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April 9, 2018 | @utdmercury

EMPOWERMENT THROUGH SISTERHOOD Alumna establishes first all-Muslim sorority in United States THE MERCURY | UTDMERCURY.COM



he first all-Muslim sorority on campus and in the nation has gained its Greek letters. Originally established as the organization Muslimahs for Change by alumna Samira Maddox, Mu Delta Alpha was founded at UTD and has recently evolved into a professional sorority. MDA started with three members, but now has 40 active members and is inducting 17 pledges as part of its epsilon class this semester. MDA President Umaima Nasir, a global business and supply chain management senior, said the sorority achieves Maddox’s goals by empowering them in both their academic and professional endeavors. “There are a lot of Muslim women that are in the UTD


Mu Delta Alpha members paint the Spirit Rocks to spread awareness about sexual assault on April 4. The sorority was first established as a student group before it was converted into a Greek organization in 2017.

Professor Faculty gender compiles pay gap increases shooting database UTD wage gap two cents below national average CINDY FOLEFACK News Editor

Team aims to prevent future school shootings


Doctoral student Sarah Gammell (left) and computer science sophomore Reagan Davis are part of a team collecting data on U.S. school shootings.

UTD’s fall 2016 profile showed that female faculty members are outnumbered by men nearly two to one. While that gap is closing over time, the university’s gender wage gap is increasing and currently rests at two cents below the national average. According to Chronicle Data, which compiles research from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, female professors at UTD earned 86 cents to a male professor’s dollar in 2015, down from 97 cents in 2008. On the other hand, the same data shows that the average female professor at a four-year public college made 87.5 cents to her male counterpart’s dollar, placing UTD’s wage gap among professors above the national average. Faculty hiring, promotion and tenure are some of the Provost’s responsibilities. Executive Vice President Hobson Wildenthal served as Provost from 1999 to 2015, when Inga Musselman took over. “Once someone is hired in at a salary, there’s a tendency for it to only grow in an evolutionary fashion,” Wildenthal said. “So

the real problem is when you hire people in at the wrong salaries. It’s not easy to change, but we do try to correct that over time.” The provost, along with the deans of each school, performs an annual salary review to prevent unfair compensation among faculty. If inequities are found, a portion of the raise pool is used to equalize pay. Despite this approach, IPEDS data shows that the top 10 highest earning faculty members at UTD are all male. “In science, engineering and management, there’s a significant preponderance of males over females, and that’s a concern here and elsewhere,” Wildenthal said. “We want to be sure we’re doing at least as well as other institutions.” Female endowed chairs are outnumbered by men in every UTD school, including Engineering and Computer Science, which has 28 male endowed chairs compared to four females. This gender gap translates to a wage gap like the school of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, where IPEDS data shows that the highest paid male endowed chair makes over $100,000 more annually than his



Water crisis spurs student activism

Mercury Staff

A UTD professor created a database that catalogs school shootings across the country in hopes of preventing further tragedies. Nadine Connell, associate professor of criminology and director of the Center for Crime and Justice Studies, started working on the database in 2014. The information can be used by communities to try and create preventative measures against school shootings by comparing themselves to characteristics of areas and schools listed in the database. When the database is finished, it will have information about school shootings from 1990 to 2016. “A few years ago, I was teaching a course on youth crime and violence, and there was a big headline that said there had been 230 school shootings since Sandy Hook,” Connell said. “I remember thinking that I studied violence in schools and I hadn’t seen 230 headlines of a rampaged school shooting, so started looking for the incidents that were described.” Connell’s team will be creating the first complete and standardized database of school shootings in the United States, Connell said. To standardize the data, the



Group raises awareness for global clean water shortages MADELEINE KEITH Mercury Staff


Molecular biology junior Alexis Zhang prepares to enter the final portion of the obstacle course organized as part of UTD UNICEF’s first Water Walk, an event to raise awareness about people without access to clean water, on March 31.

Screams of support cut through the wind as students cheered on their fellow teammates who were running toward the finish line as fast their buckets brimming with water would allow. It was a simple game with a significant purpose: to enlighten students about the importance of water. The United Nations Children’s Fund’s UTD chapter gathered in North Point Park on March 31 for their first Water Walk, an event meant to raise awareness of the roughly 600 million people worldwide who live without access to clean water and proper sanitation tools. Finance and Information Technology and Systems senior Sejal Mali, the chapter’s treasurer, explained that the obstacle courses and relay rac-

es that participants competed in were meant to convey the struggles that individuals across the world must go through to simply reach a clean source of water. “One of our relays is that you have to walk backwards, (representing that) the terrain is really bad, or you have to carry two buckets and make sure the water doesn’t spill, and halfway through you might ‘get’ cholera or dengue fever because the water’s not clean,” Mali said. “So we’re just trying to educate people but in a fun way.” UNICEF estimates that unclean and polluted water kills over 800 children a day, but this was not the only concern which the club’s members hoped to inform students about. The chapter’s president, biochemistry senior Shivani







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March 26 • A UTD student reported his headphones were stolen from the Student Services Addition common area at 10:21 p.m.


March 29 • A minor accident occurred in Lot C between two students vehicles, as one backed their car out of a parking space and struck the other’s vehicle at 12:10 p.m.


• A UTD student reported his bicycle stolen from the bicycle rack at Canyon Creek Heights North at 5:59 p.m.



April 4 • A McDermott Library staff member reported vandalized library books at 1:50 p.m.


April 5 •An unknown person spray painted graffiti on the back of the Research amd Operations Center West Building at 8:33 a.m.











Group to foster communication among grad students Student organization created to help graduates across disciplines interact, collaborate to improve options for support systems NOUMIKA BALAJI Mercury Staff

A team of staff members are forming a new organization to provide graduate students with a common platform for interacting and collaborating with each other. Director of Graduate Studies Robert Pearson is leading the team as they put together a new organization called the Graduate Student Assembly. They plan to bring together as many students as possible and help them find a stronger, louder voice on campus for their needs to be addressed, Pearson said. Dean of Graduate Studies Marion Underwood said she’s thought about starting this organization since fall 2015. “It’s curious to me, given that the university started as a graduate institute, given that graduate enrollment is still so strong, that we do not yet have a university-wide association for graduate students,” she said. “There are in some of the schools, graduate student associations specific to disciplines or even school wide. But there’s never been anything across the university.” Underwood said because master’s and doctoral students come from various countries and are of different ages, it is important to have an organization that enables interaction across disciplines. “Many graduate students know people who they study with, they know people in their labs, but they don’t have a chance to know others,” Underwood said. “We see this as a way for graduate

students to connect across disciplines for social activities, maybe even for academic work to advocate for their interest, to learn from each other.” The Student Organization Center mandates that new student organizations must fulfill certain requirements before being approved. Pearson said the team is currently focusing on three important action items to fulfill the minimum requirements to register the Graduate Student Assembly. These include electing representative officers, finding a faculty advisor and creating a constitution. “The goal is to get all these three pieces together and an application for a registered student organization by May 1 so that this organization is eligible for funding from Student Affairs for the fall semester,” Pearson said. The organization would be a systematic way for graduate students to advise the Office of Graduate Studies on ideas and initiatives they would like to see implemented, Underwood said. She added that the intent of this organization is not to displace or replace existing student organizations across schools in UTD, but to support these organizations and aim for university-wide cooperation. The team has held two meetings so far to solicit feedback from the students about the kind of organization they want to form. Attendees gave feedback that showed interest in forming interdisciplinary connections.


Distinguished Fellowships Advisor Beth Keithly explains the basic ideas behind the Graduate Student Assembly, which aims to foster communication among graduate students with varying backgrounds and ages.

“Graduate students get a lot of support within programs, but how much they get varies across the university,” Underwood said. “And there’s not, currently to my knowledge, an existing structure that brings graduate students from across the university together to discuss their mutual goals and

interests. This organization might enable interdisciplinary connections among graduate students.” Since these meetings, the graduate studies team has put together an organization on Blackboard and added students to it so they can see information about the group. The

team is also communicating through emails and their Facebook page. “This is what graduate students want, and it is important for their professional development to foster interdisciplinary connections and this might be the kind of group that would help enable such connections,” Pearson

Free speech policies under fire Watchdog organization gives UTD low rating for limiting First Amendment rights CINDY FOLEFACK News Editor

UTD’s campus policies may be limiting free speech among students and faculty, according to a watchdog organization. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education examines free speech policies at public and private universities nationwide, then rates those policies on scale from least to most restrictive. The organization currently has policies from over 450 institutions, and UTD received a red light rating from FIRE, meaning it has at least one policy that explicitly limits freedom of speech. The rating was given as a result of the university’s sexual harassment policy, which initially defines sexual harassment before detailing other forms of sexual violence and the consequences that follow. FIRE’s Policy Reform Program Officer Laura Beltz explained the policy is split into two different locations of the handbook, which may cause confusion among students, so it’s evaluated as two policies rather than one. The first half of the policy, which gives a general description of sexual harassment including “verbal conduct,” was seen as a clear limitation of free speech by the watchdog organization. “This might have what we call a chilling effect on protected speech, which means that students reading it might avoid

saying anything controversial just to avoid punishment under the policy,” Beltz said. In addition to the sexual harassment policy’s rating, FIRE also gave the school’s overall harassment policy a yellow light, meaning vague wording allows the policy to be ambiguous and used to limit free speech. The website specifically mentions “verbal abuse” as an example of this type of wording, which is the exact language used in UTD’s harassment policy. UT Austin and UT Arlington have red and yellow light ratings, respectively. Despite UTD’s rating, the university’s speech expression and assembly policy received a green light, meaning student expression and assembly is unrestricted in terms of policy. College Democrats President Fawaz Anwar agrees with this sentiment, citing the appearance of conservative comedian Steven Crowder after being sponsored by the College Republicans in February. “UTD itself is not really home to political clashes or even that much ideological debate,” Anwar said. “As far as I can tell, most students here aren’t interested in starting something like that.” Anwar added he would like to see the handbook become more accessible to the student body. The university’s policies can currently be found on the UTD president’s website under Policies.

“A lot of our policies … are a bit hard to find. UT Dallas itself is a much more low key campus than that, but this is still a university,” Anwar said. “There’s still supposed to be a discourse of ideas here.” Beltz said FIRE hasn’t been in contact with UTD after it was added to the database last year, but Dean of Students Amanda Smith, who serves on the Handbook of Operating Procedures Committee said the university is open to reviewing its policies, a process that occurs at minimum every five years. “Individuals who oversee policies are always very open to take a look at those policies and make necessary changes, so I feel very confident if that is something that our student body, faculty, staff or administrators felt was a huge issue on our campus, it would be a discussion that would happen,” Smith said. “Nobody would put up an argument to not have that conversation.” Smith said she’s currently satisfied with the policy, as she hasn’t received any student complaints regarding free speech and attributes this to the school’s diversity. “I feel like our students are very thirsty for knowledge and information, so those debates are something that they engage in,” Smith said. “But they’re very open to hearing what other people have to say, and that’s something that I don’t think you find just anywhere.”


Dean of Students Amanda Smith explains the applications of UTD’s free speech policy as well as the debates among students with differing ideologies.

OIT Art Competition The Office of Information and Technology wants to incorporate student-created, electronic-based art into their office renovations. In order to help cultivate the creations, OIT will be holding a contest for arts and technology students, facilitated by Student Government, and the five best pieces will be selected for use. SG allocated $470 dollars to the purchase of Wacomb Intuos drawing tablets, which will be given to each of the winners. Bus Route Changes


The Graduate and International Affairs Committee has completed surveying the student body in regards to the addition of a route to Patel Brothers and the extension of the Sunday bus hours. The project regarding the hour extension has now been delegated to the Office of Parking and Transportation and Interna-

tional Center. While the Office of Parking and Transportation is investigating the feasibility of the hour extension, the International Center is searching for possible funding sources for the additional route. A timeline for when either project will be completed remains uncertain. Spending the Surplus Treasurer Joey Campain announced that SG executive chairs have allocated roughly $12,000 of the remaining $15,000 budget surplus, which SG intends to spend before the end of the academic year. While some allocations are going toward on-campus events, such as the $1,535 which has been dedicated to Comets Vote, other funds are dedicated to projects such as the Take One, Leave One initiative for books and the creation of additional hammocking spaces. If the projects are completed according to budget, it will leave SG with $3,000 remaining to spend before summer begins.





New investment group open to all majors Finance freshmen create Texas Investment Group which provides opportunity for non-JSOM students to learn stock market ANNA SCHAEFFER Mercury Staff

Two UTD students developed an organization designed to make investing accessible to all students. The Texas Investment Group allows individuals to invest their money in the stock market and receive profit in return. Finance freshmen Vivek Sinha and Adeeb Ahmed launched the club during the 2017-2018 school year with undergraduate finance director S. Drew Peabody as their advisor. The club requires a set amount of dues and a small variable fee per investment. Ahmed said they want young members in groups of 10 so students can gain familiarity of one another’s working styles. Several highly regarded universities, such as Duke University, Lafayette College and Boston University, have investment clubs allowing students to gain hands-on experience with finances and the stock market. Sinha said they hope to level the playing field between UTD and toptier business programs like those at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Chicago. “The Texas Investment Group is basically an educational platform for students of UT Dallas, regardless of major, to learn investment and trading and put that into real-world action by making real investments and real trades,” said Sinha, director of the club. “It puts us in competition with the Ivy League programs, which have similar programs to the one we’ve created. Our hope is that it maybe addresses some of the gap between our schools and gives our students realworld experience.” Sinha and Ahmed said their idea came from conversations with seniors studying at highly-rated business programs about their most beneficial college experiences. When multiple friends said working an


Vice President of the Texas Investment Group Adeeb Ahmed (left) and Director of Communications Faiza Zaman plan for investments in the the Naveen Jindal School of Management Finance Trading Lab on April 5.

investment fund was highly influential in their education, Sinha and Ahmed decided to launch a similar program. Although UTD has a domestic investment fund, the UT Dallas Student Investment Corp., it has a prerequisite requirement. Sinha said he estimates a large portion of the student body does not have access to it, so the Texas Investment Group is designed to reach those other students. “First and foremost, our organization is to promote inclusivity among all of our members,” said Ahmed, vice director of the

group. “Although it is a business-type finance organization, you don’t have to be a JSOM major to get into our club. We want to build a cohesive, unified group.” Psychology freshman Faiza Zaman is a member of the Texas Investment Group and said he open nature of the group is fitting because investing is something anyone can do. “Even though my major is not necessarily connected this organization, I feel as though investing can truly be for anyone who is interested in making money strategically,”

Zaman said. “Being involved in TIG has developed my financial endeavors, honestly, and it’s personally nice having all my interests to be diverse.” Sinha said the process to launch the group was complicated, as it operates as an actual investment fund, designed to generate profit. He said because of the regulations and legal restrictions involved, they spent time completing risk management training and drafting clauses in their constitution to protect students from risk.

“We’d like to build a brotherhood, in a way, where we all know each other and have chemistry,” Ahmed said. Sinha said overall, the club stresses inclusivity and accessibility. Any student of any major can join the Texas Investment Group if it falls in their interests. “There are definitely students who are interested in this field who aren’t in a major course related to this,” Sinha said. “It opens the door to everyone. But if we’re hungry and ambitious now, then it’s important to have a platform where students can learn.”

Sexual assault exams now offered at UTD health center Local rape crisis center provides trained nurses, comprehensive exams for victims EMAAN BANGASH Mercury Staff


Wendy Hanna, executive director of The Turning Point Rape Crisis Center in Plano, speaks about the counseling, education and advocacy services offered by the organization.

The Student Health Center has introduced SAFE exams to help victims of sexual assault get medical treatment on campus. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, nurse is a medical professional trained to help victims of sexual assault obtain proof of the crime by performing a SAFE exam, or Sexual Assault Forensic Exam, and can testify in court using the evidence gathered from the exam. The SAFE exam is a procedure used to gather evidence of a sexual assault and to make sure the victim isn’t physically injured. Lea Aubrey, director of health services at the SHC, said that as part of a partnership with The Turning Point Rape Crisis Center in Plano, UTD provides the space for the nurse to administer the exam while The Turning Point provides the certified nurses and other medical health professionals. “Sexual assaults are happening, and we would like to be able to be available for those victims on campus and maybe even get them to a point where they’re on board with reporting,” Aubrey said.

Aubrey pursued the idea of providing the SANE nurses on campus since 2013. She said the purpose of having this service was so victims could get the treatment they needed without having to report to the police and be taken to a hospital. When a student, faculty or staff member contacts the SHC after a sexual assault, a SANE nurse and an advocate are sent from Turning Point’s office to campus. The exam is free of charge to students, staff and faculty, and people can access this service during SHC hours Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. “I think it’s not only for convenience, but it’s necessary because it is happening,” Aubrey said. “We want to make sure we see where we’re deficient in certain areas, and this is our step to meet the match and we’ve done the work to put this program in place.” Wendy Hanna, executive director of The Turning Point Rape Crisis Center in Plano, meets with victims and helps oversee the SANE nurse program. The Turning Point focuses on counseling, advocacy for victims and education. Hanna said the SAFE exam is a multiple-step process that can take up to three hours to complete. The SAFE

exam includes three parts: the victim’s explanation of the assault, a questionnaire and an examination of the body to check for injuries such as cuts and bruises. The evidence, such as hair, swabs of saliva and pictures of skin or genital injuries, is stored in a box to possibly send to law enforcement. The kit is stored until it is used as evidence, and for those who do not report, the kit is stored for up to two years. “We just want to make sure that their emotional and physical needs are met, and we collect evidence,” Hanna said. “I think what I want to stress is (the SAFE exam) is not going to tell if you’re raped, it’s your story that will tell you if you were raped. The evidence backs it up.” During the exam, if the victim has reported the crime to law enforcement, a rape kit involving the collection of blood and urine is administered, to be sent with the SAFE kit to the police. If the victim does not report the crime, the SAFE exam is administered without the rape kit. Hanna said she wanted people to understand that they don’t have to report the crime immediately if they don’t feel


Wind causes power outages Distruptions occurred approximately six times across campus on April 3 RUTH VARGHESE Mercury Staff

Several areas on the north side of campus experienced power outages Tuesday evening. Residence Hall West, Dining Hall West, Synergy Park North and SP2 were among the areas affected on April 4, in addition to residential neighborhoods in that area. Kelly Kinnard, director of physical plant services, said he heard reports of five to six outages varying in time Tuesday evening. Oncor Electric Delivery Company,

UTD’s electric provider, set up a construction pole with a temporary arm, and high winds caused the wires on the arm to touch, resulting in the outages on campus. Biology freshman Hanna Patel had sat down to eat in the dining hall when the power went out. She said people stopped getting food because everything was shut down. “The lights just went off and they closed off the dining hall,” she said. “And I think the emergency lights came on, but they (were) … not helpful, so they opened the doors, the

back doors, to let … air in and to light it up.” Kinnard said although outages happen occasionally, they’re usually very short, caused by animals climbing the poles or a vehicle hitting it, and an outage like this one is rare. “As you can well imagine, there’s a lot of miles associated with trying to find the right problem,” Kinnard said. “So, it took a while to patrol the entire feeder, but they finally found it. They changed out the arm to a permanent arm and that kept them from swinging. That solved the problem.”





UTD prof creates online textbook

Nothing short of Awaazien UTD a capella team hosts national competition

Free online American history textbook to be available in print this year


Dhunki a capella performs during Awaazien 2018 at Marshall Family Performing Arts Center on March 24. In Hindi, Awaazien means “voices.” YAWP | COURTESY


A UTD singing group hosted a South Asian a cappella tournament with teams from all across the United States. Dhunki a cappella held its fourth annual Awaazein on March 24, where eight South Asian a cappella teams gathered to compete for three grand prizes and a shot at the Chicago-based national finals in late April. The teams, from California, Michigan, Florida and

Bees cause buzz at on campus apartments

more, convened at the Marshall Family Performing Arts Center at Greenhill School. The $1,500 first-place prize was awarded to Texas A&M’s Swaram a cappella, followed by Hum a cappella from the University of Texas at Austin, then Vanderbilt’s Vandy Taal. Awaazein, which is Hindi for “voices,” describes a genre of a cappella characterized by its combination of English and Hindi music. This competition requires 70 percent of teams’ music to be South Asian, and each team gets 12 minutes to perform their set. Supply chain management junior Vivek Kotikalapudi, an

officer in Dhunki a cappella, said the performances get better every year. “A few years ago, teams would just get on stage, do a little choreography here and there, and would focus more on singing,” Kotikalapudi said. “But it has evolved over the years, and now that there’s more competition, teams are constantly coming up with themes and stories. When you’re watching, it’s not a bunch of people just singing. You’re watching a play or a musi-


Club promotes self-expression Spoken word club emphasizes importance, artistic value of oral poetry

Feral swarm of bees promptly removed


Engineering senior Keene Chin (left), neuroscience juniors Shielah Mauntana and Srijaa Kanna and computer science senior Alastair Feille are members of the Wordsmiths club, which focuses on the art of spoken word. DEV THIMMISETTY Mercury Staff


A swarm of bees surround a light on Building 4 as they find a home for their new queen bee on March 26. EMAAN BANGASH Mercury Staff

Swarming and buzzing around a UTD apartment light fixture, a large cluster of bees found a temporary place to stay while they searched for a new home. The large swarm of bees was found on the side of Building 4 in Phase 1 of the University Village apartments on March 26. The bees were gone by March 28. Computer science junior Oskari Pirhonen saw the bees on the apartment while he and a friend were grilling outside. He said he saw the bees on a tree before they suddenly flew to the light where they swarmed. “They were swarming in a tree next to the light fixture and then we just watched and they flew elsewhere, and we were like, ‘Oh, they left,’” he said. “But five minutes after and we saw them sitting there on the light fixture building a nest or something.” He said they didn’t disturb him or his friend, and he didn’t recall anyone he knew who had been stung by the bees. “I feel like if anyone complains about it, then they should just hire someone to relocate them somewhere else because bees are


UTD’s first spoken word club became official about two years ago, and it now serves as a space for students to get exposed to the up-and-coming art form. Wordsmiths is a group on campus that focuses on “spoken word,” or the art form that emphasizes oral poetry. President Sheina

Mauntana, a neuroscience senior, said the club was originally formed in 2015, but it evolved into an official organization in spring 2016 when she became president. “There were some spoken word events at UTD … but it was kind of sporadic, only once or twice a semester,” she said. “We wanted to provide a place where we can do something every week or every month, something more consistent.”

Currently, the Wordsmiths meet every month in the Phoenix room in the Student Union. Instead of focusing on competitive spoken word, the club provides a space for students to practice or get exposed to this unique type of art, Sheina said. “I think spoken word is a really cool art form. Wordsmiths is a really friendly space


Students unite to learn Korean Korean Language Club brings together students from different backgrounds AYOUNG JO Mercury Staff

With rising popularity of Korean culture from fans worldwide, students at UTD are also showing their interest by coming together every Friday to learn and teach the Korean language. For the last four years, pastors from a local Korean church and Richard Min, a senior lecturer in the computer science department, have been leading Korean classes for interested students on campus as part of the Korean Language Club. As the group began to gain more interest from students wanting to teach and learn, it became an official university organization last fall, with Min as their advisor. The classes are taught by pastors from a local Korean church named Disciples for Christ, as well as students who have been learning the language for at least one year. An average of 35 students



A pastor from the local church Disciples for Christ teaches students Korean as part of the Korean Language Club at a weekly meeting on March 30.

The American Yawp is an online, opensource textbook that will become available in print this fall. IAN SEAMANS Mercury Staff

A UTD professor’s free online American history textbook is going to get a print edition with a major update this fall. The American Yawp, named after a quote from American poet Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” is a contributor-based open source textbook that has been available online since 2014 for free and is now coming to print this fall. The textbook was co-founded by arts and humanities professor Ben Wright and University of Houston-Victoria’s Joseph Locke in 2014 because the professors realized students weren’t buying the textbooks that were assigned to them. “Myself and a colleague were talking about how we teach and we were talking about how, quite frankly, most of the textbooks are too expensive for our students, they’re not buying them, and quite frankly, we thought that the quality wasn’t that good,” Wright said. The consequence of creating a free textbook is that no one involved with the Yawp is paid. Wright and Locke’s creative-commons based philosophy led to Wright and Locke paying hundreds for web hosting yearly, without compensation. Even after the book’s publication this fall, neither the editors, nor the publisher, will be receiving any money beyond compensation for printing. The professors were able to write a textbook without any money by only asking for small contributions from all professors involved. The current edition of the Yawp was written by over 300 hundred historians and edited by over 100 more, all on a volunteer basis. Wright and Locke screened all the editors and contributors, and many were asked to write for the textbook after Wright or Locke read their work. “I think for most people, the ask was pretty small,” Wright said. “We would, for example say, ‘In 300 words, what do undergraduates absolutely need to know about your research — your area of expertise. That’s a question that, on some level, every academic is yearning to share that anyway.” Wright said he found that having hundreds of writers actually helped broaden the content of the book, while also making sure that every page was written by an expert in that period. “Most textbooks are only written by one person or a very small team, and I think American history is just too big and too broad for any one individual, or even a couple of individuals, to fully wrap their head around,” he said. Even with the best information from specialized historians, the text has to be widely comprehensible to undergraduate students. “You have to do a balance between a narrative, telling stories that are exciting and gripping, and also capturing the kind of analytical and ideological key issues in various areas, so finding that balance between producing something that’s readable and engaging, and something that’s thoughtful and enables students to kind of grasp the key ideas,” Wright said. Students and educators have expressed their preference for the text through their numbers. The website had over 2 million visits by 300,000 users during the fall 2017 semester. George Cuba, a biomedical engineering sophomore, said he enjoyed reading


SPORTS UTD considers DII move



Athletic department may follow UT Tyler’s lead to move out of Division III SUMMER LEBEL Sports Editor


School administrators are considering applying for an adjustment in UTD’s NCAA standing, which would move the school from Division III to Division II. The Comets joined Division III on a provisional basis in 1998, and the school was awarded full membership in the American Southwest Conference in 2002 after a probationary period. UTD recently hired a consultant to help the athletic department and decide whether or not to start the application process for the change. Gene Fitch, the vice president for Student Affairs, held a Q&A session about the potential change at a Student Government meeting on March 27 to gather public opinion. UTD is the second-largest institution in the division in terms of enrollment, only behind New York University. In-conference rival UT Tyler applied to move up in February, leaving UTD and Sul Ross State as the only remaining public schools in the American Southwest Conference. Division II has a median enrollment of 2,485 and 52 percent of its institutions are public, as opposed to Division III, where the median enrollment is 1,748 and only 20 percent are public schools.

“This is actually one of the reasons we’re interested in this move,” Fitch said. “It more closely fits our demographic.” If accepted, UT Tyler would join UT Permian Basin in the Lone Star Conference, and UTD would apply to join the same conference if the administration decides to go through with their plans, Fitch said. Division II conferences use the practice of regionalization, where schools focus on playing other teams near them, allowing for athletes to spend less time traveling, and therefore miss less class time. The majority of the schools in the University of Texas system compete in Division I, including Austin, El Paso, Arlington, Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio. There is a potential opportunity for UTD to move up to the highest level in the future, but that isn’t in the school’s immediate plans, Fitch said. “We really don’t fit either of those profiles,” he said. “Ultimately, my goal would be Division I, because that’s what we most closely match up with, but the NCAA requires you to go through Division II first.” Both Division I and II schools award athletic scholarships, which UTD is currently not allowed to offer. UTD would have the equivalent of 108 full-time scholarships to give, which could be divided up as partial scholarships. That

number is based on how many sports are available at UTD. Scholarship money would not come directly from the students, Fitch said. However, the school would look into increasing the athletic fee, whether the school decides to move to Division II or not. The increase would cover the cost of facility upgrades and other necessary changes for the transition. The current athletic fee is $45 per semester, which has not changed since the school joined Division III in 1998. “I just think after 20 years, it’s time that we do something,” Fitch said. “Our sports have been very competitive over the years. Our facilities, however, are inadequate.” The Activity Center currently has only four locker rooms for 13 teams, two of which are dedicated to the basketball teams. In addition to changes to upgrade campus facilities, UTD would look into adding new sports, including track and field, both indoor and outdoor, Fitch said. “(Football) would not be in our immediate request or proposal,” he said. If the school does pursue the move, the deadline to apply for the 2019 school year would be Feb. 1, 2019. The NCAA would inform them of their decision by July 2019. After that, UTD would be on a three-year probationary period, during which the Comets could not compete for any championships.

Broadcaster gets call-up Baseball aims for consistency Lexington Legends hire former UTD scorekeeper Comets sit at third place in ASC after nine-game win streak despite slow start TRAVIS DICKERSON Mercury Staff


Former UTD sportscaster Emma Tiedemann (right) started calling games in 2007 with her grandfather, Bill Mercer. She now does play-by-play for minor league baseball. YANNIS SHAFI Mercury Staff

A former UTD broadcaster was hired by a minor league baseball team to be its playby-play announcer, making her the second woman to hold this position in all of affiliated minor league baseball. Emma Tiedemann, a former scorekeeper and sportscaster for the basketball, soccer and volleyball teams, was recently hired as the playby-play announcer for the Lexington Legends, a minor league Class A affiliate team for the Kansas City Royals. This is the highest level of competition Tiedemann has announced since she began her broadcasting journey at UTD as a high school student in 2007. Tiedemann credits her inspiration to get into broadcasting to the school. “It all started at UTD,” she said. “UTD was fantastic … they allowed me to stay on the air with my grandfather throughout the rest of my high school years.” Tiedemann, a graduate of J.J. Pearce high school in Richardson, began assisting her grandfather and former play-by-play announcer for the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys, Bill Mercer, with UTD basketball games. Initially, Tiedemann worked alongside her grandfather as a scorekeeper, but was allowed to pitch her ideas about the games during her broadcasts. She graduated high school and left to attend the University of Missouri. However, she came back to UTD to call sporting events whenever she had an opportunity. Associate Athletic Director Bruce Unrue said Tiedemann

continued to give back to the university after she left Richardson for college. “If we had a home game when she was in town, she would come over and sit in with Bill,” Unrue said. “We didn’t have any hesitation about letting her sit in with either Bill or one of our other announcers.” After gaining a variety of broadcasting experience in Alaska and Oregon, Tiedemann took a job with the St. Paul Saints. She left the Saints after the 2017 season and was hired by the Lexington Legends after their previous play-by-play announcer retired. Even though the Legends ended their over-the-air broadcast, Tiedemann will be heard through the team’s website via online radio streaming and paid video broadcast. Her hiring makes her the second female play-by-play announcer in all of affiliated minor league baseball. “I’ve worked extremely hard to get where I’m at, and to be hired on in this capacity was an extreme honor for me,” Tiedemann said. “I was happy when they did offer me the job … they did tell me my gender was the last thing they cared about.” Tiedemann said though sports broadcasting has been considered to be a male-dominated industry that the list of female broadcasters in the sports industry is very limited. However, she believes that working hard and having a passion for sports allows people to obtain a job within this competitive field. “The list for female play-by-play broadcasters is very, very short,” Tiedemann said. “I have just found that if you work hard


Twenty-seven games in, UTD baseball players have experienced a regular season, defined by its 9-game win streak which was promptly overshadowed by four back-to-back losses. With 13 games remaining, the Comets’ current record is 15-12. The team currently holds third place in the American Southwest Conference standings, going 9-4 against other ASC teams. This record, after 13 conference match-ups, is the same as it was in the 2017 season, when the team was 20-7 overall. Despite a comparatively diminished season, the team is winning the games it needs to win, head coach Shane Shewmake said. “We’re kind of up and down right now, which is a little inconsistent,” Shewmake said. “But we’re winning the right ones and staying where we need to be right now.” In order to make the ASC tournament as a high seed the Comets will need to win as many of their next 11 conference games as possible. Last season, they went 19-5 in ASC games, good for the second seed. Over the course of the season, the Comets have maintained a greater batting average, at .338, than the average of their opponents, at .286. That difference in hits has translated to an offense that has converted their hits to RBIs 29 percent more often than that of their competition. When spelled out on a stat sheet, UTD has a total of 186 RBIs versus an opponent total of 144. “We’ve been hitting well, and we’ve always been good on the offensive,” Shewmake said. “So far this season, we’ve been working on getting better consistency on the backend helping them to come around.” The story is much the same for UTD’s fielding and pitching. The team’s fielding percentage edges out the competition with a .967 average for UTD and a .959 for opponents. The ERA of the team’s pitching also tops out competitors with 5.06 versus 6.43.


Sophomore outfielder Luke Richter pops the ball up in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game against Concordia Texas. Earlier in the game, Richter drove in the team’s fifth run of game to help the Comet’s to a 15-2 victory.

“It’s us coming together as a team and bringing our very best out there on the field,” junior catcher Dylan Palmer said. “That’s what makes it.” Although their averages outperform the competition, the team isn’t performing like they did in 2017, partially because their fielding and pitching numbers are down. For pitching, the problems lie in fatigue. Of the 13 pitchers contributing to the team’s average ERA, only three of them are throwing in the majority of the games. Junior right-hander Jamie Androit alone has pitched through eight games this season, five of which have been key games against ASC opponents. Despite the Comets’ difficulties with addressing these issues, senior infielder Barry Casey credits much of the success the team has had with how they approach

the season. “We take it day by day, game by game,” Casey said. “We don’t worry too much about offseason or the next series coming up.” While the chance for a regular season record like that in 2017 is passed, the Comets are currently sitting in the same playoff position as last year. UTD will face off against teams with a winning percentage that is at least .200 lower. With the skill advantage that confers, it will give the team extra breathing room to address any problems before the ASC tournament planned for May 4-6. “It’s all about positive energy,” Palmer said. “The team that gets the loudest and comes together, that’s the one that’s going to win the game and we try to bring that every game.”





Q&A With Buzzfeed Journalist

Anne Helen Petersen Author and Buzzfeed journalist Anne Petersen gave a talk to UTD students at the Galernstein Gender Center on March 27.


The Galerstein Gender Center hosted Buzzfeed journalist and author Anne Helen Petersen to speak at a brunch and afternoon lecture on her book “Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman” on March 27. The Gender Center hosted a book club this year centered around her work, which is an analysis of female celebrities. The Mercury sat down with Anne Helen to talk about her time at UTD and career path.

you tell me about your journey Q: Can to Buzzfeed? I’m a shy person, and it might not seem like it, but I’m a big introvert. It was never a natural inclination to be a reporter who would go and ask people questions. Then, when I was getting my Ph.D., I started writing a blog online. I’ve always loved to write, when I was a little girl, when I was in high school and in college. I was writing about celebrities and celebrity analysis, which led to being paid very small amounts of money to write for different sites, then that led to Buzzfeed. I wrote a freelance piece for them called “Jennifer Lawrence and the History of Cool Girls,” and it went viral. This was in the early stages of Buzzfeed, where it was like, “Throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks.” So I gave my last final as a professor, flew to New York the next day, and have spent the last four years with them.



What’s your favorite story you’ve written?


One of my favorites is a story I did on the Dallas refugee community. I had preconceived notions of what Dallas was like, and some of those were from living in Austin and hearing people talk crap about Dallas, and part of those were just how the nation imagines Dallas. I had heard that there was a large refugee community here and a ton of groups and organizations, specifically Christian ones, working with these refugees. This one woman, Samira Page, has an organization called Gateway of Grace. She came to the United States in the’90s, and the people who brought her over left her in Mexico City. She had to cross the desert with her two young sons. When she got here, she started going to a Christian church, converted, went to SMU, got her doctorate and is now an Episcopalian minister. Her primary ministry is a group where she pairs new refugee families with several families from a church. A lot of times, these people are conservative, they might have never met a Muslim, and by making refugees people to them, it helps with Islamophobia. It humanizes refugees. Not only did that really retexture the way I thought about Dallas, this also an important story. I want the stories I write to add nuance to the way we think about things.


How was your day at UTD? It’s been great. I’ve been to a lot of campuses, and I don’t

“I gave my last final as a professor, flew to New York the next day, and have spent the last four years with (Buzzfeed).”


What was the most interesting question you received today?

There was a woman who mentioned Jane Fonda and asked if that generation of unruly women would be swallowed up and forgotten. Because I’m a historian and I know all these historical figures, sometimes I take it for granted that other generations don’t know about Roseanne or Jane Fonda. So in answer to that question, I was able to talk about my reasoning for not including Jane Fonda, but then also the answer to the question led to the importance of us not forgetting what happened in the backlash of the ’90s and and historical amnesia that sometimes occurs. I liked that question a lot.


mean this as awkward PR for the (Galerstein) Gender A: Center, but they thought holistically about making this into

something valuable. Oftentimes, a speaker will come to a campus and a class will have read maybe one chapter of one book, so there’s not that engagement. I met one-on-one with students who are very involved with the Gender Center first, and then we went to the brunch for a more open lecture. I was able to build and talk about cascading issues, and also get a real sense of the students and faculty here who seem to be really thoughtful and diverse. Because it’s a more engineering and science-minded school, it has different feel than most of the schools I visit, which are very humanities-style school. The group that I met with this morning was all psychology or neuroscience or engineering, not what you think of when you think of gender-study students.


How did the Gender Center first connect with you?


They heard the Sam Sanders NPR podcast. He’s really great; when a book comes out, your publicist arranges a whole host of interviews. (The Galerstein Gender Center) emailed me almost a year ago to do a book club with students where they would read one chapter each month, and then you have a whole group of people who have read the book when they come to the talk. GRAPHICS BY: SAM LOPEZ | MERCURY STAFF





An exhibition at the SP/N Gallery appearing March 30-April 21 showcases works that celebrate the value of women in society PHOTOS BY: MICHAEL STOUT | MERCURY STAFF


beard by Colette Copeland, 2017, from the video Bearding

Identity: Digital Self: 04 (left) and 06, Jessie Budd, June 17, 2017, video, digital photo, soft sculpture,

Rooted, Jessie Budd, 2017, dimensions variable, found stick, sprouted chia seeds, corn husk, mulberry bark

Zwolle, Chesley Antoinette, 2018 11X17in sculpture, textile

Just Breathe, Courtney Nicole, 2017, 8X8 wood, paper, ink, aerosol paint, glue, charcoal

#ImWithLibby, Libby Rowe, 2008, performance installation

Pull Over, I Can't Breathe, Courtney Nicole, 2017, 8X8 wood, paper, ink, aerosol paint, glue













where there is no judgment and it’s super chill,” she said. “It’s kind of like an introduction and place where people can share openly without the pressure of a competition or a huge audience.” Spoken word is a performing art based on an oral recital of written words. This includes rap, slam poetry and prose. There are no specific rules regarding what the artist can write or speak. Vice President Shielah Mauntana, neuroscience senior and twin sister of Sheina Mauntana, said students often draw on their personal experiences for their performances, which is what makes the club enlightening. “I think the whole diversity aspect of it is really important too,” she said. “A lot of people write about personal stuff like race



cal, in a way.” For example, Dhunki members acted out a drunk driving scene in their performance, expressing grief and regret through a mashup of Adele’s “Skyfall,” and in Hindi, “Teri Khair.” Texas A&M’s Luke Sandelin said their team, Swaram a cappella, based this year’s set on drug abuse awareness. He said their scores are important, but the causes they sing for are most special to the team. The Network of Desi A Cappella, an association of South Asian singing teams, has 50 registered teams. Awaazein is not only a chance for teams to earn a spot at nationals in April, but also a competition for three prizes. Dhunki hosted the



the textbook, even beyond what was assigned for class. “The writers — I don’t know how they do it, but they make his-

or having a mental illness, and I think when people share that, you get to understand more about those issues and their perspective.” Sheina said students not only form close friendships outside of school, but also apply their new skills in other areas, such as public speaking. “Even after just a semester, it’s incredible how people change and develop their own style,” she said. “It makes you comfortable with your own voice and your own creation and sharing it to the world.” Competitive spoken word could be a new avenue for the club in the future, Shielah said. “It would be really cool to have more of a presence with CUPSI (College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational) instead of just the UTD community,” Shielah said. “(It depends on) if we have people who want to, but I can see us going in that direction.”

Sheina said for now, she just wants to get as many people involved with writing and sharing their own content during meetings. “People are really shy, so they are very hesitant to share,” she said. “It takes a couple meetings to even get a person to write a poem themselves, and then it’s like, ‘Oh my God, yes please, we want to hear.’” Shielah said the writing exercises, such as creating a poem based around a certain number, can really help people open up and make the experience more valuable and enjoyable for everyone. “I think personally I write a lot of stupid poems and it gets people to laugh, which helps them feel like, ‘Oh, it’s not really that big of a deal,’” she said. “They may not have ever spoken up before or performed, but after we share what we have, they usually do want to share or try it out with us.”

competition and performed for the audience after the competitive portion had finished. Kotikalapudi said UTD’s strong Indian population includes students who have received classical Indian voice training, so Dhunki a cappella has great talent to choose from. Not everyone on their team, however, is South Asian. “It’s not just Indian people; it’s white people, Asian people, European people, and it’s great to see everybody come together and sing,” Kotikalapudi said. “We want to portray UTD’s Awaazein as a really well-organized competition, and it’s always getting better and better.” The University of Miami’s team, Tufaan, is named after the Hindi word for “hurricane,” symbolizing the way the team combines Hindi and

Western music like dust particles in a storm. Student Arjun Malhotra said Tufaan loves visiting this competition. “The people in Dallas are always so incredible,” Malhotra said. “Every time we come, they’re amazingly cooperative and kind and accommodating, which makes it even more of a joy to come here, regardless of the fact that it’s also one of the best-run competitions in the circuit.” His fellow musician, Mohamed Nuh, said the mood at Awaazein was full of energy, with every team hoping to qualify for the national competition. “With nationals coming up, this is our last chance to qualify, so a lot of teams are really on edge,” Nuh said. “But everyone here is a family. In any case, it’s the spirit of coming together to form an art that you love.”

tory so much more entertaining, but still factual,” Cuba said. Cuba said he also appreciated the timely updates given to the textbook. Namely, the section added after Donald Trump’s election that brought the book

up to present-day America. Lora Burnett, a teaching fellow at the school of Arts and Humanities and Yawp contributor, said she values the book’s ability to respond to new data and analysis. “I appreciate how the Ameri-

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UTDMERCURY.COM really have one that focused on the Korean language, and so the other officers and I worked on creating one that actually focused on language specifically,” Babayemi said. In the past couple of semesters, the number of students attending the classes has risen. Min said one of the biggest reasons included the rising popularity Korean entertainment such as K-pop and K-drama, with many of his students, domestic and international, learning Korean to get more familiar with Korean pop culture. “Once, I went to Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and we were waiting in the immigration office, people were watching the TV that was muted. I was shocked to see that they were all watching a Korean drama,” Min said. “It amazes me how popular Korean culture is in the world, including UTD.” Zijun Mai, a supply chain management graduate and an officer of KLC, said she values the community of students that all like and respect the Korean culture. Having spent

20 years in China, she said although she had been interested in Korean culture, she did not have a chance to learn the language until coming to UTD as a graduate student. “Some of my friends don’t share my interest in Korean culture. Some days, I would watch Korean TV shows by myself and eat Korean food by myself,” Mai said. “But I love every Friday, because I can share my interest in Korea with so many other people.” In addition to learning the language through textbooks and conversations, members of the club also immerse themselves in the culture, Babayemi said. She said the pastors that come to help teach the language invite the students to their homes and share Korean meals together. Sometimes, they bring Korean snacks for students to taste. “I like that I have other people around me that are interested specifically in the Korean culture and language, and I love the Korean teachers,” Babayemi said. “KLC feels like I have a home away from home.”

pretty important to the environment,” Pirhonen said. “Someone definitely shouldn’t call an exterminator on them.” Scott Rippel, senior lecturer of biological sciences and beekeeper of the apiaries at UTD, manages eight hives spread around campus. He is usually called if there is a swarm of bees or a feral hive. If there is, he tries to remove them and adopt them into another existing hive or create a new one. Rippel explained that bees swarm as part of a reproduction process. The parental, or the original hive splits into two groups, where a virgin

queen bee stays in the original parental hive, and the previous queen leaves with up to 15,000 worker bees and settles somewhere nearby. “Swarming is a normal process, it’s not something that is man-induced,” he said. “When the swarming process occurs, the queen is fairly big, and wherever she settles down, the other bees will coalesce on top of her because she releases a pheromone to protect her and keep her warm. Where she lands is random.” In this process, the swarm will send scouts to find potential places for a new home. After this new location is found, the bees reach a decision on the home and relocate and can often travel as far as 5 miles away from the original parental

hive to the new home. Rippel said he came across a Reddit thread posted about the bees on the UTD Reddit page and went to go visit 14 hours after it was posted, but when he came to check for them again the next day, they had disappeared. Director of Housing Operations Kevin Kwiatkowski could not be reached for comment on the method of removal or if the bees were reemoved by the university. “I am fully aware of the need to save the bees, I understand it. But saving a bee colony on campus is not going to affect the agricultural system that we utilize for producing food,” Rippel said. “Just like dandelions are a beautiful flower, in a wrong place, they’re a weed.”

can Yawp … realizes that some of the best, most up-to-date historical thinking is going to come out of the classrooms where new professors and new scholars are exploring new ways to teach history,” Burnett said.

The book is going to get a makeover in the fall, with the release of two professionally-edited paper volumes that will be available for $24.99 each. The new, peer-review edition will be copy edited by the non-profit

Stanford University Press, and will be simultaneously released online. Wright said he’s also looking to possibly add a notetaking application and more interactive elements to the site this fall.



attend the classes and 10 of the students serve as teachers for their peers. “You would be amazed by how many different students are interested in learning Korean,” Min said. “For years, we were meeting up voluntarily. I realized that we really needed to make it into an organization and involve student leadership.” Biomedical engineering senior Oluwatobi Babayemi has been learning Korean since her freshman year and is currently teaching students at the beginner level, as well as serving as an officer for Korean Language Club. She said in addition to having pastors and students teach Korean, the club also partners with local church and other Korean-related clubs on campus to host events that educate students about Korean culture. “I know we have Hallyu and other clubs related to Korea, but we didn’t









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Confederate monuments symbolize white supremacy Dallas statues honoring Confederate soldiers as heroes alienate black citizens, serve as reminders of inequality in Jim Crow era CINDY FOLEFACK COMMENTARY

The debate over Confederate monuments is still going strong as the Dallas city council decides whether or not to remove the city’s remaining Confederate statues. The fact that these monuments are still up is a slap in the face to the city’s black residents and the more than 1,300 black students at UTD. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings initially assembled a taskforce to decide what to do with Confederate monuments in the aftermath of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Protesters at the rally were objecting to the removal of a statue of Civil War General Robert E. Lee, but the rally quickly turned into a violent celebration of white supremacy, resulting in the death of a counter-protester at the hands of an alt-right member. The taskforce, assembled less than two weeks after Charlottesville, quickly voted to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee in early September, but the progress suddenly stopped. As Charlottesville faded into the background and other stories began to claim headlines, the public seemingly forgot about the Confederate statues. These emblems of hate and discrimination still stand in a city that prides itself on diversity. When Rawlings announced the taskforce, he declared Confederate statues to be “monuments of propaganda,” but with a gradual decrease in press coverage came a change of heart, as the mayor is now recommending that the monuments should stay up, but with plaques providing

context. Removal of the Confederate War Memorial, located just across the street from City Hall, would cost $430,000 whereas adding signage would cost $25,000. There are 304,200 black residents in Dallas, meaning each one is worth about 8 cents to Rawlings, who is willing to continue alienating nearly one quarter of his citizens to cut costs. According to Florida Today, the “heritage not hate” rhetoric is often pushed by proponents of Confederate monuments, but these statues don’t accurately portray the heritage or history of the south during the Civil War. In fact, according to University of North Carolina history professor Mark Elliott, a vast majority of Confederate statues went up between 1890 and 1950, placing them squarely in the Jim Crow era that mandated racial segregation in formerly Confederate states and continued the oppression of the black population. Groups such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy continue to defend Confederate monuments, which they see as an integral part of U.S. history and honoring the memory of their ancestors. These ancestors, who they are so quick to praise, were ready to lay down their lives to keep my race from gaining freedom. Once the black population began to claim more civil liberties, the Daughters of the Confederacy made what they hoped would be a permanent show of opposition to racial equality in the form of Confederate monuments. You can’t flip the script now that you’re on the wrong side of history. The meaning behind these Confederate monuments is the same now as it was when they were originally built, and there’s no excuse at this point to keep them up. Confederate monuments mean southern pride to certain groups, but to me,


they serve as stark reminders of a time when my skin color meant that I was seen as less than human. They serve as reminders that my 12-year-old brother is constantly told by my parents to avoid police and to stand down, even if his rights are being violated. They serve as reminders that my mom had to pick up the phone and receive the news that an unarmed family friend was murdered by police in Los Angeles in March 2015. They serve as reminders that my little brother could be next. Confederate statues are a homage to

white supremacy and the system of slavery and oppression that’s had lasting effects on the black community, such as institutionalized racism and economic segregation. Getting in touch with city council is a great start to solve this problem. However, a better solution would involve building monuments to those lost in acts of racial injustice, such as Allen Brooks, who was lynched by a mob in downtown Dallas in 1908. It’s up to students to call on their council members to not only correct the wrongs of history, but establish a better relationship with

their citizens going forward. Of course, taking down Confederate statues isn’t an end-all, be-all solution for the current racial and political divides in the country, but it’s a step in the right direction. It shows that the city of Dallas is ready to fully welcome its black community rather than glorify a system of racial oppression. Until the city council and our students take that first step, they’ll be standing in the way of progress not just for themselves, but for approximately 300,000 black residents.

Comets and Craters Professor receives accolade Criminology professor Alex Piquero was one of three inductees to the UT System Academy of Distinguished Teachers on April 6. The organization recognizes outstanding educators in the UT System.

Vehicle drives on walkway On April 6, a student posted a video to the UTD Reddit page of a red and black car driving on the sidewalk on Campbell Road. The identity of the driver remains unknown.

Robot creator comes to UTD UTD alumnus David Hanson, creator of Sophia the Robot, will give a lecture on robotics, arts and research on April 10. The event is hosted by the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. ANTHONY MCNAIR | MERCURY STAFF


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campus, and I feel like there’s not a single organization that’s recognizing their identity as Muslim, but also how they’re excelling in their studies and how they have these amazing leadership qualities,” Nasir said. Nasir said that traditionally, professional sororities are majorexclusive, but MDA sisters pride themselves on the diversity of the career paths taken by its members and how the professional development events can benefit everyone involved. Instead of a shared career path, their faith is the binding factor. This commonality is why Iman Abdelgawad, a psychology and child development sophomore, joined. “It’s helped me find a place where I’m 100 percent involved. I’ve never had an organization where it’s girls who believe the

same as me. And sure, we have different majors or different ethnic backgrounds, but the religion aspect is the one common ground we have, which is really nice,” Abdelgawad said. “I think it’s helped strengthen me in that, and I just like how it’s that one thing that brings us together. It’s helped me see my religion a little bit differently.” One way the sorority is empowering young Muslim women is through the Young Muslimah Summit the MDA hosts. The event draws in prominent Muslim women from around the country to speak on their leadership experience and inspire attendees to be proud of their faith, even in the professional world. They also host resume workshops and Muslim women from the Dallas community as speakers. Abdelgawad said MDA has empowered her personally,

allowing her the opportunity to serve as a positive figure for empowering younger Muslim girls — a resource she did not have beyond her family in her community growing up. “(Being in this sorority) is being a role model for young girls, showing them that just because you’re a Muslim woman and just because other people may tell you, ‘You can’t do this because of these things,’” Abdelgawad said. “No, you can do it, and it’s not in spite of, it’s because you are these things you can do them. It’s giving them that platform to be represented and show them what they’re capable of.” The organization was initially given a 10-year timeline to become a sorority, but it expanded in less than three years. UTD required the sorority to begin as an organization before becoming an official entity. MDA has expanded beyond UTD to the University of



Mu Delta Alpha’s mission is to empower Muslim women at UTD. Its alpha class was established in 2016.

Texas at Austin and the University of North Texas, and in the fall it will introduce two new chapters at two more universities in the United States. Now that the sorority has founded their national chapter,

Nasir said she hopes to leave her legacy for future generations of Muslim women at any school in the country. “Although we are a new sorority, we are trying to change as much as we can — change the people’s

mentality that we’re around, tell them that whatever they think of Muslim women through the media is misleading, and we’re just girls that are trying to go and reach their highest potential in their career fields,” Nasir said.

UTD UNICEF’s first Water Walk to combat the global water crisis took place March 31 at North Point Park.

Bhatnagar, also discussed the lack of access to sanitation facilities and education about proper hygiene. “One thing that UNICEF does is educate people,” she said. “We all learned in elementary school to wash our hands while we sing ‘ABC’ or ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,’ but not everybody gets that education about the benefits of soap and handwashing. And access to toilets is also a really big thing. So it’s more than just water, it’s access to sanitation facilities and … toilets and places to wash your hands.”

Bhatnagar and her fellow members sought to educate their participants about these issues throughout the afternoon, quizzing them on facts such as how many gallons of water were needed daily in order to keep a human alive, or the number of children that had to live with the contaminated water caused by flooding. Healthcare studies freshman Madison Nguyen said she was particularly impacted by the extreme lengths that women would have to go to in order to access water. “I didn’t consider all the walking,” Nguyen said. “(This event) isn’t even close to the 7 miles

compared to them, and my legs are already cramping.” Nguyen’s teammate, healthcare studies freshman Aniqa Islam, added that the water they were carrying during the obstacle races paled in comparison to the gallons other men and women must carry back to their homes. “This isn’t even that much water. They have huge buckets that they have to carry over their heads. We were walking from here to there and they walk for miles and miles,” said Islam, pointing to other side of the course. “It really puts everything in perspective.”

Ultimately, the $5 entry fee will go towards UNICEF’s WASH initiative, which works in over 100 countries to provide water purification tablets, transportable water jugs and more accessible, unpolluted water wells. “It’s hard to believe that there’s actually people in the world that don’t have access to water at all times and they have a hard time drinking it and getting enough water to clean themselves,” Islam said. “We’re in our little bubble here. And we could save so many lives … but we don’t put that into our conscience. It’s hard to remember all those other people out there.”

counterpart’s dollar. Sociology professor Sheryl Skaggs said this gap may be due to opportunity hoarding, which theorizes that employees in high ranking positions often hire people that are similar to them, a process that may occur consciously or subconsciously. UT Arlington and UTD have never had female university presidents while UT Austin had an interim female president who served from 1974 to 1979. According to the Boston Globe, women made up 26 percent of all college presidents in 2011, despite earning more doctoral degrees than men since 2006. “People that are doing the hiring don’t recognize the subtle biases or the biases that they have built into the process or in their own minds using stereotypes to define who would fill particular positions and what salary they think those positions should be filled at,” Skaggs said. Director of Institutional Equity Heather Dragoo said UTD’s employment searches for fulltime tenured faculty members are handled through the provost’s office

by a faculty search committee. The committees consist of the dean of the respective school, as well as several faculty members appointed by the dean. These committees meet with Dragoo after hiring cycles to discuss where the job search was advertised, who ended up filling the position and where the department is lacking in terms of diversity. “That’s been going on for about two years now, and it’s been pretty productive,” Dragoo said. “This is not something that’s going to change overnight, it’s going to be small, hire-by-hire … but all of the faculty groups I’ve met with have been really receptive.” Skaggs said the problem also resides in online compliance training, which is less effective than face-to-face programs and doesn’t guarantee the attentiveness of participants. Dragoo said online programs don’t allow trainees to ask questions, but in-person training is provided at new employee orientations, which occur every other Tuesday. Additionally, the department plans to create a new position to help cover in-person

training, but the filling of that position was put on hold while the office searches for candidates for another staff position. Dutton said she receives complaints about unequal pay from employees about two to three times per year, mostly from faculty members, while Dragoo receives one to two annual faculty complaints concerning discrimination. Both said a majority of the complaints received are from female employees. Skaggs said shifting to more transparent hiring processes and salary data can help female workers in the long run. “Moving toward transparency is going to help women in a lot of ways,” Skaggs said. “It gives them access to the same salary information that their male competitors in the job market are getting.” Several organizations, including the Dallas Women’s Foundation, are taking a stand for equal pay. Dena Jackson worked at the Galerstein Gender Center from 2006 to 2011 before becoming vice president of grants and research at the Dallas Women’s Foundation, an

organization geared toward gaining equality for girls and women. She explained that women are more likely to take time out of the workforce and are overrepresented in lower paying fields while being underrepresented in higher paying fields like STEM. “Women often receive lower paying starting salaries, which compounds over time,” Jackson said. “To say that women choose positions that pay less does not take into account the societal and cultural pressures on education and career choices.” The budget office is in charge of finding sources of funding to pay staff salaries, which can cost between $2.2 to $2.5 million annually. Vice President of Budget and Finance Terry Pankratz explained that UTD recruits faculty from upper tier universities, so there’s an enormous amount of competition. However, Skaggs said the lack of job interest from women and minorities may be due to public perceptions of UTD. “Academia is a pretty small world,” Skaggs said. “If we bring women in, but we don’t give them the same

resources, we don’t give them the same budgets, we don’t give them the same graduate students and other types of support systems that we give our male faculty members with the same kind of qualifications, then that’s sending a very bad message into the world of academia.” Looking toward the future, Skaggs recommends more diverse hiring committees and less traditional methods of outreach, such as networking through national conferences, to widen the applicant pool. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, national wage equality between genders won’t occur until 2058, but the pay gap in Texas is set to close before then in 2049. Skaggs said while these trends are positive, there’s still work to be done in order for women to have pay equality. “Just saying there’s societal pressure for change, or a push toward equity is not sufficient,” Skaggs said. “I think it’s going to take a much stronger force to get these longstanding institutions to change the culture and the way they think about equity.”

pursue a career in broadcasting, these early experiences have allowed her to jumpstart her passion for broadcasting. She ultimately wants to make her way up the ranks and be a sports broadcaster for the MLB. As she continues along her broadcasting journey, Tiedemann hopes to inspire girls and women to

follow pursue their dream careers. “When a girl tells me that she wants to do what I do one day, that means the world to me, because being in that position opened her eyes,” Tiedemann said. “If it helps little girls realize their own dreams, then that’s just the cherry on top.”


police immediately and being taken to a hospital. Calling the police could be inconvenient and difficult to keep hidden from family and friends of the victim if they wanted to keep it a secret. He said he encourages victims to report the crime as soon as possible. He said ideally, the victim should report the crime between 96 to 120 hours since the event happened to be able to gather the most accurate evidence from the body and surrounding areas where the crime occurred. He said UTD policy dictates after the victim reports the assault, the suspect is located as soon as possible and there is a warrant for the person’s arrest. The time varies for this, depending on the amount of evidence given and the time it takes to locate the criminal. “I just want people to remember that sexual assault is a crime. Even if you’re settled in Dallas, Fort

Worth or anywhere else, you can still contact us and we’ll get you the help you need,” Mackenzie said. “If you’re a student on campus and you’re at a party and you’re at another city, don’t be afraid to call us. (Extension) 2222, or 911 for that matter, and we’ll get the people to you that need to be to you.” Aubrey said she hopes that providing this service will send a message to the people that the university is aware, making students, faculty and staff feel supported and not turning a blind eye to the issue. “When you see other colleges and how they deal with sexual assault cases and then see us come out, we’re more proactive than reactive because we have these services in place. They’re going to be available and students don’t have to seek out the sources,” Aubrey said. “They can get the immediate support and if there are other needs, we have outside connections that can get them what they need.”

students chose to shoot themselves on campus with nobody else around, Connell said. As a result, the team hopes to show a need for more mental health support in schools to try and reduce these kinds of tragedies. “In the media, there was a lot of overlap that shouldn’t have occurred, and that was one of the reasons that I knew we had to do this database,” Connell said. “People were using the Virginia Tech tragedy as a way to inform K-12, but a university is different from a high school, and from a prevention perspective, it’s not going to be the same thing.” The database will have information that will help communities identify anything they may need to change within themselves. So far, it is halfway done, and is expected to be completed at the end of fall or beginning of winter, Connell said. “When we looked by year, we did not see the type of increase (in school shootings) that people were saying existed. I don’t know if there is a real increase, but our data will be the first thing that lets us look at this,” Connell said. “I don’t think the number of incidents has gone up, I think we are just more aware.” With the current funding scheme, the project will be properly funded until December

2018, the scheduled finish date of the project. However, if the team wished to add more data to the database after the fact, it wouldn’t be as well organized or specific as when the funding was available. This will mean the team will not be able to continue increasing the information contained in the database. “It is important to be aware that if this is no longer supported by the government, it does change how much we can offer the public,” Connell said. Another issue the team faced was that various people, even scholars, weren’t willing to accept the facts shown in the database, Connell said. She explained that people don’t want to believe the amount of school shootings per year has decreased, something that was inferred from the database in its preliminary stages. However, the database aims to educate the population, and hopefully it can be used as such, Connell said. “It’s very important to give access to answers. This isn’t going to hide somewhere, and the long-term goal is to make this database useful and searchable so it’s public and easily accessible,” Connell said. “I think that’s the most important part of what we’re doing, giving people access to their information.”






highest paid female counterpart. Director of Human Resources Colleen Dutton handles employee relations and provides training for hiring managers. Dutton, who investigates concerns about pay based on an employee’s position, said numerous factors are involved in salary negotiations. “We look at their education, their experience, their length of service, annual reviews and their different skill sets and how difficult is it to fill that position,” Dutton said. “So it’s not just about the pay, but there are a lot of different factors that go into determining what appropriate pay is.” The wage gap for full professors at other UT schools, such as the University of Texas at Austin, is below the national average, with female professors making 92 cents to their male counterpart’s dollar. The University of Texas at Arlington’s professors have nearly equal pay, with female professors making 99.7 cents to their male



and you prove that you know the game and you have the passion for the game as well, then it’s hard for people to say no to you.” Tiedemann said that while her brief time at UTD inspired her to



strong enough, but that they should tell someone about their story to help overcome the trauma of the assault. “Oftentimes, (the survivor) doesn’t know what they want, they just need immediate help from the trauma and the crisis,” Hanna said. “And for some, healing from that crisis is the prosecution, for others, it’s not. It’s about what each individual needs to heal and to get through that.” Lt. Ken Mackenzie said the UTD police department receives about three reports of sexual assault on campus per year. However, there are more reported to other places on campus, such as Title IX and the SHC. He said the SAFE kits on campus could be useful for students by making it more convenient and less threatening than calling the


team defined a school shooting as any time a gun is discharged, causing an injury or fatality on a K-12 campus during school hours, Connell said. The database also includes incidents on school buses and at school-sponsored sporting events at K-12 campuses because they are under the jurisdiction of the school. “The amount of data we have to collect is getting bigger, not smaller, so it’s good that we have a good team,” Connell said. “There is no database that is comprehensive, but there is also no database out there that is fully objective.” Connell’s team consists of UTD undergraduate and graduate students, who work together to research information about the events. One of the students who works as a part of the team is Sarah Gammell, a criminology graduate student. “It’s not necessarily that we’re collecting a why, but we are collecting all of the information that would help inform a why,” Gammell said. While the database was in its preliminary state, there were some unsettling trends, Connell said. There was an alarmingly high amount of suicides without another victim, which means

The Mercury 4/9/18  
The Mercury 4/9/18