TUESDAY FEBRUARY 2, 2021 VOLUME 110 ISSUE 3
DEFENDING THE FIRST AMENDMENT SINCE 1911
Opinion: Texas State fails Black students...again
Women’s basketball looks to rebound from two straight losses as they face Little Rock
Community reacts to new council to preserve Indigenous and Tejano history
Texas State instructors help navigate graduate school possibilities
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T S A P E U D Low-income apartments, residents struggle through pandemic
ILLUSTRATION BY BLAKE WADLEY
By Jaden Edison Editor-in-Chief Low-income apartments in San Marcos are responsible for 30% of all complex evictions filed in 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving questions about what lies ahead for residents as the virus and financial uncertainty surrounding it worsens. “I have seen what a lot of people are doing is they’re filing for bankruptcy, which temporarily can freeze an eviction,” says Thomas Just, a family law attorney in San Marcos with previous experience working with evictions. “People are doing whatever they can; it’s rough all the way around. People have lost their jobs, they’re out of money... both the tenants and the landlords are in
a horrible position.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order temporarily halting residential evictions for individuals unable to pay rent, effective between Sept. 4, 2020, and March 31, 2021, an extension of the deadline originally set for the end of 2020. The moratorium for evictions, however, did not stop all proceedings that began before. Apartment data for early 2020 prior to the pandemic, obtained from the Hays County Justice of the Peace courts, shows the Sienna Pointe apartments, Country Oaks apartments, Encino Pointe apartments, Villas at Willow Springs apartments and Asbury Place apartments — all with some form of low-income housing — are responsible
for 45 total apartment evictions filed out of 151. “Right now, a landlord can’t really do anything...it really doesn’t make sense for any landlord to even try to do anything at this point,” Just says. “A lot of what needs to happen is — something needs to be done in terms of paying the mortgage because the landlords are hemorrhaging money they don’t have.” Just believes once the moratorium is lifted evictions will spike, a scenario Langston Neuburger, an assistant manager who processes rent at Encino Pointe, also thinks is very likely. “For the month of November (2020), [we only collected] 73% [of our rent],” Neuburger says. “We’re missing almost 30% of our income from the property — and that’s totally because of the
pandemic...typically we’ll see collections more within the 85 to 90% range, so we’re definitely tanking as far as what our overall percent collected looks like.” Encino Pointe is considered a tax-credit property, a property where a landlord can claim tax credits in return for renting some or all of their apartments to lowincome residents at a restricted rent; taxcredit property landlords receive those credits for keeping their apartments affordable. Landlords have to ensure their prospective tenants are within a certain income restriction to qualify for a lease. Encino Pointe rents units based on 60% and 30% of the median income of the surrounding area, resulting in tenants below the poverty line and median income of the average San Marcos family
SEE EVICTIONS PAGE 3 COVID-19
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Pandemic fatigue: Students battle exhaustion from new-found reality By Sarah Hernandez Assistant Life & Arts Editor For nearly a year, social distancing rules and mask mandates have compromised the day-to-day leisure and comfort people are accustomed to. As cases of the virus fluctuate and the long-awaited vaccines are distributed, students are finding themselves burnt out from the nation's new way of life. The World Health Organization defines pandemic fatigue as a "demotivation to follow
recommended protective behaviors, emerging gradually over time and affected by a number of emotions, experiences and perceptions." Student Health Center Director Emilio Carranco says people experiencing pandemic fatigue have lost sight of the value of following prevention measures. "I think anytime we're asked to do something that's very different from what we usually do, there's always the possibility that we'll tire of it," Carranco says. "Especially if we're doing something that prevents us
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THE FIRST BLACK STUDENT ORGANIZATION AT SWT IS FORMED Black Southwest Texas State students formed UMOJA, the first black student organization at the university. The Swahili word "Umoja" means "togetherness," and the club aimed to provide fellowship and a means of communication for the growing Black community at SWT.
The first majorette dance team, The Golden Texas State's Black Men United members Elites, perform at the Naturally Y.O.U. pose in front of the honors hall at Texas State Hair Show in 2020. for a career photoshoot in fall 2019. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE GOLDEN ELITES TWITTER
PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHAEL SMITH
Black student organizations adjust to pandemic-era Black History Month By Cristela Jones Life & Arts Editor Black History Month serves as a time for communities from all racial backgrounds to celebrate and preserve Black history through art, activism and education. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, student organizations have still made it a point to honor Black excellence through esteemed principles and newfound traditions. Throughout February, student organizations will begin hosting various virtual and limited in-person events to
recognize Black History Month and reflect on its meaning to students at Texas State. Charnae Brown, a social work senior and president of the Mu Phi Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. says Black History Month is an important time for her and her sorority sisters to remember the impact their founders have had on their organization. “We are the only Greek organization under the National Pan-Hellenic that was founded at a [Public White Institution], and so because of that, [Black History Month] is very important to us,” Brown
SEE BLACK HISTORY MONTH PAGE 5
The University Star
2 | Tuesday, February 2, 2021
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Community reacts to new council to preserve Indigenous and Tejano history By Timia Cobb Assistant News Editor With the formal establishment of the Council for the Indigenous and Tejano Community (CITC) now a reality, the Hays County community has taken time to reflect on its historical significance, the struggles endured to reach this point and the work that lies ahead. The council's goals are to tell undertold, written and oral Indigenous and Tejano stories along with providing cultural education and art projects. Tejano is defined as a Texan of Mexican descent and is viewed as an integral part of understanding Texas culture. The establishment of the CITC was made due to the Hays County Historical Commission (HCHC) not having the full capability to support an Indigenous and Tejano committee. “We have a Hays County Historic Commission charged with telling these sort of stories from the past, but there are so many stories starting to be shared," says Ruben Becerra, Hays County judge. "I feel as though our traditional channels needed help in getting these stories out and sharing the information with the community at large." The CITC will be supervised by Gina Alba-Rogers, the appointed committee chair, and Irma Gaitan, the committee's vice-chair. Both Alba-Rogers and Gaitan have previously served on the HCHC. In a written statement to The University Star, Alba-Rogers explains the HCHC has progressed in recent years by addressing the lack of Indigenous and Tejano history. However, she says the arrival of the committee is a little too late for comfort. "Promotion of this history by HCHC has been incredibly slow and not a priority despite its long neglect or resistance to boldly telling this history in public spaces like the County Courthouse," Alba-Rogers says in the statement. Becerra says he selected AlbaRogers as committee chair because of her experience, caring attitude and reassurance. “Specifically, because the [head] chair was the chair of the Tejano committee in the county’s historical commission, she led many changes on that front and was very successful and had much traction with that effort; that's why I chose the leadership that I did," Becerra says. "We had a proven track record of doing these things, and having these commitments and having the ties in the community for as long as they do." Samantha Benavides, a champion fellow with Mano Amiga, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that focuses on criminal justice reform, immigration rights and helping those in underrepresented communities, says
having the CITC in Hays County is a critical step toward educating the community on Indigenous history. “Personally, I think the way that history is so whitewashed in K-12 grade school, any opportunity for Indigenous and people of color to tell their story and tell their history is so crucial to understanding the bleak history of not only this county but this nation," Benavides says. Although she is upset about the reasoning surrounding why the council was made, Benavides is happy those who are not informed are being provided more outlets to learn and that Hays County's history will now include stories of all people. “It's really shameful the way that they have to fight and break down barriers in order to tell their story because it's already so whitewashed. I personally didn't learn about the horrific ways Native Americans were treated until I was in college," Benavides says. "It's shameful, honestly, but it's also so empowering to be breaking down those barriers, and they’re now taking control back for the community and out of the hands of those who run those institutions. Hays County is addressing a need that is not being felt by current systems now equity will be achieved.” Benavides says she was not well educated on Latinx and Indigenous history while growing up, which is why she looks forward to what the CITC plans to share in the future. “I'm so excited to see what this council brings," Benavides says. "I am from Laredo, and I didn't learn about the history of a lot of my cultural history, such as Latino lynchings. I didn't learn about that until college, and I lived in Laredo. So, yeah, I am excited for what other pieces of history they are going to share.” Mariana Zamora, the board of directors president for Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos, grew up in San Marcos but shares similarities with Benavides in regard to not knowing much about her culture. "As someone who grew up, born and raised in San Marcos, went to Texas State and has stayed involved with the community, I felt like growing up in this community, especially as a young person of color, I felt like I didn't really have a sense of my background, the people in our community," Zamora says. "Now serving on the board and being in the present is, I know the importance that, you know, that we need this history preserved, we need this history told because there's a lot of people like me," Zamora says. "A lot of us in our community who are now growing up and not having any idea about the folks who lived on this land before." Zamora views more history taught
as an accomplishment. She believes the council will be successful and is looking forward to all it is set to accomplish throughout the community.
"AS SOMEONE WHO GREW UP, BORN AND RAISED IN SAN MARCOS, WENT TO TEXAS STATE AND HAS STAYED INVOLVED WITH THE COMMUNITY, I FELT LIKE GROWING UP IN THIS COMMUNITY, ESPECIALLY AS A YOUNG PERSON OF COLOR, I FELT LIKE I DIDN'T REALLY HAVE A SENSE OF MY BACKGROUND, THE PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITY."
BOARD OF DIRECTORS PRESIDENT FOR CENTRO CUTURAL HISPANO DE SAN MARCOS "I'm really excited that this isn't just a message that little Centro is voicing out there, but it's something that is now being brought to the wider community, to the entire county, and it's something that our county judge and this committee behind him are also voicing the concerns," Zamora says. "So, I'm super excited for it. I personally know a couple of people that will be serving in that committee, and I'm excited for their ideas of the things that they will accomplish." With the council now established, Becerra hopes community members will use the new resource to their advantage. “My hope is that the community gives an opportunity to understand what's been here and have a clear perception. Stories from another vantage point are often overlooked or not told at all, and everyone deserves to hear and have their stories told," Becerra says. "So, I want to enable and empower the enrichment of our communities' storytelling because that's how we become a better group of people as a whole."
The University Star
Tuesday, February 2, 2021 | 3
NEWS FROM FRONT EVICTIONS
Brianna Benitez News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
signing leases, Neuburger explains. Neuburger says Encino Pointe has had “quite a few units” of people sitting on three-to-four months of rent they’re behind on. Encino Pointe’s corporate office has allowed it to institute payment plans for people behind on rent and negatively affected by COVID-19 but, once the moratorium ends, conditions could take a turn for the worst.
"THERE’S GOING TO BE A LOT OF PRESSURE COME THE END OF THIS MORATORIUM TO START PUSHING EVICTIONS ON THOSE UNITS [WITH PEOPLE BEHIND ON MONTHS OF RENT]. OUR CORPORATE OFFICE IS GOING TO WANT US TO BE PUSHING TO EVICT SO THAT WE CAN CYCLE THOSE UNITS AND GET PEOPLE WHO CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD TO STAY HERE."
ASSISTANT MANAGER AT ENCINO POINTE “There’s going to be a lot of pressure come the end of this moratorium to start pushing evictions on those units [with people behind on months of rent],” Neuburger says. “Our corporate office is going to want us to be pushing to evict so that we can cycle those units and get people who can actually afford to stay here.” For property managers like Neuburger, recognizing the financial burden the pandemic has placed on those struggling to make ends meet makes the human element of their jobs a lot more difficult. For someone who outright owns a property, she, he or they has more control over her, his or their leniency toward a renter. “But when you have that faceless corporate veneer,” Neuburger explains, “it becomes a lot more difficult to institute that human element.” “It’s tough, but we use what agency we can to try and make sure we keep people with a roof over their heads.” During any given year, the most common reason for eviction is due to a failure to pay rent. To make matters worse for low-income residents, the state of Texas’ December unemployment rate stood near 7% (5.2% in Hays County) compared to 3.5% the year before. Adding more fuel to a blazing financial fire, families are still waiting on the U.S. Congress to provide more financial assistance. Jaime Bustamantes, an assistant manager at Sienna Pointe, another tax-credit property, which is responsible for the most evictions (14) in 2020, says since the pandemic started, some residents have been struggling mightily. “There’s people that owe quite a bit, but we are giving out resources for them to reach out to get help,” Bustamantes says. “Hays County is helping out now; there were other resources that we gave the information to our tenants for them to reach out and get the help.” Bustamantes says he believes evictions will spike because tenants are not always utilizing the resources available to them. “They’re not trying to find another job, or they’re just writing it [off],” Bustamantes says. “We try to talk to them [and say], ‘hey, [your balance] is going to go higher and higher if you don’t try to reach out for help. It’s going to end up bad on you because at the very end they’re going to owe the company whatever they owe.’” “We try to help them out as much as possible; we understand what they’re going through.” Davonte Lawson, a resident at Sienna Pointe, says getting laid off and having to find another job was among the toughest challenges that came with the pandemic. He says the apartments still accept late fees and sometimes try to keep tenants informed. “Nobody wants to be in a bad position, but [the apartments] gotta do what they gotta do,” Lawson says. “I’ve had arguments already with these people about paperwork that I already did, but they did wrong to begin with. I just try to stay out of the way.” Candy Hernandez, a nursing home employee who recently moved to Sienna Pointe, says the hardest dayto-day adjustment during the pandemic was to her former partner who lost his job in the food industry. “I went to work and everything, and I was picking up shifts and paying all the bills, but he was more affected emotionally than I was,” Hernandez says. She says the emotional fallout from the pandemic, which eventually led to domestic abuse, prompted her to move to Sienna Pointe. Despite the trial and tribulation, she says people have to keep pushing through the pandemic and make the best of their situations. “I honestly feel like there’s nothing we can do but just keep going and doing what we gotta do every day,” Hernandez says. “You can’t just let that overcome you; you just gotta keep going. Regardless of whatever happens with these evictions...there’s nothing we can do about this pandemic.”
San Marcos voters wait in line to vote in the general election, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at Live Oak Health Partners. PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH
Voters stand in line to vote during the primary election Hays County voters wait in line to vote in the general on Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020, at the LBJ Student election, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at the Performing Arts Center. Center on Texas State's campus. PHOTO BY JADEN EDISON
PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH
County officials examine low voter turnout in runoff election By Carson Ganong News Contributor Hays County’s voter turnout during the 2020 general election was the highest the county had seen this century. 109,963 of 153,614 registered voters, or 71.58%, went to the polls or cast their ballots by mail. However, just one month later during the San Marcos runoff election to decide its mayor and a member of its City Council, only 8.7% of the city’s registered voters showed up to vote. Though made more apparent by 2020’s record turnout, the decrease in turnout was not unusual; in 2018, voter turnout dropped from 59.25% in the general election to 3.25% in the runoff. Griffin Spell, a member of the San Marcos Planning & Zoning Commission who ran for City Council in 2018, says the drop in voter turnout was not a split between general and runoff elections but a broader lack of engagement in local politics. “When you turn on the news, it’s all national politics and national issues and people just focus on those,” Spell says. “I’m on the Planning & Zoning Commission, and the decisions we make have a lot of impact on apartments and housing and those issues here in the city, but attention to those has always been historically low.” To Spell's point, general elections with only local races on the ballot tend to see much lower turnout than those that include state or federal races. In 2019, for example, when the ballot was full of propositions and local races, voter turnout was 13.57%. In 2017, it was 6.75%. Hays County Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson says voter fatigue may have played a role since the December runoff was the fourth election held in 2020. Three of the four took place during the latter half of the year. “I think because we had the primary runoff postponed to July and then we had the general election in November, people were not interested in getting back out and voting again in December,” Anderson says. Juan Miguel Arredondo, a trustee on the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District School Board who was one of two candidates for mayor in the December runoff, thinks the timing of the election contributed to the low turnout. "The university students were in the midst of finals, folks were preparing for the holidays or their children getting out of school," Arredondo says. "Everyone's mind was somewhere else." According to Spell, there are likely factors making voter turnout in San Marcos appear lower than it is — something he calls “phantom voters.” The term refers to people registered to vote in Hays County who no longer live in the county. Keeping voters on the voter rolls for around two years after they leave is a common practice throughout the nation, but in a college town like San Marcos, where an entire graduating class moves away each year, the effect on voter numbers is more noticeable than it might be elsewhere, Spell says. “If you look at Kyle or New Braunfels or Wimberley or anywhere else, their number of people who vote in their runoffs is a couple percent higher, and it’s really just to do with the fact that we don’t want to take people off the voter rolls too soon,” Spell says. Even when accounting for the inflation of voter numbers, turnout in local elections is still low but has witnessed a steady rise, thanks in part to voter
advocacy groups like MOVE Texas and Texas Rising. Charlie Bonner, communications director for MOVE Texas, says it is pivotal for communities to understand the effects local government decisions can have. “There's so many things that we care about that we don't know our local government either can do something on or can have the most impact on, especially when we look at issues like racial justice and police violence,” Bonner says. “It’s our local governments who are really going to have the most profound impact on those issues.” However, Bonner says increasing turnout will require a continued effort across the system, from voters to activists to elected officials. Regarding action at the county level, Anderson believes Hays County has done what it can, and the responsibility for increasing turnout now rests with the campaigning efforts of local candidates. “We are at a peak right now in increased registration, and we were in that runoff election, so I think at that point it’s probably going to be up to candidates to get voters to the polls,” Anderson says.
"WE ARE AT A PEAK RIGHT NOW IN INCREASED REGISTRATION, AND WE WERE IN THAT RUNOFF ELECTION, SO I THINK AT THAT POINT IT’S PROBABLY GOING TO BE UP TO CANDIDATES TO GET VOTERS TO THE POLLS."
-JENNIFER ANDERSON, HAYS COUNTY ELECTIONS ADMINISTRATOR
Arredondo thinks runoff elections are an unnecessary barrier to the democratic process and suggests ranked-choice voting as an alternative, which allows voters to rank their candidates by preference. Ranked-choice voting allows voters to fill out the ballot and indicate who their first, second choice, third choice, etc. is for each position. The candidate who receives the majority of votes, more than 50%, wins. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, a new counting process beings. The candidate who received the least amount of votes is eliminated; that candidate's votes are then redistributed to the candidate their voters selected as their second-choice pick. "Ranked-choice voting is inherently more democratic and allows those 71% of folks who turned out to vote in November to actually have a say in who [are] their elected representatives," Arredondo says. Voter turnout rates for future local and runoff elections remain unknown, but Bonner is optimistic that engagement in local politics will continue to grow. “People are empowered," Bonner says. "They realize how much impact they could have with people working together, when they show up on the streets together, when they make their voices heard, and I think we’re seeing that energy shift to local politics."
The University Star
4 | Tuesday, February 2, 2021
GRAD SCHOOL ISSUE ADVISING
Texas State instructors help navigate graduate school possibilities By Payton Russell Life & Arts Reporter With a lengthy application process and over 100 degree programs to choose from at Texas State alone, stepping on the path toward graduate school has served as a daunting task for some students. However, The Graduate College at Texas State has lined up a wealth of virtual resources this semester to ensure every student with hopes to continue their education has a chance. “Texas State is very interested in making sure that students are not put at a disadvantage during the application process just because they’re not familiar with what that application process is,” says Dr. Eric Paulson, associate dean of The Graduate College. Between writing supplemental essays and crafting resumes, the college's graduate counselors and recruiters will help students throughout the process to ensure they put their best feet forward. Throughout the semester, information sessions and "Grad Chats" will take place on the school's website, hosted by Bobcat alumna Dani Artaza, the recruiting coordinator at The Graduate College. Artaza earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from Texas State and, after a few years working across the country, decided to return to The Graduate College to help students continue their own educational journeys. She urges students interested in attending graduate school to first think about their career goals and work backward to select a degree. “I try to get people to think about what their career aspirations are,” Artaza says. “Once they figure out where they want to be in the professional world,
Dani Artaza, recruiting coordinator for The Graduate College at Texas State, greets a newly admitted graduate student at the first annual New Graduate Student Orientation, August 2019, at the Round Rock campus. PHOTO COURTESY OF DANI ARTAZA
what sort of degree and experience can help you get to where you want to be?” Once students have this end goal in sight, they may still wonder how to find the programs that fit their specific needs, especially with so many graduate schools in the U.S. to choose from. Dr. Andrea Golato, dean of The Graduate College, believes the best educational guides are right under students' noses. “Every department has a graduate adviser, and it is that person’s job to help students navigate the landscape,” Golato says. “They love talking about graduate programs. Just make an appointment and say, ‘I’m interested in this topic, what are some good graduate programs?’” Golato also stresses that within their
specific fields, graduate students have the opportunity to tailor interests toward more specific degree plans and courseloads than they were offered in their undergraduate studies. For Karan Kumar, a second-year graduate student in athletic training, the newfound specificity in his courses and assignments is the highlight of his graduate school experience. “Undergrad is very structured; you show up to a class and are told, ‘This is what you learn, and this is how you’re gonna learn it’,” Kumar says. “But in graduate school, I feel like you’re given a lot of freedom to choose what you learn about.” As students search for specific interests
among a wide range of schools, Paulson reminds students of one key step in choosing a school that goes beyond interests and career opportunities: Support. “There should be support, from information down to support to apply,” Paulson says. “Also, once you get in, what kind of funding is there, what kind of professional development is available for you in the program?” Paulson believes The Graduate College at Texas State serves as a prime example of an ideal graduate school support system, with the school planning to host several information sessions, one of which is a virtual Graduate and Professional School Fair on Feb. 9 via Zoom. Students planning to attend are encouraged to ask important application questions, take notes, make meaningful connections with recruiting staff and browse different programs from not just Texas State but schools across the country. Both Golato and Artaza urge students with a passion for their subject area to explore graduate degree options with one of the graduate school's many advisers. “You want to start early,” Golato says. “It’s kind of like going shopping; before you buy any expensive item, you look at it from all different angles, making sure this is what you want to do, where you want to go.” And although graduate school may not be an ideal choice for every graduating senior, The Graduate College at Texas State hopes to foster the idea that earning a graduate degree can serve as a fulfilling, community-building and career-catapulting experience for all. To learn more about The Graduate College at Texas State, visit its website.
'You are capable': Graduate students offer meaningful advice to prospective students By Leanne Castro Life & Arts Reporter The transition from undergraduate to graduate school is a huge step. There is more work, less structure and the everpressing dilemma of figuring out how to pay for it. These factors push some students to rule-out graduate school as an option; however, some view them as necessary obstacles in an ultimately exciting and rewarding endeavor. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, around 13% of Americans hold a master's, professional or doctorate degree. For that 13%, graduate school can serve as a stepping stone to an otherwise unattainable career as a researcher, professor or a uniquely qualified leader in a specific field. Then there are those who hope to stay in academia forever, like Daniel Guerra, an aquatic resources and integrative biology doctorate student. Guerra is studying the highly specialized field of ecology with a focus on Texas tortoises and their habitats. Much of the research he conducts is the first of its kind. “Sometimes being like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m the one person doing research on this type of animal’ is really cool and really exciting,” Guerra says. For Guerra, trailblazing has its perks, like having the highly unconventional graduate school experience of spending hours in the wild, tracking tortoises with a GPS and recording their every move. Studying something without precedent presents its challenges too. With no protocols or best practices to draw on, Guerra has to rely on himself and his academic mentors. "I have a lot of institutional support between my adviser and a couple of committee members who are external to the university," Guerra says. "[That's] part of why I decided to stay [at Texas State]." For someone as passionate about their career as Guerra, the graduate experience at Texas State is something of a dream
come true. “Getting to go out there and [have] your animal in your hands, and working with them and feeling like you’re making a positive contribution really makes it all worth it for me,” Guerra says. “The idea that not only am I learning things, but I’m actively adding knowledge to the scientific community, however small that might be, is wild." Guerra recognizes that not everyone is as dead set on graduate school as he always was early on. However, to those unsure about what they want to do, he recommends taking advantage of research opportunities and joining labs available to undergraduates at Texas State to discover what piques their interests. “Lean on other grad students," Guerra says. "This is absolutely impossible to do on your own; I don’t care how smart [or] how hardworking you are. If you try to do this completely solo, you won’t be able to do it.” Unlike Guerra, Lyle Blanco, a graduate public administration student, took an unconventional path before pursuing his graduate degree at Texas State. In the 10 years between his undergraduate and graduate career, he has gained work experience, moved across the country, gotten married and had a kid. The decision to go to college at the undergraduate level felt somewhat obligatory to Blanco. That was simply what was expected of him at his age; however, he wanted his graduate experience to be different. As the first person in his family to attain a master’s degree, he wanted to ensure his graduate experience was motivated by the right reasons instead of going “just because”. “It took time for me to learn and figure things out,” Blanco says. “There’s some people who know what they want, and they’ll go straight from undergrad to graduate. That’s fantastic. Good on them. But if you don’t know, don’t do it.” Blanco also warns against trying to "skate by" in graduate school like some
may try to do in undergrad. Not only is it impossible, Blanco says, it is also not the point of higher education. “If you want to do your minimum in your grad program, you’re going to get minimum benefit from that program,” Blanco says. “But if you take advantage of your professors’ knowledge and you maximize what you do, you’re going to get a higher quality degree and a higher quality experience for yourself. You’re going to get out of it what you put into it.” For those who have decided they are ready for the challenge of graduate school, the first big hurdle is the application process. A personal statement, letters of recommendation and the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are sometimes daunting. “Submit and just go with it," Blanco says. "The best time to start something was yesterday; the second-best time is today.”
"THE BEST TIME TO START SOMETHING WAS YESTERDAY; THE SECOND-BEST TIME IS TODAY."
PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION GRADUATE STUDENT Somewhere in the middle of Guerra’s and Blanco’s experiences is Sarah Tanner, a graduate psychological research student whose path to Texas State was not a straight line. As a pre-med major in San Antonio, Tanner realized she had a budding passion for psychology, but her career aspirations with a bachelor’s degree were limited. She found herself dreading having to take classes like statistics and
research methods. Once she was actually in those classes, though, she found her true passion — research. She pursued that passion by joining research labs, which only deepened her love for the field. Still, though, she was plagued by worries about whether graduate school was something she could handle and what a graduate degree in psychology would ultimately lead to. “I started looking into grad school, [but] I wanted to be sure,” Tanner says. “It’s a path that definitely requires a lot of self-motivation. You have to really look within yourself and be like, ‘Is this what I want?'" Tanner recognizes that she is not the only person to contemplate such a decision. There is immense internal and external pressure placed on graduating college students. At the end of the day, though, pursuing a graduate degree is a personal decision. “It came down to really looking within myself and being like, ‘This is what I want to do,' and having to be very cognizant that this was going to be hard, and I’m going to face rejection and difficulties,” Tanner says. “But I know it’s possible with the right schooling, the right people and the right encouragement. I will find a way to make it happen.” While attending graduate school is not on the mind of every undergraduate junior or senior at Texas State, Tanner encourages uncertain students to not allow feelings of imposter syndrome — feeling like one does not belong — steer them away from something that will ultimately be worth it. “You are capable," Tanner says. "It’s not easy and it takes work, but anything in life worth doing usually does; if it’s what you really want to do, you can definitely do it.” To find more information about the various graduate programs at Texas State, visit The Graduate College website.
The University Star
Tuesday, February 2, 2021 | 5
LIFE & ARTS FROM FRONT COVID-19
ILLUSTRATION BY JACOB HERNANDEZ
from doing the things that we enjoy doing." Among those who have felt the burnout are Texas State students like Amber Sutton, an exercise and sports science sophomore, who admits there have been times when she felt tired of living in a pandemic. "I have felt the, 'I really don't want to do this anymore. I just want to go do what I want, go to wherever I want, do anything I want," Sutton says. "But I never wavered from stopping protocols because I knew it was the only way to be safe for me and to be safe for others." Sutton, whose family was diagnosed with COVID-19 after Christmas, says it is upsetting to see people ignore safety protocols. "I do feel that I would need to do my part in keeping others safe by telling them like, 'Hey, just wear your mask for like 10 minutes' or something little like that," Sutton says. "Because in the long run, we don't know what this virus could do." Young adults are more susceptible to pandemic fatigue than older age groups. The frontal lobe in charge of making decisions is not fully developed until age 25, meaning young people are less likely to weigh the risks of a decision before making an impulsive one, such as attending a large gathering during a global health crisis. From June to July 2020, the number of active COVID-19 cases in San Marcos spiked, according to the city's COVID-19 dashboard. In a COVID-19 report from early June, 58% of new cases reported were from San Marcos residents under the age of 30. Hays County epidemiologist Eric Schneider attributed the numbers to young people's disobedience toward the safety measures put in place. Esther Burmeister, a communication studies senior, says throughout the pandemic, she has seen plenty of posts and stories shared on social media of large, mask-free group gatherings at spots on the San Marcos Square. “I think, like, going to The Square, like, that’s completely irresponsible," Burmeister says. "I see Snapchat stories of people and I’m like, there’s so many people there like you’re literally not wearing a mask, I don’t even know if you have one... you shouldn’t be going to The Square.” Burmeister's classes are online, so she rarely visits campus and chooses to stay home; however, when she does decide to go out, she says she remains cautious and wears a mask. Citlalli Esquivel, a transfer fashion merchandising sophomore, says although she has yet to get tired of wearing a mask or follow safety procedures, she wants to live out a fulfilling college experience — but she also knows now is not the time to do so. "You can't be out there partying and having the best time of your life knowing that you're going to get people sick," Esquivel says. As someone who witnessed a family member battle COVID-19 last year, she says it affects her personally to see people acting so recklessly. "I'm literally seeing my family struggle through it and like, go at it. And these people are like, 'No, [I won't follow safety protocols]," Esquivel says. "I just want everyone in my family to stay safe or like my friends to stay safe, and knowing that people aren't following the regulations really bothers me." Claire Lowrie, a biology senior, says she takes every precaution to stay clean, healthy and safe upon returning to her apartment in San Marcos after being out. "I shower, I change, I constantly wash my hands and sanitize if I'm not home. It's the new normal," Lowrie says. "We're going to have to wear a mask for a while, wear a mask for work. It's something I've just gotten used to. I've just changed my new normal." Lowrie also says she recognizes the pandemic fatigue among some students on campus. "So at this point, they don't care," Lowrie says. "If they get sick, they get sick, and if they give it to other people, they give it to other people. It's not if you're going to get COVID, it's when you're going to get COVID." Carranco recommends looking at the situation from a different perspective and shifting focus away from what people cannot do, to what they can do, such as working toward keeping themselves and others safe. "We will return back to a normal life again," Carranco says. "People just have to believe in that and continue to work hard to be part of the solution. And to help us all bring this pandemic to an end."
Cristela Jones Life & Arts Editor email@example.com
FROM FRONT BLACK HISTORY MONTH says. Sigma Gamma Rho was founded in 1922 at Butler University by seven Black women who decided to create their own sorority because they were not allowed into the all-white sororities. The Mu Phi Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho was established at Texas State in 1996 but recharted in 2016. Brown says the sorority's core values of sisterhood, scholarship and service are monumental in the work it does for the Texas State community. Last February, Brown says she and her sorority sisters carried out Black History Month traditions like setting up their royal blue and gold stand on the Quad to pass out cupcakes or creating educational slideshows on Black achievements. Due to the pandemic, however, Brown has had to readjust the sorority’s typical Black History Month festivities to fit a virtual setting. “Right now we’re looking to have another slideshow again highlighting the importance of Black History Month but also making it personal — so like what each of our chapter members find as their importance for Black History Month,” Brown says. “We all celebrate it differently within our households or just individually so we want to highlight that as well.” This year’s celebration will include an interactive Black History game of Kahoot! on Feb. 24 via Zoom. A gift card drawing will take place afterward for the highest-scoring contestants. Michael Smith, a criminal justice senior and Black Men United ambassador, says he and members of his organization have also had to get creative while organizing events for Black History Month. “This year, we’re having the same event that we had last year, which is called the Black Men United (BMU) Trivia Bowl, and it’s scheduled to be set on Feb. 17," Smith says. “Now, as of right now, that date is kind of in the air because, of course, the COVID restrictions; it’s been really hard to find a booking, so that's the only issue at the moment, but what we do is we have a trivia bowl and what that trivia bowl does is it not only open up a fun day of friendly competition, but it also shines a light on individuals who play a huge part in African-American history.” Also established at a predominately white institution, Black Men United is a nationally-acclaimed organization that fosters Black male achievement. Smith joined Black Men United last spring after attending one of the organization's “Wild N’ Out” inspired icebreaker meetings. He says being a part of a strong community of Black Men at Texas State has taught him so much in such a short period of time. “When people look at Black Men United, [they] see the activities and fun which is one thing we are big on and collaborating with other Black orgs, but we also preach about excellence, you know, Black excellence,” Smith says. “We show people how to do resumes, dress formally; a lot of people like myself never knew how to tie a tie; Black Men United taught me how to tie a tie…so you also learn tips that will take you very far in life success especially after undergrad school.” Smith says Black history means
"everything" to him and goes beyond just the month of February. “The people that we honor and respect, me personally I do [celebrate] all year round,” Smith says. “Some may decide or choose to do it during Black History Month but, to me, Black History Month is every month, and Black History is every day, because the people that were fighting for the rights that we have now, they didn't take a certain day or a month to do it, they did it every day until they had an unjustifiable death or something crazy happen to them….So I don’t really have a certain tradition; I just believe in paying homage every single day because, at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be right here if it wasn’t for them.” Black Men United and Black
"SOME MAY DECIDE OR CHOOSE TO DO IT DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH BUT, TO ME, BLACK HISTORY MONTH IS EVERY MONTH, AND BLACK HISTORY IS EVERY DAY, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE THAT WERE FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHTS THAT WE HAVE NOW, THEY DIDN'T TAKE A CERTAIN DAY OR A MONTH TO DO IT, THEY DID IT EVERY DAY UNTIL THEY HAD AN UNJUSTIFIABLE DEATH OR SOMETHING CRAZY HAPPEN TO THEM."
-MICHAEL SMITH, CRIMINAL JUSTICE SENIOR, BLACK MEN UNITED AMBASSADOR
Women United will also host their annual Confidence Showcase on Feb. 19 to highlight the talents of Black student creatives. More details will soon become available through the Black Men United Twitter page. Like Smith, Brittany Baker, a social work senior and treasurer of the Texas State Golden Elites, also believes Black history should not just be celebrated in one month. “It’s Black History Month every day for me, every time I have the opportunity to educate somebody,” Baker says. “I feel like as a Black person that does attend a PWI, it's important to stay informed on everything that’s going on within the Black community and racial discrimination.” Baker along with Kierra Simmons, a digital media innovation senior, founded the Golden Elites dance team in November 2019, making them the first Black majorette dance team at Texas State.
Majorette dancing is a highenergy style of dance popularized in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) that incorporates ballet, jazz, modern dance and Hip-Hop. Baker says being one of the firsts to create a place for students to express themselves through dance and establish a more diverse community is something she feels proud of accomplishing in Texas State history. “To bring that [HBCU] experience to a PWI, it just shows a lot,” Baker says. “It shows that you can still have an HBCU experience at a PWI with a twist on it, and it also allows us to show Texas State this other culture that’s a staple in the Black community, and even though all our founders are African-American, we don’t discriminate on any other race that would like to participate or join our organization.” Before COVID-19, the Golden Elites would partner with other Black organizations to perform during their events. Now, the Elites will hold one of their first performances since the start of the pandemic on Feb. 19 in honor of Black History Month. The time and location will soon be announced via their Twitter page. Another organization that partners with Black student organizations during Black History Month is Texas State's NAACP. Established in the early 1900s to promote equity and inclusion for all people of color, the NAACP is a place for student activists to take action in their communities. “[The NAACP] is all about making sure that people of color have a seat at the table when it comes to representation, when it comes to politics and social issues,” says Cree Taylor, a criminal justice senior and NAACP 6875-B secretary. The NAACP 6875-B will celebrate both its Founders Week and Black History Month Feb. 8-13 through different events in-person and online. “That whole week we will be doing voter registration, trivia bowls and we’ll be having a regular meeting, as well as attempting to have hopefully a profit chair so that people can come out and not only will we talk about serious issues…but we’ll be having social events just to get more members and have more people feel like they’re in the community,” Taylor says. The profit share meeting, trivia bowl and voter registration events will all take place in-person with safety protocols in place. Times and locations are still being determined but will soon become available on the Texas State NAACP Twitter page. Taylor hopes students will take time to educate themselves on Black history, specifically American Black history, during and after Black History Month. She also encourages more students of color to join the NAACP to establish a stronger voice for those who often go unheard. "I think to the NAACP, Black History Month is really just about advocacy," Taylor says. "Advocacy for people that don't get the opportunity to be heard all of the time, underserved communities, especially Black and brown communities because I feel like we're often the backbone of our country, but we're not seen and heard in that way."
Texas State's NAACP-6875B members (from left to right) Johnathan Ashe, Corinthia Skinner, Tay Norman, Evan Bookman and Cree Taylor stand outside the Performing Arts Center at Texas State to encourage students on campus to register to vote.
Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority sisters (from left to right) Jeanette Pedraza , Anna Howe, Charnae Brown, Shania Richardson, Aríana Curran, Kayla Stanton, PHOTO COURTESY OF CREE Alexus Robinson and Devine Ellison stand together on the Quad after a meeting. TAYLOR
PHOTO COURTESY OF CHARNAE BROWN
The University Star
6 | Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Valeria Torrealba Opinions Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Opinions in The University Star are not necessarily those of our entire publication, Texas State University’s administration, Board of Regents, School of Journalism and Mass Communication or Student Publications Board.
THE MAIN POINT
OUR RIGHT TO TELL
Texas State fails Black students...again By The Editorial Board A 5-foot-11-inches tall Black male with a beard, mustache, medium length hair and unknown clothing. We are certain there are dozens of Black men on Texas State’s campus who fit such a description. Some are breadwinners. Some are on the academic Dean’s List viewable in the LBJ Student Center. Others are leaders on this campus actively working toward change for the better. But this past weekend, Texas State contributed to a different narrative when it sent out a Timely Warning, 'Your Right to Know' alert to the university community about a sexual assault suspect for an alleged incident that took place in a residence hall. To be clear: We have no problem with Texas State sending the alert with the intention of telling the community to “take precautions to not become victims," as Police Chief Laurie Clouse says. The alleged incident was valuable information to the community, and Texas State made the right call by sending out the alert. Sexual assault, no matter the perpetrator’s race or ethnicity, is a serious matter that should always receive attention. But Texas State did not just send an alert to students, faculty and staff about an ongoing security threat. It also invoked fear. The university painted every relatively-tall Black man with facial
hair as a suspect. We take issue with the university not waiting until it gleaned more information on the alleged suspect. By sending such a vague description to the community and not specifying the exact location of the alleged incident, Black men anywhere on campus at the time were placed in immediate danger. Texas State failed to think about the impact its actions would have which, as a university made up of 11% Black students, is absolutely unacceptable. Black men are associated with criminality and overrepresented as “as perpetrators of violent crime when news coverage is compared with arrest rates,” according to The Opportunity Agenda, a social justice communication lab that works to advance the impact of the social justice community, and Texas State’s decision to put out such insufficient information contributed to that problem. On a larger scale, numerous studies have proven that Black communities are disproportionately victims of the U.S. criminal justice system. Black people are more likely to be arrested than their racial counterparts. Black people are likely to experience longer prison sentences than their racial counterparts. None of this is a result of Black people actually committing crimes at higher rates. It is rather the result of this country operating two different criminal justice systems: One for the wealthy and another for marginalized communities made
up predominantly by people of color, according to The Sentencing Project. This country’s criminal justice system has molded us to unconsciously associate crime and violence with Black communities. That same unconscious bias has led people to cling to the myth that is Black on Black crime. We saw it when rioting and looting were associated with Black Lives Matter, when in actuality it was discovered that over 90% of BLM protests were peaceful. We see it in every mugshot sent in city crime press releases and posted to news organizations’ websites, a policy The University Star has had to address in recent months. This school year, University President Denise Trauth has published numerous messages in support of Black lives, a change in tone from the same leader who previously refused to condemn white supremacy. She now says the importance of Black lives on campus is not up for debate and has pointed to a series of seemingly-performative actions, such as the renaming of campus buildings, as evidence. But Texas State’s actions this past weekend are a reflection of how the university has regarded its Black students for far too long. The harm this university placed Black students in cannot and should not be understated. Not when the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system has cost Black people their lives and freedom. When is enough, enough?
MAIN PO NT
"BUT TEXAS STATE DID NOT JUST SEND AN ALERT TO STUDENTS, FACULTY AND STAFF ABOUT AN ONGOING SECURITY THREAT. IT ALSO INVOKED FEAR. THE UNIVERSITY PAINTED EVERY RELATIVELY-TALL BLACK MAN WITH FACIAL HAIR AS A SUSPECT."
Please stop requiring students to purchase additional class materials By Nadia Gonzales Opinion Contributor At the start of every semester, college students have to prepare to spend a hefty amount of money on required course materials — textbooks, homework programs and access codes. According to Texas State's Cost of Attendance chart, a student on-campus will spend about $760 on additional course materials. For some students, simply paying tuition and fees is a struggle. On average, a Texas State student will pay $11,860 each semester. Therefore, it is absurd for students to spend additional money on textbooks they are not guaranteed to use again after a class is finished. Students get it: Assigned textbooks and course materials are relevant to instructors. Instructors spend their time teaching and studying the subject of the assigned course materials and textbooks. It makes even more sense for instructors who create their own textbooks and are entitled to any resulting royalties. But in contrast, students essentially waste hundreds of dollars on materials that may not have any relevance to their major or minor. Even if the course materials do have relevance to a student's field of study, the student will likely not use the textbook again. Marina Cardona, a marketing senior, says many of her instructors do not understand the struggle of students having to pay for rent, food and course materials. "It’s insane because for some of us who are already struggling, that $200 for a book or access code could have been spent on food or rent. Some professors are so out of touch with reality," Cardona says. In addition to the blatant issue Cardona brings forth, instructors sometimes assign access codes required for students to complete quizzes and/ or homework assignments. Access code programs include McGraw Hill Education and Pearson's MyMath Lab. On average, the access codes cost students at least $100. The price of the
ILLUSTRATION BY MOLLY GONZALES
"IT’S INSANE BECAUSE FOR SOME OF US WHO ARE ALREADY STRUGGLING, THAT $200 FOR A BOOK OR ACCESS CODE COULD HAVE BEEN SPENT ON FOOD OR RENT. SOME PROFESSORS ARE SO OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY."
access codes only increases when addons are factored in, such as quizzes, homework problems and e-textbooks. In some cases, the required access codes are only available to a student for the semester. Students end up paying over $100 for something they will have no access to ever again. Amanda Soto, a psychology
for two of the same programs seems so unnecessary and completely avoidable." Soto finds herself negatively impacted by the effects of buying extra course materials this semester more than ever before. She says two of her instructors are requiring students to purchase a certain overpriced program for textbook and assignment access. "We can find the [assigned textbook] for way cheaper on Amazon or somewhere else instead of purchasing the overpriced program," Soto says. Low-income students cannot afford hundreds of dollars worth of course materials. Their inability to complete certain homework assignments, discussions or quizzes, because they cannot afford overpriced materials, has the ability to affect their grades negatively — which should never be the case. Required course materials should not have an impact on whether students pass or fail a class. As an alternative to the issue, instructors should instead use the Alkek Library resources to accommodate their students. The Alkek Library Catalog is a free resource to all Texas State students, faculty and staff. Instructors can use most of the library's textbooks and resources to teach their classes. Further, it is a much more suitable option than requiring students to pay hundreds of dollars. It is understandable that instructors may not understand or know the financial situation of every student. However, it is important for them to remember that simply paying for tuition and fees is a struggle in itself. Students do not always have a steady flow of income, and money should never be a significant hurdle students have to jump over to experience success in the classroom.
sophomore, says purchasing extra course materials hinders low-income and financially-independent students. She knows because she has experienced it herself. - Nadia Gonzales is a public relations "It hurts my wallet since I am junior becoming financially independent from my parents," Soto says. "Having to pay an extra $210 outside of tuition and fees
The University Star
Tuesday, February 2, 2021 | 7
Aidan Bea Sports Editor email@example.com
Women’s basketball looks to rebound from two straight losses as they face Little Rock By Sumit Nagar Assistant Sports Editor After falling short against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (7-5 overall, 6-1 Sun Belt) in back-to-back games on Jan. 29-30, Texas State women’s basketball (6-7 overall, 3-5 Sun Belt) is set to take on the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (8-6 overall, 4-3 Sun Belt) on Feb. 2, Feb. 5 and Feb. 6. In their game on Jan. 30, the Bobcats lost 66-60 despite starting the contest aggressively on the defensive end, forcing the Ragin’ Cajuns to turn the ball over and take ill-advised shots. The Bobcats got off to a hot start as they took advantage of four Ragin’ Cajun turnovers and turned that into a 7-0 lead in three minutes of play. Texas State went into halftime with a slight 30-27 lead shooting 46.4% (1328) while only allowing Louisiana to shoot 38.5% (10-26). Second-chance points were a large reason for the Bobcats’ lead as they scored 10 points off five offensive rebounds. Graduate guard/forward Gabby Standifer came off the bench to lead both teams in scoring in the first half with 10 points (4-5 FGS, 2-3 3FGS), eight of which she scored in the final 1:50 of the period. Texas State extended its lead early in the second half to 36-29. Louisiana quickly got itself together as the team went on a 15-4 run to take the lead 4540 with 1:12 left in the third quarter. The Ragin’ Cajuns shot 70% (7-10) during the run while the Bobcats went a mere 22.2% (2-9), missing many open looks along the way. Despite going back and forth in the fourth quarter, Louisiana kept the lead for the entirety of the period, never allowing the Bobcats to gain the advantage. Louisiana shot 65.2% (15-23) in the second half versus Texas State’s 32.4% (11-34). For the contest, the Bobcats prevented the Ragin’ Cajuns from making many three-pointers as they shot 16.7% (212) from deep, yet they were burned in the interior as they allowed Louisiana to score 34 points in the paint. Another struggle for the Bobcats was their scoring off the bench. Despite 12 bench points in the first half, they came back with zero in the second. Head Coach Zenarae Antoine acknowledges her players’ efforts, yet says she wants to focus on the issue as well. "This is a tough string of losses on the road, especially knowing our team was able to compete — in my opinion — [with the] the top of the conference and fall just a bit short," Antoine says. "I do appreciate our athletes gave it all they got, and I also recognize that in order to move forward, we are going to need more help off of our bench because bench production is important.” The game came on the heels of an even tougher 66-64 defeat to the Ragin’ Cajuns the night before. In that game, Texas State found itself in the driver’s seat in the first half as well before Louisiana took control in the second. Once the Bobcats went ahead 5-4 at the 6:08 mark in the first quarter, they did not lose the lead until the fourth quarter. At halftime, Texas State was up 3328. The Bobcats shot 56.5% (13-23) from the floor while holding their opponents to 37.5% (9-24). While both teams struggled from the threepoint line, where Texas State shot 25% (1-4) and Louisiana shot 22.2% (2-9), the Bobcats found success in the paint as they scored 20 points from the region
in the first half. The Bobcats came out of the locker room looking to extend their lead and did so as a three-pointer by junior forward Da’Nasia Hood put the Maroon and Gold up 40-32 with 6:32 left in the third quarter. However, that did not bury the Ragin’ Cajuns, as they hacked away at the deficit with a 14-6 run that tied the game 46-46 in the waning seconds of the third quarter. Louisiana continued to push forward early in the final period and took the lead 52-50 with 7:48 left in the contest, finally capturing its first lead since the first quarter. The Ragin’ Cajuns extended its lead 57-52, but the Bobcats managed to go on a 10-2, run capped off by a threepointer from junior guard Kennedy Taylor, to give them the lead 62-59 with 3:33 left on the clock. With the game tied at 64-64 with 1:27 remaining, the Bobcats missed three crucial, tie-breaking shots in the same possession. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored off a pair of free throws in the final seconds to win 66-64. Louisiana had a blistering fourth quarter as the team shot 72.7% (811) from the field and went 2-2 from deep. This brought the Ragin' Cajuns game totals to 48% (24-50) overall and 42.9% (6-14) from the three-point line. After the two losses, the Bobcats are in fifth place in the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference. Antoine is optimistic they can change their fortune for the better in the remaining nine games. "Moving forward, we don't have that long to turn around and [get] corrected, but I'm encouraged because we have a rather youthful team that are going to put themselves into position,” Antoine says. The Bobcats will not have to wait long to try and turn things around as they prepare to face the Trojans. The first game on Feb. 2 will make-up for an originally postponed doubleheader from Jan. 15-16 due to COVID-19 protocols within the Trojans program. The contest will be a quick trip home for the Bobcats before they head out to Little Rock, Arkansas to play an already-scheduled two-game series with the Trojans. The matchup is set to be a defensive showcase as both teams have tough defenses and some of the lowest-scoring offenses in the Sun Belt. Out of the 12 teams in the Sun Belt, Texas State has the No. 4 ranked defense and the No. 10 ranked offense while Little Rock has the No. 2 ranked defense and the No. 11 offense. Texas State’s top performers going into the contest are Hood and Taylor. In the Sun Belt, Hood ranks No. 1 in points per game (17.4), No. 3 in shooting percentage (39.9%), and No. 7 in rebounds per game (8.2). Taylor ranks No. 2 in assists (5.8), steals (2.4) and minutes played (36.5). For the Trojans, senior forward Krystan Vornes has dominated the glass as she ranks No. 3 in the Sun Belt in rebounds per game (9.4) and offensive rebounds per game (3.8). Vornes has had double-digit rebounds in each of her last six games. Junior guard Mayra Caicedo leads the Sun Belt in assists (7.6) and minutes played (36.6). The Bobcats will face the Trojans at 6 p.m. on Feb. 2 at Strahan Arena. Then they will hit the road to the play the Trojans again at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 5 and at 4 p.m. on Feb. 6 at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. All three contests will be streamed on ESPN+. Texas State junior guard Kennedy Taylor (3) dribbles around Warhawk sophomore guard Gara Beth Self (2) during the first quarter of the game, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats won 64-50.
PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS
Texas State junior guard Caleb Asberry (2) dribbles the ball to the basket in an attempt to score for the Bobcats during the game against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats lost 74-73. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS
Men’s basketball seeks to avoid falling further in the Sun Belt against Little Rock By Aidan Bea Sports Editor After losing both games of a doubleheader at home against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (13-4 overall, 7-3 Sun Belt), Texas State men’s basketball (11-6 overall, 5-3 Sun Belt) will look to get back on track against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (10-7 overall, 6-4 Sun Belt) on Feb. 5-6. Prior to the series against Louisiana on Jan. 29-30, Texas State was on a five-game winning streak and the top seed in the West Division of the Sun Belt Conference. Now the Bobcats find themselves on a two-game losing streak and the second seed of the division two games behind the first-place Ragin’ Cajuns. Texas State had been on an extended road-trip leading up to the series, and Interim Head Coach Terrence Johnson says the nerves of playing in front of a home crowd contributed to the losses. "We were too up-and-down,” Johnson says. “Very emotional tonight, which is often the case when you put a ton of pressure on yourself to perform at a high level. This game is not anyone's fault. The guys really wanted it and were excited to be back home after being on the road for over a month.” In the Jan. 30 contest, the Ragin’ Cajuns held a slight lead in the early going but Texas State was quick to respond. Louisiana held the largest lead of the game at the 12:23 mark as it led 17-10. Just when it seemed the game was getting out of hand for the Bobcats, they rattled off six unanswered points to trail by just one. Texas State kept the game within one possession for the next four minutes before tying the game up at 25-25 after a three by junior guard Mason Harrell. Each team took the lead a couple of times before the halftime buzzer sounded with Louisiana ahead 38-35. Less than a minute into the second half, Texas State took the lead once again after back-to-back threes. The rest of the game was tightly contested, with nine lead changes and eight ties. The Bobcats seemed to have a slight edge as they maintained a lead of a few points for most of the latter portion of the second half. Louisiana did manage to tie the game a few times but rarely had the lead in the final five minutes of action. With less than a minute left in the game and Louisiana ahead 72-71, Harrell drove to the basket and drew a foul on a shot attempt. He hit 2-2 at the line and put his team ahead by one point with 0:29 to go. After a timeout, sophomore guard Devin Butts of the Ragin’ Cajuns stole the ball and converted a layup to take the lead 7473, dealing Texas State its second loss in a row. Harrell finished with a career-high 27 points (9-13 FGS, 2-3 3FGS, 7-7 FTS), four assists and a steal. Junior guard Caleb Asberry turned in another strong performance on the stat sheet with 15 points (6-8 FGS, 2-2 3FGS), five rebounds and two assists. Senior guard Cedric Russell led Louisiana in scoring for the second
night in a row with 24 points (9-17 FGS, 6-9 3FGS). His teammate Butts had a near-perfect night, shooting 6-7 overall from the field and 4-5 from three on his way to 18 points. In the Jan. 29 game, Louisiana jumped out to an early 8-3 lead in the first half before Texas State closed the gap to 10-8 just under nine minutes into the game. The Ragin’ Cajuns slowly built up their lead to as much as nine points before the game went into halftime with Texas State down 31-24. The Bobcats came out of the break determined to keep their win streak alive, going on a 7-0 run to tie the game at 31-31 just a minute into the second period. Louisiana answered with a 6-0 run of its own before Asberry hit a three to make the score 37-34 in favor of the Ragin’ Cajuns. The rest of the quarter was a back-and-forth affair with neither team managing a lengthy run. Eventually, Louisiana separated itself and led by as much as six points in the final two minutes. Texas State went on to lose 62-60. Harrell and junior forward Alonzo Sule were the only Bobcats to score in double figures. Harrell finished with 14 points (5-12 FGS, 4-6 FTS), five rebounds and three assists. Sule had 11 points (4-11 FGS, 3-6 FTS) four rebounds, two blocks and a steal. For Louisiana, Russell had a gamehigh 21 points (7-15 FGS, 3-8 3FGS, 4-8 FTS) to go with five rebounds and a steal. Looking forward to Little Rock, Johnson says recovery and film sessions will be his main focus preparing for the Trojans. “Back-to-back games against a very physical team, we had some guys play some high minutes," Johnson says. "[Rest and rehab] is the first thing. Second of all, intense film study. Try to get better at seeing, because in this era of basketball certainly, film study is extremely important. The last thing is really working on ourselves, trying to refine some things. Trying to run a more purposeful offense and a more determined defense.” Texas State swept Little Rock earlier in the season on Jan. 15-16 as part of its five-game winning streak. Now the Bobcats find themselves just one game ahead of the Trojans. Losing one game of the upcoming doubleheader would mean being tied for second place; losing both would mean falling from first place to third place in the span of one week. Little Rock is led by the Preseason Player of the Year senior forward Ruot Monyyong who averages a doubledouble at 12.9 points and 11.1 rebounds a game, all while shooting 61.4% from the field and blocking 1.8 shots a game. The leading scorer for the Trojans is junior guard Markquis Nowell at 14.9 points per game. Nowell also leads Little Rock in steals with 2.5. The second-leading scorer and secondleading rebounder for the Trojans is junior forward Nikola Maric with 14.8 points and 6.6 rebounds. The first game tips-off at 4 p.m. on Feb. 5, followed by the second game at 4 p.m. on Feb. 6. Both games will take place in Strahan Arena and can be streamed on ESPN+.
The University Star
8 | Tuesday, February 2, 2021
(From left to right) Alex Loma, Josh Mitchener and Isaac White discuss how to make students more aware of Our Lady of Wisdom Parish located just a few blocks away, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, at the Stallions. PHOTO BY VANESSA BUENTELLO
Garden supervisor and graduate teaching assistant for the Department of Agricultural Sciences Jhessye MooreThomas helps remove weeds, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, at the Cowboy Sculpture Garden. Moore-Thomas finds gardening extremely therapeutic and says getting the opportunity to monitor a National Wildlife Federation recognized garden is a bonus. PHOTO BY LILIANA PEREZ
Campus workers Sienna Valasco and Atheena Cornista take a dance break, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021, outside of Flowers Hall. Valasco and Cornista both work at the Starbucks located on the second floor of Alkek Library.
Texas State sophomore Rachel Wolbrueck (left) debates preacher Shawn Holes about the gospel and why he is "pro-choice" for wearing masks, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, at the Fighting Stallions statue. The space around the statue is known to be the university's free speech area. PHOTO BY JEFFREY HALFEN
PHOTO BY VANESSA BUENTELLO
Boko the Bobcat dances while the band plays the Texas State Fight Song at the men's basketball game against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, at Strahan Arena. The Bobcats lost 62-60. PHOTO BY MCKAYLIE SELF