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Baseball loses to Little Rock in three-game sweep

Nutrition professor seeks to expand government measures for food insecurity

Talk it Out: Should Texas State charge students fees for online classes?

Studio San Martian paints inclusivity, acceptance within local art community







Opinion: Atlanta shootings highlight racism misunderstanding By The Editorial Board It feels like it was just yesterday when our Editorial Board wrote an opinion condemning silence when injustice, in any capacity, takes place against marginalized communities. That editorial was written in response to the killing of George Floyd and the protests across the nation, including our local community. 10 months later, we find ourselves deeply saddened by the recent spa shootings in Atlanta, which resulted in the deaths of eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent. Since the March 16 killings, we have witnessed it all. Law enforcement has come out and publicly stated that the shooting suspect was just having “a really bad day.” The suspect told officers that he committed those vicious acts to fight his sexual addiction. Asian communities, subject to a history of racism and xenophobia in this country only enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic, are in pain. As we made clear in late May, we believe silence is compliance. We stand with those directly impacted by the massacre in Atlanta. Further, we condemn the hateful actions, rhetoric and white supremacy that led to them — actions that continue to place Asian communities in danger. A report released by Stop AAPI Hate, a national non-profit organization that tracks hateful and discriminatory actions


Local businesses contemplate future of establishments as state reopens By Timia Cobb Assistant News Editor Sofia Psolka Life & Arts Contributor Various San Marcos businesses, ranging from coffee shops to local thrift stores, have taken different approaches to Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order calling for the lifting of Texas' mask mandate and full reopening of businesses. Abbott cited advancements in vaccinations, specifically the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and the high number of recoveries from COVID-19 in the state as reasons for the decision.


(Left to right) Texas State meteor science engineering doctoral student Fatema Zohra and her daughter, Maya, blow on a dandelion, Sunday, March 7, 2021, at Ingram Hall. PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH

Student mothers forge educational paths toward successful careers By Payton Russell Life & Arts Reporter With one hand clutching her suitcase and another wrapped around her daughter's tiny palm, Fatema Zohra bravely boarded a flight to the U.S. from her home country of Bangladesh, embarking on her journey as a firsttime U.S. resident and student mother. In Bangladesh, hard-lined gender roles and a crouching glass ceiling made Zohra's dreams of a self-made career seem unreachable. Alone and without options, Zohra left her husband and took her 1-year-old daughter Maya to begin a new life. In 2019, 60% of U.S. college student mothers raised their child without the support of a partner or other family member. On her own for the first time in San Marcos, Zohra faced this statistic, choosing to forge her own educational path in an effort to improve her livelihood and achieve her life-long dreams. “If I was left in my country, I would be jobless, just taking care of my baby,” Zohra says. “I would have felt immense self-hatred having wasted all my years of [undergraduate school] for nothing.” Zohra, a first-year meteor science engineering doctoral student, says her first weeks in San Marcos were nothing but a challenge. She lugged Maya's stroller and her heavy textbooks up Texas State's hills, often fainting from the heat and exhaustion as a result. Now, three years into her postundergraduate journey, she is convinced she is creating the best future for herself

and Maya.


Texas State manufacturing engineering senior Katherine Ausanka smiles with her son, Jacob, Tuesday, March 9, 2021, at Ingram Hall. PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH


TEXAS STATE METEOR SCIENCE ENGINEERING DOCTORAL STUDENT “Even as a baby, Maya can see that I am working hard, that I’m contributing to something,” Zohra says. “I think that she is proud of me.” In her three years at Texas State, Zohra created her own family in Texas — despite her own relatives residing nearly 9,000 miles away. Zohra found a new best friend in Katherine Ausanka, a manufacturing engineering senior and fellow student mother who shared Zohra's dedication to education. “I decided to go to school when I became pregnant,” Ausanka says. “I was told that I was going to be in poverty, working three jobs, but I told myself, ‘I will finish this. It will happen, no matter what.’”

Texas State computer science junior Naomi Padilla (right) smiles with her son, Aidan, on her lap and her mother, Yolanda, Wednesday, March 10, 2021, outside Texas State's Child Development Center. PHOTO BY VANESSA BUENTELLO

Unmarried and with no clear path ahead, Ausanka gave birth to her son Jacob at just 22 years old. She previously studied in New York as a dancer; however, after suffering an injury, she moved to Austin seeking a new opportunity. "I knew I was smart enough to do engineering," Ausanka says. “It’s



'A little bit of peace of mind': Hays County educators receive COVID-19 vaccines By Tatiana Torres News Contributor In the hallways of Rattler Stadium, Harvey Manning stood patiently in line with teachers and staff from schools all over Hays County. With paperwork in hand, he stepped up to receive his first dose of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine. "I think it's fantastic," says Manning, a social studies teacher at San Marcos Baptist Academy,

after receiving his vaccine. To educators like Manning, expanding vaccine eligibility to teachers is a big step toward getting students back in the classroom and allowing educators to teach course material in a way each student can comprehend. “Last year when the schools closed down for the spring, you could tell that [Zoom] wasn’t the answer for a lot of kids,” Manning says. On March 3, the Texas Department of State

San Marcos Academy world geography teacher Harvey Manning (left) receives his COVID-19 vaccine from Eliza Herrera LVN, Friday, March 11, 2021, at San Marcos High School. PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH


The University Star

2 | Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Brianna Benitez News Editor starnews@txstate.edu

ENVIRONMENT Trinity Building 203 Pleasant St. San Marcos, TX 78666 (512) 245 - 3487

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About Us History: The University Star is the student newspaper of Texas State University and is published every Tuesday of the spring and fall and once a month in the summer semesters. It is distributed on campus and throughout San Marcos at 8 a.m. on publication days with a distribution of 4,500. Printing and distribution is by the New Braunfels HeraldZeitung. Copyright: Copyright Tuesday, Mar. 23, 2021. 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. Deadlines: Letters to the Editor or any contributed articles are due on Monday the week prior to publication. Corrections: Any errors that are in the pages of The University Star and brought to our attention will be corrected as soon as possible. Visit The Star at universitystar.com

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Members of the Texas Stream Team train with San Marcos River Rangers. PHOTO COURTESY OF ANDREW SHIREY

Texas Stream Team celebrates 30 years of environmental protection, education By Kiana Burks News Contributor The Texas Stream Team, a program based in The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, is celebrating 30 years of citizen science and environmental conservancy and protection. The Texas Stream Team is a statewide environmental education and volunteerbased water quality monitoring program. The team has trained over 11,000 citizen scientists since its launch in 1991 and is one of the longest-running and most accomplished citizen science programs in the nation. Throughout its three decades of service, the program has collected water quality data to help identify trends and environmental changes. Although many state agencies throughout Texas often collect water quality data on a quarterly or annual basis, Texas Stream Team’s citizen scientists collect data every month. Claudia Campos, the administrative coordinator for Texas Stream Team, believes the program provides the perfect way for citizens to get involved with their community and enhance their knowledge of environmental science in a way that encourages both environmental ethics and awareness. “I love [Texas] Stream Team because it really does empower regular Texans who might not have a background in these environmental sciences to have a resource that can bring them up to a new level,” Campos says. Campos believes the citizen scientists are the secret behind Texas Stream Team’s success. While training local citizens to collect data, the organization has addressed concerns in the waterways quickly and efficiently. “Citizen science is a whole revolution going on right now. Through our program, we gather a lot of people that are on the ground out there, and a lot of times they are the first to notice a lot of things,” Campos says. “In 2019, one of our citizen scientists caught a jet fuel oil spill and kicked off the warning system that was able to get it taken care of.” Potential threats to Texas waterways may lead to incidences throughout the state, and without the necessary attention, can sometimes go unnoticed. However, the Texas Stream Team and its citizen scientists seek to reassure local scientists and researchers that it will help catch any threats and manage them in a timely manner. “I hate the fact that things like that happen, but it’s really cool that our program can be there and be one of the systems in place to navigate these issues. Water is a critical resource. We all love it, and we all use it in one form or another,” Campos says. “Having the stream team based here on campus provides an example of how we can go above and beyond for our community.”

“To think that we are only five people core staff, you don’t think about being able to be a part of a team like this but now that I’ve found it, I get so excited because we do so many great things. It makes me feel empowered. It really does," Campos adds. Adam Berglund, a trainer with San Marcos River Rangers, a volunteer group of trained citizen scientists who conduct scientific data collection with the San Marcos River Foundation, and a former citizen scientist with the Texas Stream Team, considers the 30 years of data collection and monitoring as a great accomplishment for the Texas Stream Team. Berglund says the research provides a basis for scientists in the event that contaminants enter the river system through acts such as illegal dumping or hazardous spills. “The most important part about monitoring all of the rivers is gaining the ability to have long-term reliable data so then when something goes wrong, you're able to prove that, not just in a court of law but in public opinion,” Berglund says. “Having that 30 years of data of the river has been excellent reassurance.” Rachel Sanborn, an active trainer with Texas Stream Team, who was formally a citizen scientist with the group and volunteer coordinator with San Marcos River Rangers, believes the program is a great way for community members to get involved with environmental protection. “[Texas] Stream Team is wonderful, there aren't very many other states that have a stream team program like this,” Sanborn says. “My favorite part about it is getting other people involved and trying to get them to be interested and care about the river and realize that we're kind of the ultimate frontline when it comes to protecting it.” Along with protecting the environment, the Texas Stream Team focuses on monitoring the river and its water. The team provides the community with extremely valuable data about the health of the river ecosystem that also helps researchers identify when the river is at risk. “Most of our work is just trying to understand what's happening normally so that we can understand when something bad happens,” Sanborn says. “We're not really pollution busters and going, 'Oh my god there's something in the water'. What we're really doing is collecting data and seeing what kind of trends are happening. We want to see if we are getting less oxygen in the water or if there is more sediment coming into the water, or if the water [is] less clear than it used to be, all of those kinds of things we want to note.” Sanborn also believes part of what makes the Texas Stream Team so successful is that it puts the power of helping the local environment in the hands of citizens.

“We really can't rely on the government to take care of everything,” Sanborn says. “If you have a real active group of citizens involved in their natural resources, their rivers, their parks or whatever it might be, then you start to get a little bit more faith in what's going to happen and what's going to go on in your environment.”



Sanborn credits many of the Texas Stream Team's accomplishments to its ability to create a programming environment that promotes the involvement of the local community in a way that maximizes outreach and allows members to continue their mission of facilitating environmental stewardship. She says the team empowers concerned citizens, scientists and institutions to work collaboratively to promote the maintenance of a safe and healthy environment through environmental education, data collection and community involvement. “I'm a real believer that every piece of volunteer work matters because when you add up all the little pieces you actually get something really incredible,” Sanborn says. “There's a much bigger picture going on, and it's nice to know that we have such an active community that really cares about this river and wants to see it there for future generations.” To learn more about Texas Stream Team, visit https://www.meadowscenter. txstate.edu/Leadership/TexasStreamTeam. html.

The University Star

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 | 3


Brianna Benitez News Editor starnews@txstate.edu


Nutrition professor seeks to expand government measures for food insecurity By Kiana Burks News Contributor After researching food insecurity for 12 years, an assistant professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences is aiming to expand upon the current standards for what counts as food insecurity and how it is assessed in the U.S. “I've been doing food insecurity research for a long time, since maybe 2009, and food insecurity is just a really vague term, so people don't really understand what it is or what it means or who's affected by it and why,” Dr. Cassandra Johnson says. In Johnson's recent paper titled, “The Four Domain Food Insecurity Scale (4D-FIS): Development and Evaluation of a Complementary Food Insecurity Measure", Johnson challenges the current way food insecurity is measured, which she considers “pathologically conservative” — leaving out individuals and communities who need assistance. “[The government is] really focused on quantitative deprivation, which is what you think of as classic food insecurity — cutting back the portion of what you eat, skipping meals, not eating for a whole day, not eating for several days, those kinds of things. It doesn't focus on any other experiences," Johnson says. Johnson considers “other experiences” that current measures fail to account for are just as important as quantitative deprivation measures. “What we know from research is that all of the experiences of food insecurity are food insecurity,” Johnson says. “We know that they all negatively affect people's health, not just those quantitative reductions in food but the trade-offs people have to make in terms of the types they're buying or the quality, or how they're acquiring food, not to mention the psychological experiences with anxiety and stress.” “All of those things matter and, right now, the measures aren’t really picking that up so that means the numbers we have are most likely an underestimate,” Johnson adds. The original intent of conservative food insecurity measures was not to determine who would receive government assistance but rather to act as a general survey of food insecurity, Johnson says. She says measures were designed to pick up on the most severe cases of food insecurity and were not meant to serve as the single measure used by everyone, everywhere or for every assistance application. “A lot of times people’s experiences

Dr. Cassandra Johnson uses her computer, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at her office in the Family and Consumer Sciences building. PHOTO BY JEFFREY HALFEN



ASSISTANT PROFESSOR , SCHOOL OF FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCES didn't match up to the conversations we were having with community focus groups, and when I started doing some digging into the history of the measure, I found that it had been essentially originated from a study with a group of 32 white women from upstate New York and, to this day, most of the questions come from that study,” Johnson says. “It just proves that there's so many opportunities to make a difference here and really promote food security in a way that will benefit people who could use a little more assistance.” Johnson believes it is imperative that measures are broadened for the U.S. to finally provide adequate assistance to communities left behind, especially since the onset of COVID-19. “It’s important to say that before the

pandemic, food insecurity for minority households in the U.S. was already at least double what it was for white households, so then when you think that it's doubled or tripled, it’s easy to see that this scale of food insecurity is a massive social and economic problem, not an individual problem; it’s structural,” Johnson says. Johnson also believes the approach to understanding the various experiences with food insecurity should be more holistic than asking questions such as, 'Did you eat something?' or 'Did you go a whole day without eating?'. Mallory Best, communications coordinator for the Hays County Food Bank, also thinks more can be done to help individuals affected by the multiple aspects of food insecurity.

“I personally think that the system needs to be reworked and revisited, and I’m glad that Dr. Johnson is doing something that can help move us forward in the right direction," Best says. "The way that the current questions determine food insecurity don’t really address a lot of the things that come along with food insecurity. There's a lot of food-related illnesses like hypertension, obesity and diabetes among low-income populations that come about because the food that a lot of them are buying is cheaper and they don’t have access to nutrient-rich food.” Best feels the measures should account for more than whether an individual can get their hands on food and take into account the mental and physical health implications that come with food insecurity. “While people may be able to afford [a] consistent meal, they're not affording [a] balanced meal which can lead to those health issues; that's something that [the Hays County Food Bank is] really passionate about,” Best says. “And then there’s the stigma that is associated with food insecurity. If I were to guess, I’d say that the people that are answering these questions aren’t always going to be completely honest about their situation, which is a problem.” Miriam Manboard, a human nutrition graduate student, assists with research for Bobcat Bounty, a student-run campus food pantry. Manboard says current measures for food insecurity need an upgrade. “My current belief is that the current measurement of food security in the U.S. is not really meeting a lot of population needs,” Manboard says. “The measures miss a lot of communities. College students get left out of food assistance, undocumented people get left out and a lot of racial minorities have difficulties getting to assistance and, again, tend to get left out due to the way it's currently measured.” Manboard remains optimistic that researchers like Johnson will turn the tide for those suffering from food insecurity and provide a new and better way for the government to address the problem. “It makes me very hopeful; it feels like more people are catching on to the fact that food insecurity is more than just never being able to get food and that there's many populations that are actually food insecure that need more help than they're getting right now, especially after this pandemic,” Manboard says. “It's definitely a good thing for the future to think about how we can make better food assistance programs and actually start to help more people.”

FROM FRONT VACCINE Health Services (DSHS) received a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services directing states to expand vaccine eligibility to include persons working in school and childcare facilities. All education personnel working in pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, as well as Head Start and Early Head Start programs, are eligible to receive the vaccine. Eligibility also includes bus drivers and those who work for or are licensed child care providers, including center-based and family care providers. Through a partnership with Hays County, the San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District (SMCISD) acquired 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Initially, San Marcos High School was set to administer vaccines on March 4 to individuals who met the DSHS criteria. However, with the expansion of vaccine eligibility to school and child care workers, the district jumped at the opportunity to accommodate them. “Honestly, it was perfect timing," says San Marcos CISD Executive Director of Communications Andrew Fernandez. "[DSHS] made the announcement that school employees were now eligible to receive the vaccine and [did] not have to wait for their place on the 1A [and] 1B categories. We immediately got with the county and made sure they were good with it." Doug Wozniak, San Marcos CISD director of transportation and school safety, says the district has since acquired an additional 500 vaccinations from the state. Wozniak says the district has moved on to vaccinating education staff outside of the district including substitute and student teachers, local daycare workers as well as teachers and staff from San Marcos Baptist Academy. “After this week, we should have a really large portion of Hays County educators done with their first-round or done with both rounds [of the vaccine],” Wozniak says.

People wait in line to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, Friday, March 11, 2021, at San Marcos High School. PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH

After two weeks of clinics, San Marcos CISD is confident every employee who wants a vaccine will have the opportunity to get it. “Our number that we’re estimating is gonna be about 800 out of 1,200 [district employees], so maybe 70% of our staff has either had one or two rounds," Wozniak says. Wozniak adds San Marcos High School will continue to serve as a vaccination site for the general public who meet DSHS qualifications once educators and staff are sufficiently vaccinated. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, teachers around the country, including those at San Marcos CISD, stepped up to help their students and families with drive-by parades, distributing technological resources and providing meals on top of their normal teaching duties. “You know, I think if this school year taught us anything, it's that teachers love their jobs," Fernandez says. "They obviously don't do it for the money. They do it for the love of preparing young adults for the

future and not even a barrier like a pandemic can get in the way of a teacher." Teachers and staff throughout Hays County have also helped set up vaccination clinics, check people in, pass out and collect paperwork and monitor individuals during their post-vaccine, 15-minute wait time. Dyanna Eastwood, San Marcos CISD head nurse, along with her team of nurses and several volunteer emergency medical technicians, worked to vaccinate hundreds of education personnel who visited San Marcos High School to receive a vaccine. “I just think this community, this school district, these teachers — they’re just amazing; they’ve reached out more than I’ve seen any other district,” Eastwood says. “I'm so proud to be here and be a part of this; it’s been amazing.” While schools have established safety precautions in an effort to keep employees, staff and students healthy, Wozniak says the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 is enough to make the education community anxious. “Teachers and staff still have that constant, you know, fear [that] if they get [COVID-19], what [that will] mean for them and their families. So, [getting vaccinated] offers them a little bit of peace of mind and kind of that protection to carry on through the remainder of the year and try to get through this,” Wozniak says. Until the virus is gone, nothing can completely calm the fear of COVID-19 for some educators. However, Fernandez believes vaccination is just a small token of appreciation for all the hard work educators and staff have put in on the front lines. "There were some trials and tribulations along the way, but [the pandemic] didn't stop them,” Fernandez says. “It didn’t stop our teachers from going inside their classrooms, doing the best they can every single day to educate our young individuals, and we cannot thank them enough.”

The University Star

4 | Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Cristela Jones Life & Arts Editor starlifeandarts@txstate.edu


Studio San Martian co-owner Kelsey Huckaby (left) poses for a photo with co-owner Jason Sherman, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at Studio San Martian. PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH

Clothes racks stand against a backdrop of art products and pieces, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at Studio San Martian. PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH

A painting entitled 'The Messenger' by artist Elizabeth Banker hangs on the wall, Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at Studio San Martian. PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH

Studio San Martian paints inclusivity, acceptance within local art community By Sarah Hernandez Assistant Life & Arts Editor Tucked away on the northwest side of San Marcos, colorful eclectic art lines the walls, handmade crafts sit atop display shelves and the smell of burning incense fills the air at Studio San Martian — a vibrant place in which artists and art lovers alike can create freely and feel supported by others in the local art community. "I have always kind of wanted to have a cooperative space to be able to work with other artists and you know, have a place to create and show our work," says Kelsey Huckaby, co-founder and owner of Studio San Martian. "And just to be able to, you know, like have a thing you know, where we can have events, have art shows, and have fun and create community and a safe space." Studio San Martian's location at 1904 Ranch Road 12 #108 is its third location, a much larger, customizable space than the previous two. The first Studio San Martian was opened in August 2018 near Gumby's Pizza in a shared office space. The studio hosts a variety of events including art classes, live music, open mic nights and tea sits. Huckaby says she and others at the studio find themselves saying "yes" to most of the people who reach out about using their space to host an event. "We're really big on promoting people's positive self-expression," Huckaby says. "You know, whether that be their music or food or art or, you know, jokes or whatever it may be."



FOUNDER AND OWNER OF STUDIO SAN MARTIAN Jason Sherman, co-founder of Studio San Martian, says his favorite event is "Market Sundown", an open mic night hosted every third Sunday which includes new performances and talent each time. "You never know what to expect. Never know who's gonna get up there. I know [I've gotten] goosebumps, like, three times for things. Like some people just bring the magic and you're like, 'Wow,'" Sherman says. "Like it's special to think that like if we weren't doing it, like that never would have happened. I never would have gotten to experience that person's amazing song that they wrote." Upon moving to the new location last year, Sherman and Huckaby wanted to

focus more on creating a versatile space to host events and classes rather than building a retail space as they had at previous locations. Unfortunately, once the two made their vision a reality, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They were forced to close their doors and return deposits to those who had previously purchased tickets for canceled events. Once small businesses were allowed to open in Texas, the two began working on a return to some form of normalcy. Huckaby was able to connect with some artists she collaborated with in the past, and they were able to get an outdoor stage built to continue hosting music events safely. "A lot of the musicians were just itching; they've been writing music, they've been collaborating, you know, during this lockdown," Sherman says. "So, it was actually like good timing to be able to offer outdoor stages and have a safe COVID friendly environment to showcase music, because we couldn't really do indoor concerts like we were doing before." Huckaby, Sherman and Studio San Martian volunteers understand the importance of inclusion and support within the city's local art community, whether it is music, dance, poetry, painting or other talents. "They're so accepting of every type of art," says Mandi Miller, a volunteer art instructor at Studio San Martian. "I think, you know, being accepting of all types of stuff is awesome and beautiful. And I think a lot of people consider Studio San Martian a safe space...there

are so many different events and niches, but they have a space for everyone." Aside from volunteering at Studio San Martian, Miller also does marketing work for the San Marcos Art League, an organization that strives to bring the arts to the community. She says she can see a difference between the two art scenes and that Studio San Martian has more of a "psychedelic vibe", which she says represents a lot of San Martians. "I think it's just so important to be out there, you know, there's so much of this life that is just like, we have to, you know, stick to a certain schedule, stick to a certain way of doing things," Miller says. "But it's just, it's such a beautiful place with beautiful people and it might not be mainstream, but I think the counterculture that's represented there is just so important for society." Huckaby says she hopes Studio San Martian acts as a symbol for inclusivity and support within both the local art community and those who feel they have missed out on what they are meant to do. "I think it's greater than just making art, you know, I think we're meant to share those gifts with each other because that's what makes everything work," Huckaby says. "That's the real stuff that's really worth living for, isn't it? Like the love of sharing, you know, the beauty of those talents with other people and just making everyone happy and all just celebrating each other and supporting each other." To learn more about Studio San Martian and keep up with its events, visit its website, Instagram or Facebook page.

The University Star

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 | 5

LIFE & ARTS FROM FRONT MOTHERHOOD difficult, but there is a way if you can find a way. Don’t let anyone tell you your life is over.” For Ausanka, one key to her success has been finding ways to manage her time efficiently. While at home, Ausanka spends dinner with her son and her husband, but her time in class is spent fully concentrated on her schoolwork. "You make it so that whatever you’re doing, you’re focused on that. It's time blocking," Ausanka says. "You can’t do two things at once." Ausanka finds valuable study time while her son is at school at Texas State’s Child Development Center (CDC) during the day, alongside Zohra's daughter. Both Ausanka and Zohra take immense pride in the center, where a majority of the kids are children of Texas State faculty and students. Texas State also provides information on payment assistance for mothers like Naomi Padilla, a computer science junior, who may need extra financial help. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), single student mothers often face "significant financial and time-related obstacles" making the path toward graduation difficult. Padilla unexpectedly became pregnant with her son, Aidan, during her freshman year. Despite the warmth she felt in her tummy, the future of her studies seemed terrifying and unreachable. Her mother, who was also a teen mom, was her motivation to keep going. “I told my mom I needed to drop out, and she said, ‘You have me, your grandma, your sister, your dad, there is no reason for you to drop out,’” Padilla says. “My mom has always been my cheerleader.” Along her college path, Padilla's mother and grandmother have served as the support system she needed to move forward. As a child of young parents, Padilla remembers seeing her hardworking mother struggle to make ends meet. She hopes her degree will help provide a more stable future for her and her son. "She couldn't always provide for us," Padilla says. "And I knew if I was ever going to have a kid, that was not going to be a position I put myself in. That's why I push myself so hard in school." Understanding the struggles young mothers face, Padilla's mom introduced her to a number of resources, including Texas State’s Students Who Are Parents Organization (SWAP), which helps provide the extra resources, assistance and community that student mothers, like Tiffany Rogers, a criminal justice doctoral first-year and mother of two, can take advantage of. “[SWAP] is so in tune with what we need,” Rogers says. “You don’t have to prove you’re poor to get what you need; they just say, ‘We have this for you.’” According to IWPR, investing in programs and support groups that target the needs of student mothers can improve college attainment rates and lead to further academic success. For the fall semester, SWAP donated backpacks and school supplies to Rogers' children. When her husband died in 2017, Rogers struggled to move forward in her kids' schooling. SWAP’s counseling services and her mother’s guidance helped her confront mental hardships. “You deal with imposter syndrome when you’re in school anyway,” Rogers says. “But then you add to that as a single mom, and you kind of start to feel fraudulent in every area of your life.” With the help of her therapist, Rogers has committed to finding just 15 minutes a day within her busy schedule to dedicate to her kids, uninterrupted by electronics or work calls. These moments, whether it is staring at her son's face or holding her daughter in her arms, remind her of the magic of having kids, despite the difficult balance. “Being a mom is like reading a book,” Rogers says. “I get to see, 'Okay, what’s the new adventure they’re having today?’” With school hours filling the gaps between the pages, Rogers sometimes feels like she is missing out on fundamental moments with her children, such as teaching her daughter shapes or colors. This may make staying in school a challenge for student mothers. In fact, data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that only 8% of single mothers who start college will earn an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years. “I do feel like I’m missing out on a lot,” Padilla says. “When I have to study, I hear him playing with my mom, and I’m missing out on those little things.” However, Padilla tells herself that her time in class will lead to better moments with Aidan in the future. With two years of student motherhood behind her and only two semesters in school left, she thinks back fondly to her first day of school, arriving to class in tears because she missed her son. "I was sad, and I kept looking at my phone, but then my teacher started talking," Padilla says. "And for a split second, I forgot about my son. That’s when I knew I was going to love what I was doing, and I’ve got to keep up with being at school.” Ausanka hopes all student moms feel as passionate as she does and stays committed to their goals — without letting anyone tear them down. Now, with a wonderful son, husband, home and education, she has proven that the successes of a student mother are not only attainable but also eternally worthwhile. “Young women are told their life is over when they get pregnant, but it’s just not true," Ausanka says. “Life is still gonna be amazing. How could this right here be anything but amazing and worth everything?”

Cristela Jones Life & Arts Editor starlifeandarts@txstate.edu


Hannah Kocian, co-owner of Bohemian Mamajamas, sells clothing, Saturday, March 20, 2021, at The Unknown Concept's Back Alley Bazaar. PHOTO BY NATALIE RYAN

Customers shop at Pretty Wicked, Saturday, March 20, 2021, at The Unknown Concept's Back Alley Bazaar. PHOTO BY NATALIE RYAN

Since the lifting of the mask mandate on March 10, Hays County has averaged 36 cases, 52 recoveries and nearly one death per day. County Judge Ruben Becerra responded to Abbott's decision, calling it "premature and reckless". H-E-B received backlash after announcing it would recommend masks instead of requiring all customers to wear them. On March 5, it reversed its position, stating all customers, employees and vendors must wear masks in its stores despite the mandate. Stores such as Costco, Walmart and Target have also followed suit and will continue to require employees and customers to wear masks in their stores. Ryan Johnson, owner and creative director of San Marcos clothing store, The Unknown Concept, believes Abbott's decision to fully reopen Texas came too early since vaccinations only started a few months ago and COVID-19 cases have not dramatically decreased.




“We're not going to change, just yet, until we see cases continue to drop [and until] we see that there's more people that are getting the vaccine,” Johnson says. “I think it's a little premature, but we're not going to fight with anyone if they're not wearing masks. We’ll just continue to social distance; I mean our shop is pretty small so we try to.” “We want to keep everyone safe. There's people that are getting vaccinated and that's great, but we want to make sure that we stay safe, keep ourselves safe... Our number one priority is customer safety and the people that work in the shop their safety as

well," Johnson adds. Mary Katie Tigert, a sales associate at Pitaya's San Marcos location, says the store will continue to limit the number of customers in the shop to 12, require customers to use hand sanitizer upon entry and wear a face mask. “We feel like this is the best course of action because it protects the community as a whole instead of thinking about individual profit as a company,” Tigert says. “We want to do what's best for keeping the community safe and healthy, and if that means that we have to decrease business by lowering capacity, or we lose customers because of the masks, we think that's more important than making the sales [to] people who don't want to cooperate with [our] mask mandate.” Just down the block from Pitaya, The Coffee Bar has kept its interior closed since March of last year. Emily Vaquera, a barista at The Coffee Bar, says the lifting of the mask mandate is reckless and makes her worried when around others in public. Vaquera says in-store dining still remains uncertain and, along with her own personal fears, she worries about the health of her fellow employees as store staff is limited. “There’s no word of opening up inside yet,” Vaquera says. “We probably won’t be open inside until the numbers of cases are consistently going down. This keeps our employees safe, and we can’t risk our health.” Dave Mesa, a body piercer and owner of Tattoo Emporium, believes the mask mandate being lifted is good for those who have taken the precautions or dealt with COVID-19 before. “I think it’s kinda cool that people have the choice [on] whether they want to or not [wear a face mask] if they’ve already had [COVID-19] or gotten the vaccination,” Mesa says. Tattoo Emporium is continuing with walk-in services for piercings, but tattoos are by appointment. “As far as our business goes, we do require 100% that everybody wear a mask. We don’t care if you’ve been vaccinated or not; you’re wearing it if you’re coming in here and getting work done,” Mesa says. “We are providing [nose piercings] because legally we can now, but we’re still recommending against it because the masks can cause hypertrophy and keloid scarring from irritation.” David Marrs, owner of the vintage clothing store Vagabond, says he plans to keep store protocols the same and hopes customers will follow them. If not, he says they will not be allowed to enter. “First, I just nicely tell them I have masks — free masks by the door and then if they’re like, ‘no’, well then you can’t come in,” Marrs says. “It’s usually not too bad, a lot of people step out. Sometimes [I] ask people to put their mask over their nose and they get mad. It just makes it harder when [Abbott] just kind of opens everything.” For more information regarding COVID-19 policies and precautions at local businesses, contact them directly or visit their social media pages.

The University Star

6 | Tuesday, March 23, 2021


Valeria Torrealba Opinion Editor staropinion@txstate.edu

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.

FROM FRONT MAIN POINT toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, reveals that from March 2020 to February 2021, nearly 4,000 incidents were reported. The number only represents “a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur.” Time and time again, when white supremacy is involved, we witness differences in how people of different races and ethnicities are treated. The Atlanta shooting suspect was just having a bad day, while people of color are portrayed as the problem. Law enforcement rushes to judgment on a person of color’s character, while officials are still trying to determine if the Atlanta massacre was motivated by race — a hate crime. This country’s understanding of race dynamics, or lack thereof, contributes to the issues that plague our communities every day. Make no mistake: The Atlanta


shootings were hate crimes. The shooting suspect believed going to the spas and eliminating “the problem” — women of Asian descent — would allow him to overcome his sexual addiction. His actions ended the lives of six Asian women while also inflicting emotional harm on Asian communities across the globe. Racism is racism, no matter if one is conscious of it or not. But, of course, there is no self-responsibility when white supremacy is involved. Communities of color continue to suffer from the selfish, negative inclinations and habits created by their racial counterparts. An Asian-owned restaurant in San Antonio was recently vandalized after the owner publicly condemned Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order to end the state’s mask mandate. Hateful messages, such as “Go back 2 China,”

were spray-painted on the property. Women’s Golf Head Coach Par Nilsson told The University Star last year, at the onset of the pandemic, that Asian players on the team received racist comments on airplanes, during tournaments and in restaurants. The bigger issue, which those who spread hate disregard, is willful ignorance and the politicization of human decency. Instead of blaming themselves for their and others’ irresponsibility that lead us to crises like we are experiencing now, they take their frustrations out and place blame on the people who break their backs to improve the conditions of our communities. Racism and white supremacy at their finest. Our Editorial Board understands that there is much work ahead when it comes to coverage of our local Asian community and all that it contributes


to our city and university. We are disappointed that it too often takes a tragedy for newsrooms, including ours, to step outside our comfort zones and hold a consistent presence in territories that feel unfamiliar — connect with people and establishments we too often do not communicate with. But, holding ourselves to the standards we set at the beginning of this school year when taking on projects like The 11% and beyond, we plan to do the work. Members of our community are hurting. Instead of trying to justify why racism and white supremacy exists, we all should do the work to understand their complexities and find solutions to combat them. This is not the time to focus on ourselves and disregard the livelihood of the communities negatively impacted. That is what placed us here, to begin with.



Students taking online courses should not have to pay useless fees

Fees are necessary for university operations, student well-being

By Nadia Gonzales Opinion Columnist Since the COVID-19 pandemic first started last March, thousands of students have transitioned to taking remote courses. This means that all the on-campus resources students are paying for are going unused by the students. Students enrolled in just online or remote courses are waived from Texas State's Bus, Medical Services, Rec Sports and Student Center fees. But, along with the designated tuition of $3,700, students must also pay extra mandatory fees — hundreds of dollars going toward services that do not always benefit them directly. Online students are still required to pay $300 in athletics fees and $240 in computer service fees among others — both extra costs those students never use because they do not come to campus. Online students still pay near $1,000 for additional fees and resources they rarely use. $1,000 is a lot for a student who is struggling to pay bills and rent during a pandemic that has left many people unemployed. Daniela Rodriquez, a political science sophomore, says paying for these extra fees seems like a complete waste of money. Online students could use that money elsewhere. "Why should I pay for resources that I'm not using? That money I pay for fees could be used to pay for rent or my school supplies," Rodriguez says. Sandra Rico, a fashion merchandising junior, says online students should have the option to only pay for resources they are utilizing. "I don't see the athletic fee as something I should be paying for. If I were to be given options on our fees, I would pay the library one since that is a helpful resource to me," Rico says. "However, I would not pay the athletic fee since that is not something I use." On top of $1,000, students taking all remote courses are also required to pay an additional $50 Electronic Course Fee. An additional $50 fee is required

per every semester credit hour that a student is enrolled in. This means a full-time, completely remote student will pay anywhere from $600-$900 extra just to simply take online courses. A student who takes a three-hour credit online course pays $150 extra due to this fee. Students did not foresee having to shift to an entirely remote format of learning. However, because of the circumstances regarding COVID-19, students are forced to settle with the watered-down versions of their courses. The circumstances that require online courses are completely out of the student's control. Even with instructors trying their best to deliver online education to students, students are ultimately not getting what they paid for. There is no reason for a student to pay extra for a class when the value of the class is significantly lower compared to a class in person. Though online classes offer more flexibility and freedom to students, students receive more enrichment from in-person courses. In an in-person course, students have the opportunity to get hands-on experience and immediate feedback from their instructors. Understandably, universities are able to run and function because of the extra fees their students pay. However, it should not have to be this way. Universities should accommodate their online students when it comes to paying fees. Online students should only pay for what they are using and directly benefiting from. This school year, remote students are getting the shorter end of the stick when it comes to courses. Many students are struggling financially, and it is important the university understands that and is accommodating. Online students should not be required to pay additional fees, especially when they are not getting the same quality of learning as their inperson peers. - Nadia Gonzales is a public relations junior

By Toni Mac Crossan Opinion Columnist Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, students have demanded cuts in university tuition and fees to reflect the quality of online education and to diminish the burden placed on students in a financial crisis. While universities owe it to their students to help keep them enrolled, they must also cover the costs of valuable student resources to ensure their students still have the tools needed to succeed. Instead of cutting fees altogether, Texas State must find other ways to help students afford to stay in school. The long list of fees, and the large numbers to which they add up, often vex students when their payments are due. Some question the need to pay for athletics fees and the vague concept of 'student success.' However, all students benefit directly from these fees in some way. Athletics fees help pay for athletes' scholarships, the Student Service fee provides high-profile guest speakers and our own University Star and the bus fee allows students across San Marcos to get to class safely. Relevant fees — including the Bus fee, Student Center fee and Medical Services fee — are already waived for students who take online-only courses and thus cannot use these resources. They still pay fees to support the Alkek Library, which hosts research databases that help students complete assignments no matter where they are. They also pay fees toward supporting their fellow students in work-study programs that help them pay for their classes. For the past year, Texas State students have not been the only ones losing money and opportunities due to the economic issues exacerbated by the pandemic. The university itself has lost millions, and funding for public universities across the nation continues to look bleak. From 2020 to 2021, Texas State's total estimated

income from all sources decreased by approximately 5%, following a period of consistent growth. In order for Texas State to do what students ask of it, it needs to collect tuition and fees to supplement the state and federal funds it receives. Students simply should not ask the university to do without these funds and expect a satisfactory response. What Texas State could do, however, is charge these fees compassionately, giving further assistance and waivers to students who simply cannot afford to pay them. Many state universities, including Georgia State University, offer retention grants to students who find themselves in difficult financial positions, as many do now. While Texas State has implemented something similar in the form of Bobcat Cares grants, many students do not receive these grants until after their tuition payments, and more feel frustrated with rejections, especially when Texas State follows that rejection with an unexpected grant payment anyway. Maintaining programs like Bobcat Cares grants — half of which was funded by the federal government through the CARES Act, at no cost to the university — helps students stay enrolled when they may not otherwise be able to. Texas State noticed about a 9% difference in retention in students who received financial assistance from the university over students who did not. It is imperative the students and families who can afford to pay tuition and fees continue to do so, in full, so that the students and families who are experiencing less fortunate circumstances can receive assistance from the university. Furthermore, students must fight the state legislature, which threatens to retain cuts to higher education funding, to ensure Texas State can afford to offer assistance to those who need it most. - Toni Mac Crossan is a biology graduate student

The University Star

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 | 7


Sumit Nagar Sports Editor starsports@txstate.edu


Softball defeats Appalachian State en route to 10-game win streak By Sumit Nagar Sports Editor Texas State softball (17-3 overall, 2-0 Sun Belt) defeated the Appalachian State Mountaineers (11-10 overall, 0-5 Sun Belt) 4-3 and 8-3 in back-to-back games on March 21. The pair of victories in Texas State's first conference matchups of the season increased its win streak to 10. The Bobcats came out hot in the first inning as a run from freshman utility Hannah Earls and an RBI single by junior catcher Cat Crenek put them up 2-0. Freshman pitcher Jessica Mullins held her own early, retiring three straight batters at the bottom of the first before a trio of strikeouts in the second inning. At the top of the third, a throwing error allowed Texas State to extend its lead to 3-0. An RBI single by senior infielder Keri White put App State on the scoreboard at the bottom of the third. The Mountaineers cut the deficit to 3-2 as senior catcher Baylee Morton sacrificed a fly-ball to bring in a runner. A double by Earls brought the score to 4-2 in the fourth inning. The Mountaineers then hit two straight doubles, forcing Texas State to sub out Mullins for senior pitcher Meagan King. Despite two runners on base, Texas State escaped the inning without allowing a run. The score remained the same until the bottom of the seventh when App State scored an unearned run to bring the game to 4-3. It was not enough as Texas State finished the inning off with a

Texas State freshman pitcher Jessica Mullins (4) jumps and celebrates with freshman infielder Baylee Lemons (24) after she strikes out a UTSA batter, Friday, March 12, 2021, at Bobcat Softball Stadium. The Bobcats won 5-0. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS

strikeout and double play. For Texas State, sophomore infielder Sara Vanderford went 2-4 with two runs and Earls was 2-4 with an RBI and a run. Mullins grabbed her eighth win of the year while sophomore pitcher Tori McCann earned her first save of the season. The second contest between the two teams started a half-hour later, with the Mountaineers taking an early lead. At the bottom of the second, White hit a single, allowing senior outfielder Gabby Buruato and senior infielder Sidney Russell to score. An unearned run by sophomore outfielder Emily Parrott gave App State a 3-0 lead. Texas State got on the board 3-1 in

the third inning as Vanderford hit a flyball out to right field, allowing senior outfielder Arieann Bell to get to home plate. An unearned run plus a two-run homer by Bell gave the Bobcats a 4-3 lead in the fourth inning. Both teams struggled to gain an advantage. The Mountaineers came close at the bottom of the sixth as they had the bases loaded with no outs. Mullins kept her composure as she struck out two batters and earned a third out to end the inning unscathed. The Bobcats opened up the flood gates in the seventh inning. Senior infielder Tara Oltmann hit a grand slam to give Texas State an 8-3 lead, putting a dagger

in App State. For the game, Bell went 2-3 with a home run, Oltmann was 1-4 with a grand slam and Earls was 2-4 with a run. Texas State senior pitcher Dalilah Barrera clinched her first win of the season and did not allow a run in three innings. Mullins earned her second save of the year along with three strikeouts. The Bobcats will continue their road stint in a three-game series against the Georgia State University Panthers. Georgia State is coming off three straight losses to Troy University and looks to redeem itself. The Bobcats have a .316 batting average and a .382 on-base average, while the Panthers hit a .281 batting average with a .378 on-base average. Sophomore infielder Daisy Hess has been the top slugger for the Panthers as she leads the team in hits (27), runs (24), RBI (29), doubles (8) and home runs (6). Vanderford provides a similar presence, leading the Bobcats in hitting percentage (.473), hits (26), runs (18), RBI (20) and doubles (11). The Panthers' pitching unit has a 3.69 earned run average with 95 strikeouts. On the other hand, Texas State sports a 1.73 earned run average with 116 strikeouts. Mullins enters the matchup with an 8-2 record, a 1.39 earned run average, 69 strikeouts and two saves. Texas State will face Georgia State in a doubleheader at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on March 23, followed by a single-outing at 2 p.m. on March 24. All three games will take place at the Robert E. Heck Softball Complex in Atlanta.


Baseball loses to Little Rock in three-game sweep By Sumit Nagar Sports Editor Texas State baseball (8-13 overall, 0-3 Sun Belt) suffered a 3-0 series loss against the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Trojans (9-7 overall, 3-0 Sun Belt) from March 19-21. It was the first in-conference matchup for both teams going into the series and came directly on the heels of the Bobcats' 16-5 run-in victory against Rice University. In the first game, senior pitcher Zachary Leigh took the mound for Texas State. While the Bobcats could not get a man on base in the first two innings, Leigh prevented the Trojans from gaining an early advantage, as he had three strikeouts and also picked off a runner. The Trojans got on the scoreboard 1-0 at the bottom of the third inning as senior infielder Jorden Hussein hit an RBI single out to right field. Even then, two strikeouts by Leigh ended the inning and ultimately prevented Little Rock from gaining momentum. The Bobcats got on the board in the fourth, with sophomore infielder/outfielder Jose Gonzalez scoring on a balk. The Bobcats had an opportunity to take the lead in the fifth as the bases were loaded with senior outfielder Will Hollis at-bat, yet he struck out. Then, junior infielder Justin Thompson struck out. The inning concluded after Gonzalez hit a fly ball out to center field. The contest remained tied until the bottom of the eleventh inning when Little Rock sophomore outfielder Tyler Williams hit a walk-off homer to end the game 2-1. The Bobcats went 7-36 and were struck out 12 times. Leigh finished the game with six strikeouts and only allowed one run in six innings. During the second contest, both teams went scoreless in the first two innings. At the bottom of the third, Tyler Williams hit an RBI single to put the Trojans on the board 1-0. Soon after, sophomore outfielder Noah Dickerson hit a double out to left-center to bring home Tyler Williams and Hussein to go up 3-0. Little Rock senior catcher John Michael Russ hit a two-RBI double. Russ scored soon after off a wild pitch. That, along with a pair of RBI singles, put the Trojans up 8-0. Texas State could not keep up with the Trojans. By the end of the fifth, the Bobcats only managed to get three hits. At the bottom of the sixth, Dickerson got an RBI single and in the seventh, junior infielder Nathan Lyons hit a single-run homer out to left field to bring the lead to 10-0. A two-run home run in the eighth solidified the shutout to give Little Rock a 12-0 victory. This time around, Texas State hit 7-34 and struck out 12 times. Little Rock went 16-41 and suffered a mere six strikeouts. In the final game of the series, the Bobcats were the first team ahead, taking a 2-0 lead off a pair of RBI singles from junior infielder Wesley Faison and

Texas State sophomore outfielder Ben McClain (19) prepares to bunt the incoming Rice pitch, Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at Bobcat Ballpark. The Bobcats won 16-5. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS

graduate catcher Bryce Bonner in the first inning. The Trojans were not able to respond for a large chunk of the game and suffered two straight one-twothree innings in the second and third. Little Rock got on the board in the bottom of the fifth when junior infielder Miguel Soto hit a solo home run followed by an RBI single to tie the game at 2-2. At the bottom of the seventh, an RBI single broke the tie, giving Little Rock a 3-2 lead. A triple by Hussein out to left-center field allowed two runners to run to home plate and give the team a 5-2 lead late in the game. Senior infielder Jaxon Williams then hit a shot out to left field, allowing Faison and Gonzalez to cut the deficit to 5-4. However, hope did not last long. Little Rock senior outfielder Kenny Rodriguez hit a two-RBI single out to left field to grab a 7-4 victory and series sweep. For the game, Faison went 1-4 with two runs and an RBI, Gonzalez went 1-4 with a run and a double and Thompson went 1-5 with a run and a double. Next, Texas State will play host to the University of Oklahoma Sooners (12-7) on March 24. The game will mark the third contest between the two teams and the first since Feb. 2, 2007, when the Bobcats won 8-3. The Sooners are looking to extend their six-game win streak. The Bobcats are hoping to halt their three-game losing streak. Both teams compare well statistically from the mound, with OU holding a slight advantage. OU has a 5.55 earned run average, 1.39 WHIP and 187 strikeouts. On the other hand, Texas State has a 6.02

Texas State junior infielder Dalton Shuffield (8) slides onto home plate to score a run for the Bobcats over the Cougars, Saturday, March 13, 2021, at Bobcat Ballpark. The Bobcats won 15-9. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS

earned run average, a 1.61 WHIP and 176 strikeouts. Junior infielder Tyler Hardman leads the way for the Sooners with a team-high in batting percentage (.467), hits (35) and runs (25). Senior infielder Conor McKenna leads the team in RBI (23) and home runs (5). For Texas State, Thompson has a .363 batting percentage and leads the Maroon and Gold in hits (29), RBI (21) and doubles (6). Hollis has team-highs in runs (14) and home runs (4). The matchup will begin at 6 p.m. in Bobcat Ballpark. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

8 | Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The University Star

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March 23, 2021  

March 23, 2021