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March 17, 2014 | @utdmercury


ASC basketball champs eliminated in third round of NCAA D-III tournament hosted in Midwest → SPORTS, PAGE 8


NCAA rule may change

Former Waterview tenants blindsided by new landlords

UTD rep pushes legislation for grad student-athletes

University takeover of complex brings mixed reviews, complaints of poor communication

PARTH SAMPAT Sports Editor

An NCAA Div. III committee is exploring options to allow graduate students to continue their athletic careers at an institution other than their undergraduate university. The current rule allows graduate students to play — provided they have eligibility remaining — only at the university where they did their undergraduate athletics and degree. The eligibility criterion allows a player to play for four years over 10 semesters or 15 quarters. Senior men’s soccer player Michael Darrow said he was surprised about the current rule. “I had no idea that D-III sports did not allow graduate students to play sports if they had eligibility left (in another university),” Darrow said. “I know guys who have used eligibility in graduate school for D-I to continue playing soccer. So, I


Feminist org faces struggles PCFA works to find footing, key support from university PABLO ARAUZ & ANITA NUÑEZ Mercury Staff

The Pro-Choice Feminist Alliance group has been confronting obstacles on campus for its political nature. Since its start in the spring of 2012, PCFA members said they've seen challenges with finding resources and promoting their meetings and events in an isolated campus atmosphere. Victoria Li, sociology senior and president of the group, said that the goal of PCFA is to increase awareness about matters such as STI awareness and prevention, contraception, sexual assault and gender identity. The group is the only feminist group on campus but it does not primarily focus on women's issues. “The thing about feminism is that it’s a social justice kind of movement, and so when we talk about feminism we're not just talking about women,” Li said. “We're talking about pretty much everybody. We're taking about (the Gender, Sexual and Relationship Minority) community, women of color and marginalized groups in general.” At their March 6 Contraceptive Convention, set aside in the Phoenix Room in the Student Union, the group gave out free candy and condoms for students willing to learn about proper sexual education. Tables were laid out with examples of the multiple methods of contraception available to women and men, as well as various STI prevention tools and even educational models of the female and male reproductive systems. Professionals from Planned Parenthood were also there to answer questions and debunk common sex myths. Some students found the sexual education aspects helpful. Others were hesitant to stop by and still others became visibly uncomfortable when they were offered condoms or information about safe sex. Some went as far as to make distasteful jokes to the members involved. Shelby Schram, sociology junior and vice president of the group, said she has experienced similar incidents of hostility on campus from people who




Since the university bought Waterview Park in July 2013, residents in former Waterview, or Phases I–IV, have had to adjust to several changes. While some have been welcome, including the waiver of the water utility fee and the inclusion of free Internet and cable TV at the same price, the recent hike in rents effective August 2014 wasn’t one of them. Under Waterview management, residents were informed of rent hikes well in advance, when they circulated renewal forms in early December each year. These forms would clearly state how much the rent would be for the following year, and students could make an informed decision based on how much they would have to pay. With the new UV management, residents in Phases I-IV were required to sign an intent

to renew form in early December but were informed of the rent hike in late February when they went in to sign the lease. As a result, despite signing the intent to renew form, business administration junior Michael Matthews and his roommate, who currently live in a two-bedroom two-bathroom apartment in Phase III, chose to not sign the lease and move off campus for 201415 instead. Had UV notified students of a potential rent increase, at least in the cases where the hike was significant like Matthews’ rent, which went up by $60 a month, he might have felt better prepared to deal with the additional expense, he said. “I think if they’d told us ‘we’re going to be increasing your rent’ before they said ‘do you want to renew?’ or that ‘we’re increasing your rent, but we’re also including your water, your cable …’ then that would have been considerable,” Matthews said.

However, rent amounts for UV need to be approved by the UT System Board of Regents, and the rates had not been approved in December when the intent to renew forms were required, said Matt Grief, assistant vice president for Student Affairs. The intent to renew forms stated that the rents for the 2014-15 had not yet been approved, which Grief said was indication that rents would go up. This year might have been an exception for residents of Phases V-IX, whose rent costs did not increase, but each year, UV rents go up by between four and 10 percent. UV management did not foresee the need to communicate the process to the residents of Phases I-IV, who were expecting to be informed of rent hikes at the time of signing the intent to renew, which is why residents in former Waterview Park might have had a problem this time, Grief said. As a result, residents weren’t prepared for

the $60 rent hike a month for the B3 twobedroom apartments and the A3 single-bedroom apartments, Matthews said. Where will all the money go? Rents went up for all apartments in Phases I–IV, although not uniformly. The A3 and B3 floor plans, which saw 9 and 10 percent rent increases respectively, are similar to the single- and two-bedroom apartments in Phases V-VII. The purpose of the rent hike was to make these floor plans equally priced in all the phases, Grief said. The other two-bedroom floor plans in Phases I-IV saw a hike of about 7.5 percent, while rents of other single-bedroom apartments went up by 5 percent. The four-bedroom units and the studio apartments saw a comparatively smaller hike of 4.3 percent. “Honestly, for me, the $20 wasn’t that big of a deal because it’s more of a hassle to go and find a new place to live and move out all


Meet the Regents: bosses of higher ed. SHEILA DANG Managing Editor

When Nash Horne, the student member of the UT System Board of Regents, visited UTD in November, he spent two hours with about 20 students discussing various concerns, including buildings that students

felt should be renovated. While opportunities to discuss concerns with UTD officials crop up often throughout the year, it’s relatively rare to have a chance to voice opinions to the UT System, particularly the 10-member Board of Regents who oversee nine universities and six health institutions.

The Board determines everything from tuition rates to where new UT institutions will be established. It consists of nine voting regents who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Texas Senate for sixyear terms, which are staggered so three terms expire in February of odd-numbered years. Additionally, a non-voting student re-

gent is chosen to serve a one-year term. Regents are not paid and must fund their own travels to visit each campus. Most work full-time in other industries. Student Government President Liza Liberman said all of this contributes to why regents have limited



Paul L. Foster Chairman


Brenda Pejovich

Alex M. Cranberg

Wallace L. Hall, Jr.

Nash M. Horne

Appointed 2007, reappointed in 2013 Location El Paso Occupation Executive chairman of Western Refining, an oil company Degree Bachelor’s in accounting from Baylor

Appointed Location Occupation

Appointed Location Occupation

Appointed Location Occupation

Appointed Location Occupation

A former member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Foster now serves as chairman of Board of Regents.

Pejovich also serves as a board member for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank. In May 2013, members of the Texas Legislature questioned Pejovich about concerns of the foundation’s influence over UT system matters.

2011 Dallas President of Brenda Pejovich Group, a business consulting firm



2011 Houston Chairman of Aspect Holdings, an oil and gas company Bachelor’s in petroleum engineering from UT Austin; MBA from Stanford

Shortly after his appointment, Cranburg was criticized by groups in the Texas Legislature for attempting to micromanage universities and coordinate efforts to oust UT Austin President William Powers.



Student Regent

2011 Dallas Founder and president of Wetland Partners Bachelor’s in economics from UT Austin

In June 2013, the Texas House launched proceedings to impeach Hall for abusing his power in putting in a large number of public information requests to UT Austin, and failing to disclose litigation against him while applying for regent.

2013 Austin Political communications senior at UT Austin

Horne is the student regent (a nonvoting member of the board) for the UT System. He has served as universitywide representative for Student Government and was chair of the Excellence Fund Committee.





Just the facts

THE MERCURY UTDMERCURY.COM Volume XXXVII No. 5 Editor-in-Chief Lauren Featherstone (972) 883-2294

Managing Editor Sheila Dang managingeditor (972) 883-2287

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Web Editor Anwesha Bhattacharjee

Photo Editor Christopher Wang

Graphics Editor Lina Moon

Life & Arts Editor Miguel Perez

Sports Editor Parth Sampat

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Ad Sales Representative Juveria Baig promotions (713) 298-0025

Staff Photographers Parth Parikh Marcelo Yates Staff Writer Pablo Arauz Contributors Zainah Asfoor Dene Betz Esteban Bustillos Hilda Garcia Ian Gonzalez


Thought-provoking statistics from Christopher Wang ZAINAH ASFOOR Mercury Staff

Student Government is planning to create an Instagram account to further reach out to and interact with the campus student body. SG Vice President Charlie Hannigan said at the March 4 SG meeting that the PSHBOJ[BUJPOT'BDFCPPLQBHFJTPOFPGUIF most liked UT Dallas pages, and this has encouraged them to move to other social media platforms. Every week senators will post pictures of their meetings and events with captions and announcements. Senators are also working with the InterOBUJPOBM4UVEFOU4FSWJDFT0ĂŻ DFUPVQEBUF the information in “The Guide,â€? a resource and information booklet for international students published by the ISSO. SG President Liza Liberman said the senate thinks that resources such as programs on campus, contact information and the campus map in “The Guideâ€? are a little outdated. She hopes to have an updated version available within the upcoming month. SG is currently creating an honor code for the university, which will be a short set of ethics and principles that will govern TUVEFOUTBDBEFNJDBOEQFSTPOBMCFIBWJPS The senate plans to come up with two options to present to the student body for voting within the next couple of weeks; it will then be presented to the dean of students. t 3FTJEFOUJBM "ĂŞBJST $PNNJUUFF DIBJS ,BUJF 5SVFTEBMF TBJE 4UVEFOU "ĂŞBJST JT working to add more questions to the oncampus housing application to achieve

better roommate personality matches. Currently, students answer questions that pertain to their preferred living conditions, including room temperature, sleeping hours and level of noise, but do not necessarily reflect their personality. t "DBEFNJD "ĂŞBJST DIBJS +PTFQI -JN updated the senate that the EPPS “Meet the Deanâ€? event has been postponed to 3-4 p.m. on March 28 in GR 3.606, and the JSOM “Meet the Deanâ€? event will be held at 5:30 p.m. on March 19 in the Davidson Auditorium. t4UVEFOU"ĂŞBJST$PNNJUUFFDIBJS$BTFZ Sublett reported that the SG Redbox petition received more than 800 signatures. SG has sent the petition and signatures to Auxiliary Services, who will then present it to Redbox representatives to get an approval for installing a Redbox on campus. t (SBEVBUF BOE *OUFSOBUJPOBM "ĂŞBJST Committee chair Adam Ma said SG will host a round table event for international cultural organizations to address concerns and needs of the international culture clubs on campus. Although there is no set date yet, Ma said he expects the event to be sometime during the second week of April. t 4( JT SFEFTJHOJOH UIF SFDZDMJOH CJOT signs to make them clearer to read and understand. These signs will list the items that can and cannot be recycled. tɨ  FTFOBUFBQQPJOUFENBSLFUJOHKVOJPS Miguel Juarez to Communications chair and confirmed the appointment of freshman senator Caitlynn Fortner. tɨ  FOFYU4(NFFUJOHXJMMCFBU p.m. on March 18 in one of the Galaxy Rooms.

Corrections: In the Feb. 24 edition of The Mercury, in the article titled “Scientists create device to study concussions,� Lori Cook was incorrectly referred to as a man. In the article titled “Excess credit hours lead to higher costs,� Bonnie DoughFSUZTOBNFXBTNJTTQFMMFE In “The SG Report� the wrong University Village apartments were said to be refurbished starting March 17. Only the former Waterview apartments, Phases I-IV, will receive new appliances. The Mercury regrets these errors.

Emily Grams Anand Jayanti Alison Kwong Ian Lamarsh Anita Nunez Cathryn Ploehn Pratap Surya 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 Mercury’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 Copyright Š 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. 21 t"TUVEFOUXBTBSSFTUFEBGUFSBWFIJDMFQVSTVJU and was charged with evading arrest or detention on Floyd Road at around 3 a.m. t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEIFSCJDZDMFTUPMFOGSPNB bike rack near Founders North at around 3 p.m. Feb. 22 t"TUVEFOUXBTJTTVFEBDJUBUJPOGPSQPTTFT sion of drug paraphernalia at Lot T at around 4 a.m. t"TUVEFOUXBTDJUFEGPSDPOTVNQUJPOPGBM cohol by a minor at Lot J at around 11 p.m. Feb. 27 t " TUVEFOU SFQPSUFE B UIFGU BU UIF .D%FS mott Library at around 2 p.m. Feb. 28 t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEBOVOLOPXONBMFVTFE physical force to take her cell phone at Phase I at around 8 p.m. March 1 t"OVOBĂŻ MJBUFEQFSTPOXBTBSSFTUFEGPSESJW ing with an invalid license on Campbell Road at around 1 a.m. March 3 t"OVOBĂŻ MJBUFENBMFXBTBSSFTUFEGPSUSBĂŻ D warrants at Lot I at around 6 p.m. March 5 t "O PĂŻ DFS JOWFTUJHBUFE B WFIJDMF BDDJEFOU with minor injuries involving a driver who had a seizure near Waterview Science and Technology Center at around 1 p.m. March 6 t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFETPNFPOFTUPMFIJTKBDLFU from a computer lab in Green Hall at around 2 p.m. t"TUVEFOUSFQPSUFEIJTDFMMQIPOFTUPMFOPVU of his unattended gym bag in the Activity Center at around 5 p.m. t"TUVEFOUTWFIJDMFXBTCVSHMBSJ[FEBU-PU* at around 6 p.m.


Feb. 24: A student contacted UTDPD to report an alleged sexual assault involving another student at Phase VIII.

Feb. 28: A student reported a QSPWPDBUJWF BOE PĂŞFOTJWF BT sault by an employee in the SU at around 2 p.m.

Feb. 20: A student reported an unknown male was threatening him at the SU at around 3 p.m.

Feb. 25: Police responded to a reported assault at Phase III at around 9 p.m.



Formal tone of scholarly papers necessary for innovative thinking ZAINAH ASFOOR COMMENTARY

As a studies in literature graduate student, I have read my share of academic articles. While some were pretty straight forward, numerous sent me on a mental rollercoaster. These demanding articles constantly brought up the question: Why do scholars write such difficult academic articles? Or, are they only difficult to me? In-depth academic research is essential for advancement, but educators are necessary to translate the information and make it accessible to the general public. Scholars write for other scholars. That is, it is important for them to challenge each other in order to discover new things and come up with new theories within their respective fields. “Academic research that is in-depth enough to be understood only by other experts is crucial to innovative thinking,” said Arts and Humanities assistant professor Jessica Murphy. That is not to say that an academic article written in “plain English” won’t lead to innovative thinking, but they won’t lead to very far thinking. Think of indepth scholarly work as a car: We need the experts to discuss the chemical prop-

erties of metal, the physics breaking, and so on, so our cars can advance to become safer, more fuel-efficient and faster machines. The manual that is provided with the car will state that the car is fast, safe and fuel efficient, but it won’t go into the details that experts and scholars discuss in their articles. Imagine if James Watson and Francis Crick wrote about their DNA discovery in a simplified, textbook manner; or if James Joyce’s scholars wrote articles aimed toward middle-school students; or if astrophysicists took consideration a blue-collar worker when writing about the latest breakthrough. Needless to say, if that were the case, we wouldn’t get pretty far in research and discoveries in any field. However, the information written in these academic articles does get translated for the public to understand and access it. Teachers and professors are one great avenue. They take the difficult material and present it in an easy-to-understand way to their students, and they often discuss these subjects with the general public as well. “We are using (academic articles) to understand our subject matter and to help (others) do the same,” said Arts and Humanities assistant professor Shari Goldberg.

Public lectures, websites, television series and documentary films are also other ways academic information is translated to the general public. TED talks are wonderful because the speakers give the information in a way that is both understandable and entertaining. Many scholars may be comfortable reading academic work pertaining to their field, but do not understand information and academic work in other fields. It is also important to remember that no matter how easy the writing is to understand, readers will always have difficulty the subject if it does not interest them. Arts and Humanities professor Timothy Redman is an Ezra Pound (a modern American poet and critic) scholar and writes essays on him that is of primary interest to perhaps 500 scholars worldwide. Despite the fact that he believes his writing is easy to understand, he knows the subject of Pound does not interest most educated readers. Hence, the ultimate answer to whether academic articles are difficult to understand is dependent on the reader. I am thankful for all the mind-boggling scholarly works that have challenged me, but I am even more grateful for everyone who was able to translate these works to a language I can understand.

Share a car, save money Using Zipcars, traveling with DART can be useful for cash-strapped students HILDA GARCIA COMMENTARY

et m o


lar use, such as traveling to work, makes the monthly expense equal to — if not higher than — owning a car. Personal car sharing would be a better option for this purpose. Personal car sharing is when one or more person pays a car owner to use the vehicle under a consensual agreement. This type of service is riskier because of its lack of structure and regulations that a service company offers. But there are companies that are digging into this sector of car sharing and eliminating some of the risks. For example, DART offers a vanpooling and carpooling service, which will let you share a van for about $50 a month plus gas, an expense that can be easily reduced by the other people sharing the car with you. This service will also put you in contact with other people that need to go to the same area as you so that you can minimize the cost as much as possible. As the business of car sharing grows, students have the opportunity to reap the benefits, but, ultimately, must take into consideration all of the cost associated with that decision whether it is owning a car, using public transportation or a carsharing company.

Comets and Craters The editorial board’s thoughts on highs, lows of administrative decisions, campus life and news Parking garage speedsters: As of late, parking in the garage has become a sport of avoiding aggressive drivers. Students might be late for class, but there’s no reason to round a corner at 40 mph. A few tips: Slow down, try not to kill your fellow Comets and leave a note if you back up into another car. Kenan Thompson to perform on campus: First it was Donald Glover in 2011, then Sammy Obeid last year and now one of our favorite SNL cast members is coming to UTD. Springapalooza’s Big Bad Comedy Show never disappoints. Keep doing what you’re doing, SUAAB. No commission for Student Media employees: We would love to hire students who can work for promotions and receive commissions. Hourly pay requires students to log in office hours for jobs that often lend themselves better to working offsite, and can also be misrepresentative of the true work done. Switching to commission-based pay might seem like a simple task, but the university currently does not allow it, and we would like for that to change. Record attendance at basketball game: Exactly 1,437 people attended the men’s basketball game against Chapman on March 7 — a great number for a school that’s not exactly known for its sports culture. Now all we need is to have that level of support for our other great teams. Buildings locked before official closing time: Sometimes you need to make a quick stop in the SU late at night for whatever reason. It doesn’t help when the doors are locked 15 minutes before they’re supposed to be (2 a.m. on normal days, midnight during breaks). Profs who do midterm evaluations: End-of-semester course evaluations are fine, but it’s better if the improvements happened while we’re still in the class. The few professors who ask students to evaluate the course at midterms are on the right track. Find out what can be improved early on, and possibly end up with more positive responses at the end of the semester — it’s a win-win.

Have something to say? Click on the Opinion tab at and write a letter to the editor, 250 words or less. Or, send your submission of 500-800 words to Include references for any facts you cite. We ask for your name and contact information. Personal contact info will not be published. We reserve the right to reject submissions and letters. Also, we reserve the right to edit for clarity, brevity, good taste, accuracy and to prevent libel.

“What’s the most interesting religion you’ve heard of ?”



Cars are a necessity, or so we are led to believe. In reality, any means of transportation is necessary; that does not mean that a person has to own a car to be able to get around town. In the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex there are multiple ways to travel without owning a car. UTD students have access to all DART services for free. Yet, trains and buses may not be the most ideal forms of transportation, especially if your destination does not have these services available. A middle ground between these two transportation options is car sharing, which is beginning to take off in metropolitan areas like DFW. Car sharing, in its simplest form, is multiple people sharing a vehicle and its accompanying expenses. In owning a car, people have to pay for insurance, maintenance, gas, parking and annual registrations expenses. In a month this could be an expense of $200 or more. Payments on a new car can drive the expense to about $500-$600 per month. As college

students, that is a lot of money to spend on an asset that depreciates each year and requires more and more costly repairs. With car sharing, you can cut general expenses in half and still enjoy the luxury of using a car to get around. Additionally, the money saved could be used for other college expenses such as books, groceries or tuition. There are several providers of carsharing services in the Dallas area. UTD students this service is available through Zipcar. To be able to use the Zipcars on campus, students must first apply and pay for an annual membership, then reserve and pay for the time the car is issued. It’s simple and convenient if you need a car to go out for a few hours, go to an interview or go shopping. However for international students, the application process is much more complex and tedious. This is discouraging a sizable portion of the student population at UTD from using this service. This same population may be the one in most need for this service because of many financial and legal restraints that make it difficult to buy a car. The problem with Zipcars or any other type of car-sharing company is that regu-


n e mm

“Zoroastrianism. It’s about worshipping to fire, and I find that really interesting. I know a lot of Iranis subscribe to that still, and I thought that was really cool.” Omar Pandhair Biology sophomore

“Buddhism. I was born in a Buddhist family, so just being around that environment, and I feel like it speaks to my heart. ” Phiona Pham Arts and performance senior

“It would be Pastafarianism because they worship spaghetti, or flying spaghetti monster.”

David Trinh

Mechanical engineering junior

“I like Buddhism; it sounds interesting. I just like to believe that somehow everything is connected in the universe.” Marc Tifrea Computer science freshman









Team members Campus tunnel security play blindfolded, deters student explorers celebrate chess


George Margvelashevilli sits facing away from the set, while David Berczes moves the pieces for him, during a blind chess event. PABLO ARAUZ Mercury Staff

The chess program celebrated its 13th annual ChessFest with a blindfolded chess session on Feb. 26 and a speaker in partnership with the McDermott Library. At this year’s celebration, chess team members George Margvelashevili, finance graduate student, and David Berczes, international political economy freshman, wore blindfolds and challenged other students and staff to the game in the lobby. Margvelashevili and Berczes took turns playing on a giant chess set against their willing opponents, starting with chess program director Jim Stallings. Margvelashevili was able to defeat Stallings, who could see the board, within 20 minutes. “You just imagine the board and the pieces and since I’ve been playing chess for a while I can do that without a problem,” Margvelashevili said. Both players faced off against 14 other challengers and the two went undefeated for the entirety of the two hour session. “When you have to imagine something in your head and play for two hours it’s super tiresome so I would not recommend it on a constant basis,” Margvelashevili said. “It’s fun and it’s good practice sometimes, but it gets really hard after an hour.” Margvelashevili has been playing chess since he was seven and holds the title of grandmaster, the highest title a player can hold in the game. Coming from the country of Georgia, he started at UTD last fall with a chess scholarship. As part of the celebration, guest speaker Elizabeth Tejada traveled from the Miami, Florida area to speak to students and faculty about the positive impact of chess on student learning. Tejada has been teaching chess education for 22 years in Miami and spoke about the nuts and bolts of running a school curriculum that utilizes the game to advance learning. She said students often make better grades with chess as part of their learning plan. “It helps them have better concentration, it helps them make friends, it helps them see through their educational cur-

riculum, consequences when they lose a game,” she said. Tejada originally began her work using chess to advance learning for just six students. With much success, her program grew to teaching more than 6,000 students in the Miami-Dade County school district. She also praised the program at UTD as a model for chess education, which consists of a competing collegiate team, club and summer camp for children. The collegiate team ranks high among most schools in national and international tournaments and competitions because of its high-caliber recruitment process, Stallings said. The team has won or tied for first in the Pan American Intercollegiate, the oldest collegiate chess tournament in the country, more than 10 times. “That’s sort of how you can measure how well a team is doing; it almost doesn’t matter what the ratings are, it’s can you win or not,” he said. UTD has also won the Final Four tournament four times. The team currently has six grandmasters. Alec Getz, finance and global business sophomore and team member, came to UTD on a chess scholarship. He came here when his chess coach in New York suggested he attend for the program. Getz is a five-time national champion and holds the title of grandmaster. His world-class playing has taken him to chess competitions all over the world such as Argentina, Turkey and Ecuador. Patrycja Labedz, global business and marketing junior, traveled thousands of miles from Poland to attend UTD for its world class chess program. Labedz won the European Title Championship in 2009 and tied for second in the Southwest Open. For Labedz, chess has given her the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. “It’s definitely a game that requires a lot of respect — that’s what I love the most,” she said. The program is holding a spring open tournament with the World Chess Federation from March 8-13 at the Park Central Embassy Suites in Dallas.



face-time with students. “I think as students, we would always want more (interaction), because we want our voices to be heard and understood,” Liberman said. “And I think (the regents) all want more feedback, I just think logistically it doesn’t work as well as they want.” Regent Alex Cranberg is the most recent member of the board to visit UTD in February. What initially was expected to be about a half-hour meeting turned in a two-hour conversation with students, Liberman said. Topics and concerns that were discussed included improving course evaluation response rates and online courses. “He was interested in in-class and online (courses) and how students felt about it,” Liberman. “From the discussion the students had with him, it was very mixed.” Horne, a political communications senior at UT Austin, said while it’s not necessarily a problem, he’s interested in exploring ways to improve advising. “One thing that I’m conscious of and looking into is how can we improve student advising,” he said. “How can we improve that process that will in turn produce higher graduation and retention rates?” It’s important for students to be aware of the decisions of the board, which have far-reaching effects, Liberman said.


Clockwise from top: Two chalkboards in a tunnel beneath campus bear names of students who entered the tunnel and the date they were there; pipes indicate base and acid; broken office and desk chairs lay abandoned among stockpiles of old keyboards and floppy disks; pipes carrying chilled water travel below multiple buildings. IAN GONZALEZ Mercury Staff

In the dead of night when campus was nearly empty, four students quietly lifted up an unlocked grate by the east sidewalk of ECSN, and crawled into the dark depths of the underground steam tunnels. Save for times of construction, the steam tunnels have been an unseen and enigmatic part of the UTD campus for the near 45 years since its establishment. “My freshman year, everyone was talking about how there was nothing to do here except go down into the tunnels,” said a male student who wished to remain anonymous. “I was surprised with how easy it was. As long as you stayed away from the cameras and stuck to the shadows, you’d be fine.” These students, among many others, were part of a line of explorers who exploited physical loopholes into the cold veins of campus. The single tunnel system was constructed simultaneously with the campus cornerstones of McDermott Library, Green Hall and Founders. Within this interconnected mainframe of tunnels are pipelines carrying steam and chilled water that supply buildings with heating and cooling. Buildings that were constructed within the last decade and a half such as the Student Services Building in fall 2010, and the new ATEC building this past fall, have steam lines buried directly underneath the foundation and are not part of the same mainframe. In the past five years, UTD police has reported there being five incidents in which students have been caught and pulled out of the tunnels, with four of the five incidents being expressions of student curiosity, and the fifth being a clear attempt to stealthily break into a building to steal property. While this roughly correlates to an inci-

“I think what students don’t always realize is that we’re a part of this bigger whole, that campuses do depend on each other and on the System for support, and a lot of the resources we do have is because of System support,” she said. The Board of Regents must approve many aspects of the university, from rent prices for on-campus housing to approving referenda passed by students. It’s the latter that the board voted to change the policies for in their December meeting. All referenda put forth from each institution must now be sent to the board before being put up for an official student vote, Liberman said. The UT System Student Advisory Council, comprised of two representatives from each of the 16 institutions, opposed the measure, arguing that it stifled the student voice. Liberman said different regents gave different explanations for the decision, including the fact that the Texas Legislature is not open to increasing student fees. But the board compromised with UTSSAC to allow a student to accompany university presidents to board meetings to speak on behalf of what their peers want. “This has never happened before that students get to go into these meetings,” Liberman said. “So we feel that while it’s not ideal, it’s a good compromise. Now a student gets to go with Dr. Daniel to the Board of Regents starting next year.” The board has faced controversy over the past year for tensions with UT Austin President Bill Powers, as well as accusations of micromanaging the universities.

dent per academic year, Facilities Management hasn’t had a recorded incident in almost a year, which in large part, can be due to a new security measure taken by UTD police. “When I got here it was almost like a rite of passage to find a way to get into the tunnels” said Kelly Kinnard, director of Physical Plant Services. “Now if you get into the tunnel, you’ve tripped an alarm. You may not have noticed, but you tripped an alarm and you’re about to have company.” The alarms are located throughout the tunnels and other high-sensitivity areas on campus. Once a person trips an alarm, an icon will light up in the police dispatch center that prompts the dispatch of multiple officers to the location. Coming from multiple angles, police hope to be able to flush out any perpetrator and secure the tunnels in response to an alarm. Being able to access many buildings on campus though the tunnels might be useful tool for Facilities Management, but it also provides enticing and dangerous opportunities for resilient students. Along with the chilled water, the lines that run in the tunnels carry steam at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Preventative measures to assure student safety from these lethal utilities include cameras, dead-bolted doors and police patrols on a regular basis. “If you were to rupture one of those lines, there’d be no way you’d make it out alive,” Kinnard said. “To even get to your body, we’d have to shut down the plant, wait about 24 hours and then go in.” Despite the inherent dangers of going into the tunnels, Facilities Management and contractors frequent the system, changing light bulbs, checking pipeline integrity and even dusting — all regular tasks done for the tunnels’ upkeep. While the main purpose of the tunnels it to house the steam lines, there are

In June 2013, the Texas House began proceedings to impeach Wallace Hall Jr. for abusing his power to conduct investigations of UT Austin officials. To Murray Leaf, an EPPS professor and member of the UT System Faculty Advisory Council, the mentality of the board changed in 2011 when Governor Rick Perry appointed Cranberg, Hall and Brenda Pejovich, all three of whom have ties to a conservative think-tank called Texas Public Policy Foundation. The foundation calls for a set of seven solutions for higher education reform which would implement a results-based approach to granting tenure to professors, and split teaching and research budgets. Perry endorsed the solutions at a higher education summit in 2008, which also pushed for more power for regents. “(The summit) created a hierarchy of universities with the Board of Regents at the top, analogous to a board of directors for a corporation,” Leaf said. The Mercury was not able to reach Paul Foster, chairman of the Board, for a response. And indeed, most of the regents have backgrounds in business or law — none come from academia. But Horne said this makes the regents well suited for their positions, considering the many financial decisions needed to run the system. “Everyone around them is an educator,” he said. “(The regents) bring a perspective that’s different and needed. It’s not a classroom; it’s a lot of finance, a lot of allocation of funds and things of that nature.”

areas of the tunnels that branch off from the segments that carry the lines and shelter a collection of forgotten items. In a black, basement-like room, rows of shelves and old filing cabinets are filled to the brim with forgotten items. Old keyboards, office chairs and floppy discs crowd the underground stockpile of old, forgotten technology. “It looked like everything had been outright abandoned, it wasn’t being kept clean or nicely wrapped or anything, just junked,” the anonymous source said. Although student activity in the tunnels called for a stark response, another sight in the tunnels might have influenced the tech upgrade to the system. Being regularly active in the tunnels, Facilities Management has the responsibility of keeping the entrances into the tunnels locked and inaccessible to unauthorized personnel. Consequentially, when it was found that these points were oftentimes left unlocked, additional security measures were taken. Though the lengths to prevent student activity in the tunnels might seem stringent, their actual purpose is much more understandable. “It is a safety factor,” said Chief of Police Larry Zacharias. “Students can get seriously hurt, and if they wanted to they could probably end up some place where they absolutely do not need to be, which would result in serious consequences.” In short, the dangers present within the tunnels should not be taken lightly, as their upkeep and visitation are done legally by trained facilities personnel. While they are largely out of sight, as part of the system that works to maintain everyday functioning of some of the campus’ most important buildings, the steam tunnels continue to be an integral part of campus infrastructure.


Appointed Location Occupation Degree

2013 Houston CEO of Hillcorp Energy Company Bachelor’s in geology and master’s in petroleum engineering from UT Austin

Robert Stillwell Regent

Appointed 2009 Location Houston Occupation Retired partner of Baker Botts law firm Degree Bachelor’s and law degree from UT Austin

Eugene Powell Regent

Appointed Location Occupation


2009 San Antonio Founder of The Powell Companies, a real estate brokerage company Bachelor’s and master’s in finance from UT Austin

Formerly the chairman of the board, Powell now serves as vice chairman. While attending UT Austin, Powell played football under an athletic scholarship.

Ernest Aliseda Regent

Appointed Location Occupation Degree

2013 McAllen Assistant municipal judge Bachelor’s from Texas A&M; law degree from University of Houston

Stillwell has helped to direct more than $700 million in gifts to nonprofits, UT system health institutions and UTD.

R. Steven Hicks Vice chairman

Appointed 2009, reappointed in 2011 Location Austin Occupation Owns and is executive chairman of Capstar Partners, a private investment firm Degree Bachelor’s in government from UT Austin

Hicks serves as vice chairman of the board along with Eugene Powell, and is a veteran of the radio industry.




Comedy boasts vulgarity “Bad Words” eager to showcase gratuitous profanity, dark humor SHYAM VEDANTAM

decoding religion Ancient Persian faith perseveres today despite declining populations, limited presence on campus Editor’s Note In an effort to further understand UTD’s diverse popluation, what follows is part one in a four-part series exploring lesser-known religious communities, their traditions and their presence on campus.


DENE BETZ Mercury Staff

“Bad Words” is vulgar, offensive, racist and sophomoric. The film holds nothing back when it comes to verbally attacking young children. There’s a scene where 40-year-old, foul-mouthed Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) whispers to the 10-year-old co-competitor in the National Spelling Bee next to him that he has slept with the young boy’s mother. He then hands him a pair of woman’s underwear. The child goes up to the podium and envisions Bateman fondling his mother. He’s humiliated and ends up misspelling a word. This moment is gut-wrenching — but it’s also dark and sickly humorous. Bateman stars in and directs “Bad Words,” an R-rated comedy about a 40-year-old genius competing in a Scripps-like national spelling bee. He is allowed to compete because he never passed the 8th grade. He doesn’t care what people think about him and doesn’t mind cursing and making chauvinistic slurs. The kicker to this is that he befriends one of his competitors, an Indian boy named Chaitanya (Rohan Chand). All while a reporter (Kathryn Hahn), along with the rest of the spelling bee community, tries to figure out why Guy is participating in a kids’ spelling bee. The story in Andrew Dodge’s debut screenplay doesn’t try to reveal something about the human condition, but its punch does keep the audience entertained. Bateman knows the only way this film can succeed is if he jumps head first into the vulgarities in the script. Bateman has experience with this kind of character, from his roles in “Arrested Development” and “Horrible Bosses,” and goes for it. Normally, Guy wouldn’t be a likeable character, but he is so funny that you don’t mind waiting to hear what he will say next. The rest of the characters exist in this story solely for Guy to make fun of, not to refurbish his humanity. Chand’s naiveté and youth fits well with this. The circumstances of their friendship are not believable, but the way Chand and Bateman play

Zoroastrianism is one of the world’s most ancient religions over 3,500 years old. Originating in ancient Persia, or modern-day Iran, it was founded by the prophet Zoroaster, and it was once the official religion of both Persian Empires from roughly 550 B.C.E. to 330 B.C.E. and 220 C.E. to 650 C.E. Although she isn’t religious today, pre-law advisor Anne Dutia said she was raised in a Zoroastrian household. “It was the world’s first monotheistic religion,” Dutia said. ”The ideas of heaven and hell and the concepts of good and evil rooted from Zoroastrianism.”




It is now one of the smallest practiced religions in the world with an estimated 200,000 followers worldwide, according to the World Religion Database. Among the small number of sources found at UTD, all agreed: There is no organized Zoroastrian community on campus, but a small and active community exists in the DFW area. As a monotheistic faith, Zoroastrians believe in Ahura Mazda, meaning Lord of Wisdom,

who created the world. Followers of the faith believe fire represents God’s light and wisdom. Present-day believers are broadly split up into two groups: the Iranians and the Parsis. But, Zoroastrians are in their second diaspora with significant communities in North America, Europe and Australia. Zoroastrians believe that the religion was revealed to Zoroaster by Ahura Mazda, and the prophet’s words were recorded in five songs

known as the Gathas. The complete Zoroastrian scripture is sometimes referred to as the Avesta, after the language they are written in. Zoroastrians do not worship Zoroaster himself but they do follow his teachings. It is said that, in his teachings, Zoroaster let the people hear him first and then choose their own path . This approach to religion was a new idea, said electrical engineering professor and ordained Zoroastrian priest Poras T. Balsara. Other religions had prescribed a ritual or compensation to be performed for bad deeds. Some even used threats, but Zoroaster emphasized the path of good should be followed by a person’s own free will. Shailaja Masarwala, an information technology and management graduate student, grew up in India with many Zoroastrian friends. From an outsiders view, it is a very peaceful and loving religion, she said. Zoroastrians have many seasonal festivals where communal worship occurs. The biggest celebration is the NouRouz,


K-Pop enthusiasts band together Growing student interest group Hallyu UTD focuses on Korean pop culture, expresses avid fascination ANAND JAYANTI Mercury Staff

The existence of Hallyu UTD, a new KPop club, might be just as much a surprise as the astronomical rise of a certain Korean singer named Psy. But, founding member Taurian Witt has been following Korean pop culture for years. “Hallyu,” the Arts and Technology junior said, “is Korean for the word ‘wave,’ as in the wave of Korean pop music that has gradually gone global over the past decade.” K-Pop has origins as early as the 50s, when visits to Korea by American pop culture figures like Marilyn Monroe prompted interest in Western musicality. Passing decades saw the adoption of Western styles in popular Korean music. Musical acts popped up across the country, imitating the rock ‘n’ roll, jazz and blues traditions from across the Pacific. Hallyu UTD is a club where Witt and others meet to “fanboy” over Korean pop culture in all of its historical complexities. This includes listening and discussing the myriad of groups and solo acts that make up the Korean pop music scene. The club was formed last semester by undeclared freshman Rocio Diaz, attracting collaborators like Witt by word of mouth, and


K-Pop music acts like Girls’ Generation, MBLAQ and Psy (pictured above) continue to grow in popularity in the United States and globally as attested by the presence of the fanclub and discussion forum, Hallyu UTD, riding the K-Pop music wave.

Recent grad oversees consulting business Alumnus finds success managing college advising startup, helps high school students optimize college admissions marketability MIGUEL PEREZ Life & Arts Editor


Devan Earle established his college consulting business, Dallas Admissions Consulting, while still a student in the interdisciplinary studies program in 2012.

Before he graduated from college in 2013, UTD alumni Devan Earle had already found a way to sidestep the post-college job search: He became his own boss and started a college consulting company. Earle founded his consulting business, Dallas Admissions Consulting, before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, and he recently launched College Blasters, an online company that aims to take his business nationwide. Dallas Admissions helps clients, usually high school students, figure out what makes them unique, helping them understand their assets and communicating that to prospective colleges, Earle said. He considers himself a modern entrepreneur, using the technology and resources he’s grown up with to create something tangible and profitable. “Entrepreneurship is easier than ever. You can start your own company with $500 — just get a website and take out some advertising,” Earle said. “I think everyone can give it a shot. The cost of entry is so low that there really isn’t a reason not to try to start your own company. You’ll learn things, if nothing else.”

Earle revels in being his own boss. He believes there’s always an opportunity to learn about different facets of his business, especially considering he manages the bulk of the companies on his own. “When you’re a kid, you answer to your parents. In school, you answer to your teachers. On the job, you answer to your boss, but when you work for yourself, you answer to no one,” he said. “It can be a little intimidating. I was never the most organized person in college, but I’m slowly breaking myself of those habits, otherwise I won’t succeed.” A Dallas native, Earle grew up near White Rock Lake and attended the Townview Magnet Center before being accepted into New York University in fall 2009. He took a break after several semesters at NYU to work in Dallas, and he never returned, opting to transfer to UTD in 2011. Earle said his early experience with college was good, but, ultimately, too expensive. NYU served as a catalyst, helping Earle design a business plan that would eventually lead to Dallas Admissions. He started small by working for an established SAT prep company starting in Feb. 2011. Earle said he found the admissions process confused many students, and the company wasn’t offering the right advice. That’s when

he started helping people one-on-one. He established Dallas Admissions Consulting during his senior year in 2012 before graduating. Shortly afterward, he saw an opportunity for growth and decided to dedicate his full time to building the company. “At the beginning, I was kind of nervous. It’s a little scary because you don’t have the credentials. You ask yourself why somebody should pay you to help them,” Earle said. “But then you realize that if you do a good job, people will refer you to friends. As stupid as it sounds, part of starting a business is believing in yourself and doing it.” His concentration in American Studies at UTD gave him a fresh perspective on the changing economy and fluctuating employment rates. He said he wanted to help prospective students understand the financial obstacles that come with applying to college and finding success after the experience is over. His own experience with higher education didn’t leave much to be desired, and he prefers the ability to be his own boss. He still sees college as an important stepping-stone to a successful life, but disagrees with the notion that college is mostly a time for soul searching. “I’m fairly cynical about higher educa-






Guitar fest attracts int’l talent 13th annual Texas Guitar Festival features performances from Grammy-winning musicians, entrants from Mexico, the Netherlands JOHN THOTTUNGAL Mercury Staff

The sounds of classical guitar strummed by local and international players filled different venues on campus at the 13th annual Texas Guitar Festival, which ran from Feb. 27 to March 2. The competition, organized by guitar studies professor Enric Madriguera, brought 18 players from different countries including Canada, Mexico and the Netherlands to compete for $6,500 in cash prizes. “It was a lot of fun, it was really interesting seeing all the different techniques,” said biochemistry senior Daniel Zamorano. “My favorite was the second finalist Oman Kandinsky.” The finals took place on Feb. 28 with four finalists playing to a crowd in the Clark Center. “You will get people from Europe coming over in some years and trying to win two or three competitions in a row,” said Canadian finalist Steven Lochbaum. “This is the biggest one.” Oman Kandinsky, who studies

and trains in the Netherlands, won the grand prize with Jesus Serrano, Steven Lochbaum and Janet Grohovac receiving second, third and fourth place respectively. “Students need an opportunity to perform and they also need an opportunity to compete,” Madriguera said. UTD’s Radiant Community ensemble is a group of UTD students lead by Madriguera, who practice and play together at different occasions for non-credit. The ensemble was one of two ensembles showcasing UTD’s classical guitar talent. Former UTD student Jacob Johnson and a private student of Madriguera made it to the semifinals from the 18 players who came from all over the world to compete. There were a total of 60 players who competed in various categories. “What I wanted him to do, he achieved which is he prepared, he played beautifully and he had high grades as a semi-finalist,” Madriguera said. The increasing size of attendance at the competition from players

and the audience in general each year has prompted Dennis Kratz, dean of arts and humanities, to set up a meeting to talk about expanding musical programs at UTD with a focus on integrating arts and technology further at an upcoming meeting on the March 19, Madriguera said. Eddie Healy is a lecturer from the music department, the assistant organizer and one of the official judges of the festival. He talked about how the competition exposes the UTD community to professional players. This is particularly advantageous to guitar students as they have the chance to compete and play with internationally renowned players. “So much of the time students come back and say, I did not know that the guitar could do that,” said Healey. A competition of this caliber also helps attract the best students to come study music at UTD, Healey said. The size of the competition and its prize money compared to others in the country, would serve as a focal point for classical guitar-

ists in the area. In addition to the director and assistant director, the festival has a team of individuals collaborating with different aspects of organizing it including the Guitar advisory board at UTD. “A huge success, great music, delight and surprises, people from all over the world, couldn’t be better,” said Chairman of the Guitar Advisory Council Russell Cleveland. The lobby in the Clark Center was filled with guitars on sale from various vendors including UTD alumnus Aaron Rogers who started his own company couple of year ago making handcrafted rosewood guitars. Vendors who supported the festival had a showing on March 1 in the afternoon before the concerts began. In addition to the competition, the audience was treated to performances from Juan Carlos Laguna, the Grammy award winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, and the Rio Rico ensemble from Japan. UTD guitar students had a chance to play with the masters during Masters classes held on March 2.




Kathryn Hahn stars as a journalist who befriends an overgrown man-child played by Jason Bateman.



off each other carries this film. Bateman’s film directorial debut doesn’t use vulgarities as a thin gimmick, but as a way to get as rude and spiteful as possible. It’s refreshing to see a film truly earn its R rating. Bateman pushes this film with a strong



the club plans to become official following spring break. They meet each Wednesday at various locations on campus to recommend programs and artists to one another, help each other learn Korean and arrange karaoke nights for their community. Members also post information on activities and meetings to the “Hallyu UTD” Facebook page. K-Pop is a matter of intense fascination to a certain population, but Witt said that the population is small. This might have to do with misconceptions of the nature of K-pop altogether, he said. Where most people saw “Gangnam Style” as a slapstick song and dance number that got lucky, Witt said that the piece was a sort of un-

pace, and he experiments with the medium in interesting ways. His deviations from traditional filmmaking techniques — one in particular when a fight breaks loose during the competition — are amusing and creative. There’s a reason behind Guy’s antics, but you don’t end up caring, really. “Bad Words” keeps your attention because of the way Guy goes about

carrying out his master plan, the way he treats people and above all, the way Bateman shapes his film. He plays with film tropes, cultural stereotypes and our virgin ears. He opens up Pandora’s box, and to be honest, it’s fun to watch him verbally assault idiots like we all wish we could sometimes.

derdog story rooted in the narrator’s aspirations to belong in Gangnam, the wealthiest district of South Korea. The object of that aspiration is the woman about whom he sings — a classy girl who knows how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffee but lets her hair down when the right time comes, to paraphrase. It is a tall order for the narrator, “a guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools down.” The song has an almost Bob Dylan quality with its confession of incompatibility, Witt said. It also describes Psy’s position in the rest of the K-Pop world of hyper-attractive youth. The way things turned out, the song almost became a metaphor for Psy’s real life ascension story, Witt said. A country music enthusiast herself, Diaz said she’s discovered the com-

mon thread of K-Pop with friends who tend toward hip-hop and rap. “K-Pop brings together people from very different backgrounds,” she said. “Right now, we’re looking to attract dancers and singers and people who know or want to learn Korean. We want to be a collaborative place for people of different talents and interests.” Rocio hopes to grow the club dramatically this year, but she keeps what initially attracted her to K-Pop close at heart. “When you look in the background of K-Pop,” she said, “at the production of music videos and the teamwork of the artists, you see a lot of friendship and spontaneity. Everyone seems like they’re part of a big family. That’s what Hallyu UTD is all about, too.”



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may not agree with the group’s views. Schram said that sometimes she holds back from even talking about the group’s views in some classes where she doesn’t feel comfortable. Li said that finding resources for events on campus has also been especially difficult because of its specific position on reproductive issues. After going to the Wellness Center to ask for condoms for the convention, the center denied them the items. Amanda Smith, director of the Wellness Center, said that the reason they couldn’t provide condoms to the group is because of its political aspects. “We are a very neutral office,” she said. “We support all kinds. We have no biases as far as groups that we support in this office, but we cannot politically align ourselves with any group on campus because we fear isolating the other side.”



or new day, which is the celebration of the New Year that occurs on March 21, the first day of spring. Zoroastrians begin to pray at the age of seven when they are given a “sudreh,” a shirt, and a “kusti,” a cord, as part of their initiation into the religion. In prayer, the kusti is wrapped around the sudreh three times to represent the three parts of the creed: good thoughts, good words and good deeds. Devout Zoroastrians pray this way several times a day.



tion,” he said.” I think the system is pretty messed up in the United States in terms of what you get for your money, and there needs to be big changes.


Oman Kaminsky took first place, from a pool of 60 players, in the finals round of the International Guitarist Competition on Feb. 28.

The group was eventually able to obtain the condoms for the convention with help from Planned Parenthood. However, Li said the group has also had trouble promoting their organization because its posters have been taken down in the Student Union repeatedly. “We didn’t really think it was that big of an issue at first but then last semester we actually had a really big poster in the Student Union that just got pulled down a couple of hours after they put it up,” she said. The poster had been replaced by an advertisement for a religious group on campus. “We definitely believe that it would be somebody who is against our views and against our agenda because as far as I’m concerned that is the only motivation to take down someone’s posters,” Li said. Smith said that some of the Wellness Center fliers for events concerning safe sex practices had also been taken down in past semesters. The PCFA raised its concerns

with the Student Organization Center who said they could print out another poster for the group. Assistant Dean of Students Kecia Baker who works with the Student Organization Forum, said there is no policy when it comes to students taking other group’s posters down, but if there is an issue, she said students are encouraged to voice their concerns and SOF will do its best to make sure any student group is successful. She also said if this were a continuing issue, it could possibly result in judicial consequences. Despite setbacks, Li said there has been some progress with organizing the convention and providing safe space meetings where students can voice their concerns on various issues. “The primary function of our group is to align people with similar views and to show that you’re not alone and if you ever make decisions that you believe led to you being stigmatized in society, we’re here for you and we’re a safe space for you,” Li said.

A misconception about Zoroastrians is that they worship fire. “Fire is to Zoroastrianism as the stone is to Islam and the cross is to Christianity,” Balsara said. Another misconception is that Angra Mainyu, the entity of evil in Zoroastrianism, is a god, he said. “He was not a fallen angel. He is like Ahura Mazda. He is uncreated,” Balsara said. “But, he is destined to be destroyed where Ahura Mazda is eternal.” Unlike other religions, people cannot simply choose to be Zoroastrian. Traditionally, both parents must come from Zoroastrian

descent, although mixed couples, where one parent is of Zoroastrian descent, are now being welcomed into the community. Zoroastrians do not place a lot of emphasis on ritual worship, Balsara said. “It is a reflective religion,” he said. “You are supposed to think about any action you are about to take — think about it, meditate about it, contemplate and then take action — and then any consequences that occur are your responsibility. The religion is therefore not prescriptive, there are no rules, and you are responsible for your own actions.”

I’m not the person who can do that: All I can do is help people make sound decisions.” His personal experience shapes much of what he does now and how he goes about his business. “I’m all in on this. There are

other things I’d like to do, but this is my main vehicle,” Earle said. “I’ve found that when you have your own company, if you’re not putting 110 percent into it, no one else will either. You can’t half-ass it and make money.”



Away games faze team



Racquet sport gains club status Leaders adopt ranking ladder approach to assess players’ skills IAN GONZALEZ Mercury Staff


Junior pitcher Jessie Richardson (L, 1-2) in action against Mississippi College at home on March 7. ESTEBAN BUSTILLOS Mercury Staff

The softball team struggled in its conference games against Hardin-Simmons, losing all three games. The Comets lost 7-6 on Feb. 28, and then lost 5-0 and 1-0 in the doubleheader on March 1. Their losses over the weekend bring their overall record to 4-6. The Comets gave up a one-hit lead in their first game in the bottom of the seventh inning, after coming back from a five run deficit with four runs in the fifth inning. The team gave up a great opportunity in the seventh inning when it loaded the bases and struck out without gaining a single run. “We weren’t very sharp,” said head coach Brad Posner. “We made some mistakes that we can’t make if we want to win close games.” The two games on the second day saw similar results for the team, when it gave up the game-deciding run of the second game on an error that allowed HardinSimmons to steal home. The Comets struggled with advancing through the bases throughout the series, never even making it to third base and having only six runs the whole weekend. Pitching also struggled, giving up a combined 19 hits to Hardin-Simmons. “Losing three in a row is definitely hard,” said junior pitcher Megan Aragones. “We’re a young team, and we’re still trying to mesh together. Now we just have to come out and work harder to prove ourselves.” Aragones played one game against Hardin-Simmons, pitching three innings and fielding one catch. With the majority of the season still left to play, the Comets are looking to get the weekend’s losses behind them and move on. The team with no seniors on the roster this season, has had to look to younger players for leadership. But the start of the season has proved to be a learning experience, so far. “In the first few games we’ve gotten to know one another better and work together on the field,” said junior catcher Avery McHugh. “I think that we’ll be fine in the next few games.” McHugh played in all three games, earning three hits against Hardin-Simmons and getting two runs. Despite the Comets’ lack of points on the scoreboard, Posner said he’s looking forward to the rest of the season. “I like where we’re at in general,” Posner said. “The overall demeanor of the team is still strong because we have so much of the season left ahead of us. We’re still in a position where this team is capable of doing some really good things.” Looking back at his teams’ performance over the weekend, Posner seemed optimistic about their ability to regroup and move forward with the rest of the season. “I’m interested to see how we bounce back,” Posner said. “I think the team has a lot of leaders who are learning to adapt to leadership roles. A lot of them have really responded, but that also



The men’s basketball team failed to advance to the Elite Eight round when it lost to UW-Whitewater 81-63 in the Sweet 16 on March 14 at Stevens Point, Wis. The Comets, in spite of a strong start, struggled against the solid Warhawks’ offense and defense. For coverage, see “Comets achieve new heights” on page 9.



hope this legislation gets changed to accommodate graduate students playing D-III sports.” Darrow said changing the rule to permit graduate students to play in Div. III would be a good thing because he feels that age isn’t a hindrance to playing in the division. “We had an older guy on our team two years ago (who) still played a role out on the field,” Darrow said. “I don’t think there is any reason that they shouldn’t have the opportunity to continue playing, as long as they have eligibility left.” The proposal has been approved by the Interpretations and Legislation Committee, and will now be put forth to the Management Council.

Beron said. “And there was sentiment, certainly not unanimous, that a change should be considered.” The membership of Div. III includes representatives from 450 universities nationwide, and about 170,000 student-athletes who represent 40 percent of the NCAA. In the survey, 56 percent of the respondents indicated they agreed that graduate students should be permit-

Survey and Legislation Kurt Beron, UTD’s faculty representative for the NCAA, moved the proposal in the Legislative Committee and will be handling it at the national level should it be approved by the Management Council. The proposal will have to go through two more steps before it will be put to a vote at the national meeting in January 2015. Beron said there was a growing understanding that in Div. III the focus is on the student part of studentathlete. The proposal was formed after hearing the results of a Div. III membership survey. “We surveyed the membership on various issues and one of them addressed the graduate student issue,”


UTD’s NCAA faculty-representative Kurt Beron will be presenting the proposal to the MC in its April 14-15 meeting.

ted to compete at an institution other than from where they received their undergraduate degree. “The survey question that was asked was not given with any context,” Beron said. ”I’m actually surprised it had as much support as it

did given this lack of context.” Beron said he was interested in the issue because he had seen several situations over the years at UTD, where incoming graduate students who wanted to play were unable to get on the roster. “The idea now is an educational one, explain why this would be a good rule to adopt,” Beron said. “We have such a mix of schools in division III. We look very different from division II and I.” Eighty percent of Div. III schools are private and 20 percent are public and vice-versa for Div. I, Beron said. “Many of the schools don’t have graduate programs, so they may not understand as much the need (for the legislation),” Beron said. “They certainly care about the student as a student, but they aren’t as familiar with the whole graduate student process. So their focus, naturally, is on the undergraduate education.” The focus on undergraduate education could be why 44 percent of the respondents disagreed that the students should be permitted to pursue their academic careers at a different university. “The biggest concern would be that the NCAA division III philosophy focuses on the undergraduate studentathlete experience, while this would open the field to include graduate students,” said Jason Hirsch, men’s soccer head coach. “I’m not sure how this would affect D-III negatively though. Honestly, I couldn’t say if there will be any major problems or drawbacks to adding this legislation to D-III.” Impact of the Legislation

After a four-year hiatus, racquetball is once again an official club sport at UTD. Plagued by an inconsistent membership base, UTD Racquetball Club was never able to create a strong foothold to in the club sports community. “All the members were seniors, and when they graduated nobody was left in the club and no one wanted to run it,” said Assistant Director of Club Sports Chris McAlpine. This year, however, a new era of racquetball players is hoping to bring back the sport with a welcoming and supportive mindset. The fast-paced indoor sport, can be played in singles, doubles, or cutthroat, where three players engage in an all-out free-for-all, said UTD Racquetball Club Vice President Soham Shah. With these multiple game types along with yearround playability, racquetball can easily provide an invigorating boost to any daily workout routine. Being a racquet sport, the game has clear similarities to tennis, badminton and squash in regards to its dynamic nature and emphasis on hand-eye coordination. Its main differences, however, are what often draws new players. “A lot of people who play other racquet sports see racquetball, and they like it a lot because it’s a different pace,” Shah said. “It’s faster, more spontaneous and you learn to judge the ball very well. It can be dangerous but we try to be safe.” While the sport hasn’t changed since the first installment of the club, the approach to inter-club competition and advancement has evolved to encompass all skill types with the club’s adoption of a ranking ladder. The ladder provides a dynamic assessment of players’ developing skill levels, while also giving members of the same skill level the chance to compete in fair matches or even challenge members of a higher tier. “Beginners can see their progression as they get better and can move up the ranking ladder so they can feel more integrated and always move towards improvement,”

→ SEE RACQUETBALL, PAGE 9 Beron said he expects very few players to be impacted by the change but he said the committee was still gathering statistics for it. For this spring semester, UTD has 256 student-athletes and four of those are graduate students. “There could be a few instances where it could come back that someone in a conference who doesn’t have graduate programs could end up facing one of their students at another school, which has a graduate program,” Beron said. Hirsch said he did not consider this to be a problem and that students must put academics above athletics. “I believe that (students) need to make the best decision for themselves, and if that means going to graduate school at a conference rival for an education, then so be it,” he said. The earliest that it could be adopted would be January next year and the rule would be implemented for the 2015-16 academic year, Beron said. If implemented, it would be a permissive rule. This means that a university or a conference could set more restrictive rules that would hinder the possibility of a graduate student participating in athletics. Darrow opposed the concept of it being a permissive rule as he felt students should be entitled to four years as athletes. “I think everyone should be allowed,” he said. “If they are going to pass the legislation then it shouldn’t be a permissive thing school-byschool because everybody deserves the right to play for four years.”





Softball player chooses D-III over D-I Robin Thomas’ religious beliefs help frame her career, future as she looks to impact lives ANWESHA BHATTACHARJEE Web Editor

It was the summer of decisions. Manvel High School’s softball player Robin Thomas was heading into her senior year, trying to get into Div. I universities. Unlike what she’d imagined, 2011 was going to be the year she would come closer to God and find a way to balance her softball career with her desire to help people live better lives. It all started when she decided to switch her summer ball team. Going in, she knew that the assistant coach for the team was a religious woman by the name of Kelly Bembry. Something about Bembry was different — she could command a crowd with a few words and everyone on the team loved her. Then, at a tournament in Colorado, things came to a head. Nothing was going right. Thomas’ hitting was in a slump and she was struggling with getting playing time. She and a teammate sat together in the hotel talking about how to get things back on track again and talk turned to the Bible. Having run out of options and not knowing how to fix her game, Thomas decided to sit and pray for a while. When Bembry came to find her, Thomas had been praying. Bembry sat down next to Thomas and talked to her about her family and her own life. Somehow, Bembry must have realized what Thomas needed, Thomas said. Bembry under-



takes time. When you entrust people to be leaders on your team, that’s a growing process. It doesn’t happen overnight.” The home game against the University of Dallas on March 3 was rescheduled to April 1 due to inclement weather. The Comets have a 3-0 record at home compared to a 1-6 record on the road. “It’s nice to play on your own field,” McHugh said. “I think that it will help us this weekend to be able to play on our home turf.” UTD will face University of Dallas at Irving on March 18, Mary Hardin-Baylor at home on March 21-22. The team will host Westminster in a nonconference doubleheader on March 25, before returning to conference play on March 28-29 against East Texas Baptist at Abiline. The team lost to Mississippi College 6-14 and 5-9 in a doubleheader on March 7. It then defeated Mississippi 7-6 on March 8. The Comets defeated Howard Payne in all three games over spring break.

stood that Thomas was going through a lot and what she had needed back then was Jesus, Thomas said. “Overall, (Kelly) had the biggest impact of me coming to Christ, I would say, and it’s something that’s continued on throughout my years so far and I expect it to continue all through my life,” Thomas said. Thomas, now a biology sophomore, grew up in small-town Texas on a stretch of land with a pond. She spent idyllic summers playing with her two dogs, going fishing with her dad and riding four-wheelers in the back ditches. For Thomas, her childhood was all about staying away from the hustle and bustle of the city and focusing on family life. Her maternal grandparents moved in with the family when she was still young, and she learned to play softball from her grandfather, a baseball player and softball coach. At the age of nine, Thomas started playing competitive softball, and although her grandfather passed away when she was 11, she never fell out of love with the sport and said she hopes to play until she can’t anymore. She started out as a platoon player at second base in the first half of the games in the 2013 season as a freshman and will be playing as the starting shortstop this year. She has a career average of .294 with an OBP of 0.342. This season might have started off slow for Thomas, who has a current batting average of 0.233, but she’s optimistic she’ll snap

out of it soon, Thomas said. “I think any time you play out of your comfort zone, anyone would have some growing pains and some getting used to a position, but I think she’s handled those very well and we’re very comfortable with her there and we’re very confident in her abilities to get the job done for us,” said Brad Posner, head coach for the softball team. Thomas’ best friend, business and child development sophomore Sara Navarro, said she feels the whole team started out slow, and they’re still finding their groove after starting the season off with some nail-biting losses. But having known her for a year, she has no doubt that Thomas is going to get her game back this season, Navarro said. The two are thick as thieves, self-assigned goofballs of the team and share a common interest in their belief of God, Navarro said. That’s how they first met — Thomas knew Navarro was Christian by faith and invited her to a Chris Tomlin concert. The two ended up going together and that was the start of a strong friendship, Navarro said. Now, they walk barefoot across frozen streams on snow days, bike around on weekends and watch Sunday mass online together when they are at away games. Her relationship with God in senior year of high school was partly the reason why, despite her love for the game, Thomas picked a Div. III school instead of a Div. I school in Delaware.

UTD’s reputation for academics and Thomas’ desire to get a degree that would allow her to impact people’s lives helped her make the final decision, which Thomas said, is the best choice she’s made yet. After changing her major three times, she finally declared herself a pre-med biology student this year and decided to try to become a doctor, or at least stay in the healthcare profession post-graduation, Thomas said. “It’s really not about the money to me,” she said. “I want to help people, and I feel like if I’m smart enough to do something like that and can impact lives, then why not do it? I guess right now I’m just shooting for the highest, and wherever I end up is God’s plan for me.” Thomas juggles a lot with her softball commitments and school. She is a peer advisor in a residence hall this year, and has just started tutoring through Learn to Be, an organization on campus to help train elementary school students in the nearby areas in math and science. Posner said he thinks Thomas manages her commitments well, not just in her responsibilities, but also socially with her friends on the team and at work. “I think she’s done a tremendous job of being able to balance (her PA responsibilities and softball) along with school because she’s an excellent student,” he said. “I give her a lot of credit for being able to handle all that’s on her plate right now, and she is pretty young, too.” While on field, Thomas is


Sophomore shortstop Robin Thomas averaged .294 with two doubles and one triple last season. She scored 14 runs in 30 games and had eight RBIs. She was 4-of-4 in stolen bases.

indispensable, off-field she’s known as the eater, Navarro joked. Every time their coaches call for a snack time in between practices, everyone else will have almonds or something light, while Thomas takes out her peanut-butter sandwich, like it is meal time for her, Navarro said. For Thomas, the field is where she’s always been and her first friendships growing up were all through the game, she said. The university team is the best

Comets achieve new heights Men’s basketball team concludes season with program’s best winning record PARTH SAMPAT Sports Editor

The men’s basketball team fell short in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Championship, losing to No. 3 UW-Whitewater 81-63 at Stevens Point, Wis. on March 14. The Comets had the most successful season in the program’s history, with a 27-4 (90.9 percent) overall record. “Obviously, we are disappointed,” said head coach Terry Butterfield. “We knew that Whitewater was a good basketball team, and we are disappointed with the quality of the game we played.” No. 16 UTD started the game strong, taking a quick lead of 8-2, and seemed to be in control of the game with four players on the scoreboard in the opening five minutes. UW-Whitewater did not take long to stage a comeback and took the lead with 12:47 on the

clock in the first half. UTD never regained the lead in the game. The Comets began to struggle as they committed four turnovers in five minutes, and junior guard Matthew Medell was the only player to find the basket. The Warhawks’ rock-solid man-to-man defense kept UTD from reaching the net, and their offense took less time to score than the Comets. UTD ended the half trailing UW-Whitewater by 14 points, with the score 40-26. Medell and senior forward Dmitriy Chernikov were the team’s leading scorers with 11 and 5 points, respectively. UTD played a relatively better second half but ran into trouble toward the end of the game. Senior forward Kyle Schleigh and junior guard Nolan Harvey found themselves in trouble early on in the second half, committing 3 personal fouls each. Harvey found his groove scor-

ing 10 points in the initial 8 minutes of the second half, helping the Comets cut the Warhawks’ lead to just eight points, with 5446 on the scoreboard in Whitewater’s favor. “We settled in offensively (in the second half),” Harvey said. “We started handling the ball better and they were giving up the baseline.” With 7:34 remaining, UTD trailed Whitewater 60-65 and looked to level the score, but the Warhawks almost shut down the Comets over the next six minutes, allowing UTD to score just three points. “I think that the thing that really hurt us the most was that we let the ball get inside,” Butterfield said. “They found a problem with our defense and exploited it, but that’s not the normal defense we are accustomed to playing.” Whitewater demolished the Comets’ defense in the closing stages of the game when it pen-

etrated UTD’s defense with relative ease. The Comets ended the night with its second lowest score of the season, shooting 43.5 percent from the floor, 30 percent from the three-point range and 50 percent from the foul line. Harvey led the team with 20 points, shooting 6-of-11 from field goals and 6-of-7 from the charity stripe. Schleigh ended the night with just 7 points, shooting 1-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-6 from the foul line. “I just couldn’t find the rhythm,” Schleigh said. “I had some foul trouble in the second half and just couldn’t get it to go.” Medell scored only two points in the second half, scoring a total of 13, and was UTD’s second leading scorer. The Comets’ 2013-14 season has come to an end and they will return to action next fall.

she’s ever played in, she said, because the girls have big hearts and are supportive of each other, picking each other up on rough days. “Ultimately, this is division III, and yes we are here to win but we’re here because we love it,” she said. “It’s not a business. Students are not being paid scholarships to play softball, so the hours that we put in are for our love for the game and love for the team.”



said UTD Racquetball Club President Eric Chen. “At the same time, we can have really highly competitive, highly experienced players enjoy playing with each other.” For the time being, UTD Racquetball club is focusing on expanding its reach on campus and building a solid membership base. These elementary goals however, are not hindering foresight. With only a month of official inclusion as a club sport, club leaders are already making big plans for the near future, hoping to host a tournament with local universities by the end of the semester. With plans for mentorship, expansion, and self-improvement, club members are hoping to prove that this version of the club is here to stay. “It kind of assures me that it’ll gain enough traction to the point where even if (seniors) leave, it’ll be able to sustain its momentum and membership as a club sport here,” McAlpine said. “Whenever I start a club I always say that I never want to lose it.” The club meets from 8-10 p.m. every Thursday in the Activity Center.






MAR. 17, 2014 | THE MERCURY

11 7

Hats 8 - It’s Just a Hat

by Emily Grams

by Alison Kwong

by Cathryn Ploehn

by Anand Jayanti

by Pratap Surya

by Ian Lamarsh





my stuff and find new roommates, but I know some of the two bedroom ones increased (by a lot),” said Victoria Alperovich, a finance and accounting sophomore living in a four-bedroom apartment in Phase III. The substantial increase in rents for these apartments is due to the largescale maintenance work worth $2 million that started just after the Waterview Park buyout in July 2013, and will continue for at least another two years, Grief said. Of the $2 million, $600,000 will be invested toward replacing and fitting all apartments with new appliances similar to what the apartments in Phases V–IX already have, Grief said. These appliances will include installing microwaves in all apartments in Phases I-IV and replacing the ovens, stoves, washers, dryers and dishwashers. Water heaters in Phase I apartments will also be replaced, he said, and laundry facilities in Phase I have already been upgraded as part of

the ongoing maintenance. In addition, many of the apartments will have rooms re-carpeted and repainted, bathrooms upgraded and countertops resurfaced. “We want to have quality housing for everybody, so we’re trying to equalize as much as possible,” Grief said. There are also some major problems with the buildings in these phases, partly due to age, including foundation issues and ground repairs that are being fixed, Grief said. The Phase III pool had leaks which maintenance crew noticed right after the buyout, and have since been fixed. “Those are the things that we have built into costs for years in phases V-IX,” Grief said. “As we move into (Phases) I-IV, we know there are significantly more issues that we need to address, and we’re trying to address as many of those right now as we can.” UV will replace appliances in some of the apartments beginning March 16 but it will be two years before all the 696 apartments are completed, he said. Apartments that had the biggest


rent hikes will have their appliances upgraded first to be consistent with the apartments in Phases V-VII. Residents will not have to move out while the work is being done, and will be notified well in advance of the date and time when maintenance crews will be in, Grief said. Meanwhile, locks for all the apartments have been replaced to ensure a common locking system for apartments, and locks have been installed on individual bedroom doors to ensure privacy, he said. Both Matthews and Alperovich, however, said they hadn’t been made aware of the exact date and time for the lock replacements, although they had been notified of the week that the locks would be replaced. While on his way back from work, Matthew was notified one day that he needed to pick up his new key or he wouldn’t be able to enter his apartment. Alperovich said she suddenly woke up one morning, startled by maintenance crew changing her bedroom locks.

Grief said it is impossible for UV to specify the exact time when lock replacement crews are in because some apartment and bedroom doors need more drilling work than others, and sometimes the doors need to be replaced as well. Residents were given only one nonduplicable key for each door unlike in the past when Waterview management provided two keys, and the penalty for losing a key will be $75, as maintenance will have to switch out the locks for safety purposes, Grief said. Pest control facilities will continue to be made available to residents free of cost. “Our preventative maintenance program is top notch,” Grief said. “We’re in there a lot. We’re in there repairing things that students don’t typically see … Our goal is to move forward and get these (apartments) into top condition.” Changes in residential life One of the ways in which Phases V–IX differ from the former Waterview Park apartments is in the way the resident community is managed. Starting fall 2014, each of the apartments in Phases I–IV will have a peer advisor, just like in the rest of the apartments and in University Commons, or the residence halls, said Katie Truesdale, SG residential affairs chair. “It’ll be a very positive thing for them, I believe, because we hear a lot of roommate complaints from apartments over in that area where if you had a formal roommate agreement or roommate mediator, it would be very beneficial,” she said. Having peer advisors will also help reduce the number of illegal residents and undocumented pets, Truesdale said. The Phase I club house, which is currently being used for storage, will be converted into the Center for Students in Recovery, because it provides a discreet location for students to meet and discuss their drug and alcohol problems. Meanwhile, rent in the Commons has also gone up by nearly 4 percent, Truesdale said, to partly compensate for the facilities that will be provided in the fifth residence hall that includes a dining hall and a gym for Commons residents.



Some parking spots in the second parking garage will be reserved for Commons residents, Truesdale said, while a third parking garage is in the works that will only have resident parking. Rent increase justified? For Alperovich, moving out was a bigger price to pay than the additional $200 she’ll be paying to live on campus next year. But for Matthews, the search for an off-campus apartment is still on. Matthews had moved to former Waterview Park to avoid living in UV because he had found their management poor while he stayed in the Commons his freshman year, he said. “I honestly don’t think (the increase is) terrible,” he said. “I was just at that point where I was not happy with UV and the way they went about (the renewal). They should have definitely given us more notice before renewal, but fortunately the intent to renew was not binding.”

The rent hike was required in order for residents to enjoy quality living on campus, Truesdale said, and most students who had problems with the rent increase initially were alright with it once they knew why they were going up. For most residents who will live in the 714 units that saw a $20-40 hike, the increase was not much greater than what they were paying Waterview Park when the water utility charge was an additional $15 more than UV’s current rate, Grief said. “We’ve always prided ourselves in improving campus housing and we can’t improve it without a good budget number to make those changes,” he said. “We’ve always made a significant investment since I’ve been here in upgrades and making sure the students have quality housing and that’s our goal — quality housing for all our students — and that’s the major reason why we’ve increased the rents the way we have.”

The Mercury 03/17  
The Mercury 03/17