewmake, speaking on his teams’ readiness for the season, shared the high goals that his players expressed. “I’m excited and ready to get started,” Shewmake said. “Our pitching depth is good and our defense can pick the ball up and throw it well. If we can hit, the sky’s the limit with this bunch.”
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