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Lower San Marcos River safety causes debate

By Darcy Sprague NEWS REPORTER @darcy_days Tubers and river rats may see law enforcement officials patrolling the San Marcos River this summer as a result of increased …. Senate Bill 234 (SB 234), if passed, could change the way the lower portion of the river is managed. The bill is currently in Senate committee hearings. Senator Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) introduced SB 234. The bill would allow for a Water Oriented Recreation District (W.O.R.D) to be established if voted for by members of the affected counties. The W.O.R.D. would be run by an independent agency. Officials would hire law enforcement officers to patrol the area and establish safety and sanitation measures. The recreation district board would be responsible for overseeing the safety and cleanliness of the river. Funds for the W.O.R.D would be provided through a tax placed on tubing outfitters. The outfitters would be required to sell wristbands for $1-$3 to people renting tubes or using shuttles. The bill affects the San Marcos River downstream of Westerfield Crossing, which runs mainly through Martindale.

See SB 234, Page 2


Army Cadet honored with top leadership award


Nick Menchaca holds up freshly caught suckermouth catfish, an invasive species in the San Marcos River, April 17 at Rio Vista Park.

Invasive species hunter safeguards waterway By Jon Wilcox SENIOR NEWS REPORTER @thrilcox


ne Texas State graduate has made fishing his day job through a city-funded contract to remove invasive sea life from the San Marcos River and Spring Lake. Nick Menchaca, founding

owner of Atlas Environmental, has earned a living since 2013 by hunting suckermouth catfish, tilapia, red-rimmed melania and giant ramshorn snails. Non-native invasive species could potentially devastate San Marcos’ local aquatic ecosystem without the work of Menchaca and his company. Menchaca moved from Fort

Worth to San Marcos in 2009 to attend Texas State. He graduated in 2012 with a degree in recreational administration. After graduating, he learned about the contract while completing an internship with the city’s habitat conservation plan manager, Melani Howard. Atlas Environmental was hired in 2013 to fulfill the requirements

of the Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan, Howard said. The company is the first to be hired by the city to remove invasive species. “Having never done this, we didn’t know what would work and wouldn’t,” Howard said. “Through experimentation,



By Rebecca Banks NEWS REPORTER @r_banks13 Being described as a humble leader is an honor reserved for very few. Army Cadet Walter Brinker, Spanish senior, joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in January 2012 after graduating high school in 2003. Brinker was one of 15 cadets nationally recognized with top honors in leadership March 30 with the George C. Marshall Award. “Texas State typically has someone selected for the award, but to my knowledge we’ve never had anyone actually selected for the top honors or the top 15,” said Lieutenant Colonel James Adams, military science chair. “So that’s pretty rare.” Adams said Brinker was awarded top honors from the George C. Marshall Foundation. Officials conduct a records review to select the top 15 Army ROTC cadets in the nation. The George C. Marshall award is given to cadets who excel in leadership, physical fitness and academic standing. A university may nominate a cadet each year to receive the award, Adams said. The award is based on the cadet’s performance during a course in leadership development and assessment held at Fort Knox, Kentucky during the summer, he said.

See BRINKER, Page 2

Crossing train tracks illegally presents high risk of death, injury

By Jon Wilcox SENIOR NEWS REPORTER @thrilcox Data from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) shows trespassing is the most common cause of death and injury in train-related accidents in Hays County. The majority of deaths and injuries on Hays County railways can be attributed to trespassing on private property, according to the data. Similar trends can be found in nearby Central Texas counties where rail traffic is present. FRA records show 14 total accidents from April 2010 to April 2015 in Hays County. Eight of the 14 people injured or killed were trespassing on private property. Three of the trespassing incidents resulted in fatalities. In April 2015, two incidents of trespassing-related injuries occurred in San Marcos within two weeks of each other. A teenager was injured by a train while walking by the railroad tracks near Jowers Center and the Bobcat Softball Stadium, according to an April 8 University Star article. Less than two weeks later, a man lying on the tracks was killed by a train when he failed to get out of the

way after operators sounded a warning horn, according to an April 17 University Star article. Similar trends are apparent in Guadalupe, Travis, Caldwell and Bexar counties, according to FRA data. Of Guadalupe County’s 11 reports of train-related injuries and deaths from April 2010 to April 2015, seven involved incidents of trespassing, resulting in three fatalities, according to FRA data. In Travis County, 11 of the 36 people reported injured or killed were trespassing, according to FRA data. Three out of four killed were trespassing on private rail property. Bexar County tops the list of accidents with 192 reports of injury or death, according to FRA data. Trespassers accounted for 43 injuries and 19 out of 24 fatalities. Train-related injuries to trespassers are relatively common and often serious, according to FRA data. A Union Pacific train on Sept. 25, 2010 in Hays County severed a 20 year-old’s leg above the knee, according to FRA data. Trains traveling through Travis, Guadalupe and Hays Counties have been involved in the severing of limbs and digits, according to FRA data. Trespassing on railroad

property is the current leading cause of train-related deaths in the United States, said Sarah Feinberg, acting administrator of the FRA, in a March 24, 2015 speech. More than 400 trespassing fatalities occurred in 2014 alone. In her speech, she said the statistics are especially sobering because each death could have been prevented. Feinberg believes trains hold a special mystique in the American psyche. Americans are fascinated by the power, speed and historical significance of trains. It is hardly surprising people want to be near trains, Feinberg said in her speech. Educating Americans about the inherent dangers of rail lines and train traffic is the most effective approach in reducing the number of deaths and injuries, Feinberg said in her speech. Some people do not understand a train may require almost a mile to stop or dangerous objects may extend past the “footprint of the rail.” Officials are working with various law enforcement agencies across the nation to increase enforcement of trespassing laws, said Michael Cole, public affairs specialist for the FRA. “Trespassing is a crime,” Cole said. “It is a big issue, one that we are looking at every day.”

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2 | The University Star | News | Thursday, April 23, 2015

SPEARFISH, from front (Menchaca) has been increasingly effective in removing invasive species.” Menchaca quickly learned to spearfish despite having no experience before 2013, he said. “Because there are so many (suckermouth catfish), it was really easy to pick up (spearfishing),” Menchaca said. Finding and spearing the fish has since become more difficult, he said. “Now that the species has kind of gotten used to us coming out a lot, they scatter and hide,” Menchaca said. “So it’s a lot harder now than it was at first.” The largest suckermouth catfish Menchaca has killed weighed six pounds—two pounds heavier than the state record—and was 26 inches long, he said. The fish is currently being taxidermied. Menchaca’s primary targets are the tilapia in Spring Lake because they have the most potential to spread downriver. Atlas Environmental fishers removed 1,300 lbs. of tilapia in 2013 and 1,700 lbs. in 2014, he said. Menchaca tries to use all the fish he kills instead of sending them to landfills. Many of the fish Menchaca and his company kill are sent to composting organizations for plant fertilization. Menchaca said he tries to eat the tilapia he kills as often as possible. The tilapia are delicious, while the suckermouth catfish taste “rubbery.” Menchaca is currently trying to connect with homeless shelters in an attempt to provide free fish for people in need. “With just a good amount of seasoning, you can make anything taste good,” Menchaca said. He said fish are not the only threat to local plants and animals. Invasive snails are another focus for Atlas Environmental. The snails can become hosts for fish-killing parasites, which overwhelm the native populations, Menchaca said. “Whenever we’re swimming

through and snorkeling, we’ll find high-density areas (of snails) and go through and pick as many as we can,” Menchaca said. “Sometimes we’ll get a volunteer snail-picking crew out here a couple times a year. It’s a lot of fun for kids.” Menchaca has found not only snails but also valuable objects on the river bottom, including a hundreddollar bill, a golden wedding band and a 9mm pistol. “The river giveth and the river taketh,” Menchaca said. Invasive species pose a significant threat to local native ecosystems, said Kenneth Ostrand, aquatic ecologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The San Marcos River and Spring Lake host “well over” 40 invasive species, including varieties of fish, plants, invertebrates and parasites, Ostrand said. Pet fish can make their way into the habitats when owners dump them into the river. “Students and even classrooms have been known to not want to kill the organisms, so they feel it’s nice to release them into the wild,” Ostrand said. Ostrand said invasive species removal is an ongoing process, requiring continual, dedicated effort. Menchaca spends about 15 hours in the water each week. “When you’re dealing with (invasive species), it’s just like weeding a flower bed,” Ostrand said. “You can’t just do it once and expect it to be done. You have to constantly be out there.” Menchaca said he enjoys working in the river and considers it a blessing. “You can’t see the river like you can unless you’re snorkeling through it,” Menchaca said. “You see how much it changes year after year.” Menchaca said volunteers are welcome to join him whenever he works. “I have plenty of pole spears for people to come volunteer,” Menchaca said. “All you need is a wetsuit— unless you’re the same size as me, I have an extra wetsuit—fins and a mask and a snorkel.”

SB 234, from front Dianne Wassenich, San Marcos River program director, said she supports SB 234. “People are dying,” Wassenich said. “People are getting raped. There are no restrooms, no phone booths and no officers to enforce existing laws.” The bill would cost tubers about $400,000, said Richard Lawrence, co-owner of Texas State Tubes. Lawrence opposes the bill. He signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Don’s Fish Camp. The MOU is an agreement between the two organizations stating the owners will establish security measures similar to those outlined in SB 234. Lawrence said the two organizations will be able to provide the same amount of security and river cleanup for $120,000. The difference in price comes from not having a separate office space and not paying an independent party to run it. Texas State Tubes and Don’s Fish Camp have secured contracts with Pristine Rivers, an independent company that would oversee the cleanliness of the water and local law enforcement. The tax from SB 234 would increase some of Lawrence’s prices by 30 percent, he said. “It’s way too much money,” Lawrence said. Wassenich is concerned about the tube outfitters’ ability to manage the river. She said a conflict of interest would arise since increased law enforcement is likely to affect their businesses. “It is well known that there is no law enforcement in this area,” Wassenich said. “There is an unbelievable amount of underage drinking on the river.” Tubing outfitters made the same argument two years ago when the bill was first introduced.

LARA DIETRICH STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Senate Bill 234, if passed, would establish safety and cleanliness standards for the San Marcos River.

Wassenich said there has been no improvement. “Since (Texas State Tubes has) been open, the river is as clean as it has ever been,” Lawrence said. Wassenich said the companies fail to provide accurate trash receptacles and restrooms for their clients. “There are so many ways that they have failed their customers,” Wassenich said. “If I was (a customer) and I tubed once, I would never go back. It’s not a safe situation.” Wassenich said the tubing outfitters often put people on the river at around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. when there is no current. The tubers can get stranded on the river after the sun goes down. They ask riverside landowners for help. “They are often covered in blood,” Wassenich said. “They scare the landowners.” Wassenich said the landowners help the tubers because they feel sorry for them. “I can’t tell you the number of passed-out people who have been found by landowners,” Wassenich said. “It happens over and over.” Wassenich said she often

learns of rapes and drownings that happen on the river through people who were there. Because of medical privacy rights, she has had a hard time cataloging how many such incidents happen on the river. “Rapes happen on the river all the time,” Wassenich said. Lawrence said he will put offduty officers on the river. “We are just as concerned about safety,” Lawrence said. “I don’t know any other company that is willing to do what we are doing.” New Braunfels officials have established a recreation district similar to one proposed by SB 234. Wassenich believes the recreation district has made New Braunfels safer. She said police riots and knifings occurred before the district was established. James Zuniga, psychology freshman, said he often goes tubing in New Braunfels. He does not like the fact tubes are more expensive to rent than in San Marcos, but the river is cleaner Zuniga hopes San Marcos tubing outfitters do not raise their prices.

CADET, from front


Wastewater contract approved for five additional years By Exsar Arguello NEWS REPORTER @Exsar_Misael San Marcos City Council members voted unanimously at a Feb. 3 meeting to extend their wastewater treatment contract with CH2M Hill for another five years. CH2M Hill is an engineering company that provides consulting, design, construction and operational services that involve innovating energy resources like nuclear and water, according to the business’ website. CH2M Hill officials are responsible for running and managing the wastewater treatment facility located on East Hopkins Street. The wastewater treatment plant receives a daily inflow of 9 million gallons. City officials contracted CH2M Hill in 2005 to run the wastewater plant for ten years, said Jon Clack, assistant director of public services. “Hiring a company like CH2M Hill instead of having the city run the plant saves the city a lot of money in the long run,” Clack said. “There are a lot of towns throughout the country that contract companies to run their wastewater plants.” Having CHSM Hill officials present at the plant is advantageous, he said. They would know how to fix and assess any problem that might arise. Clack said the contract with

CH2M Hill is good because the company has performance standards with trained personnel and professionals monitoring the plant at all times. “Having a contract with the city allows our company to focus on the plant while the city focuses on running their business,” said Kirby Chaney, vice president with operations management at CH2M Hill. The contract stated the city could choose to extend the contract in two five-year intervals after the expiration, he said. “Working with CH2M Hill and having them contracted with the city is a great way to keep our wastewater plant in good shape,” Clack said. The city council unanimously decided to extend the contract for another five years, Chaney said. The city will be offered another five-year extension after the current contract ends, Chaney said. “If the city is happy with the way the plant has been treated in the next ten years, they can always choose to run another contract by us—if they are satisfied, of course,” Chaney said. Chaney takes pride in the work CH2M Hill officials do. “With the river and natural beauties in San Marcos, CH2M Hill works extremely hard to preserve the natural beauty that this city has to offer,” Chaney said.

Brinker said he served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan before enrolling at Texas State. “I was a special forces engineer,” Brinker said. “Basically our main job was to go to train each country’s army.” Brinker said he helped train both Iraq’s and Afghanistan’s armies in how to handle combat missions and work together in conflict situations. He has two brothers serving in the army. His father and grandfather are also army veterans. Officials from 274 universities nominated cadets for the award, he said. Brinker said he attended the George C. Marshall Seminar and participated in a roundtable discussion. “They talk about topics of nuclear proliferation, terrorism and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East,” Adams said. Brinker came into the ROTC program with prior military knowledge, Adams said. “He really took a leadership role of encouragement and as a mentor,” he said. Adams said last semester Brinker was a battalion commander and supervised 107 cadets. Leadership positions change every semester. “At Texas State we have what’s called the Bobcat Battalion, and that encompasses all the cadets in the ROTC,” Brinker said. “That’s when I had my biggest chance to train the other cadets during lab every week.” Adams said the labs cover military exercises such as navigation


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LARA DIETRICH STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Army Cadet Walter Brinker, Spanish senior, poses April 21 in the Alkek breezeway. Brinker was awarded the George C. Marshall Award for leadership.

and combat missions. “It takes 15 people to run a navigation lab, and he ensures that every one of them has their duty position and have their responsibility,” Adams said. Brinker led the cadets during physical training three days per week and exercised missions at Freeman Ranch. “He came to us with a good foundation, and he’s a naturalborn leader,” Adams said. Brinker said the battalion commander is the highest-ranking cadet in ROTC. “He’s probably the best guy we have in the program,” said Cadet Eric Rogers, political science senior. “As a leader he sets the standard for everyone, and he is a role model for the class.” This semester Brinker is the operations officer to the battalion commander. His role is to make sure lab exercises are planned and executed successfully.

“He’s been a great mentor in ROTC,” said Cadet Ryan Wiersma, general studies senior. “He tries to coach us and help us understand from his past experiences.” Brinker said he will be commissioned to second lieutenant after graduating in May. This summer he will go to Fort Knox, Kentucky, to instruct the junior ROTC cadets. Brinker said he will then go to Fort Rucker, Alabama, to attend flight school and continue his career in the Army as a pilot. “In ROTC you definitely learn how to lead and deal with people, and he does that really well,” Rogers said. Brinker said being a leader in ROTC has taught him how to be a good mentor to his peers. “He just solidly demonstrates his confidence in ways that people just naturally want to follow,” Adams said.

The University Star | Thursday, April 23, 2015 | 3


Studio art seniors exhibit thesis projects By Louis Zylka LIFESTYLE REPORTER @OrinZylka Students of the Texas State School of Art and Design had the opportunity to showcase their work Monday as part of the Spring BFA Thesis Exhibition at The University Galleries. Mary Mikel Stump, gallery coordinator, said the exhibition is the result of hours of dedication put in by students in the last two semesters of their BFA programs. “Every week for the next month, there will be a new exhibition,” Stump said. “We have 68 students participating in these thesis exhibitions in this semester alone.” Stump said students have been progressing to the showcase since entering the program. “The exhibition is actually the punctuation mark on their four years studying art and design here at Texas State,” Stump said. “Part of their curriculum requirement is that they do an exhibition of their work in the last two semesters of their area of study.” Stump said students are required

take part in this event, but more importantly it gives them the opportunity to showcase their talents to the school. Kaitlin Tucker, studio art senior, said working on the projects helped her learn how to use different materials and develop the ability to convey feelings through the work. “I like using different mediums for people to experience,” Tucker said. “I hope they will make an emotional connection within the work.” Stump said the galleries allow faculty to recognize students’ accomplishments during their time at Texas State. “We get to celebrate (students) and what they have done, and they get to, in turn, show us what they achieved,” Stump said. “If you look back historically in the academy, it’s a way of proving proficiency.” Courtney Cone, studio art senior, said she doesn’t want those in attendance to have difficulty deciphering what they see. “There is no psychological underlying message (in my work) that people are trying to grasp,” Cone said. “Enjoy it for what it is.”

Take Back the Night promotes dialogue on domestic violence By Denise Cervantes LIFESTYLE REPORTER @cervantesdenise Officials with the Texas State Student Health Center coordinated with the Student Involvement Fair to host the first Take Back the Night event April 13. This rally was held as part of a nationwide promotion in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The event opened with a march that began at Old Main and concluded at the LBJ Student Center amphitheater. Ebony Stewart, alumna and three-time Slam Champion, performed her spoken-word poetry at the finale of the event. Arlene Cornejo, health promotion specialist at the Student Health Center and event coordinator, said Take Back the Night shows students university officials provide a secure environment. The event provides a safe space and allows victims to speak out and share their stories. “We hope the students that are participating feel that their voices were heard and feel as though this event can serve as an outlet for them,” Cornejo said. Officials with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Men Against Violence (MAV) and the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center presented the resources they offer before the poetry event. “I hope they realize Texas State is here to help anyone regardless if it has happened before they came here or when they became students here,” Cornejo said. “We do have resources and outlets for them to start the healing process.” Lucia Summers, NAMI Cats staff advisor and criminal justice assistant professor, said creating an open dialogue about domestic violence is beneficial to

those who are affected. “People don’t like talking about that, but the lack of awareness could be more damaging,” Summers said. “Some people, especially in some cultures, are ashamed. But it’s good to have these organizations that show people it is okay to speak out.” Jemm Morris, health and wellness promotion senior, presented on the issue of violence in relationships. “I feel passionate about this,” Morris said. “Whether they’ve admitted or not, we all know someone who has had some kind of experience with this, and that is relatable enough for me to want to speak about it.” Stewart encourages veteran speakers and newcomers to approach the microphone and talk about their experiences. “I try to give people the opportunity (to speak) who didn’t think they could and then they watched others do it,” Stewart said. “And so then it breaks that wall down a little and gives them an opportunity to say and do and speak the truth and help them find that freedom.” She said creating a required class in order to talk about detrimental events such as domestic violence is another way to give victims a protected environment. “Teach humans to be humans,” Stewart said. “We learn through trial and error, and it shouldn’t have to be that way.” Morris said rallies like Take Back the Night create a conversation about a topic often ignored and discarded. “Vulnerability is relatable,” Morris said. “Just asking people to show up to the event has brought up so much. I think this is a huge part because it does spark the conversation, and then you get to meet other people that are going to be touched and be heartfelt.”

Stump said students did not have to follow any particular theme while creating their projects. Instead, the students were allowed to express ideas and personal views of the world in any way they saw fit. “They’re all interested in different ideas,” Stump said. “Each body of work represents that artist’s interests and their ideas.” Jessamyn Plotts, studio art senior, created costumes out of fiber-like material to elaborate on themes about women’s struggles with body issues. “The whole project felt like a coming-of-age story about young women,” Plotts said. “I felt as though costumes would be the best HARON SAENZ STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER way to express it.” Stump said the students involved Nina Sandoval, psychology senior, blows on a sculpture by Julie Carey April 20 at the with the exhibition are dedicated Joann Cole Mitte Galleries. to showcasing their art in a profes- tive works about the standards of create a bond among students by sional and unique manner. human beauty and identity. allowing the artists to showcase “Our students really act as a con“As hard as you try to control their work to peers. duit of what ideas are the most cur“Part of a liberal arts university rent in contemporary art,” Stump the factors to strive for perfection it cannot be done,” Cone said. “I is the presence of the arts on the said. “They spend a lot of time and effort studying and perfecting their learned to welcome the perfection campus,” Stump said. “I think it’s skill, and they in turn provide access that comes across with the help of a unique opportunity to see your my friends.” peers make music, do dances and to those ideas and trends.” Cone said her pieces are figuraStump said the exhibitions help make art.”

Earth Day celebration educates students By Mariah Simank ASSISTANT LIFESTYLE EDITOR @MariahSimank Campus and community organizations gathered in the Quad on Wednesday to celebrate Earth Day. Emily Bippert, anthropology senior and coordinator with Student Volunteer Connection, said the event allowed representatives of environmental organizations to come together and educate the Texas State community. “We are working with other organizations that promote the environment, like Bobcat Blend and Waste Management (and Recycling), in order to promote the fact that it is Earth Day,” Bippert said. “We want students to become more aware of protecting the environment yearround instead of just during this time.” Bippert said her main focus is teaching students the importance of cleaning up after themselves, especially given the city’s and university’s growth. “We should all strive to leave things in the city better than they were when we first got here,” Bippert said. “I think as the university and city grow, we should strive to take really good care of our town and campus.” Neil Kaufman, wildlife biology

senior and vice president of Bobcat Blend, said he hoped to provide information about the organization’s composting measures conducted around the campus and the community. “Hopefully events like this will help people to become more aware of not just Bobcat Blend but about composting and about what they can do for composting and how composting is used on their campus, unlike many campuses around the country,” Kaufman said. Taylor Hohensee, geography resource and environmental studies junior, said Earth Day is important because it brings students and faculty together to teach them about local ecological initiatives. Hohensee enjoyed the Bobcat Blend booth because of the group’s mission to educate students about the importance of composting. Kaufman said he hoped to teach Texas State students and members of the community composting doesn’t just benefit the person who does it. “It is also for their community, state and the earth as a whole,” Kaufman said Jonathan Alba, chair of the Environmental Service Committee, said he wants the Earth Day event to remind students of the environmental service fee they pay as part of their tuition. The payment exists to sponsor students who create proj-

ects that benefit the environment. “We are an official committee, which means student organizations and independent individuals from Texas State and the community come to us for funding,” Alba said. “We have funded a lot of projects on campus through the environmental service fee that very few people know about.” Alba said he hopes the committee’s booth will inspire new ideas for environmental projects around the San Marcos area. Alba said Earth Day is a reminder that organizations such as his need to work hard to create environmental discussion during the other 364 days of the year. “It is kind of corny to me that it is only one day,” Alba said. “We should be protecting the environment and thinking about the environment every day, but this just symbolizes one day where everyone can stop and reflect about the earth.” Alba said students don’t have to call themselves conservationists to help protect the environment. “We go to school in a special place, and people don’t have to be an environmentalist in order to take care of it,” Alba said. “They can simply do their part by not buying plastic water bottles or not throwing trash on the ground and taking care of the river.”



Trey Holt, communication design junior, completes a 3D design project for a class critique April 20 in the Joann Cole Mitte building.


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State senator makes harmful HIV/AIDS budget appropriations T

he Texas House of Representatives recently passed a budget cutting funding for HIV/AIDS prevention programs. According to a March 31 Texas Observer article, Texas has the third-highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the country. This disease is a big problem for the state. Contrary to popular conservative belief, HIV and AIDS can affect anyone regardless of sexual orientation. There is a huge stigma regarding HIV/AIDS, and the idea that it is the “gay disease” is usually the only motivation. On top of defunding AIDS and HIV prevention programs, State Representative Stuart Spitzer (R-Kaufman) dealt another blow to sexual health education by allocating the money to abstinence sex education. According to a March 31 Texas Tribune article, Spitzer’s goal for this bill is for “everyone to be abstinent until they are married.” Apparently the current century is too progressive for a Republican-controlled legislature. There’s not a large amount of evidence showing that abstinenceonly sex education is effective. Instead of using a proven method to stop the spread of a disease that has already taken so many lives, elected officials have decided to promote a curriculum that will

likely result in an increase in HIV/AIDS. Abstinence-only sex education is an irresponsible idea. Perhaps people who support abstinence only education are scared their kids will break biblical law and have sex before marriage. That’s a fine sentiment, but it has no business in schools. Teaching kids to stay away from sex instead of proper sex education only results in more people having unsafe sex. It is better to be safe than sorry, and abstinence-only sex education is not safe. According to an April 1 article, more money for abstinence education would do little to improve Texans’ sexual health. This is an understatement. Abstinence-only sex education is a deplorable idea for Texas. This move by the Texas House to a pass a budget defunding HIV/AIDS prevention programs in favor of abstinence-only sex education is a backward move. Abstinence-only sex education does the exact opposite of what it should do, resulting in higher teen pregnancy and STI rates. The Republican-controlled Texas House of Representatives did not work in the people’s best interest when politicians passed this budget, and progressive Texas can only hope the people supporting


the move don’t get re-elected. The concern with this bill is that it purports the notion that HIV education cannot be taught along with abstinence informa-

tion. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive, and until lawmakers realize this, the constituents they represent will continue to suffer.

If you disagree with these budget cuts, make sure and let Spitzer know. He can be contacted at (512) 463-0458 or P.O. Box 2910 Austin, TX 78768.

The Main Point is the opinion of the newspaper’s editorial board. Columns are the opinions of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the full staff, Texas State University Student Media, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication or Texas State University.


Earth day mercifully free of commercialization new holiday with deep challenging social meaning for many of us. I was 19. I was excited that this new holiday reflected my values, the ones ow many holidays do I was raised to hold, the ones we have? Martin Luther that had worked forward from King Jr. Day in January, many indigenous leaders to Valentine’s Day in February, John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Easter in March or April, Earth Day in April, Memorial Rachel Carson. My dad taught me the Day in May and so forth. Of those few examples, two number-one value and tactic in life: always leave the campwere declared in my adultsite a bit nicer than when you hood. New holidays take found it. We camped across time to catch on and embed the country, and that was themselves in the culture. our ritual. We broke camp They can stray from their and made sure the site was roots. Christmas is for consumerism. Veterans Day is to free of garbage but also had promote war. Thanksgiving is a bit more firewood left for the next ones than what we for football. found. The first Earth Day, in Earth Day was meant to 1970, was the launch of a By Tom H. Hastings PEACEVOICE FOUNDING DIRECTOR


bring that ethic forward in innumerable ways. It was meant to celebrate the first major environmental protection law, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and to promote more protection from the industrial, chemical, bulldozer, polluting, clearcutting, strip mining, ocean-dumping, fuel-spilling, poison spraying, habitatwrecking culture that was turning America the Beautiful into America the Dumpsite, America the Cancer Ward, America the Slashed and Burned. It is a holiday that had an agenda and still has it. Few purchase glitzy gifts for the occasion, and no one gains 10 pounds from rich food on

Earth Day. Find the Earth Day section in the card aisle in Walgreens. Ha. Good luck with that. Simply put, Earth Day is anathema to corporate predatory culture and so far has not been amenable to hijacking. As a result, it is largely a roll-your-own day, no one takes off work to celebrate it and the vast majority of attention it gets is from elementary school teachers who have a value affinity with its meaning and want to pass that along to children. So thank you, teachers. Thank you, environmentalists. Thank you, naturalists and nature lovers. This is your day. Long may its meaning and message hold forth, and may it mark great victories

for our environment and clean future: April 22, Earth Day 2015, a day of hope and challenge toward a society that cares for the future of the generations and the rights of the generations to hug huge Redwoods, breathe clean air, eat healthy food, drink pure water and see all the species in their wild places.


Regulation of powdered alcohol unnecessary



obcats’ favorite grownup beverage has gotten a powdery revamp and may be coming to a store near you just in time for summer. The newest contender on the turn-up stage is Palcohol, also known as powdered alcohol. The small pouch filled with powder alcohol can be added to water,

juice or soda and stirred, and then a glass of alcohol materializes. Apparently the creators did not want any confusion about what consumers are getting themselves into, and this apparent directness seems to have paid off. On March 10 the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) approved the brand of powdered alcohol after cancelling the initial approval just a year before due to concerns over the amount of powder present in each packet. While the name may be catchy, many lawmakers and citizens are worried about the implications such an easily concealed and potentially misused substance could have. One of the leading dissidents in the Palcohol debate is Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY). Just two days after the March 12 announcement, Schumer introduced legislation to make powdered alcohol an illegal and

The University Star Editor-in-Chief................................................Nicole Barrios, Managing Editor....................Cameron Cutshall, News Editor..............................................Kelsey Bradshaw, Lifestyle Editor..........................................Britton Richter, Opinions Editor.......................................Imani McGarrell, Photo Editor...........................................Madelynne Scales, Sports Editor........................................... Quixem Ramirez, Copy Desk Chief.....................................Sam Hankins,

banned substance. He cited activities by various states including Colorado and Louisiana to ban the sale, purchase and distribution of the product before it hit shelves. Frankly, using the old-time favorite “what about the children” trope as sound arguments is a fool’s errand. Those are not sound or worthwhile arguments. American culture already glamorizes drinking, especially underage drinking. A powdered form of alcohol is not going to be endearing to teenagers any more than the classic liquid version. While I personally may not have the desire to start snorting powdered alcohol, the moment I worry about what another person is doing with their time and money is the moment my life officially stops being interesting. I am in no moral position to dictate to someone else what they should or should not be doing.

The clichés about why alcohol should be accessible to younger people or why drugs should be legalized are—well, cliché. Not to mention they aren’t exactly any more sound or legitimate arguments than Schumer’s. Young people should not be exposed to mind-altering and potentially harmful substances. All drugs are not good. Hell, most drugs are not good. Even that little plant all college kids seem to have a hard-on for known as marijuana has negative effects that outweigh the good. However, that is not grounds for banning it or substances like it. There are tons of things I do that someone out there may not like, and that is not how societies should be run. A free society does not dictate a person’s life choices based on the supposed moral compass of another person. Especially when their life choices are not infringing on

the sovereignty of anyone but potentially themselves. Palcohol is just the new kid on the block, so everyone is going to gang up on it in a classic game of hazing. People fear the unknown just until it can be altered and made to conform to society’s arbitrary standards. Does a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Why yes, yes it does. Same taste, same ingredients—just a different name and a different form. Palcohol is alcohol, and the last time the government tried to mess with Americans’ liquor, it did not exactly go so well. Mix it, drink it, sprinkle it, pound it and snort it for all I care. Palcohol for all and to all a good night.

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The University Star is the student newspaper of Texas State University and is published every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the spring and fall and every other Wednesday in the summer semesters. It is distributed on campus and throughout San Marcos at 8 a.m. on publication days with a distribution of 6,000. Printing and distribution is by the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. Copyright Thursday, April 23, 2015. All copy, photographs and graphics appearing in The University Star are the exclusive property of The University Star and may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of the editor in chief. The first five issues of each edition of the paper are free. Additional copies of the paper can be purchased at 50¢ per copy. Contact The University Star office at (512) 245-3487 to purchase additional copies.

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By Christian Rodriguez ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR @crod9521

After a week without a game, the Texas State softball team had to shake off some rust in its 5-4 extra-innings win against the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders. Texas State scored four runs in the first five innings of the game. The Bobcats held the Islanders to no runs in that stretch. That changed in the bottom of the sixth inning when Brittney Morse, Islander sophomore designated player, hit a grand slam over the center field wall that tied the game at four. The game went into extra innings after a scoreless seventh inning. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Sara Rupp, freshman catcher, hit a walk-off home run over the left field wall. “I was trying to be aggressive,” Sara said. “I wanted to wait and make sure it was something that I wanted to hit. With a three-two count they threw me inside, and that’s my favorite pitch, and so I just attacked.” Sara’s walk-off was the second home run of the game for Texas State, giving the Bobcats 51 for the season. Texas State totaled seven hits for the game with Kendall Wiley, junior first baseman, and Lexi Fryar, sophomore left fielder, combining for a total of four. Kortney Koroll, senior designated player, produced two runs batted in with her home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Randi Rupp, freshman pitcher, pitched 6.2 innings in the game, giving up three hits and registering eight strikeouts. Kaylee Garner, sophomore pitcher, replaced


Kendall Wiley, junior first baseman, tags out a Texas A&M Corpus Christi opponent April 22 at Bobcat Softball Stadium.

Randi in the top of the fifth. Garner pitched 1.1 innings, giving up the grand slam. Randi re-entered the game in the sixth inning. Randi is not used to coming in as reliever. That was not a problem on Wednesday night as she gave up two hits and no runs in her final 2.2 innings of play. Despite the mistakes the Bob-

cats made, Woodard feels this kind of experience will only thelp her team moving forward. “It couldn’t have worked out any better for us to have to play with a little bit of intensity and fire there towards the end,” Woodard said. “I thought we did a good job of battling and continued to play the game, and that is really all you can

ask for at the end of the day.” The Bobcats are set to face Appalachian State this weekend in a three-game conference series. Appalachian State has a 1-19 conference record this year and is in last place in the Sun Belt standings. Woodard respects the Mountaineers despite their below-average record. She knows the Bobcats

will be upset if they do not come to play. “We want to be at our best two weeks from now when the conference tournament hits,” Woodard said. “We have to continue to get better, and we can’t worry about who is in the other dugout. We have to focus on what we’re doing.”






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6 | The University Star | Sports | Thursday, April 23, 2015



By Matt Gurevitz SPORTS REPORTER @Matt_Gurevitz The Texas State baseball team is coming off a series loss at home to Louisiana-Lafayette and a road loss to the University of Texas. The Bobcats have lost six of their last eight matchups. The team will play its next eight games on the road. The adversity the team is facing will continue this weekend as the Bobcats travel to play the Troy Trojans in a three-game weekend series.


Texas State swept Troy last season in San Marcos in the teams’ first-ever matchup. Lucas Humpal, junior pitcher, started in the finale of the series and recorded a win. Humpal

pitched six innings while striking out eight batters and allowing two runs. Humpal will pitch again this weekend as the Friday night starter.


Troy is first in the conference in stolen bases and attempts. The Trojans will challenge the Texas State catchers this weekend. Troy has stolen 61 bases while only being caught 18 times this season. Clay Holcomb, Trojans senior outfielder, leads the Sun Belt Conference with 20 stolen bases and is an important factor in Troy’s offense. Texas State has given up the most stolen bases in the conference. This does not look good on paper for the Bobcats. Jared Huber, freshman catcher, will be on high alert this weekend. Texas State held Louisiana-

Lafayette in check on the bases last weekend. The Bobcats allowed two stolen bases in three attempts in the three-game series. The Ragin’ Cajuns are fourth in the Sun Belt with 53 stolen bases.


Cory Geisler, junior center fielder, has been a tough out for opponents in the last four games. Geisler is hitting .467 in his last four matchups, including a 3-for-4 game last Friday. Geisler’s average jumped from .213 to .241 since Friday. This streak comes after 16 straight hitless at-bats in the team’s four previous contests. Geisler will look to continue getting hits this weekend against Troy. Geisler had success against the Trojans last year, going 4 for 12 while hitting lead-off for the team.


Texas State’s starting pitchers have been an issue over the last four games. The starting pitchers recorded three losses in the last four games and allowed 19 earned runs. Jeremy Hallonquist, senior pitcher, started last Sunday and pitched in his worst outing this season. Hallonquist gave up seven earned runs over four innings and the Bobcats lost the game 13-3 against LouisianaLafayette. The starting pitching has been successful during the season and will need to get back on the right track this weekend.


Texas State and Troy are tied for fifth place in the Sun Belt with a

10-8 conference record. Neither team will fall far after a bad weekend, but the winner of the series could be looking at a big jump in the standings. A team that has a sweep could possibly jump all the way up to second place. This is an opportunity for Texas State to sit comfortably at the top of the standings, and it will be interesting to see if the team can get out of its losing streak to capture this chance.


The Bobcats will travel to College Station to take on Texas A&M in a weekday game on Tuesday. Texas A&M is ranked second in the nation, according to Texas State will continue Sun Belt play against Georgia State next weekend in Atlanta. Georgia State is currently first in the Sun Belt Standings.


Bobcats complete season at Sun Belt Conference Tournament

By Kierra Lewis SPORTS REPORTER @Kierra_Arnae “We did not get off to a good start,” Coach Howell said. This week the Texas State men’s golf competed in the Sun Belt Conference, their final tournament this season. As a whole, the men finished in eighth place with a 1-over-par 285, ranking them 105th for the spring season. The weather was a major factor in the tournament and in the Bobcats performance. The first day of the tournament was postponed due to rain. However, the wind is what affected the men’s performance during the first round preventing them to play at their best. “The wind was a little more than the practice round,” Howell said. “We played really good the last two rounds but we unfortunately got too far behind after the first round. The guys hung in there great after a bad first round and played with a lot of pride in the final two rounds.” Howell believes not hitting tee shots cost them the tournament. Although the Bobcats did not do well as a team, two players placed in the top 10. Tyler Saunders posted his third top-five finish of the year and fourth top-10 finish, as he shot a final round 4-under-par 67, to place fourth at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. Saunders utilized five birdies on his day, including four on his front nine holes, beginning on the 10th hole. His 67 is the third time this season he has made a 67 or better during one of his rounds. “Tyler Saunders had another great performance,” Howell said. “He did great all week now it’s time for him to get up

there to get the individual title. This was an unbelievable season for him. The vote hasn’t come in I would expect him to be freshman of the year in the conference.” As a result of his record-breaking season, Saunders now has a possibility for a spot at the NCAA tournament. “It will be great if he does get in,” Howell said. “He’s had a great year especially with the victory with Alabama, a highly rated field.” Justin Newby tied for eighth, making it his third top 10 finished this season. He completed the tournament with an even-par-71, due to his three birdies and three bogeys. Newby's even-par round marked the 16th round of par or better for him this season, second most on the team next to Saunders' 17. “Newby played really solid, didn’t have the outing week he needed to get close to winning,” Howell said. “But it was a good cap to his year and he played really great this season This spring season has been a year full of success for the men, along with noted mistakes. The team is losing Torbjorn Johansen and Tyler Thomas. “A little bit bittersweet,” Howell said. “We made some strides forward. Unfortunately we didn’t play our best golf coming down the end of the season but that’s a little bit apart of the process of growing as a team. We are going in the right direction.” The Bobcats will reflect on their mistakes prior to the upcoming season. The team is optimistic about the 2015 fall season. “We made a lot of improvements this year but I think overall just being able to mentally as a team to be a little tougher at times,” Howell said. “We just have to keep doing the same things over and over.”


Texas State ready for Bobcat Classic By Jose Campos SPORTS REPORTER @josewithaj The Bobcat Classic will take place in San Marcos on Saturday April 25 and provide Coach Dana Boone with information about the Texas State track and field team before it heads into the Sun Belt Outdoor Conference Championships. Boone is using the Bobcat Classic as a last opportunity to fix any remaining issues the team may have before the Sun Belt Championships. Boone is proud of the Bobcats after their performance at LSU Alumni Gold Meet. Darian Brown (senior thrower), Allie Saunders (senior jumper) and Talore Kelly (junior thrower) placed nationally in the meet. Texas State is in the top spot in 11 events in the Sun Belt Conference heading into the Bobcat Classic. “I was very proud of them,” Boone said. “We were a little concerned about the weather. It was a nice field to get some work done, and I’m very happy for those athletes.” Boone said the Bobcat Classic may not be a big meet, but it will feature North Texas, UT Arlington and students from Baylor and Texas as well as some unattached athletes. “It should be a good meet in terms of competition, and it always nice to compete at home,” Boone said. The Bobcat Classic is the last home meet for the seniors of the team. “This is the meet that we’ll recognize our seniors,” Boone said. “Since this will be their

last home meet as a Bobcat, it should be a special meet, and we hope it’s a good one for them.” Boone plans to let everyone on the team compete, including those that may have not been given as much of a chance as others during the outdoor season. The team may need some work before the Sun Belt Championships, but Boone remains confident. “I think they’re definitely putting themselves in a good position to be in the title hunt for a conference championship on both sides,” Boone said. “Still have some work to do, still some fine-tuning to iron out and some personal bests to still achieve.” The Sun Belt Outdoor Conference Championships will take May 8-10 in Gulf Shores, Alabama.


JUSTIN NEWBY JUNIOR GOLFER By Kierra Lewis SPORTS REPORTER @Kierra_Arnae Justin Newby, junior, faced a tough decision during his freshman year of high school. Newby’s choice was between golf and soccer. He began playing soccer at the age of five, taking part in games and tournaments for 10 years. Newby’s father introduced him to golf when he was 10 years old. A young Newby rode in his father’s golf cart, learning by observing the details of the game. “I thought my best chance was golf,” Newby said. “I knew the immediate progression I had in golf, I could use in my advantage and take to the next level.” Newby’s father competed in golf before college. Newby remembers his dad giving him an important piece of advice. “Don’t live in the past,” Newby said. “It doesn’t matter what happens next. Just focus on the immediate success.” Newby does not regret choosing golf. Last semester, Newby placed third in the UTEP Intercollegiate in El Paso. He called it

his best finish. His rank was significant to him, but what happened during the game made it particularly special. Coach Shane Howell walked with him to every hole during the tournament. “He helped me stay in the present and focus on the shot at hand and not think about where I was placing in the tournament but how I could

make the shots,” Newby said. “It’s easy to be confident in yourself when you have someone else to be confident in you as well.” Newby’s admiration of Howell goes both ways. Howell is impressed by Newby’s success on and off the field. “First year he was learning how to manage and improve in college golf,” Howell said. “He’s a great young man, takes instructions really well, processes the information and goes and works on it. Newby’s a great model of what a student athlete should be.” Newby’s love for golf goes beyond placing in tournaments. Golf is a way for him to communicate and meet new people. He plans to continue playing golf even if not at a competitive or professional level. Newby wants his influence to go beyond golf.


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