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Rugby competes for regional championship PAGE 10

VOLUME XXXII, NO. 4

THE STUDENT NEWSPAPER OF UTD — WWW.UTDMERCURY.COM

FEBRUARY 27, 2012

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Mu Epsilon Kappa: Greek meets geek

Nerd-interest group makes its debut on Valentine’s Day JOSEPH MANCUSO Mercury Staff

A new club on campus, the Mu Epsilon Kappa Society, or MEK, aims to bring to light the various joys of geek life. MEK is a nerd-interest oriented co-ed society with 16 chapters throughout the United States. The group aims to bring together nerds and geeks of all different stripes into a community for indulging in others geeky cultures and passions. “In this community, we share and explore out interests together,” said Caleb Brackens, MEK President.

“Interests that people are very passionate about and typically not in the social mainstream. Things like anime, video games, comic books.” The organization is divided into various interest groups, led by members called “specialists.” These specialists host their own meetings for their interest, such as movies or board games, and occasionally present their interest to the rest of the fraternity. Because the fraternity has only just been established on campus this semester, joining is a very simple process, with many of the typical requirements being waived.

“If you find us on our OrgSync page, and simply add us so that we know you are interested, we will consider you a member for this semester,” Brackens said. “All members have to come to at least half of our general meetings, which are biweekly, every other Tuesday at 8 p.m.” In future semesters, membership will be divided into two categories: full and partial. Full members are required to pay dues of $15 per semester, but are rewarded with benefits such as serving as a specialist, discounted admission to MEK events

see MEK page 9

ALBERT RAMIREZ/PHOTO EDITOR

Members of Mu Epsilon Kappa (From Left): Marissa Martinez, Nick Rotundo, Bill Mikesell, Haley Howard and Nick Mikesell enjoy a game of Munchkin in the Center for Student Involvement on Feb. 24.

Students advocate for Ron Paul

YFP spreads its message in parade PAUL DANG Mercury Staff

The Youth for Ron Paul group blazoned its newfound membership to the Student Organization Forum by showcasing their own float at the 4th Annual Oak Cliff Mardi Gras parade on Feb. 19, setting a precedent as the first student organization to promote a specific political candidate. The members of Youth for Ron Paul, or YFP, said their ultimate goal was to promote Ron Paul as a political candidate and inform people on his political beliefs. Amanda Newman officially registered the club on Feb. 15. Newman, a historical studies junior and president of YFP, said she considers herself a Constitutionalist and has been a staunch supporter of Ron Paul since the previous presiCHRISTOPHER WANG/STAFF

Amanda Newman, dressed as Lady Liberty, is the president of Youth for Ron Paul, a student organization that seeks to raise awareness for the Presidential candidate. The group took part in the 4th Annual Oak Cliff Mardi Gras parade on Feb. 19, where members dressed in costumes to accentuate their message.

see RON PAUL page 5

UTD looks to close the gender gap in engineering Women ushered to STEM programs ANWESHA BHATTACHARJEE Features Editor

The Galerstein Women’s Center, Office of Diversity and Community Engagement and the UTD chapter of the Society for Women Engineers teamed up on Feb. 23 to organize UTD’s fourth consecutive “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” in solidarity with a nationwide initiative by National Engineers Week Foundation. As part of the program, ninth grade students from the Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School meet with women volunteers from science and engineering majors at UTD who help them learn more about engineering through creative activities. The program was instituted in 2008 due to repeated low female enrollment rates in engineering, said Pragun Gupta, president, Society of Women Engineers, or SWE. According to a report by the Office of Strategic Planning and Analysis, male enrollment in UTD’s School of Engineering and Computer Science

TROI CLUSE/STAFF

The UTD chapter of the Society for Women Engineers organized “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” an initiative intended to help women learn about jobs in math and science fields. Currently at UTD, males enrolled in the School of Engineering and Computer Science outnumber women by roughly a 5:1 ratio.

has increased from just over 2,000 students in fall 2000 to about 3,000 students in fall 2011. During the same time, female enrollment fluctuated from 618 in the fall of 2000 to 750 in fall 2001, down to 401 in fall 2007 and then settling at 592 in fall 2011.

Although there are plenty of women training to be doctors or nurses, women’s tendency to avoid engineering or math stems more from social and cultural influences, rather than innate gender based abilities, said Ellen Greenwald, Psychologist in the Student Counseling Center.

“When you look at the engineering field in particular, it still has a very male culture, whereas the medical profession has a more relational or social aspect to it … and women are more socialized to deal with relationships than men” she said. Greenwald said she is sometimes

approached by women who feel that they are being treated differently than their male-counterparts in their majors because of their gender. Gupta, a computer science senior, agreed that there are some aspects of the classroom environment in an engineering school that are unavoidable. “I am one of four girls in my class, and all others are males,” she said. “While that has never made me feel uncomfortable, I can see how girls could feel insecure studying in such an environment. I enjoy computer science so it never really mattered to me.” While the way women are socialized plays a big role in their career choices, one of the reasons for girls not choosing engineering majors is because they are not informed enough about the work it entails, said Narcely Ruiz, assistant director for the Galerstein Women’s Center. Research has shown that girls tend to choose professions that are helpful to the world around them and in order to make them realize what engineering is about, the message for them needs to be re-framed, she said. “A lot of (the girls) have a really flawed concept of what engineering

see GIRL DAY page 6


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News

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THE MERCURY n FEB. 27, 2012

UTD Police scanner

LAUREN FEATHERSTONE Mercury Staff

Senators announced a new building concept and several changes to the undergraduate catalog at the Feb. 21 Student Government meeting. The UT System Board of Regents approved the construction of the Biosciences and Engineering building, said Sharkey Andrews, SG president and Arts & Performance senior. The UT System said they would contribute $72.25 million toward the $85 million project, leaving the remaining portion for UTD to pay relatively small, Andrews said. The academic building will be 172,000 sq. ft. and will be located south of the Natural Science and Engineering Research Lab, also known as the mermaid building, Andrews said. Faculty Senate approved changes to the undergraduate catalog coming this fall, Andrews said. Students will only be allowed to take a maximum of 15 hours during the summer. A professor may choose to write “IN” for a student’s midterm grade if he or she believes there is not enough information to accurately report the student’s grade, said Andrews. “WP” and “WF,” distinctions used to label withdrawn courses, will be removed and replaced with “WLate,” after a recent discovery that some law schools are counting “WFs” as zeros, and students will now be required to make a C- in all pre-requisite, or gateway, courses, Andrews

said. Darrelene Rachavong, vice president of Students Affairs, discussed the necessity for the student fee referenda, which will soon be voted on in General Elections. With the sudden student population growth, current facilities are being pushed to their brink, Rachavong said. The UTD student population is anticipated to reach 21,000 next year and accommodations must be made, she said. Cody Willming, SG vice president and political science junior, said SG is working alongside Human Resources to update the list for all Comet discount program participants. Yaqing Li, accounting graduate, was elected Graduate and International Affairs chair. Senate approved a resolution encouraging a percentage of housing to be reserved for graduate students. Senate approved the inclusion of the Recreational Facility Fee, Student Union Fee and Green Fee referenda on the March ballot. SG allocated up to $4,100 for I Heart UT Dallas, a health fair, on March 31. SG allocated up to $260 for 12 senator polos. SG allocated up to $100 each for both the AH Town Hall, scheduled March 8 at 3 p.m. in the Founders Atrium and for the ECS Town Hall, scheduled April 10 at 3 p.m. in the TI Auditorium. The next senate meeting will be at 5:15 p.m. on March 6 in one of the Galaxy Rooms.

Feb. 9 • Officers were dispatched in response to a theft at the on-campus bookstore. • A visitor reported Criminal Mischief to his vehichle. • A non-affiliated individual was stopped for a traffic violation and subsequentualy arrested for multiple misdemranor

ATEC receives best game award The ATEC program gained national attention recently when the First Person Cultural Trainer, or FPCT, attained the Best Game award in the Government category of the 2011 Serious Games Showcase and Challenge. The showcase was part of the Interservice/Interindustry Training and Simu-

warrants. Feb. 10 • A non-affiliated individual was arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol by a minor. Feb. 11 • A non-affiliated individual was stopped for a traffic violation and subsequentialy arrested for mutiple misdemeanor

warrants. • A student was issued a citation for Possesion of Drug Paraphernailia. Feb. 12 • A student reported the theft of clothing from the Residence Hall. • Officers were sent to the McDermott Library in reference to stolen books.

News brief

lation Education Conference held late last year in Orlando, Fla., where the FPCT competed with over 50 other games. “We always wanted to submit the first person cultural trainer to the game conference,” said Dr. Marjorie Zielke, ATEC assistant professor. “We finally got far enough into this project that it allowed us to compete with all these other games that were submitted. It was a really big

achievement for us, and something that we’ve been striving to do for three years.” Sponsored by the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, the game is designed to help service men and women interact and immerse themselves in cultures that differ from the United States. Players of the game are thrown into a village, where they try to discover the issues within the community and

Feb. 16 • A UTD staff member of the McDermott library reported the theft of books • A public service officer reported graffiti. Feb. 19 • A non-affiliated individual was arrested for driving without a driver’s license and had two pills seized for identification.

make a positive impact. Gameplay is based on dialogue and other forms of communication with members of the village. The game is still a prototype, and won’t see actual use for some time. While the primary focus of the FPCT has been the Middle East, Zielke says that African regions are currently being incorporated into the game. — Joseph Mancuso

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Opinion

FEB. 27, 2012 n THE MERCURY n WWW.UTDMERCURY.COM

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Editorial Board

Senate needs to sharpen their decision making skills before referenda With important university-changing decisions such as the Student Union expansion and green fee on the horizon, our student senate needs to be on top of its game. During the Feb. 21 Student Government meeting, senators passed a resolution recommending the university set aside a portion of on-campus housing exclusively for graduate students. This resolution reflected the wishes of an incredibly small portion of students from a population of more than 7,000, and so it should not have passed. Graduate housing has been in contention among student senate for years and it is understandably an important issue, but senate should not simply assume what is best for the student body. At the Jan. 24 SG meeting, Residential Student Affairs

Committee chair Kaitlyn West reported the results of a graduate housing survey conducted by her committee. According to the survey, the 103 graduate students listed a variety of reasons for why they don’t live on campus, but fewer than 20 said they live off campus because of a lack of space on campus. It is clear from this data that a considerably small number of graduate students actually reported the need for more space on campus. While the damage done was minimal this time around — SG President Sharkey Andrews is already looking closer at the recent resolution and will most likely have it reversed or researched further — our senate must strive to conduct more thorough surveys before making judgment, in the future.

Editorial Board

Shane Damico, Editor-in-Chief Bobby Karalla, Managing Editor Cathryn Ploehn, Graphics Editor Albert Ramirez, Photo Editor Anwesha Bhattacharjee, Features Editor The Mercury Editorial Board voted 5-0 in favor of this editorial. The board consists of the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, managing editor, graphics editor, photo editor and features editor. The board will discuss, debate and develop editorial positions on issues affecting the UTD community. We welcome your responses at news@utdmercury.com. Opinions expressed in The Mercury are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the university administration, the University of Texas System Board of Regents or the Student Media Operating Board. Editorial and business offices are in Student Union, Room 2.416. Telephone: 972-883-2286. Mailing address; SU 24, Richardson, TX 75080.

Weighed down by her judgment In regards to Jeremy Lin and race PAUL DANG Mercury Staff

Madison Square Garden bellowed with pride in early February, as it seemed that the Knicks had found the missing ingredient for their team, going from a six-game losing streak to a six-win tear thanks to their newfound point-guard, Jeremy Lin. The symptoms for the so-called “Linsanity” began. Here was an Ivy League-educated basketball player that broke NBA records and outshined everyone when nobody believed he could — this was the kind of underdog storyline that all fans and sportswriters drooled over. Oh yeah, he’s also Asian. The topic of No. 17’s race remained a foreboding can of worm left unopened in the midst of the media buzz — that was until boxer Floyd Mayweather posted the Tweet heard all around the world, creating a subsequent maelstrom of racial controversy that would elevate Jeremy Lin to something more than a basketball player and more like a cultural figure. “Jeremy Lin is a good player,” Mayweather said on Feb. 13. “But all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.”

When listening to Mayweather, Michael Wilbon of ESPN suggested, one has to take into consideration the history surrounding the lightweight champion. In 2010, Mayweather’s rivalry with Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao resulted in him posting a racist rant on YouTube. “We’re going to cook that little yellow chump,” Mayweather said in the video. “Once I stomp the midget, I’ll make that motherf***** make me a sushi roll and cook me some rice.” With this in context, it’s obviously true what Wilbon says: Mayweather is a bigot — a bitterly ironic fact seeing how a member of race that endured centuries of racist oppression, struggling through multiple generations for civil rights, would make comments ALAN DIEZ under the same racism that plagued their history. Ignoring the fact that there have been Asian players in the NBA prior to Lin, including Yi Jianlian whom is currently on the Mavericks’ roster, Mayweather’s comment is also misinformed since none of these Asian

players have been given the kind of attention Lin has received. What makes Lin different from these players? He’s notably good. Being Asian is just the “gravy on top,” as Michael Smith of ESPN said. In his first five NBA games, Lin garnered 136 points, which included a notable 38-point game against the Lakers, breaking the record for most points scored in one’s first five starts. Not bad considering he was formerly a benchwarmer dropped from both the Rockets and Golden State Warriors, and headed towards D-League obscurity. Yes, race does play a factor in Lin’s publicity, but it’s not all about race as Mayweather suggests. L i n appeals to the underdog storyline, which includes his Harvard education, his meteoric rise from obscurity, his singlehanded revival of a losing team and yes, his race. Yet even after sports commentators of all colors squelched the May-

WWW.DRVENUSOPALREESE.COM/COURTESY

Whitney, self-worth and success VENUS REESE Professor

I was sitting in the movies when I saw the news on my iPhone. Whitney Houston, aged 48, dead. Found in a hotel room with some prescription drugs, in a bathtub. Breath stops. Immediate flood of memories rush in my mind’s eye: breaking into tears the first time I heard Whitney sing, “I will Always Love You;” wearing bright yellow and green pants and pink headbands in the ‘80s to look as pretty as Whitney; all of us scratching our heads when she married Bobby Brown and the pride Black people experienced when she sang the “Star Spangled Banner” to open the Super Bowl. I remember her version being played over the PA system in school because we were so proud.

see LIN page 4

Next breath. Whitney Houston. Dead. A tub. Hotel room. Pills. Fade to black as I open my eyes in the dark movie theater with the credits rolling. It hasn’t been a solid 48 hours since the news broke. There will be lots of stories and suspicions about the cause of the death. The media is already fishing for an addiction angle. I am writing about Whitney because I want to talk about how self-worth and success may have been the ‘drug’ that cost Whitney her life. As a little black girl from the ghettos of Baltimore, I have always wanted to be ‘big.’ When I watched TV, I saw Whitney Houston as the biggest winner of them all: beautiful, talented and supported. Whitney became the standard of success in my young

see WHITNEY page 4

How much of a role did your gender play when you chose your major? “It didn’t play any role. We have an even split when it comes to gender in my class. Is any major really girly?”

“Not really. Although I do have more males in my major, it doesn’t really make me feel uncomfortable.”

“I really haven’t noticed a gap between girls and boys in my major. Seems like an even split to me.”

Sapna Sharma Psychology freshman

Gurbani Makkar Business freshman

Geethika Nandam Neuroscience freshman

“In high school I’d thought of taking up nursing, but because of the stigma...I switched to business.”

“I know there are lots of guys in my major, but I never really gave it much thought before choosing my major.”

“Some fields like nursing are associated with girls, but I didn’t naturally consider gender while choosing economics.”

Eric McDaniel Business freshman

Mihir Ranadive CS graduate student

Waqas Haque Economics freshman

Media Adviser Chad Thomas Editor-in-Chief Shane Damico Managing Editor Bobby Karalla Director of Sales and Promotions Jessica Melton

Photo Editor Albert Ramirez Features Editor Anwesha Bhattacharjee Graphics Editor Cathryn Ploehn

Staff Writers Paul Dang Staff Photographers Akshay Harshe Christopher Wang Contributors Brent Buehler Shawn Cho Troi Cluse

Sheila Dang Alan Diez Lauren Featherstone Ben Hawkins Joseph Mancuso Kyle Reynolds Larry Stavinoha Yang Xi

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, or The University of Texas at Dallas, or the governing board of the institution. Copyright © 2011 UT Dallas

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WHITNEY

continued from page 3 mind. I added to my canon of idols — Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Celine Dion, Halle Barry, Angela Bassett, Tina Turner, Mary J.Blige, CC Winans, Oprah — any chick badass enough to be known by millions. I wanted to be ‘somebody.’ I kept asking God how they were so successful, yet everything in my life was so hard. I have felt envy, jealousy and spite towards these incredible women. I have used them as my measuring stick for success. Can you relate? I questioned God, “What about me? I’m a good person. I work hard. I give it everything I have. How come them, not me?” Have you ever had that thought? It could happen at work, in your family or about someone famous. Well, I have and I have shaken an angry, frustrated fist at the sky many times. As I sat in the dark at the movies, I had a new thought: What must it have been

LIN

continued from page 3 weather statement back down into the realm of idiocy that Floyd calls home, the talk about Jeremy Lin and race became inseparable. After ESPN’s “Chink in the armor” headline fiasco, race-based discussions became the hot-button issue on every sports network and at dinner table conversations across the nation, making it a rare moment when Asian concerns are voiced in the mainstream media. Stereotypes of any kind come from an underrepresentation of a certain demo-

like for Whitney to grow up in Cecily Houston’s - her mother - successful shadow? Or Dionne Warwick’s - her aunt’s - extraordinary career? And Aretha Franklin’s - her godmother’s - sheer genius? Let me be clear: I am not blaming her family for Whitney’s actions. We all walk our own path. I am suggesting that it is not hard to imagine how having such awesome influences in your family could create a sense of having to prove oneself, a heavy dose of egoism or a bone-deep level of insecurity covered by mascara and bravado. Family, culture and history directly influenced the ethos of the songs Whitney sang. Women have been rewarded for identifying with their relationships. Especially immortalized in music. Soul songs. Blues songs. Songs about love, betrayal and heartache. The songs Whitney sang from her heart were all about a man. Getting a man. Loving a man. Keeping a man. And if you think about when things started to change for Whitney, it started - at least publicly - when the world

graphic, and as we speak, Asian Americans make up on the most underrepresented demographic in America, accounting for only 4.8 percent of the United States population. Blacks fought for assimilation through the Civil Rights movement. Hispanics have assimilated by means of proximity. Asians are the minority of the minorities and the last major ethnic group to assimilate into American culture, which is why all eyes are on Jeremy Lin. After barely a month of incubation in the limelight, Lin found himself on the cover of Time Magazine and

disagreed with the choice of her man: Bobby Brown. Like so many Black women, she had been cultivated to love, honor and stick by her man, good or bad. When the world said no, Whitney dug her heals in. When she dug her heals in, she also had to stop listening to others and even stop talking to people to buttress her choice of love. She would have to go it alone in order for her to stay true to her conviction. Everyone hated Bobby Brown for her. But she loved him. And it was that love, that righteousness about her choice, good or bad, right or wrong, that she would defend and fight for — at all costs. We all have fought for the things we thought we had to — be it a love or a point of view. Whitney is all of us. But I wonder. I wonder what would have happened if Whitney had known her worth separate from her relationship. I wonder if the message that took root in her heart was: She is her own best thing, as Toni Morrison phrased, and no man, record

the introduction to “Saturday Night Live”. The leading SNL skit parodied a sports broadcast where stereotypes of Asian culture were accepted as humor, but stereotypes of Black culture was considered racist. The routine provided a humorous yet equally scathing social commentary of where Asian American’s stand in American society, and the double standards of tolerance that exist. From sleeping on his brother’s couch, to pursuing his dreams and love for the game, Jeremy Lin unintentionally became a cultural figure that represents present-day racial issues in our country.

THE MERCURY n FEB. 27, 2012

deal, Grammy, or blockbustI open my eyes. The movie er movie makes you valuable. theatre is empty. Just empty I wonder if Whitney’s popcorn boxes and halfself-worth, her own internal drank cokes on the chairs relationship with herself dis- and floor in front of me. My tinct from people, places and prayer and my Defy Imposthings had been measured sible insight for you today is by peace and joy - instead simple, and I ask you to pour of accolades, this on your tours, and a girl children man - would We lost Whit- passionately: have changed Measure ney long bethe outcome your success fore Feb. 11 at of her life. I in terms of think it would your expe3:55 p.m. We have. I say rience of lost her when that success is yourself. a dingy, disYour success she felt like no mal second what’s one could hear isn’t to self-worth. outside, it her. When you isn’t your don’t know accomplishwho you are for you, then ments and it is not a man. Or history, family or friends can woman. take root and masquerade as I know for me, that I don’t the truth. I wish to God that want the kind of success that Whitney could have felt and Whitney experienced. The understood, throughout her price is too high. We lost life, that her success wasn’t Whitney long before Feb. Bobby, money, not even 11 at 3:55 p.m. We lost her Bobbi Kristina; my prayer for when she felt like no one Whitney would have been could hear her. She then did that her self-worth, her expe- what we all do when survival rience of the intrinsic value kicks in: She stood by her she naturally brings to life, choice alone. She was alone. was her success. She was lonely. And she felt

like no one understood. Dear Whitney, I am so sorry we didn’t hear you. I am so sorry we joked and criticized. I am so sorry we judged you. We did not at a community level; we did not listen. We judged you, which only made you not trust or hear us. I am so sorry. Please forgive me. Forgive us for our arrogance. Look in your own life and see whom you have judged. Clean it up. If you do, you have a shot at influencing them. I did this with my sister Nichole, who was a heroine addict. I stopped judging her and was able to have influence in her life right before she died. Nichole knew she was loved and she had someone she could tell all her secrets to before she died, because I spoke of her success as a mom and she knew she had worth. Whose life could you save? Whitney showed us how we did it wrong. How can you love somebody, free of judgment with an open heart, and do it right? With all the love my heart can hold…

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Prospects good for graduating CS majors KYLE REYNOLDS Mercury staff

The expanding technical industry is creating demand for people with programming skills, and recent UTD graduates with degrees in computer science or software engineering are seeing the benefits of this as they enter the job market. Gopal Gupta, department head of computer science, said that hiring of computer science graduates is increasing around the nation. Silicon Valley companies are increasing their workforces by 50 percent – for example, Amazon, which actively recruits on campus, has more than 2,000 job openings. Dallas-based corporations like Texas Instruments, Hewlett-Packard and Ericsson are also looking for skilled workers, Gupta said. “Hiring is at a manic level, like in the late ‘90s, where students who still have one year to graduate have job offers,” Gupta said. UTD students also benefit from university programs that help connect them with employers. ECS seniors can participate in UTDesign, which provides teams of undergraduates with funding to work on a project given to them by a Dallas-area high-tech company. Gupta said that there are currently more available projects than eligible students. Not only do these projects fulfill the students’ requirement to complete a capstone project, but they also give them valuable exposure to local industry, Gupta said. “On the last week of senior year, all of them present their projects … so I

go to every booth, and I ask every student, ‘do you have a job?’ Almost 100 percent either have a job or have an interview lined up next week,” Gupta said. “I would say more than 90 percent have a job by the time they graduate.” It is not only undergraduate students receiving interest from employers. Gupta said that of the 600 master’s degree students and 130 Ph.D. candidates in ECS, almost all of them have jobs or internships lined up upon graduation. The increase in hiring is not just a temporary blip: According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released last August, network systems analysts and software engineers are predicted to be among the top 20 fastest-growing occupations between now and 2018. Gupta said that much of this growth can be attributed to smartphones. The development of the iOS and Android platforms, for both tablets and phones, has created an entirely new marketplace that companies want to take advantage of. Every website wants a smartphone-friendly app, Gupta said. Gupta said that even though the job market is up, UTD is doing what it can to strengthen its students in the high-tech industry through its own reputation. “Our students are sought after because we have tried to build a brand of deep technical knowledge,” Gupta said. “We are really producing people who can, for example, modify an operating system as opposed to just developing an application.”

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Finance group adds volunteers to assist low-income taxpayers SHEILA DANG Mercury staff

The UTD chapter of Students in Free Enterprise, or SIFE, is preparing to participate in a nationwide program that provides low-income taxpayers with assistance in completing their tax returns. This will be SIFE’s third year as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, or VITA. Students volunteering in VITA are required to complete a rigorous online training program; nevertheless, the program still attracts a large number of participants. Since all projects undertaken by SIFE must fall under one of eight categories: market economics, success skills, entrepreneurship, financial literacy, environmental sustainability, business ethics, female em-

RON PAUL

continued from page 1 dential election. “I’ve always been passionate in politics,” Newman said. “But I think 2008 was a turning point for Ron Paul.” Ron Paul, a former representative in Texas’ 14th congressional district is currently running in the Republican National Convention for the 2012 presidential campaign. Despite running on the Republican ticket, Ron Paul’s platform appeals to many Libertarian ideals of small government and civil freedom. His unique stance as a candidate has attracted a grassroots following exemplified by the club Newman founded. “He represents liberty, and that crosses all partisan lines,” she said. That notion of liberty

powerment or military support, SIFE adviser Jeanne Sluder said. VITA not only fulfilled this requirement, but would also provide valuable experience for many students. “We’ve always had an interest in (VITA) — we usually have about 30-40 students who are interested in participating,” Sluder said. “It really gives something for our accounting students to work on … it’s also good for students who want to be teachers because they get the opportunity to go out and try their hand at teaching.” Along with a project leader that oversees the students in VITA, there are seven team leaders who work with students in groups of about five. “The training got me to see that a lot of people have

problems with the tax returns because they lack the knowledge. It’s a good feeling (to help them),” said Sadiq Momin, one of the team leaders and accounting senior. “Tax is such a big problem, this will have an impact on these people for the rest of their lives. While preparing their taxes, we want to inform them about the different filing statuses, credits and exemptions … so they know for future purposes.” Since SIFE had participated in VITA in previous years, the group was asked to volunteer again for this tax season. “We were approached by a group in Little Elm and they needed someone to help; Little Elm is quite a ways from here and we had so many students who wanted to do

it, so we made a contact here in the Dallas area,” Sluder said. “They set up locations here; it can be a church or someplace where the income tax services can get volunteer income tax assistants.” While most of the members of SIFE are students in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, or NJSOM, SIFE hopes to recruit more students from the other schools. “Most of our students are from the (NJSOM), but SIFE is actually for everybody and we would love it if more people from the other schools joined,” said Lisa Werk Nielsen, president of SIFE and management and administrative sciences graduate. “We’d like to expand the diversity as much as we can.”

manifested in parade form as Newman found herself in the flowing green garments of Lady Liberty, torch in hand and chained to her Mardi Gras float while holding a sign that read, “SAVE ME.” Five men costumed as Federal agents surrounded her, with signs on their back representing the five departments of government hindering American freedom. Energy. Education. Housing. Urban Development. Commerce. These were the agencies Paul swears to retire if he were elected President. Ahmed Al-Kadri, an accounting junior and secretary for YFP, posed as the agent of Commerce on the float. He was to look stoic and authoritative with his hands behind his back. However, as the DJ on the float began to blare tunes like “Revolution” by the Beatles and “You Got-

ta Fight” by the Beastie Boys, Al-Kadri couldn’t help but to match the crowd’s enthusiasm in the festive display. The occupiers of the float threw all their golden beads affixed with Ron Paul information into the ebullient crowd at the Bishop Arts District. The participants walking beneath them handed out all of their Ron Paul flyers and brochures. Al-Kadri said that he likes Ron Paul because his foreign policy appeals to his Middle Eastern background. “One of his foreign policy is, ‘Let’s save money, let’s shut down all these military bases,’” Al-Kadri said. “His plan is going towards peace.” Araf Hossain, political science senior and recruiting director for YFP, hopes to garner enough petitions to get Ron Paul to speak at UTD when he comes to Texas. The

goal is to surpass Lakeview High School’s 600 petitions. “He’s a great candidate who adheres to what we all believe in — Bill of Rights, the Constitution — he’s the ideal Constitutionalist,” Hossain said. “He still believes that we should have our own rights before the government puts their hand on us.” While the club’s lifespan might be limited to Ron Paul’s activity in politics, Newman said YFP might eventually broaden its horizon to spreading the message of civil liberties in general. But as the 2012 presidential campaign nears its finale, Newman and the students involved in YFP said their main focus is to get Ron Paul into the Oval Office. For more information, visit the Youth for Ron Paul Facebook page at www.facebook.com/UTDallasYFP.

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GIRL DAY

continued from page 1 is and what engineers do and so that’s how this ‘Girl day’ came about,” Ruiz said. “We bring these girls and have them do handson projects, but instead of saying ‘Let’s make this machine work,’ we tell them ‘Let’s make this machine work because when you create it, it will make an impact in somebody’s life.’” Sometimes, a role model might be all that girls inclined toward math or science need to push them into the major of their choice, said Ade Omere, vice president of SWE and electrical engineering senior. As a child, Omere loved math more than anything else, but chose biology as her major in college, she said. “I didn’t know anything about engineering, so I took up biology and I didn’t like it,” Omere said. “My aunt, an engineer who graduated from UTD, asked me to try engineering … so she explained to me what (engineers) did, I joined in and I really like it.” For “Girl day”, women engineers from Texas Instruments were invited to interact with and mentor the high school girls, so they could understand that engineers don’t necessarily have to be people with poor interpersonal skills, Ruiz said. However, it isn’t enough to make informed choices alone; women must be prepared to cope with a lot of stress, Greenwald said. When they see that they are underrepresented in engineering and science majors, some women think it will be too hard for them to succeed in the field, despite being in a major that they love, because they see the gender barriers as too hard to overcome, she said. “If they got upset about something, it was not okay for them to voice their concerns because they would be looked down upon, or

THE MERCURY n FEB. 27, 2012

Q&A with Magaly Spector

Magaly Spector is the vice president for the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement. She has been at UTD since 2008, headed various diversity programs, and initiated Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day. A Cuban emigrant and noted chess player, Spector received her Master of Science in electrical engineering and a Ph.D. degree in physics.

Q. How was it, being an engineer in Cuba? MS: The interesting fact is that women in science and engineering are underrepresented, there is a gap, all across the world, not just in the United States, but everywhere. So in Cuba it was the same thing. I was one of two women that graduated from college in a cohort of 177 students. My friend and I had a really great bonding, because we went through the whole challenge of being the only two women and so we had to support each other. Since we were so few, supporting each other in the small network was a very important aspect of women pursuing engineering and science in Cuba— that was part of the challenge.

Q. How did your family help out with your decision? MS: My mother was a single mother. She never went to college and seventh grade was the highest education she received. She didn’t know what science and engineering was all about. So there was no encouragement from my mother. I believe that I had a teacher in middle school who taught me physics, and another female teacher who taught me mathematics and I looked at them as my role models. I started to like science and engineering very early in my life. My school, not my family, was the

they would be seen as too emotional,” Greenwald said. “Rather than seeing it as ‘this is a problem we need to address’ it would be ‘you’re the problem because you’re too emotional.’” Omere, however, said that if women keep thinking about how they are the minority, it’s going to be difficult to feel confident

main source of inspiration for me.

Q. How difficult was it to come as a political refugee to the United States and start a new life here in 1980? MS: It was very difficult. I had my degree from Cuba. I came by boat because I escaped as a political refugee. I came with my daughter who was eight years old. In Cuba, when I went to college, I was raising my daughter and going to college and working a few hours a week. It was challenging, but I had my family there. When I came to this country, all I had were the clothes I was wearing. But I had the knowledge in my head. That’s what I always tell this generation that’s going to college, you take the knowledge with you wherever you go. It doesn’t matter if you are in this country or in another country, that is the precious thing that you take with you. I was struggling but knowledge is what helped me move ahead in life. And of course, engineering and science were always my passion. That first year, my college helped me to find a job — they sent my resume to industries and then I got interviewed and hired by AT&T Bell Labs. It was an entry level job, but it was wonderful because AT&T Bell Labs was at the forefront of science and technology. I got that opportunity, and it made a big difference for me. That opportunity opened up a lot of doors for me, it allowed me to go back part-time for a graduate degree and apply the knowledge I brought from Cuba to my first job.

Q. Do you see a change in the way people see girls in engineering? MS: I think things are changing, because slowly the numbers are increasing. I believe that many times, there is a need for a critical mass that will allow creating an environment that will be more welcoming and nurturing for women in science and engineering. I don’t believe that there is a barrier, a real barrier.

in an engineering school. “There’s some kind of a leadership demeanor in women who are in engineering, and they’re not so much timid as women in other majors,” she said. “I think they have to have that courage and passion for what they’re doing and if they have that, then they’ll be fine.”

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But girls get concerned because the image of an engineer or scientist in their mind is a person with no social skills, who just lives and dies in a lab, with no interaction with the outside world. They don’t know what these engineers do with all the creativity that they have and how these people contribute to the real world. The image of an engineer or scientist needs to be brought to a level where girls see this is someone I want to be when I grow up. I believe that women in science and engineering that are in college, need to reach out because they are the closest in age that engage with the generation that is coming behind. They need to tell the girls that this profession is worth trying and what it is about. They need to explain the benefits of becoming an engineer — there’s also a big salary for engineers. The highest paid jobs today are for college graduates in engineering.

Q. A lot of times girls in engineering feel they need to repeatedly prove themselves to be as good as the boys. How do you advice girls to cope with the stress? MS: As part of an underrepresented minority — a Hispanic who has come from another country — I know the feeling. Accept this that you are different. The fact that you’re different may make you ask “Do I belong to that elite group that has been accepted?” People in any male-dominated field will always question whether you are capable, because there is no critical mass. But what is inspiring is that every time that you overcome this challenge, the ones that come behind you will have a less challenging environment. Think that you are doing this not only for yourself but also for the ones that come behind you. Now you are a minority, but at some point, the ones behind you are not going to be the minority any more. Just don’t let those who question your capability discourage you because if you don’t make that move, you will never get there. You are the leader. Make a big difference.


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FEB. 27, 2012 n THE MERCURY n WWW.UTDMERCURY.COM

Student follows passion, helps children

Senior works as intern for program geared towards Spanish speakers SHEILA DANG Mercury Staff

CENTER FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES/COURTESY

(From left) Hong-hai Le and Center for Children and Families’ community liaison, Adriana Baird, work for Jeuga Conmigo, a program designed to help Spanish-speaking children develop social and cognitive skills.

Hong-hai Le, an intern at the Center for Children and Families, travels to downtown Dallas every Thursday morning at 9 a.m. to work with toddlers as part of a child development program called Juega Conmigo. The psychology senior spends those mornings at the Bachman Lake Public Library where she engages with the children, many of whom come from low-income backgrounds, using developmental toys and activities designed to foster cognitive, language and social develop-

ment. “My goal right now is to gain experience with children (through) the program ... to learn about their development and how to be aware of them,” Le said. Le’s interest in psychology developed in high school after taking a psychology class and realizing it was much more complex than she had initially thought. However, the path toward studying the subject in college was met with a few obstacles. “I entered (UTD) as a pre-med student because my parents wanted

see INTERN page 9

Retro arcade makes a ‘Smashtastic’ return LARRY STAVINOHA

of special items. The controls are easy to learn, the menus are clear and user friendly “Pineapple Smash Crew” is a love and the tutorial explains everything letter. It’s also an indie game avail- that a newcomer would need to able on Steam, but at its core the know. game is a love letter from sole develIn addition to user friendliness oper Rich Edwards to the games in gameplay, the developer has creof his youth. ated a lighthearted and fun mood. “Pineapple Smash Upbeat retro music hums along Crew” for all its with the missions in the bright colors, background while the blocky art direcplayer completes the tion, and upbeat colorful and retro styled chiptune music levels. would not The combination be out of of the two offers place in an the sort of game arcade next that can be played to “Space in long sittings in Invaders” or hopes of leveling up WWW.GETGAMESGO.COM/ COURTESY “Pac-Man.” the squad of space exArcade games have an accessibil- plorers, or in short bursts with a ity that allows someone who walks more leisurely pace. up to the machine for the first time The game has almost endless reto learn how to play the game al- play ability. The fact that each level most immediately. is randomly generated as it is select“Pineapple Smash Crew” strives ed helps to further the uniqueness for this same accessibility and suc- and potential for replay each time ceeds. someone picks up the game. Objectives for the levels are not “Pineapple Smash Crew” aims to complex and amount to largely recreate the experience of playing clearing out all the enemies in the simpler games from the early days level or collecting a certain number of arcades and game consoles. There Mercury Staff

is no narrative driven by compelling characters. There is no voice acting and there are no scripted events. It is a game that is focused largely on gameplay. This works to the game’s advan-

tage as it appears to have allowed Rich Edwards to capture the energy and excitement of his inner child over videogames and it translates to a very bouncy and upbeat style of game. There is never a dull moment

playing “Pineapple Smash Crew,” because what videogame loving inner-child has the attention span for something that is boring? “Pineapple Smash Crew” is available on Steam for $9.99.

WWW.SHACKNEWS.COM/COURTESY

“Pineapple Smash Crew” uses retro music and the arcade look to spice up the excitement and energy in the game.

Alumna bears all in art show ‘Dear Esther’: BRENT BUEHLER Mercury Staff

Kerry Hennigin, UTD alumna and photographer, did what some would rather face a firing squad than do: appear nude in an art show. In her latest gallery, “Glean,” which featured in the art barn from

Jan. 27 through Feb. 18, Hennigin revealed herself in various poses and in a variety of different clothes. “I wanted to show the entirety of myself while I was young,” Hennigin said. Hennigin graduated from UTD with a Masters of Fine Arts and currently works as an editor of research

papers and dissertations for the university’s finance department. However, Hennigin said she has always felt photography to be her real passion. In the gallery’s photos, her figure

artistic but lifeless

see HENNIGIN page 9

Pancake event raises money for charity

WWW.EDGE-ONLINE.COM/COURTESY

“Dear Esther” uses poetry, visuals and mystery to appeal to players’ moods.

Game relies on visuals, voiceovers LARRY STAVINOHA Mercury Staff

CHRISTOPHER WANG/STAFF

A Tri Delta member serves pancakes at the Delta Hop, or DHOP, event on Feb. 16 at the Dining Hall. The sorority put on the late-night social event in an effort to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

It is a lonely island, overgrown and empty. Along the shoreline, corpses of ships lay collecting vegetation and rust. An English voice reads aloud poetic verse to a woman named Esther. “Dear Esther” is a game that is ripe with ambiguity. An updated version of a “Half-Life 2” mod, now re-developed by thechineseroom, brings to life a haunting

tale of isolation and melancholy. “Dear Esther” sets itself apart from other games with its oversimplified game mechanics. Unlike other games, the protagonist of this story only needs to move forward. Interaction in “Dear Esther” is at an absolute minimum. There is no shooting at enemy combatants, or aliens from space. There are no three-dimensional puzzles, which are a staple of games

see ESTHER page 9


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THE MERCURY n FEB. 27, 2012

MULTICULTURAL CENTER/COURTESY

UTD celebrated Black History Month with a series of events organized by the Muticultural Center that promote remembrance and understanding of African American heritage. This tradition began in 1926 with the anouncement of “Negro History Week” by historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. Although Black History Month was first celebrated in the United Kingdom in 1987, it has become a tradition adopted in the United States shortly after.

Heritage UTD celebrates

Black History Month (Right) Dee Ellington and De Phillips pose for a picture after a “Hair-tage” lecture in the Galaxy room on Feb 9. The event explained the history of hair and the traditional importance of choosing the right product and hair style that matches an African American woman’s type of hair (Bottom right from L-R) Students Jacquelyn Nelson, Kecia Baker, Naphtalie Librun and Jasmine Young smile at the camera during “Ladies Night” in the Galaxy Room on Feb. 23. (Bottom) Staff and students take a photo with band members of Beauty and the Beast after the kickoff of Black HIstory Month in the Galaxy Room on Feb. 2. MULTICULTURAL CENTER/COURTESY

AKSHAY HARSHE/STAFF

(Top right) Comedian Marvin Michels makes the crowd laugh with his brand of comedy in the PUB on Feb. 14. (Above) Comedian Chris Matt entertains the crowd during the Comet Comedy Series in the PUB on Valentine’s Day.


L&A

THE MERCURY n FEB. 27, 2012

HENNIGIN

continued from page 7 appears blurred, as if frozen in the middle of a larger action. This visual technique highlights the fundamental theme of the piece: capturing the body in motion. “When bodies are in motion, it doesn’t look like what we see in magazines and movies,” Hennigin said. “When moving around, you look raw and real.” Hennigin said the idea of injecting the dimension of motion into a photo was borne from of a mistake. While shooting a previous project, the remote that allowed her to take the pictures from a distance stopped working, forcing her to take the pictures manually by using the camera’s timer. In doing this, she unwittingly captured photos of herself that were distorted because of her movement back and forth from the camera — a happy mistake that would be the central focus of her next project. Hennigin wore whatever she pleased — or as little as she pleased — when staging the photos.

ESTHER

continued from page 7 using the game engine that “Dear Esther” uses. No, instead the player is tasked with simply moving along the linear pathways heading deeper into the island. Critics of the recent additions to the “Call of Duty” franchise decry the linear nature of the levels, arguing that the games are essentially rail shooters.

INTERN

continued from page 7 me to,” Le said. “But that wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I finally got the courage to switch to psychology my sophomore year because I thought I could do something more with it.” After hearing about the internship position, Le began work this past semester with the Center for Children and Families, or CCF, which is housed within the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences. Through CCF, Le began working with Juega Conmigo, or Play with Me, a program that evaluates and helps promote child development. The program, which is funded privately and through donations, attracts many families every week, especially after being recently publicized on television. Le said the program’s growing popularity has posed the most difficult aspect of her work. “The hardest thing to do is turn away parents after we reach our quota of 20 (families),” Le said. “In the morn-

MEK

continued from page 1 and access to the organization’s “archive.” “Our archive is a library of sorts for geek accessories,” Brackens said. “Right now, we have a bunch of video games in it that full members are allowed to checkout from the organization.” To promote spirit amongst the members and awareness of the group on campus, MEK hosts various events such as the Gameswap, where people bring together their used

When determining what clothes to wear, she decided to draw a contrast between what the media would find sexy and what she finds sexy, which resulted in a hodgepodge of different outfit combinations. The object of the shoot was to capture a feeling in the moment the photo was taken, Hennigin said, and the only way that could be achieved in an organic way was by mimicking bodily motion through the blur effect. Marilyn Waligore, professor of Aesthetic Studies and Photography at UTD and a mentor to Hennigin, provided an astute interpretation of her work: “Ultimately, she underscores the inadequacies of the camera, its inability to truly record the self, as the blurred images reveal only a glimpse of the subject, the artist, who appears instantaneously frozen yet in constant motion before the camera”,” Waligore said. Although Hennigin sees the gallery’s nudity as essential to her artistic vision, she said she understands that some may view it as unnecessary. “I wanted a real expression of the body,” she said, “a real body.” Hennigin contends that only

nudity can embody the real animalistic nature of the human being. “We like to call ourselves something outside the animal kingdom, but we still have animal instincts which society wants to repress,” she said. Her exhibit can be seen as responding to this societal repression of the body. Hennigin said she does not feel worried about others seeing her naked. She has always tried to live her life like an open book and wants her art to reflect that. “Why should we be ashamed of our humanity?” she asked.

Much like the narrow paths of city streets intercut with cinematic cut scenes found in “Call of Duty,” “Dear Esther” is a series of linear paths intercut with poetic voiceovers. It is to the credit of developer thechineseroom however, that the voice overs are more engaging than the cut scenes found in “Call of Duty.” The haunting English voice is often disjointed and tells several different stories intermixed through the

narrative as the protagonist delves deeper into the island. The atmosphere is where the strength of “Dear Esther” lies. From the moment the protagonist arrives on the beach to the last moments of the game, it is clear that there is more going on than what is told to the player. The island levels themselves are beautifully rendered in the same engine that brought gamers “Half-Life 2,” “Team Fortress 2” and “Left 4 Dead.” Each chapter is given a

ing, there will be a long line of people waiting to get a number so they can get in the program. It’s hard to say no, especially to the ones who come in regularly.” Since most of the participants in Juega Conmigo are Spanish-speaking families, Le must often work through a language barrier. “These toddlers range from one to three years old and speak their native language which is Spanish, so I find it difficult to communicate with them sometimes,” Le said. “But I approach them with a toy and let them play with it ... and somehow we understand each other.” Along with playing with the toddlers, Le assists in setting up events and activities for the kids, which recently included celebrations for Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day, she also helped parents gauge a sense of their child’s developmental progress, Le said her experience at Juega Conmigo has been instrumental in developing her approach toward young children as compared to her previous volunteer work. “I was shy and found it

difficult to interact with children,” Le said. “However, after taking psychology courses like child development and social psychology, I have learned a lot. With Juega Conmigo, I used what I learned and applied myself. I think being in close proximity with children has definitely taken away my timid self.” After learning how to improve her approach toward children, Le said she would like to continue her internship because she had so much fun during her experience. “My siblings used to taunt me about how I would make children cry when I approached them,” Le said. “But now after observing and learning, the children actually approach me to play.” While Le plans to continue interning with Juega Conmigo through the summer, she hopes to enter a clinical graduate school and continue studying psychology and child development. “(The internship) was a great experience,” Le said. “I believe I have changed into a better person because of it.”

or unwanted games and exchange them for new ones. Another event the fraternity hosts is the Geekathalon. The Geekathalon is a contest in which teams of up to four compete in five various challenges, from board games to video games. Slated for early April, all proceeds from the event will go towards the Child’s Play Charity. The Child’s Play Charity was founded by Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins of the webcomic Penny Arcade, and is devoted to bringing toys, videogames and books to sick children

in hospitals. “More often than not, hospital funding does not go to toys, it goes to medicine,” said Bill Mikesell, Vice President of Heritage for MEK. “It’s a good way to show the organization and the university that we do more in life than kill Nazi zombies. We are people as well, and we can help people.” The next meeting for MEK is scheduled for Feb. 28 in room 2.401 of the McDermott Library at 8 p.m. For more information, search “Mu Epsilon Kappa” at www.utdallas.edu/orgsync.

“The reality is people deal with a lot of messed up stuff — death, divorce, disease, abuse. I don’t want to hide that part of myself as something negative.” As for future endeavors, Hennigin will change gear into something a little less physically revealing: novel writing. But for now, Hennigin said she is proud of her work and of the attention it’s receiving at UTD. She hopes people will see past the gratuity in her photography and instead come to view it as integral to its artistic meaning. “It’s a statement that people should lighten up.”

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Basketball tournament draws hundreds of students

YANG XI/STAFF VISUAL ARTS/COURTESY

Kerry Hennigin captured body motion in her photography.

unique look as day slowly becomes night and one heads closer to a blinking radio tower in the distance. Complementing the atmospheric visuals is a score that adds to the mysterious nature of “Dear Esther” and helps to underscore the emotional impact of certain voice-overs or locations along the game’s trail. The biggest flaw with “Dear Esther” is that the developers did not make the best use of the video game medium. Video games are unlike

Chuan He (center) shoots a jump hook in the 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament, hosted by FACSS, on Feb. 18. Hundreds of students took part in the annual event.

movies or books or even listening to music. Videogames are interactive. Members of a crowded theater have no impact on what happens on the screen. In a horror movie, saying aloud that the killer is around a corner has no more effect on the movie’s protagonist than choosing to remain silent. In a videogame the player makes choices, or engages in some meaningful input that influences what happens. A game like “Alan Wake”

serves as an example that an isolated and creepy story can be told not only through dialogue and music, but in the interactions that the player engages in during the game. In “Dear Esther” players do not interact with the game beyond simply moving forward. The story is not so much experienced as just presented. For $9.99 on Steam, a more beautiful and moody game cannot be found, but the actual gameplay will leave buyers wanting more.


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Sports

FEB. 27, 2012

AKSHAY HARSHE/STAFF

The UTD men’s basketball team meets at midcourt before a game against Mississippi College on Feb. 9 at the Activity Center. The Comets won the game, 72-67, on the same night that senior forward Chris Barnes broke the school record for points in a career. UTD finished the regular season with 21 wins, equalling last year’s total.

Despite roster issues, women win 19 games, finish second in East

Comets coast through easy East for fourth straight title BOBBY KARALLA

BOBBY KARALLA COMMENTARY

The 2011-12 women’s basketball season will forever have an asterisk. After steamrolling through its first 16 games and piling on a schoolrecord 15 wins in that timeframe, the Comets might end up thinking about what could have been. But what UTD was able to do despite the many personnel issues it encountered this semester is truly remarkable. It shows what kind of depth head coach Polly Thomason has been able to recruit since taking over in 2005, and it proves that Lyndsey Smith will forever be one of UTD’s all-time greats. There isn’t a better or more deserving candidate for ASC East Division Player of the Year than Smith, the senior forward who finished second in the conference in scoring at over 16 points per game, fifth-best in school history. Smith became the clear focus of the offense once starters Ashley George and Katie Korioth were declared academically ineligible for the

spring. What could have been a devastating blow to the team, and what could have derailed UTD from possibly having one of its greatest seasons in team history, actually proved to be nothing more than a speed bump in the middle of January. After dropping three straight, the Comets rattled off four of their next six to finish the regular season a respectable 19-6, tied for the secondmost in program history. It was all possible because of Smith, who kept churning out points to keep the offense moving. Of course, a team consists of more than just one person, and Smith didn’t go at it alone. Sophomore Kellie Loukanis and freshman Christina Brosnahan stepped up with huge scoring performances along the way. Loukanis scored 14 points in a must-win game against East Texas Baptist to snap the team’s three-game losing streak, and shot 50 percent on her way to scoring a game-high 21 points against what was UTD’s signature win of the season, against Louisiana College on Feb. 11. Brosnahan, meanwhile, went from hardly playing, to becoming

see W BBALL page 11

COMMENTARY

For the fourth straight season, the UTD men’s basketball team found itself atop the ASC East Division. But unlike in past years, the Comets faced little to no resistance throughout the entire season. In what is becoming a yearly trend, the East has become not much more than a two- or threehorse race between UTD and some combination of East Texas Baptist, Louisiana College and Mississippi College. Head coach Terry Butterfield admitted that while the West Division might be the superior of the two — five teams in the West finished above-.500 in conference play, as opposed to only two in the East — the Comets’ division still is full of teams, top to bottom, that can win games. “There isn’t a team in our division that can’t beat us. Not one,” he said before his team beat ETBU to all but clinch the division on Feb. 4. “Every team has personnel that can beat you on any given night. I don’t even think about what’s going on, other than the (team) that’s right in

UTD rugby club pulls away from Lamar

front of us.” Coachspeak and clichés aside, Butterfield has a point. On Chris Barnes’ record-setting scoring night against Missippi, the game he set the all-time career points mark, UTD stumbled to a 72-67 win, its closest against an East opponent not named ETBU. But aside from the two-overtime thriller at ETBU and the five-point finish against Mississippi, UTD was not too far from perfect against the East. In fact, you could argue UTD was perfect, as it didn’t drop a single game against an opponent from its own division in 12 tries. Only three of those victories came by less than

16-4

21-4

East Texas Baptist

11-9

14-11

Louisiana

9-11

10-13

Mississippi

7-13

9-15

UT Tyler

7-13

8-17

Ozarks

6-14

9-16

LeTourneau

3-17

4-21 Note: Standings are accurate as of Feb. 23

Comets stumble out of the gate Mercury Staff

Sophomore Vince Dutton (front left) resists a tackle from a Lamar defender on Feb. 19. The UTD rugby team won the match, 44-5, to remain undefeated and advanced to the Texas Rugby Union Regional Tournament championship on Feb. 25. For results to the title match, check www.utdmercury.com.

see MEN’S BBALL page 11

UTD

SHAWN CHO

AKSHAY HARSHE/STAFF

10 points. While a sterling 12-0 divisional record is certainly a cause for both celebration and pride, though, the flip-side of that is just as much a cause for concern. The Comets were only 4-4 against teams from the West. Three of their four losses came against teams that qualified for the ASC Tournament. Where this leaves the Comets in the ASC hierarchy is unclear. UTD certainly have become a dynastic figure in the East. Its fourth consecutive division title proves just that: Only Mississippi has put together a

After a convincing 13-6 win against Pacific Lutheran University to start out the Arizona Desert Classic, the UTD baseball team failed to find its rhythm as it lost three consecutive games to close out the competition. The team’s overall record is now 2-5 with a trip to University of Dallas awaiting them on Feb. 22nd. It might not be the start that the team was hoping for, but the losses weren’t as troubling as they may sound. UTD isn’t getting blown out by other opponents.In fact, the team took George Fox University to extra innings in Arizona, narrowly missing out 6-5. Despite the not-so-perfect start, coach Shane Shewmake believes that the team will eventually find its rhythm and get back to the winning ways. “Right now, we’re just not as consistent as we need to be,” Shewmake

said. “We’ve shown flashes that when we’re playing well, we’re pretty good. Now we just have to put it together for nine innings.” Those flashes were clearly apparent in the first game against Pacific Lutheran; when the Comets recorded 20 hits. Senior infielder Jacob Starnes led the Comets offensively, going 3-for-6 with five RBIs. Senior outfielder Chase Brown added a 2-for-2 performance with an RBI double and three walks. Junior pitcher Zack Dickson picked up the win in his first career start for UTD while freshman Tyler Dauer and junior T.J. Barnes sealed the win coming on in relief. The Comets’ first conference game will be against the University of the Ozarks on March 9, which gives the team a handful of games against non-conference opponents to hopefully get the train rolling. “It’s a process,” Shewmake said.

see BASEBALL page 11


Sports 11 UTD doubles up with wins over Centenary THE MERCURY n FEB. 27, 2012

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First-year head coach pleased with 3-3 Comets’ resiliency SHAWN CHO Mercury Staff

The UTD softball team started the 2012 season with a 3-1 record; with the latest pair of wins against Centenary College in its home opener on Feb. 17 a double-header, blowing them out with scores of 9-1 and 6-2, respectively. Freshman pitcher Micha Starkey and sophomore pitcher Heather Foust picked up the wins, respectively, with the help of a three-run homer by junior outfielder Rachel Riley and junior infielder Brittanie Knowles, who went 3-for-3 in the first game with an RBI and a run scored. “The players really take pride in hitting, running, fielding, and pitching, and we were fortunate that we were clicking on all facets of the game against Centenary,” said coach Brad Posner.

The Comets lost their season opener against Howard Payne University on Feb. 14, another double-header, but they bounced back strong and rolled on to win three consecutive games. “We are a young team with a lot of first-year players on the squad,” Posner said. “You don’t normally see a lot of resiliency in young teams, but this team has been tremendous so far in our first four games.” Posner said that the players shouldn’t dwell on a big win or a tough loss, but they should come out the next day only focusing on what they can improve. “We did something, that’s in the past,” Posner said. “We need to come out to win the next game whether we’re coming off a win or a loss, and that’s our philosophy in every at-bat, every pitch, and just in everything we do.”

The team’s first season under first-year coach Posner looks to be a positive one as it makes a run for its first ASC title. A native of New York, Posner comes to UTD after spending more than a decade as an assistant at SUNY-Cortland, one of the top softball programs in NCAA Division III. He helped guide the Red Dragons to a 436-130-2 record in 12 seasons, while making eight appearances in the NCAA D-III National Championship Tournament. He was also honored as part of the NCAA D-III Northeast Region Coaching Staff of the Year five times while at Cortland. Posner emphasized the fact that his first and foremost goal at UTD is to guide student-athletics into adulthood. While softball is a big part of the college experience, the main focus should be on aca-

demics. “Academics is important,” he said, “Because once they leave here, we have to make sure that they are set up for the rest of their lives. “College is a time where a lot of young people have a chance to grow into adulthood and by overseeing that transition phase,” he continued. “I think that we as coaches can really enhance their experiences.” The Comets will return to action at the ASC First Pitch Tournament, a series of four games, which will be held at Farmers Branch from March 2 through the 3. Editor’s Note: UTD lost both games of a double-header to No. 2 UT Tyler, losing 10-1 and 9-8, respectively. This article does not include stats or information from the Comets’ double-header against Austin College on Feb. 25.

BEN HAWKINS/STAFF

Junior Stephanie Harris throws to first base against UT Tyler on Feb. 23. The Comets lost the game, 10-1, but were 3-3 heading into a series against Austin College on Feb. 25.

BASEBALL

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W BBALL

“We’re trying to get this team ready so that when the conference rolls around, we’re playing at our best. “We’re not quite hitting on all cylinders right now, but we’re close,” he continued. “Every game is an opportunity for us to get back on track and hopefully we can start our winning streak.” Shewmake emphasized that while winning games is important, going out onto the field with the right mindset and executing plays like the players know how carries far more significance than just edging out opponents. “It’s about playing well,” Shewmake said. “The wins will take care of themselves. And if we play like we’re capable of, we’ll win our share of baseball games.” The Comets will try to turn their losing streak into a winning streak when they take on Concordia University on Feb. 28 at home, fol-

run of four straight titles in a division since 2002. Yet UTD has won division titles in two consecutive seasons in which a combined three teams other than UTD finished above-.500 in conference play. By no means does this discount the Comets’ streak. During the past three years, they’ve made three trips to the NCAAs, one to the Sweet 16 and another to the Elite 8. UTD is clearly a competitor. But it also means the only way to properly assess the Comets is to match them up against the West’s elite, and they got a chance over the weekend in the ASC Tournament to prove just how elite they can be. Editor’s Note: Due to the press schedule, this article does not include information from the ASC Tournament. Check out www.utdmercury. com to see how the Comets fared.

the team’s third our fourth option on offense, and filled the role perfectly. She scored 19 points at home against ETBU on Feb. 4 to give the team its first winning streak in nearly three weeks. When it comes to tournament time, well-balanced scoring can take a team further in most cases than one player carrying most of the load. By the end of the regular season, it seems, the Comets found that balance between one player, Smith, doing too

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BEN HAWKINS/STAFF

Sophomore Elisha Settoon drops a fly ball against Hardin-Simmons on Feb. 10. The Comets lost the game, 7-4, and committed five errors. UTD was 2-6 as of Feb. 23.

lowed by games at Howard Payne University on March 2 and 3. Editor’s Note: UTD lost to the University of Dallas,

12-8, on Feb. 22. This article does not include stats or information from the Comets’ three-game series against Sul Ross State on Feb. 24 and 25.

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much heavy lifting and doing just the right amount. Thomason took the challenge of rebuilding a rotation head-on, and did a masterful job. There certainly isn’t a coach in the division who had to handle as potentially a crippling issue as she did. And Smith kept leading. On her way to breaking the school record for career points, she may have also earned herself a Player of the Year award. Editor’s Note: Due to the press schedule, this article does not include information from the ASC Tournament. Check out www.utdmercury.com to see how the Comets fared.

Louisiana

18-2

22-3

UTD

15-5

19-6

Mississippi

13-7

16-9

Ozarks

9-11

13-12

LeTourneau

9-11

13-12

UT Tyler

8-12

12-13

East Texas Baptist

4-16

6-19

Note: Standings are accurate as of Feb. 23

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