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Opinion: Sexism has no room in academics

Rap artist shines light on Black women empowerment, truth through 'unrelenting' music

Baseball secures first series victory of season against ULM

Parks & Recreation Advisory Board raises concerns with Lions Club lease






Leticia Urieta, MFA alumna and Austin Bat Cave program manager. PHOTO COURTESY OF LETICIA URIETA

Charlene Caruthers, current MFA student and aspiring author. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHARLENE CARUTHERS

Nour Al Gharowi, current MFA in poetry student.


Bonnie Cisneros, MFA alumna and published writer. PHOTO COURTESY OF JORGE CAMPOS

Amanda Scott, MFA alumna and Porter House Review editor. PHOTO COURTESY OF AMANDA SCOTT


MFA women express inclusivity, culture through writing By Andie Mau Life & Arts Contributor As part of Texas State's Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program, female writers of all backgrounds have routinely gathered around a table in Flowers Hall to engage in challenging debates, construct innovative narratives and hone their individual crafts. The program seeks to provide students with feedback on their writing from accomplished authors, community peers and networking opportunities with various industry publications. Stanislav Rivkin, an alumnus and coordinator of MFA, says the program serves as a starting point for students’ professional writing careers. Rivkin says students will sometimes complete their very first manuscripts for a book or collection of poems as a thesis.

“The MFA is not a stopping point,” Rivkin says. “If anything, [MFA] can be a launching point…Hopefully, the skills you gain in the MFA will allow you to continue improving your work and continue to develop as a writer throughout your life.” Amanda Scott, an MFA creative and technical writing alumna, has been published in journals such as the Crab Orchard Review, Entropy, Gulf Coast, Juked, New South and The Common. Since 2018, Scott continues to work with the program as editor of the MFA literary journal, Porter House Review. "Luckily, through the MFA program, there are readings that anybody can attend that host well-known and acclaimed writers. That's usually a great way to get exposure," Scott says. "One of the most amazing things I've been a part of is Porter House Review...We wanted

to create a space where we felt like we could showcase work, and it could feel appreciated and live on a beautiful [website]." Scott, a bi-racial woman, says she is most inspired by the stories around her and wishes to shed light on underrepresented voices, which she believes includes female South Texas writers. “For me personally, I think because I grew up in such a multicultural city. I was always aware of all the variety of stories and experiences that exist in the world,” Scott says. “I've started to explore that a bit more because there are a lot of family stories that I know and that I want to, in my own way, share.” Scott is currently working on a new novella, a memoir of her coming-ofage in Houston. She hopes to continue fostering graduate students through

Porter House Review and establish meaningful connections with new upand-coming writers. “I think a lot of writers feel like it is a labor of love, but it’s also [the] work that you're doing,” Scott says. “So we felt like [paying writers] was really important just to be a part of that community of journals that values writing and shows [it] through taking care of the writers.” Bonnie Cisneros, an alumna of the MFA program in creative nonfiction and a Tejana author, published “Bienvenidxs a San Anto: A Literary Guide to My Beloved City” through the Porter House Review and other essays in El Retorno, Chicana/Latina Studies, Buckman Journal, River Teeth and El Placazo Barrio Newspaper. Cisneros' work was also included in the anthology “Creative Contemporary Nonfiction” by Debra Monroe, an



Students convey satisfaction, frustration after Bobcat Cares funding By Arthur Fairchild News Contributor

Texas State sophomore defensive lineman DeOnte Washington (93) pushes on training equipment during practice, Saturday, March 27, 2021, at Bobcat Stadium. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS

Football looks to improve in trenches during spring practices By Sumit Nagar Sports Editor Coming off a rollercoaster season in which the team went 2-10 overall and 2-6 in the Sun Belt Conference, Texas State football began its first week of spring practice on March 23-27. The football program gained more exposure last season with multiple nationally-televised games and wide receiver Jeremiah Haydel headed for the NFL Draft, but none of it was enough for the returning coaches and

players who felt the team missed key opportunities for success. Head Coach Jake Spavital's goal for the offseason was to have offensive and defensive lineman gain a significant amount of weight to provide a formidable presence in the trenches. "That's where it's won," Jake Spavital says. "The profile of the o-line and d-line's training changed drastically here. I think they're big — they're a lot bigger...It's a violent game, it's a combative game and you got to win the line of scrimmage."


The dispersal of the $9.4 million Bobcat Cares grant, intended to provide financial relief to students impacted by COVID-19, was met with mixed responses from students, some grateful for the aid and others not satisfied with the amount of funding they received. Money for the grants was provided through the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) as part of the CARES Act. Over 15,000 students received funding from the grant, which was distributed to students in two rounds — the first issued to select recipients on March 5 and the second on March 12. Students received between $300 and $800 if deemed eligible. Director of Financial Aid and Scholarships Christopher Murr says funds were distributed in two rounds in an effort to not overload the office and give the university time to respond to questions and problems students might encounter when receiving grants. Students were required to apply through the Bobcat Online Scholarship System (BOSS). The application was open from Feb. 15 to March 3. In contrast, the application for the 2020 Bobcat Cares grant required students to answer a set of questions detailing how the pandemic impacted them financially.

Brittney Heibel, an agriculture graduate student, was granted $450 in the second round of relief funding after months of unemployment. She says she was grateful for the aid.



AGRICULTURE GRADUATE STUDENT “COVID has been really hard. I was laid off from my job, and I’ve been


The University Star

2 | Tuesday, March 30, 2021


Brianna Benitez News Editor starnews@txstate.edu


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

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Parks & Recreation Advisory Board raises concerns with Lions Club lease By Tatiana Torres News Contributor The San Marcos City Council has discussed lease renegotiations with the Lions Club local tube rental facility after the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board cited concerns related to the facility's impact on the city. The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board believes the amount of tubers and litter brought by the Lions Club is detrimental to the river and discourages citizens from using the river for other recreational purposes. In an attempt to raise revenue for the "underfunded" Parks & Recreation department, the advisory board also hopes to increase the tube rental facility's monthly rent. The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board unanimously voted to send resolution 2021-04RR to City Council for review at the board's Feb. 25 meeting. The resolution proposes several amendments to the Lions Club's lease agreement in advance of the upcoming renewal process in April. Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Chair Diane Phalen says the lease review came after recent fee increases to various parks services, such as facility rentals and activity center memberships, in an effort to increase the department’s budget. “The parks department only makes back 14% of all the costs of all of its rentals and memberships,” Phalen says. “Those fees hadn’t been increased in over a decade, and so we suggested that they be increased, and City Council agreed.” The Lions Club, located in City Park, was excluded from the initial round of facility rental fee increases due to its current long-term lease agreement. For any business to enter a long-term lease with the city, the contract requires approval from voters. San Marcos Lions Club President Dennis Gutierrez says the citizens of San Marcos voted for a long-term lease agreement in 2010. City Council put the agreement, which included up to four additional terms for a total of 25 years, to a vote. “Proposition one passed overwhelmingly by 82%, to allow the San Marcos Lions Club to start a term of five-year contracts starting April 11, 2011,” Gutierrez says. The new proposal suggests changing the lease renewal to come every two years instead of five. The resolution states this will help provide the city more flexibility should future changes need to occur. It also would require the club to designate an employee who would clean litter from the river channel at least two hours per operating day. Although there are signs posted discouraging patrons from bringing disposable containers to the river, Phalen says there are no true regulations for what residents can take to the water. The Lions Club claims it already has an employee picking up trash but is willing to raise the number of hours to any amount should it please the board. “The river isn’t being, you know, trashed out like they’re saying, and not being cleaned because it’s just the Lions Club. Many people use the river for different purposes,” Gutierrez says. “We pay for two annual cleanups...We donate money to some organizations that are nothing but for the river, the Greenbelt Alliance, the Meadows Center. We donate money to those organizations because we truly believe [in] what they’re trying to do.” Gutierrez says the Lions Club is proposing a separate donation initiative specifically for river park improvements. He says customers would have the option to select a $1 or $2 donation. The club would then use the donation money to support the needs of the parks department. Lee Leavitt, a Texas State alumnus and San Marcos resident, has lived in San Marcos for 12 years. He agrees with the Parks & Recreation Board's concerns and believes trash in the river is attributed to tubing facilities like the Lions Club. “Having a tube rental service that, you know, people that utilize the service are drinking and not just drinking or relaxing but oftentimes drinking to get straight-up drunk and not being mindful at all of what they do with their trash, well it’s a major detriment to the river,” Leavitt says. Leavitt says he supports the rental increase and trusts the city, more than the Lions Club, to allocate funds where they need to go.

A stack of tubes sit in front of the Lions Club, a local tube rental facility. STAR FILE PHOTO

The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board resolution also proposes the Lions Club limit its days of operation to three days out of the week and one day out of the weekend for a total of four days. The remaining three days would provide the river a period of rest from the commercial operations and allow residents to utilize the river for other recreations, such as kayaking and paddleboarding. Gutierrez opposes restricting the days of operation, adding that it would cause confusion and stop visitors from bringing their own tubes. He says the Lions Club is willing to limit tube rentals to weekends only during May and September. Gutierrez says the Lions Club is also opposed to the final amendment suggestion, which encourages the city to find a fair market value for the riverside property based on local commercial real estate rates and pursue a $2 surcharge per tube rental and shuttle ride. Although the Lions Club takes in a little over $1 million in revenue, Gutierrez says this “double-whammy” would prohibit the club from donating its average of $300,000 annually to various charities around the county. Phalen says the surcharge and increase in the Lions Club's current rental agreement of $900 per month will provide Parks & Recreation with the necessary funds to support improvements and operations within the river parks and help with current budget shortfalls. Phalen also points out that some students pay more rent per month to live in an apartment than the Lions Club does for the riverfront property. At its March 16 work session meeting, the San Marcos City Council agreed the city should receive more money from the lease but disagreed on the method in which that should happen. In a 4-3 split decision-vote, council members say they do not want to achieve a said goal by seeking a fair market value rental rate. Some of the council members believe determining a market value for the facility is unlikely because it is a quasi warehouse on a riverside property. “We’re talking about an oversized shed. It’s not a building; it’s not a huge building with all that. It’s like an overgrown shed with an AC unit, like a window unit, and it only air conditions a specific portion where we have our computers,” Gutierrez says. “So, I'm not sure how [City Council] is gonna come across that fair market value.” “We are good stewards of the river,” Gutierrez adds. “We want to come out of this with a good working relationship with the city and maintain it and just keep moving forward.” Although it is unclear how the City Council plans to proceed, it will continue to discuss ways to increase revenue from the property without raising rent in the coming weeks. The Parks & Recreation Board is aware of the contributions the Lions Club makes to community organizations and says it has no intention to undermine its efforts. Phalen says the board wants to protect the river to ensure it is a safe place for all to enjoy and increase the Parks & Recreation budget in a way fair to all. “We are acting in good faith; we have no ulterior motive,” Phalen says. “All we’re trying to do is have another look at the lease and, you know, try to make it more fair for the city and more fair for the citizens of San Marcos who want to enjoy their river.”

FROM FRONT BOBCAT CARES unemployed for a couple months,” Heibel says. “As a student, you have a lot of expenses. I pay for classes and books as well as rent and all that is hard to do when you don’t have any income.” Students who demonstrated exceptional need were prioritized for this allocation of funding, with guidance coming from the U.S. Department of Education. However, some students reported receiving less money than the previous grant distributed in May 2020. Jacy Moss, a psychology senior, says she received $600 in aid compared to $1,000 in 2020, even though her financial situation had not changed. "I want to ask them why am I getting less in this grant, and why isn’t the money distributed evenly for everyone. At home it’s just me and my mom, I’m a first-generation student and we make less than $35,000 a year," Moss says. "How did they divide this up? $600 is just not enough.” Anna Arocha, a general studies junior, says the $300 she received did not reduce any stress related to her financial situation. “I wish I didn’t have to worry so much about money, and I could just

focus on school. I thought if I got the Bobcat Cares grant it would at least cover some of my semester, but frankly [the] $300 is about what my textbooks cost," Arocha says. While some were accepted for the grant, others were not. Charles Douglas, a business marketing junior, says he was frustrated about not receiving any funding. “I was actually pretty mad about not getting [the grant],” Douglas says. “I was looking at [Twitter], and it’s [millions of dollars]. Are you telling me I couldn’t even get $100 or maybe $200?" After not receiving Bobcat Cares funding last summer, Jenn Davis, a psychology junior, was skeptical when applying this time around. She was eventually granted $800, which she says surprised her. "I didn’t have any expectations, I was just hoping for the best and was happy with any kind of relief," Davis says. “This money is going toward tuition and will help pay for my books." Because the money came from the federal government, only U.S. citizens were eligible to receive funding through the Financial Aid and Scholarships office. Murr says non-U.S. citizen

students were still eligible for aid if they went through the Dean of Students. About 1% of all money distributed through Bobcat Cares was funded through the Dean of Students for nonU.S. citizens. "The students that would be eligible [for institutional funds] are those who aren't eligible for federal aid. These would be [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] students and nonU.S. citizens," Murr says. "The Dean of Students used institutional funds whereas the funds that [the Financial Aid and Scholarships office] delivers are federally funded and have to meet [government] requirements." Murr says students will have additional opportunities to receive Bobcat Cares funding in the summer and fall semesters. The application dates for later grants have not been announced. “I think there is a wide variety of ways students will use [Bobcat Cares] to help cover their expenses,” Murr says. “It’s important for us to not only get the students the money but get it to them in a very timely fashion.” For more information on Bobcat Cares visit https://www.txstate.edu/cares.

The University Star

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 | 3


Cristela Jones Life & Arts Editor starlifeandarts@txstate.edu


Models Jordan Jackson (left) and Jaylon Douglas pose in the middle of a basketball court for a photoshoot for "Streetlights." PHOTO COURTESY OF SETH JONES

Models Jasmine Carter (left) and Jasmine Davis pose for a picture on set for Seth Jones' book "Streetlights." PHOTO COURTESY OF SETH JONES


Student promotes Black confidence, beauty in upcoming book By Brooklyn Solis Life & Arts Reporter Seth Jones vividly remembers times as a kid when he would ride a bike through his Dallas neighborhood. His mother earnestly warned him not to go beyond the last mailbox at the end of his block. “‘I want you home before the streetlights come on,’ and a lot of my friends' mothers said the same,” Jones says. “Basically what that means is, when the streetlights come on, you better be inside the house, or if you’re not, you’re going to be in trouble...my mama, when she told me that, she was just trying to protect me; she was just trying to keep me safe.” Jones' upbringing and encounters as a young Black man have since influenced him to pave his own way toward adulthood and reclaim the spotlight for Black excellence in his upcoming book "Streetlights". The book includes photography, captured by Jones in a family reunion environment, with written descriptions. Following his mother’s orders, Jones never paid much attention to the significance of streetlights or how they played a role in his story until he started the project. “If I would have stayed in that parameter [in my neighborhood my whole life], I would have never graduated high school; I would have never gone to Texas State; I would have never done Streetlights,” Jones says. Jones channeled his love for photography to empower Black beauty and culture, encouraging the models he photographed — all of whom were Black — to embrace who they are, in their own outfits. The models, who he asked to dress like they were attending "a grown folks party," a Black gathering with soul food/barbecue, dancing and Hip Hop/R&B music, were photographed in an empty basketball court under yellow fluorescent lights. Jones' discovery of sundown towns, towns in which all-white communities prohibited Black people from entering the town after sunset, helped solidify his decision to shoot under the lights, “not to be defiant, but so that the world can see us in the light that we were meant to be seen.” “I just started to do some more research and I was like, 'Wow, the book I’m making is kind of like the answer to the Green Book,'” Jones says. “It was like, we don’t have to hide no more, we don’t have to avoid these towns, you’re going to see us. And I said in the book, the streetlight has become a spotlight, you’re going to see us in all our glory and all our beauty; we’re not going to hide anymore.” Acting as an extra pair of eyes for the project, Kourtney Norwood, a theater arts junior and close friend of Jones, says he was greatly inspired by "The Negro Motorist Green Book," a book serving as a guide to African Americans traveling through America in the 1930s. “It really all ties in; you have to acknowledge the history that we have had,” Norwood says. “And going forward it’s a positive twist on it, we are coming forward from the streetlights.” For the models, Jones’ project held deeper significance.

Author and photographer of "Streetlights" Seth Jones smiles for a picture while on set for the one of the book's photo sessions. PHOTO COURTESY OF SETH JONES



Jaylon Douglas, a Texas State political science alumnus, model and creative assistant for the book, brought a piece of himself to the set. In Douglas’ photoshoot, he held a Crown Royal bag gifted to him by his father, to pay homage to the culture he grew up in. “Your first drink as a Black male or Black woman, it most likely will be a Crown Royal bag,” Douglas says. “If you go to a family gathering, you’ll see at least one person have a Crown Royal bag; that shows the lineage

of us.” To offer insight into Jones’ creative ideas and concept of the book, Jones and Douglas created an accompanying podcast, welcoming some of the models featured in the book and encouraging them to share their experiences and stories from time spent working on the project. “We talk about all these cool things, all the experiences; it is explicit, but if you can get past that, the stories that we talk about really add a deeper context to what the book is," Jones says. Jasmine Davis, a human development and family sciences senior, who was a model for the project, says she appreciates Jones working to ensure she was comfortable throughout the entire process. "I really liked how he handled it because he made it a priority to make sure that [Black women] are being looked at exactly how we should be...how we're being respected or even judged," Davis says. "Even when we put the book together, he had all these messages for everyone. So it did mean a lot to me because his main focus is like, 'Yeah, they look at you, you might be pretty, you might be all of this to them, but they need to look past all that, they need to see [there] is more than just you on the outside.'" Davis says she hopes people interpret the book in "the right way." With everything that has taken place in the last year, from the killing of George Floyd to protests across the country, she believes the book is arriving at the right time. "We weren't supposed to be out when the street lights came on, and there was reasons we were told that," Davis says. "So it's a lot deeper than what it seems because a lot of people don't know what's going on with this book; they just see us putting out bits and pieces. So I feel like when it all comes out, I just hope [that overall, Jones' meaning] is taken in exactly how he wants it to or he's able to just voice how he feels about everything that's going on in the world." Since its beginnings as a mini Instagram boomerang series, "Streetlights" has since transformed into an award-winning project, earning a silver award from Graphis New Talent. Jones says he hopes the book exhibits Black power and beauty for younger generations. “I have a little sister, she just turned 12, and I remember when we were back in Dallas, she was watching the Black version of Cinderella and I went over to my mama, and I was like ‘Mama, why are there so many Black renditions of things?’” Jones says. “And she was like, 'So [she] can know that she’s a princess', and that was kind of the whole idea behind the book, period. The reason why I wanted to blow it up was so little girls can see the woman in the book and be like, ‘Oh wow she’s beautiful, I can be like that.'” "Streetlights" will be released in May 2021. The "Streetlights" podcast is out now on Spotify. For more information on the project, follow its Instagram or Seth Jones' Instagram. Jaden Edison contributed to this story.

The University Star

4 | Tuesday, March 30, 2021


Cristela Jones Life & Arts Editor starlifeandarts@txstate.edu




Baines poses for a promotional photoshoot with photographer Slim, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021, in Austin.


Jessica Baines takes promotional photos for the upcoming second installment of her selftitled EP. PHOTO COURTESY OF DIZZY HARRISON

Baines poses for the cover of her EP, LAUX., Vol.1, at Kissing Alley, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in San Marcos. PHOTO COURTESY OF DIZZY HARRISON

Artist shines light on Black women empowerment, truth through 'unrelenting' music By Leanne Castro Life & Arts Reporter The singer and rapper known as LAUX. (pronounced “low”) often finds herself waking up from a dream, good or bad, struck by inspiration for her next musical experience. She eventually makes her way to the bathroom counter, her mind and writing hand flowing in unison, and works to introduce her shut-eye thoughts and experiences to the world. “I’ve always really wanted to perform for the BET Awards," LAUX. says, known by close family and friends as Jessica Baines, an English junior at Texas State. "If I’m able to perform for the BET Awards, I know that somebody out there is going to pick me up,” Baines says. Baines has held an interest in writing her entire life. Music takes her mind and soul to a place no other artistic expression can. Like so many other Black female artists who work twice as hard to get the same respect as their male counterparts, she uses her music as a way to express her true, authentic self, regardless of who respects it or not. Baines' time at Texas State has helped her enhance her skills. She is prone to bouts of inspiration at any time, especially when sitting in a creative writing class. "[I knew] changing my major to English would help my music because

my thesaurus would become so big. I’ve noticed it in my freestyles, how my vocabulary has changed so much,” Baines says. “[My] creative writing class teaches me about the different rhythms for writing poetry. Rap is just poetry in motion.” The lifelong writer began her singing career in a Houston church choir when she was only 4 years old. She has since gone on to perform for former President Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. Sheila Lee Jackson and R&B singer Jacob Latimore, all as part of a jazz band she joined in middle school. Her dreams for the future are even bigger, and when her day in the BET spotlight comes, she expects to have her best friend, roommate and manager, Dizzy Harrison, standing by her side. Harrison, a theater sophomore, first heard Baines’ music after the two became roommates. As soon as she heard Baines rap, she was hooked. Since that day, she has served as Baines' photographer, videographer, costume designer, booking agent and cheerleader. “The sky isn’t even the limit. The only way is up. She is going to make it. That’s indisputable,” Harrison says. “I want to do whatever she wants. If it’s a few Grammys, we’re going to get it. If she wanted to be the first headlining artist on Mars, I’d make it happen.” Denzel Stone, an economics and computer science senior, is a producer

for Baines. He shares Harrison’s wholehearted belief that Grammy wins are in Baines' future. “She has a really infectious energy to her music. You can’t help but bob your head. Her breath control and her understanding of wordplay and metaphors are things that really stand out,” Stone says. “Her sound is nostalgic but very new at the same time. It’s not something you hear from a lot of people. She has a one-of-a-kind voice. It’s really rich and robust.” Baines’ unique style is inspired both by her theater background and artists like Lauryn Hill, Aminé, Rico Nasty, Whitney Houston, A Tribe Called Quest, Flo Milli and Megan Thee Stallion, whom she shares a Houston connection with and often gets compared to. Baines' music is a result of all her inspiration converging, a “hard-hitting, unrelenting and beautiful" experience, Harrison says. “[Baines] embodies what it is to be a Black woman. Black women are stereotyped to have to be strong, as if Black women have to suffer or have to fight for things,” Harrison says. “All those stereotypes, she doesn’t do any of that. She embodies what it is to be sexy, classy and smart. It’s impossible to not get that from her lyrics.” Using her art as a channel to talk about race is important to Baines. Her desire to combat racism only intensified after

she read the works of writers like Audre Lorde and Octavia Butler. “I make music for Black women to know that it is okay to feel all of your emotions, no matter what emotion it is,” Baines says. “I feel like Black women are [expected] to just consume disrespect and sexism, but it’s really important for me to let young Black girls know that these things that happen are not normal and they’re not okay. You have every right to process those emotions.” Baines remembers feeling like she was not allowed to get upset over losing out on opportunities because a male or nonBlack person was selected over her. Now, she views anger as a necessary step in the process of enacting change. “Being angry is okay. I have lived through racism all of my life just because I am Black,” Baines says. “In order to change, we need to educate ourselves. [It’s] not about asking a Black person to educate you. We have all these resources that we can look into. Use your privilege to help share that knowledge.” For now, Baines is looking forward to a post-pandemic world. She hopes the world soon holds opportunities for music videos, live performances and another EP. Regardless of what is in store, Baines knows getting to share her music and inspire other Black women to shine as themselves will feel surreal. LAUX.’s music can be found on her website, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

The University Star

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 | 5

LIFE & ARTS FROM FRONT FEMALE WRITERS American novelist, short story writer, poet, essayist and faculty member of the MFA program. “Once I took an autobiography memoir class with Dr. Debra Monroe, it changed my whole life,” Cisneros says. “I wrote a nonfiction thesis, and I had a couple of really important and helpful professors who were mentors.” Cisneros attributes her inspiration for most of her works to her maternal connections and Mexican heritage. “After graduation from the MFA, I got a grant from the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, and I did a project that was reaching back into my maternal heritage, which extends down into the Rio Grande Valley,” Cisneros says. “I was able to go back seven generations.” Currently, Cisneros is working on a collection of essays centered around her grandmother. By archiving her family's history, she hopes to preserve her and others' rich culture. “It's not just me and my culture, but a lot of peoples’ cultures…and then going against the western classic canon,” Cisneros says. “You don't have those literary roots preserved on paper.” Nour Al Ghraowi, a current MFA poetry student with essays published in Dame Magazine, Porter House Review, Poetry Foundation and Echo, also writes creative memoirs to document her life experiences. Ghraowi was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. Her family fled to Texas during the Syrian civil war. “I actually just finished my thesis, which is my very first manuscript,” Ghraowi says. “[The thesis is] a collection of poems...in general, it's about home, it's about the war, it's about family, it's about living in exile and leaving family behind…also being in the U.S. as an immigrant.” Ghraowi seeks to change the Western view of the Middle East — one she feels is often damaging and prejudiced. “I'm an activist. Being at protests and hearing people's stories…amplifying those voices and building the stage for them to have their voices heard — that's where I find my inspiration. In those memories and those past experiences," Ghraowi says. "I don't think I would be the writer I am today if it wasn't for the revolution, the war, the loss, fleeing here and being away from home. That definitely made me the writer I am today.” Charlene Caruthers, a current MFA student published in the literary journal HUMID and Porter House Review, also plans to use her communicative skills learned through the program to provide a wider platform to writers of color. “There are so many journals for African Americans and people of color to send their work and no one hardly ever hears anybody talk about them,” Caruthers says. “So that got me more excited as a writer, just to know that there is someone out there that I would know are looking for the things that I'm writing about.” Caruthers is currently working on a historical fiction novel with an escaped slave narrative. She looks forward to the various opportunities the MFA program can offer her after graduation. “I realized that there's many directions that I can go once I'm done with the program, and it is very exciting,” Caruthers says. “There's just so many more avenues that I had no idea were available to me, and I'm very appreciative for this and having my eyes open to that.” Leticia Urieta, a former educator and MFA alumna, also shares Caruthers' philosophy of a writer’s holistic value in creative writing. Urieta is a self-published writer and the program manager at Austin Bat Cave, a writing program targeted at empowering young writers. Urieta is motivated to break down boundaries and pave her own way in the literary scene. She hopes to construct better support within the publishing industry for writers by recognizing a wider scope of what is possible and establishing a creative environment free of economic pressures. “In an ideal world, we wouldn't have to compete to publish our work. We would just be able to put it out there, and our needs would be met,” Urieta says. “Obviously, that's not the world we live in, but I think there are ways to do that in a way that can be more accessible and counter this capitalist machine that keeps telling us to produce, produce, produce, with no kind of care for the self as the artist.” The MFA program is taking steps to provide more inclusive and helpful services to both current students and alumni. “We are trying to provide access for alumni who don't yet have an agent or a consistent editor at a press. In the case of poets, to gain access and expand their social network,” Rivkin says. “We would like to focus on improving the connection to alumni and continuing to try to provide opportunities for them.” Despite the difference in backgrounds of the women in the MFA program, alumni similarly write to preserve their unique cultures, connect to others through mutual human experiences and create safe spaces in literature. MFA alumni hope the talent of their writers becomes widely recognized in the San Marcos community and beyond. "There are a lot of great women writers in the program [and] a lot of people of color writers in the program. Just reach out and take that step of looking for them," Ghraowi says. "Just learn the small things [like] how to say their name, and there's no shame in asking them. Ask them about their story." For more information on the MFA program, visit its website.

Cristela Jones Life & Arts Editor starlifeandarts@txstate.edu


Members of Women in Business smile for a photo at the San Marcos River Clean-Up, Saturday, March 6, 2021, in San Marcos. PHOTO COURTESY OF ALINA JAFFER

Women in Business establishes community of support, confidence that you know, as we give each other the tools to kind of be aware of what we have and, you know, take responsibility for who we are and like our profession With hopes of creating a safe space for career and career, I think stuff like this is very important questions, receiving professional advice and building because you kind of realize how much you don't bonds with peers, a new club at Texas State has know." embarked on a journey to empower women interested in business. "THERE'S A CERTAIN ASPECT Alina Jaffer, an accounting graduate student and founder/president of the club, says the idea for the OF BUSINESS THAT, YOU organization stemmed from both her experience growing up in a traditional household and the KNOW, WOMEN AREN'T struggle she experienced her freshman year finding a WELCOMED INTO. LIKE, IF club that fit her. "I was raised to be very ladylike and oh, you know, A WOMAN IS ASSERTIVE, like, don't be as aggressive or assertive...Talk softer SUDDENLY WE'RE and be polite...and those are all great things. But the thing is, I'm not like that," Jaffer says. "I wanted a AGGRESSIVE VERSUS [IF IT] place where women felt comfortable and they felt like, 'Okay, if you're a first-generation student, you WERE A MAN, THAT'S NOT know, maybe you can talk to people a little bit more REALLY AN ISSUE, RIGHT? or just things along the lines of that'." Jaffer came up with the idea for the club two years NOW, THE LAST THING WE ago. However, trouble finding a faculty adviser, WANT IS TO MAKE OURSELVES upcoming graduation and getting into a graduate VICTIMS. THAT'S NOT THE school were heavy on Jaffer's mind. Despite her busy schedule, Jaffer decided it was finally time to bring her idea to life. She held the first CASE. BUT I DO THINK THAT information session for those interested in joining YOU KNOW, AS WE GIVE Women in Business over Zoom during the winter storm. Since then, the organization has gained a lot EACH OTHER THE TOOLS TO of interest and prospective members. KIND OF BE AWARE OF WHAT Women in Business is open to all majors and classifications. Meetings are held every Monday for WE HAVE AND, YOU KNOW, members only. Every meeting is based around the organization's three pillars: Education, networking TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR and community. The community pillar is especially WHO WE ARE AND LIKE OUR important to Janna Beardsley, a marketing junior and PROFESSION AND CAREER, Women in Business' director of marketing. "It's so important for me that women build each I THINK STUFF LIKE THIS IS other up. Because like, there's this stigma that we kind of tear each other down. We're so competitive, VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE and that's because of men, right? We're just like, YOU KIND OF REALIZE HOW trying to, like, get there," Beardsley says. The organization's board members were concerned MUCH YOU DON'T KNOW" about whether those in meetings would find a genuine interest in the organization or just view it as something to add to a resume. -ALINA JAFFER, "I think, like an internal struggle of mine is, if people you know, do sign up, do pay dues, we want FOUNDER/PRESIDENT OF WOMEN IN them to show up," Jaffer says. "We don't just want BUSINESS this to be some like passive thing that they put on their resume. This means a lot to me. And I think it means a lot to the other board members as well." Beardsley says she was surprised there was no Isabel Araiza, a marketing senior and the director of organization like Women in Business at Texas State. philanthropy for Women in Business, says she hopes She says it is important to create communities to the support system within the organization inspires support other women, especially in a male-dominated members to tackle anything the industry may toss industry such as business. their way. "Sometimes we do need a little bit of extra "[I hope members take away] confidence. community and extra support and extra knowledge Confidence in themselves and their abilities, their about things in order to become more successful," skill sets, their professionalism and everything of Beardsley says. "I really like this club, because it's that sort so that they're able to confidently walk into teaching women and giving [them] the tools that an interview or any business meeting, any event, they need to just be successful and eventually work formal event, anything of that sort without being the on their own, eventually even become entrepreneurs slightest bit uncertain," Araiza says. or anything that they want to do." Jaffer has found solace in watching the club grow As of last year, only 167 women held leading — getting it to a place where meetings are booked positions in the U.S.' top 3,000 companies — only with guest speakers, workshops, roundtables and 5%. Women still have difficulties getting promoted panels. She takes pride in leading an organization like into "C-suites," or the chief jobs at a company, which Women in Business where she can provide women an are still overwhelmingly dominated by men. opportunity to learn and grow in an area in desperate Jaffer says while it is important to acknowledge need of a strong female presence. women still have a way to go to receive fair "We want this to be like a safe space. I try to say it opportunities and respect in the business world, it is at the beginning of every meeting. Like, there are no equally important to realize the progress women have wrong answers," Jaffer says. "I know we all come from already made. different backgrounds and have different situations. "There's a certain aspect of business that, you So just recognizing the diversity in this group and know, women aren't welcomed into. Like, if a then also being open to helping each other, because I woman is assertive, suddenly we're aggressive versus think that's what it's all about, right?" [if it] were a man, that's not really an issue, right?" For more information about Women in Business and Jaffer says. "Now, the last thing we want is to make its events and meetings, visit its website or Instagram @ ourselves victims. That's not the case. But I do think txstwib. By Sarah Hernandez Assistant Life & Arts Editor

The University Star

6 | Tuesday, March 30, 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.


Sexism has no room in academics By Nadia Gonzales & Lindsey Salisbury Opinion Columnists Male dominance has been a cultural norm for hundreds of years. The deep stain of gender oppression started when the human society switched from nomadic hunter-gatherers, whom facilitated a degree of egalitarianism, to farming. It was about 12,000 years ago when society started to shift to an agriculture-intensive form of life. Henceforth, a shift of power was transferred to the physically stronger males, and the dawn of sexism arrived. The remodeled 21st century is no longer agri-centric. Males' claim of superiority based on brute strength is no longer valid. Yet, it took thousands of years to disenthrall the grip of patriarchal power, and even the stigmas of male superiority still shadow our society. Women in the math or science industry are constantly belittled and undermined, which is part of the reasoning why there is a lack of women's presence in the field. The STEM field is statistically dominated by men. A statistical analysis completed in 2013 shows that out of the entire Texas population, 4.3% were employed female STEM workers, and more than two-times that, employed male STEM workers stood at 9.9%. In the STEM recruitment field, women even have a two-to-one advantage over men for obtaining interviews and callbacks from employers. Yet, female representation is dismal, and 50% of women who do choose to major in Science and Engineering usually change to a non-STEM major within their first

year. This issue does not stem from a lack of opportunities. It is about creating an environment where women feel safe to learn and make mistakes. It starts in the classroom. Olivia Renner, an environmental engineer in technology freshman, says she always feels like she has to work 10

and she consciously makes an effort to “wear less form-fitting clothes to try and not stand out.” “I want the best for them, [my fellow female classmates], but it is already so competitive that I subconsciously compete with them for the 'female spot,'” Renner says. Women in STEM are constantly having to prove their intellectual prowess, even when they attain the highest form of education. A doctorate is the highest degree one can earn. This type of degree usually takes people anywhere from three to six years to complete. To earn this degree, it is required that students complete research and/or a thesis. Most four-year doctorate programs usually require about 60 to 120 semester credit hours, which is equivalent to about 20 to 40 courses. However, for Ph. D.s, students must complete the entire 120 hours. Needless to say, women with these degrees are more than qualified. They just do not receive the same respect as their male counterparts. Women are qualified to do the work. Yet, women are viewed as lesser than their male peers. If institutions like Texas ILLUSTRATION BY MOLLY GONZALES State and beyond are serious about what they preach — diversity and inclusion — times harder than her male counterparts. they must prioritize creating safe spaces She says before walking into a classroom, for women to thrive. "they set standards for you." “I constantly feel like my professor is eyeing me, waiting for me to mess up,” - Lindsey Salisbury is an English Renner says. sophomore and Nadia Gonzales is a Renner, as one of five women in her public relations junior STEM class, says when she walks into a classroom, she tries to “act like a man,”



Bobcat Cares aid was haphazardly distributed By Nadia Gonzales Opinion Columnist During the spring 2020 semester, Texas State distributed its first round of Bobcat Cares grants, providing $30 million in relief funds, $15 million of which was allocated to students. This past February, the university announced it would distribute additional aid to students financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To apply to receive last spring's Bobcat Cares grants, students were required to complete an online application on the university's website through the Bobcat Online Scholarship System (BOSS). While filling out the application, students were able to explain how the pandemic had impacted them financially and why they qualified to receive emergency funds. The latest application was initiated through BOSS again. However, this time around, emergency aid was given to

students based only on their 2020-2021 FAFSA filing. For this spring's Bobcat Cares grants, which totaled around $9 million, there were two rounds of funds. However, some students were left confused about why they were denied financial aid, as reported by The University Star. Unlike the previous Bobcat Cares application, this application did not allow students to explain the financial insecurity the pandemic had caused them. Students were asked how they wanted to receive their funds, if awarded any, and to check a box that confirmed they had experienced financial burden from the pandemic. Because aid was given out based on the student's existing financial aid forms — not the impact the pandemic has had on their finances — the university left out a wide array of students in financial need. A student's FAFSA does not display the financial effects the pandemic has had on her, his or their life. FAFSA does

not display whether a student is able to pay their rent due to unemployment, a consequence of the ongoing pandemic. A student's FAFSA does not contain a student's medical bills that exist due to hospitalization for or treatment of COVID-19. A student's FAFSA contains tax records, records of her, his or their untaxed home and records of their assets — none of which are directly related to COVID-19. Understandably, Texas State wanted to distribute aid to students based on their financial needs. However, the university should have allowed students to explain their financial needs based on the pandemic. The university should have also distributed funds based on COVID19's effects and not FAFSA alone. Students have the right to feel upset and blindsided by the university. When the university helps its students, these conversations do not have to take place. A few weeks after distributing the

first round of emergency grants, the university distributed the second round of money. However, students who received the money in the second round were given significantly less than the students who received aid in the first round, consequently making students feel as if the university was giving them scraps. Texas State should have provided students the space to express their struggles and demonstrate their funding needs. Students deserved the opportunity to do as much, just as they were granted in 2020. As Texas State contemplates when it will open applications for summer and fall 2021 funding, which it has promised students, the hope is that it will learn from its shortcomings. - Nadia Gonzales is a public relations junior

The University Star

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 | 7


Sumit Nagar Sports Editor starsports@txstate.edu


Baseball secures first series victory of season against ULM By Damien Bartonek Sports Reporter Texas State baseball (11-14 overall, 2-4 Sun Belt) won its first series of the season 2-1 against the University of Louisiana at Monroe Warhawks (10-10 overall, 3-3 Sun Belt) from March 26-28. The team went into the matchup hoping to pick up momentum after a disappointing 5-8 stretch throughout March. The duel on the mound for the first game was between Bobcats' senior pitcher Zachary Leigh and ULM redshirt freshman pitcher Cam Barlow. The Bobcats found themselves behind the eight-ball early, as Leigh gave up two runs in the first inning. ULM’s offensive attack was led by junior outfielder Trace Henry and junior outfielder Mason Holt. Both scored in the first, putting the Warhawks up 2-0. An unforeseen fielding error by the Bobcats cost them another two runs, which ultimately put ULM up 4-0 at the end of the first inning. The home plate umpire called an obstruction for blocking the plate on Texas State’s graduate catcher Tucker Redden. Texas State Head Coach Steven Trout, furious, immediately protested the error, which led to his ejection. The Bobcats never seemed to bounce back from their initial 4-0 deficit. After an RBI-single in the third inning from junior infielder Justin Thompson, the Bobcats attempted a comeback with every plate appearance. ULM put its foot on the gas offensively in the fifth and sixth innings, adding two more runs to the board. The Bobcats tried to rally in the eighth inning after graduate catcher Bryce Bonner drilled a home run to left field. Senior infielder Jaxon Williams cracked a double to left field, followed by senior infielder Cole Coffey hitting a sacrifice fly to bring Williams home. The Bobcats scored three runs from the sixth to eighth innings but, in the end, it was not enough. After a quick three up, three down in the ninth inning, they dropped the first game of the series 6-5. The loss was Leigh's fourth of the year, while Barlow picked up his third win of the season. Senior outfielder Will Hollis headlined the second game with a walk-off RBIdouble in the 10th inning. Redshirt freshman pitcher Cameron Bush started the game for the Bobcats,

Texas State baseball players laugh with one another, Sunday, March 28, 2021, at Bobcat Ballpark. The Bobcats won against ULM 4-1. PHOTO BY NATALIE RYAN

Texas State graduate catcher Bryce Bonner (4) dives onto third base, Sunday, March 28, 2021, at Bobcat Ballpark. The Bobcats won against ULM 4-1. PHOTO BY NATALIE RYAN

while sophomore pitcher Tylor Jans started for ULM. Texas State put up one run after Hollis scored on a balk. The Warhawks' freshman infielder Michael Cervantes hit a three-run home run at the top of the second to put his team up 3-1. Texas State attacked the ball much differently in the innings that followed. Coffey hit a moon shot to right field — a solo home run that brought the Bobcats within one run after the second inning. Bonner came up big once again when an RBI-single tied the game 3-3 at the end of the third. Both sides cleaned up their pitching after the third inning. Texas State nor

ULM scored a run for four straight innings, with both teams splitting the hits battle by one or less until the eighth inning. Then, senior outfielder Ryan Humeniuk hit a two RBI-single to put ULM up 5-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth inning. After a quiet eighth inning, with sophomore outfielder Jose Gonzalez on base, sophomore utility Peyton Lewis hit a rocket into the right field to tie the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the ninth. The Bobcats turned to junior pitcher Tristan Stivors in the 10th. He pitched a clean inning, giving up zero runs, and the Bobcats entered the bottom of the

inning with a chance to grab the win. Junior infielder Cameron Gibbons went into the game to pinch-hit for Texas State. He got on base with a single to bring Hollis to bat. With a 1-2 count, Hollis hit a walk-off RBI double, leading Texas State to a 6-5 victory. “The win was huge," Hollis says. "For us to come out here and battle today and come back with a win is huge. I tried not to do too much, I was trying to stick to my approach and stay simple.” The win split the series at one each, heading into the final battle of the weekend. The last contest was headlined by graduate pitcher Garrett Herrmann. His seven innings at the mound led to success for the Bobcats. ULM’s senior outfielder Andrew Beesley scored the only run of the evening for the Warhawks. His RBI groundout was the first run of the evening but the only one for the team all afternoon. Texas State quickly answered after Coffey reached base on a fielder's choice, leading to a Bonner score. The run tied the game up 1-1 after the second inning. Seven strikeouts later for Herrmann, the score was tied at 1-1 until the seventh inning. Then, junior infielder Dalton Shuffield hit a solo homer to left-center, breaking the tie. In the bottom of the eighth, Thompson hit a two-run home run into left field that broke open the score 4-1. At the top of the ninth, Stivors secured his third save of the season. He struck out the side, sealing the victory for the Bobcats. With a pair of victories under its belt, Texas State will go on to face the Baylor University Bears (13-10 overall, 1-5 Big 12). The Bears enter the matchup on a four-game losing streak. Despite their recent struggles, they are second in the Big 12 in batting average (.304) and hits (243) and fourth in RBI (149) and runs (163). They are seventh in the conference in earned run average (4.28) and eighth in opponent batting average (.252). In the Sun Belt, Texas State is third in hits (220), runs (141) and RBI (129). The Bobcats' .268 batting average is fourth in the conference. The Bobcats will face the Bears at 6:30 p.m. on March 30 at Baylor Ballpark in Waco, Texas. ESPN+ will stream the matchup.


Texas State freshman quarterback Ty Evans (4) prepares to throw a football at a target during a practice drill in the first spring practice, Tuesday, March 24, 2021, at Bobcat Stadium.

Texas State senior running back Robert Brown Jr. (23) dodges obstacles while carrying the football during a practice drill, Thursday, March 25, 2021, at Bobcat Stadium. PHOTO BY KATE CONNORS


With the increased size and the addition of three new offensive linemen, redshirt freshman running back Calvin Hill says he is pleased with the depth on the offensive line. "Last year, if one of our o-linemen went down, we were kind of reaching back, but now I don't feel like reaching back as much," Hill says. "I feel like we have a lot of depth in our o-line room. So if this tackle gets hurt, we have another step right up and do the same thing that tackle is doing." Sophomore running back Brock Sturges and sophomore running back Jahmyl Jeter will join Hill for the second straight season. Both Hill and Sturges ran for over 500 yards with five touchdowns apiece, while Jeter ran for 329 yards and three touchdowns. The trio of backs have a healthy competition going against one another, yet Sturges says they do not allow the competition to distract them from their bigger, common goals. "That's just a little competition we have," Sturges says. "Who can block the best? Who gonna catch the most passes? It's all working towards the end

goal, which is to win. As long as it's not, 'I wanna do good and I hope you do bad' ...It's always gonna be a competition but, at the end of the day, it's all love, and we know that coming from each other." A quarterback competition is still in play after sophomore quarterback Brady McBride took the majority of the snaps in 2020 followed by junior quarterback Tyler Vitt. In eight starts last season, McBride threw for 1,925 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Vitt started the remaining four games and threw for 933 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Freshman quarterback Ty Evans, a transfer from North Carolina State University, is also in the mix. At Palmer Ridge High School in Monument, Colorado, he accumulated a 34-5 career record and 9,485 passing yards with 106 touchdowns. He was also a Nike Elite 11 quarterback in 2018. Junior wide receiver Marcell Barbee, a fellow Coloradoan who used to go to watch Evans play in high school, is impressed by Evans' play in practice. "[Evans] was a legend in my eyes," Barbee says.

"Him coming to Texas State and playing here and just watching him in practice the past couple of days, he's starting to get the hang of things, and he's getting better." With Offensive Coordinator Jacob Peeler returning for his second season, Spavital says there are benefits to continuity, especially in the quarterback room. "Year two with quarterbacks — it's night and day," Jake Spavital says. "I've already got all those discussions and the technique and all the little things out of the way where they know what to do." On the other side of the field, Defensive Coordinator Zac Spavital says injuries on defense last season forced it to change its identity. However, he says players are returning with a lot of energy. "[Last season] left a bad taste in everyone's mouth," Zac Spavital says. "The kids are eager to change that and get back out there...It kind of gives you a little bit more energy and excitement for what's to come." The team will continue spring practice for four more weeks, before the annual Texas State Spring Game takes place on April 24.

The University Star

8 | Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Pastor John the Christian waves to people who pass by, Thursday, March 25, 2021, on the Quad. Pastor John, who prefers to only go by his first name, preached against sins of Christianity. PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH

Thomas Shafer, a music education sophomore, uses a 3D printer to print his model, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, at Alkek One. PHOTO BY JEFFREY HALFEN

Texas State Peer Mentors converse at their information table, Thursday, March 25, 2021, on the Quad. The Texas State Peer Mentors help incoming freshmen academically and socially adapt to Texas State. PHOTO BY DOUGLAS SMITH

Texas State Bobcat Marching Band featured twirlers Kaylee Williams (left) and Cayla Watson help each other film re-audition performance videos for the next football season, Friday, March 26, 2021, under the Undergraduate Academic Center (UAC) Arch. PHOTO BY LILIANA PEREZ

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