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Editors-in-chief Daniel Flores Santa Hernandez Senior Editors Joshua Garza Kevin Stich Writers Felicia Garcia Sander Gutierrez Mario Leal Benny Salinas Brian Silva Madeline Smither Rebecca Ward Photographers Caleb Camacho Alma Hernandez Celine San Martin Advertising Felicia Garcia Ferjie Rose Hontanosas Editorial Associate Erin Menendez Adviser Donna Pazdera Administrative Associate Anita Reyes Disclaimer: The views presented in Panorama are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of this magazine or the university.

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EDITORS' NOTE We hope you’re reading this. And it’s not because we’re egocentric (which one of us is), but if this is in your hands, then we’ve successfully made it through the publishing process. There is a real possibility that this magazine is still in a box somewhere, locked away from students, deemed inappropriate for distribution. The featured artist on our cover is Adam Cantu. Months ago, we saw one of his political cartoons (which is described in detail starting on page 56) and we immediately wanted to give this talented individual a forum for expression. We talked about running his controversial piece, but ultimately we decided against it. Someone could frame and phrase it differently, but we censored this artist. It was a simple decision. After weighing the possible consequences of other material, we didn’t want to take the chance. That doesn’t mean we like having to take that position. We personally think citizens of this institute of higher education could handle this sort of content. And Adam’s work is not gratuitous. Everything in this book is on purpose. These aren’t the first drafts of these stories. What you’re reading are fine-tuned ideas that have gone through multiple critiques and scrutiny. We’ve sweated and bled (figuratively) for the right to publish a magazine that we believed in. All content in the book is supported 100 percent by our staff and has been talked out ad nauseum. We’ve spent hours dissecting the content and sought advice from professors, mentors and colleagues determining what is most suitable for our audience. Legally, the editorial board of any student publication can decide to print almost whatever it wants. And advisers are there to make sure we don’t get sued, tarred and feathered (and to make sure we’re working up to our full potential). The job of a journalist is to relay knowledge to the public. And sometimes that information involves situations and facts that an individual wouldn’t otherwise be aware of. Will someone be offended by something in this magazine? Probably. But, realistically, a publication can’t be created in an attempt to please everyone. We set out to make something that students would want to read, and we’d be proud of. By that criterion, I feel we’ve succeeded. Now read this magazine. If you’re offended by it, tell someone. If you love it, tell someone, but above all, we want you to be moved by what you’re reading.

Warning: Those easily offended, read this story blindfolded

why josh garza will never date again



a complete over-share of the “dating” world Jakob Roma Strippers, when you lick them, taste like Kirstie Alley’s sweaty ass bathed in Purell. The salty flavor of sweat and rubbing alcohol on my lips didn’t pay favors to my arousal. Imagining how many men have put their mouths on this polevaulting body and how many unwashed fecal matter fingers flicked her fritters, I remained flaccid. I had never been to a strip club before. Somehow in my pursuit to salvage this article’s material I felt compelled to drive to the place. I had just come from

downtown McAllen and was headed to a party where I was going to meet some friends in Edinburg. I decided to be a journalist instead by stopping to do some research at a strip club. I’ll call it “Flub Cantasy” for any legal battles I’m not willing to fight.

The Original Idea To backtrack: I had the idea to put up a fake dating ad on and see who responded, then go out on dates with

them. The aim would be to see who was out there in the internet world. I wonder might they be freaks? Might they be hidden gems? Might I find the love of my life? Or might it just be a lesson learned? All questioned posed I did discover one thing quickly: It turns out real people don’t exist on Craigslist, not even me. I had created a persona for myself: his name was Jakob Roma, a baggage handler at the McAllenMiller Airport. He was 21 (I’m 24) and he had a big dick (I don’t). I created a Gmail (cont’d on page 6)

Warning: Those easily offended, read this story blindfolded

account for him, got a GoPhone and posted the following: “Looking for a Spark. I’m a 21-year-old UTPA student looking for the right girl to come my way. I’m six-feet tall, average body type, seeking that spark the moment I meet you. Let’s meet for a date and see what dreams may come. Let’s exchange numbers and trade pics and see where that takes us.” There is definitely a recipe for making the perfect ad. I made the first

Don’t sound desperate posting on Craigslist — this includes not being a word whore. Writing a post that is more than the length of two tweets (280 characters) is trouble. First off, nobody wants to read that much. Secondly, it’s too much information that takes away from the mystery. I honestly don’t give a damn that you have two kids. I want to be surprised. If you’re actually trying to find

us, right?

mistake and didn’t include a picture — It’s a must online. It’s the only personable thing to connect the individual to the ad. Whenever I shop for products online I want a picture, and if it doesn’t have a picture I won’t trust that my order of kitten mittens is legit. The same rule applies to Craigslist: it makes it easier to avoid the ugly people, but it’s still hard to pinpoint the emotionally retarded ones. The other requisite is to give one’s age. You can’t go into a bullpen as an unseasoned heifer. One must put their age to show how rough or fragile they are.

romance avoid posting like this: “I’m looking for a fuck buddy and if you are interested in having some fun than get back to me. I’m 26-years-old, short, black hair, brown eyes, and large in body type. Although, I want to do a lot of kinky or even freaky stuff with a female.” The last sentence confuses me. Why do they say “Although”? It’s almost as if their “large in body type” prompted the use of “although.” I guess they assumed that people reading it wouldn’t believe that fat people get kinky. Fat people want to be touched just as much as the rest of

just logged onto AIM. She provided her screen name and told me to message her. Quickly, I sat in class creating a screen name to match my Gmail account and sent her a message. “So I guess you got my e-mail,” she said. It’s moments like these that one measures the appetite of lust within himself and realizes it’s equivalent to the sexual desires of a female dog in heat. I continued chatting with her while she kept mentioning she had a problem that

First response Despite the fact that I didn’t have a picture and I was an “average body type,” I got a response within the next ten minutes. I instantly got nervous. This shit had just gotten real. In her post she mentioned her roommate wasn’t there and she had


only I could solve. The more I talked to her, the more I got the sense that she wasn’t a real person. She wouldn’t answer my questions and she’d go off talking about her damn “problem.” Finally I just gave in and asked, “What problem do you need help with?” “I’m trying to make it into the adult film industry…” This “Craigtard” wanted to make a sex tape with me and put it in her portfolio. I bowed out and bid her good day.

The Search continues The more responses I got, the more legit they sounded, but as I progressed into conversation I’d find that they weren’t real. Everyone was a moneyhungry robot. The automated bastards would make typos and sound convincing, then when I thought I was about maybe score a date with one, they would send a link to verify my identity … with my credit card. It happened countless times and I gave up hope. It wasn’t until I discovered “Gingerbread Smile” that I became acquainted with the possibility of meeting a real “Craiger.”

“Alright, cool see you tomorrow!” I feigned excitement. I wasn’t really looking forward to meeting her. The risk was having “Craigers” recognize me outside this experiment and thinking I was someone I wasn’t. I developed a “you’re not worth my time” attitude towards all the girls I encountered and it began with Gingerbread Smile. The whole notion of dating people on false pretense was bad. It was research, but at the expense of someone with emotions and desires. I was about to hurt people and I knew it. I’m typically an egocentric smart-ass, but it’s usually in good fun. I felt this experiment would ruin appetites and shatter hearts. Yeah, yeah, I apologize for managing to say that with a straight face as if I’m remotely good looking — I think I’m decent, but not heartthrob handsome. It’s hilarious for me because I’m usually attracted to athletic-type girls, while at the same time being a big doofus. I love physical activity, but I’m not mega-fit or on-the-level with the league stats those kinds of girls are swinging. I’m a gopher, and that usually intimidates me and snipes my attempts dead at ever hitting on them.


obnoxiously loud ringer from the GoPhone went off. “Hey I can’t go because I have to go with my brother to the hospital I’m so sorry next time you are free text me and we will definitely hang,” she delivered the news. “Yes!” I said as I started undressing for my nap while sending a reply saying that it was no problem. She quickly responded with, “Thank u your so sweetie.” I laughed myself shitless. Oh Gingerbread Smile, you complete me. I could have continued to pursue Gingerbread Smile, but I decided to move on to new territory. Since the responses I was getting were duds or fake people, I decided to respond to ads myself.

Older women and white girls are my kryptonite I’m Mexican, but I love white girls — I’ve only dated white girls. I’ve never dated an older woman, but I suspect that it’d be like dating a white girl. White people seem more approachable. They also get my jokes and they’re smarter than the usual RGV girl. I’m not talking book smart, getting A’s in all your classes and all that — a studious chimp can do that. All a student has to do is take notes and do the work. GPAs of 4.0 are for students that

"I'm Mexican, but I love white girls - I've only dated white girls. I've never dated an older woman, but I suspect that it'd be like dating a white girl." typos and grammar gaffes I won’t give you her real name, but I’ll call her “Gingerbread Smile,” because that’s what her nose and teeth reminded me of: a gingerbread man’s smile. We exchanged conversation over e-mail. We chatted a bit and swapped pictures — this one felt like it was going in the right direction. We had set a date to meet at Moonbeans for coffee at noon on a Sunday. “Lemme’ know if you’re still good for tomorrow,” I texted her. “Hey, yeah im still down for tomorrow if you are. It’s [Gingerbread Smile],” she responded.

With Gingerbread Smile I had nothing to worry about; she wasn’t batting in any league, much less walking around a track. “I’ll be taking off around 11:45, cya there,” I texted with reluctance. I waited for a response on my bed. That morning my sister and brother-inlaw were leaving back from a visit they had made to the Valley. I had to get up early to eat breakfast with the entire family and send them off. I was lacking sleep and the last thing I wanted to do was waste precious napping time on “Gingerbread Smile.” I was falling asleep when the

aren’t lazy, granted, some are geniuses in their field of study, but they still aren’t the smart I’m talking about. I’m talking about common sense, humorous, wise, deep and meaningful individuals. The ones that won’t talk about pop culture on a first date — that’s the killer for me. It has always happens when I date Valley girls: they suck at knowing things other than Lady Gaga’s new song and Snooki’s dumbass getting punched. I equate pop culture to a giant game of Pokémon. Ever played that? Neither have I, but I remember the premise being “Gotta’ catch them all!” Take music for (cont’d on page 146)

shut up and walk

Rebecca ward


The clock on the dash read 3:56 p.m. The South Texas heat radiated a steamy 98 degrees off the window to the left, despite the overcast skies. Twelve cars in the line and the light at the corner of Schunior and Sugar remained red. In parking lot C, there would be zero spaces by mid-afternoon and the time spent looking for one and following closely on the heels of other students as they wove through the rows of cars would be more than the time spent walking. One driver in the line of 13 made a split decision. She jammed the gearshift down into first and jerked the steering wheel to the left — too hard, the engine died. Schunior’s intersection released 300 horses in the form of a V8 engine as a blue Ford Expedition barreled toward her Toyota. Think. Clutch, key, turn: success. She jammed it into first gear again, revved the engine and jumped the curb — half of her truck’s chassis on the sidewalk, half on the asphalt. Pressing the clutch to the floor, she avoided hitting the telephone pole that lay directly ahead as she made a sharp left into remote parking. This chick was pissed. But nearly 30 empty parking spots beckoned her to take advantage. The adrenaline rush died down. Choosing a spot, she undocked her iPod, reaching for the green earbuds in her passenger seat. A Benny Benassi song and

Yes, I’ve been one to complain. After all, wasn’t I one of the 13 cars lined up to cross Sugar Road. less than 10 minutes before class was supposed to start? OK, so my class didn’t start until 4:30 p.m., but it is pretty much guaranteed that at least nine of those 13 suckers in the line had a class at four, just four minutes from the time the only reasonable decision left could be made: park, and walk. However, students at UTPA don’t consider this ingenious idea — almost as if their legs are no longer useful. Outside the CAS building, 130 students polled at random FOR MORE INFO had completely polarized PARKING FEES & views on a proposed RECONSTRUCTION OF PARKING LOTS solution to the “problem”: SEARCH: PARKING tearing down an academic building for the purpose of broncradiotv paving the spot for more student parking. Exactly 65 students thought it through, saying that it would be ridiculous to do away with classroom space to put in more parking, and that in the end such an idea would end up costing more money. “Is the university actually considering this idea?” one student asked. No, of course not. But what else would they suggest? On the other hand, 65 students threw out an impulsive and resounding, “YES!” and throwing sideways glances at their


lopsided. The percentage of students randomly polled about demolishing a building to their alleged “benefit” was now 66 percent to 33 percent. Of the 50 students who chose to respond to a query on bulldozing classrooms, only 15 of them actually favored the idea. Thirtyfive of them, on the other hand, had the mental faculty to realize the absurdity of destroying classrooms to put in more parking that would inevitably fill up quickly and perhaps never benefit any one of them. And what about those alleged “parking sharks” that circle the parking lots, just waiting for the best and closest possible spot. Parking farther away and walking might actually save them some time (anywhere from three to 10 minutes on average) and gasoline, and hey, they might actually lose a couple of those unwanted pounds after a couple weeks of that slight alteration of lifestyle. Who wouldn’t want to shed a couple extra pounds? That still does not change the fact that parking is a foremost issue on students’ minds. Randomly approaching students in the SU and asking them what the number one issue students on campus face is, they will generally mention things like sleep deprivation and meals in the same breath with parking. Why would parking be on their minds unless it is a valid issue? That’s where

How difficult is it, really, to park in lot S and walk? a half later (or two rounds of Kings of Leon’s “Manhattan”) and she’d be safely inside the University of Texas-Pan American Communication Arts and Sciences building — maybe before the rain hit to destroy her perfectly coiffed hair. All the other 12 in the line of traffic were still stalled there, cursing under their breath about the parking problem. What parking problem? Honestly though, consider it: does the university have a problem? If just 10 minutes before the 4 p.m. class time there were still 30-plus open spots, the only visible problem here is laziness. How many times has someone complained about having to park ten minutes away from the intended destination or classroom?

friends as they prodded, “Dude, we need more parking. Come on, tear down one of these nasty buildings.” And just what building do they want to see go? The Social and Behavioral Sciences building (SBSC) often tops the list. But maybe students who spend time eating and studying in the Student Union (SU) would be more analytical in their approach toward the parking “problem.” Perhaps because their brains are functioning on a higher level with the burst of caloric energy coursing through their veins and stimulating their cerebral function, or perhaps because only smarter students hang out in the SU, but for whatever reason, the response was more

the newspaper might be to blame. Oh, yes, the university’s dear, old student publication, The Pan American. Perhaps as frequently as monthly, the paper publishes an article about parking. Parking costs, parking projects; parking, parking, parking. With all of this talk of parking and all the hype, it is no wonder students can’t get it off their minds — and off the student agenda. How difficult is it, really, to park in lot S and walk? (For those parking sharks reading this, lot S is out behind the stadium.) Yes, we live in the Valley. Yes, it is usually scorching outside, and if it’s not, it is most likely raining. But please, can the parking monster die once and for all?




our new playground mario leal



Lucky, bartender at Vintage Room, performs one of his many tricks.



McAllen is going through a rebirth of sorts. The old stucco buildings that used to be flower shops and 99-cent stores are being gutted and renovated into bars, music venues and restaurants. Seventeenth Street is quickly becoming the new playground for the city. Some liken it to a miniaturized version of Austin’s Sixth Street, others see it as a detriment to the city -- a row of “cantinas, not bars.” McAllen’s Heart of the City Improvement Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that is seeking to create an “entertainment, arts, retail and urban living district,” according to Joe Rodriguez, Executive Director for Heart of the City. The renovation of 17th Street occurring downtown is largely

money, about two or three times a week to a bar or two with friends. Some people consider it a small Sixth Street, but I don’t really think so. I can see how it’s similar, but Sixth Street is a lot larger, I don’t think McAllen’s going for that.” Heart of the City did look to Austin’s Sixth Street -- a street located in downtown Austin that is known as the live music capital of the world (filled with music venues and bars) -- when initially planning for 17th Street. “We did look at Austin, but McAllen isn’t a college town; not like Austin is. We have Pan Am and STC [South Texas College], but they’re not major colleges, they’re smaller, the demographic that would hit Sixth Street is much different

“If McAllen is going for a family oriented place downtown, they’re not really going in the right direction. A lot of the people who go downtown are young and some of the places end up kind of ghetto,” said Moreno. “But it all depends on where you go, and it’s like that anywhere you go, even in Austin … I like what’s going on downtown. There aren’t a lot of places people can go just to hang out and do something, and you can do that now downtown.” Alamia and Rodriguez agree with Moreno. Rodriguez said that the area is still finding its identity. “All of the venues are pieces in a puzzle. Everyone has their place, and you can’t single one out and say we want

"I like what's going on downtown. There aren't a lot of places people can go just to hang out and do something, and you can do that now downtown." -Patty moreno due to their pursuits of both public and private interests. “I have already created an entertainment district, housing 37 venues. They’re bars, grills, lounges, music venues, things like that,” Rodriguez said. “Our job at Heart of the City is to make sure that everything is done properly.” Before this reinvention, the downtown area was largely a “center where the general public could come and shop,” according to Raquel Reynoso, Notary Public and owner of Raquel’s Notary Public, across the street from The Gallery Bar. Many of the stores were discount stores or flower shops, a slew of small businesses where people shopping on a budget could come. “If I went downtown, it was to go buy a prom dress, or if someone in my family was having a wedding,” said Patty Moreno, senior theatre performance major at the University of Texas-Pan American. “I never really knew it as a place to hang out unless I was coming to Hermes Music. Now, I don’t really come to shop, I just come, if I have

than the one that would come to 17th Street,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going for the 25 and up crowd, and many of the businesses down here cater to professionals like lawyers, politicians, doctors, pharmaceutical reps. When I was a student, I had to live on a budget, we’re not focused on a young crowd.” McAllen’s entertainment district has quickly become a hot spot, and even though the initial planning for the district was geared towards slightly older than college aged professionals, many of the patrons of bars end up being slightly younger than that. “You have some young people come in, and families, and professionals, it just depends. We get a little bit of everything. Most of them are Hispanic. We play Mexican music, mariachis are here on the weekend,” said Anthony Alamia, chef at Hacienda 17, a restaurant brought in during the renovation. Some feel that the direction of downtown is nearsighted, despite its appeal to a younger audience.

your crowd and then not allow another,” Rodriguez said. “Downtown is filled with different kinds of venues; we have a curandera, a tattoo shop, restaurants, bars. Many of the venues are still trying to figure out who they are, one day they focus on attracting this audience, and then they change something, and a different audience comes.” However, even among those who like the development, some patrons still feel that there are aspects of 17th Street that Heart of the City could improve on. “I like this area, it reminds me a lot of Sixth Street, my only complaint is that they need to close down the street already like they do in Austin. It’s safer,” Alamia said. “Any business that brings in more money to the area is good for the area.” But some of the current tenants are dissatisfied altogether with the development of the downtown area. “The city took out the renters and everything is being turned into a bar. I don’t like that. I have been here for 18 years, and now it’s a street of cantinas, not (cont’d on page 148)

Sander gutierrez



itting there carefully trying to digest what was just learned in class, you ease the process of digestion by filling your face with a slab of meat in an already watering mouth. You shove it slowly and carefully, making sure that you don’t miss out on a piece of that ever so heavenly taste. Eyes closed, you wrap your lips around it and take a big bite…swallow. You take another bite—WAIT—no, you add something salty to the melody of carefully selected ingredients. A nice salty freedom fry should make the perfect match. Much like salt and pepper or peanut butter and jelly better or in non-food terms, a match made in heaven: Siegfried and Roy (with the exception of the tiger). The meaning of life suddenly seems closer than ever as the masticated conglomeration of saliva and edible matter makes its way down the esophagus and into the stomach. Just as you’re about to take a breath— The button on the pants pops off, striking the person you are trying to impress, in the eye, blinding the bystander

doing homework for class, who has time to cook anything? Why cook something when someone can deep-fry chicken tenders and apple pies for you. The lure is that it costs less.

THE GOLDEN NUMBER A stroll down University Drive brings you to a sunshine strip of greasy fast food restaurants and high calorie sit-down joints. Unfolding a napkin from Subway and reading it is telling: of the calorie make-up of all their sandwiches plus the same count of their competitors’ grub. It helps you do the math, but breaking it down is easy: Eat more = gain more Eat less = lose more But, seriously, who wants to eat less? Let’s count calories. It’s a bit like counting cash except (in this case) you don’t want to be a “big cheese” or a “fat cat.” The golden number is 2,000. That’s the ideal caloric intake for a 24-hour period. It is understandable that on occasion you’ll eat half a pie of pizza and

"Remember that you did not gain that weight overnight it took time for you to gain it, so then why would you expect an overnight miracle?" - EDDIE QUINTANILLA and deflating the possibilities of you getting into what their well zipped skinny jeans. Like a ton of bricks— Scratch that…A ton of burgers. Weight gain in college has always been something taboo to talk about. But with all the long nights of studying and

go over the golden number. Pizza parties are a blast, that’s no lie, but much too often they become a habit. Getting back to the cash concept: Calories are like the total amount of money that the body has in its account. Every time we consume a Big Mac, we’re 800

in the hole. That spent, you’ve got 1,200 more juicy calories to chomp on. Going on an eating spree at this point is a bad idea if you want to keep below the golden number. But, you can take a free parking, and go exercise. Walking or running one mile and you’ll have about 100 calories extra to use or save. So instead of 2,000 you now have a 2,100-calorie allowance. It’s that simple. At this age mom and dad are not there to regulate your eating habits. No longer will they tell us that we cannot eat burgers and pizza every day. And they can’t say that a grilled-cheese-syrup-soaked sandwich isn’t a suitable breakfast. Or at least, we don’t listen anymore. While living for the past 18 years under the dictatorship of parental units, students had been told what to eat and when to eat it. If they didn’t like what was on the menu, they were screwed, no food. So now that the student has made it past the Berlin Family Wall they progress into independence knowing nothing of what has happened in the outside world; many are completely clueless about life in general. So what happens when someone is so accustomed to living a scheduled life gets freedom? Self-control crisis. Most young people lack self control but now is a good time to learn; take the Subway slogan “eat fresh.” “Eating fresh is healthier than eating processed food,” says Eddie Quintanilla, student health adviser in the Student Health Services Building. Meaning: cooking food at home is better than having someone else do it for you. Making things from scratch with raw ingredients is the way to go. You can never go wrong with veggies. “There is plenty of food out there. Students just decide to make poor choices,” Quintanilla adds.

THINK INSIDE THE BAG THE SACK LUNCH IS BACK. Who says that it’s not a good thing to do. A sandwich has less fat than a burger. Put some veggies to keep you going and keep you full for a longer period of time. Throw in a small bag of chips as a snack. It is less fatty than a small order of fries.



Calorie Cheat Sheet Also add in some sliced apples for good measure. Pack leftovers from the dinner a night before. PB&J it up one day or two days if you want. Have fun with the food you put in the magical bag. You’re told to think outside the box, well start thinking inside the bag. Look at the things that you do put in the bag, there is just one more thing that you need to look at before you brown bag it …

LABELS: Read carefully what you buy, you might look like a tool but at least you will be a healthy tool. “Try and make sure that the food you buy has a high fiber content, little to no fat, low sugar content and something that passes everybody’s eyes, the ‘amount per serving,’” Quintanilla advises.

THE REASON: Fiber, the digestive beneficiary, helps smooth out the chunks of waste swimming through your small intestine. Relieving yourself at the toilet often is better is for the body. It comes with a warning. Fiber may cause abdominal discomfort. Sugar is good and bad because it soaks up the body’s water, which is necessary. But it is also good because it is needed in the body for some energy; however sugars found in fruits are better than pure cane or processed sugar. Fat, well…the body does require some fat, like the kind found in eggs and fish. Fat should be limited. Make sure that you are eating what is considered one serving. Those Big Grab bags of Cheetos are tricky. It may say 270 calories per serving but take a closer look at the amount of Cheetos that make up that serving. You may have to amend the calorie budget. Students look at their budget and can break down to the exact penny how much they will spend on their meals but

not always make good choices. Let’s just take a look: one spicy chicken .99 cents; one McDouble .99 cents, one order of small fries .99 cents, plus a heart attack while you are in the john and a quadruple bypass for good measure. It does seem like a funny thing, dying while in the john because you did not add fiber to your diet and are trying with much force to push out the waste that your body was trying to let out. These things happen and we are all in danger. Toss those carefully processed transfats and carbs out and eat something else. So you lose some weight…now it’s time to turn it up a notch. As a student you can take advantage of the Rec Center. If the gym just isn’t your “THING” then go out for a walk or a jog. Walking one mile around campus one time is about 2 miles, enough to get the heart pumping and the muscles working. “Most importantly, have fun with what you do when you exercise,” says Quintanilla Fun? Yes fun should be the basis of the workout, not calories burning or fat burning. Don’t think that because it’s exercise you can’t have fun doing it. There is so much out there. Basically if you can feel your heart actually beating then it’s good for you, lets leave to word cardio out of this. Live by that rule and you will be OK. Start off slow then keep adding to the exercise routine and before you know it, you will be better. Most students become discouraged within the first week of working out,

after seeing how much they have let themselves go. So don’t expect to hit the ground running. “Remember that you did not gain that weight overnight, it took time for you to gain it, so then why would you expect an overnight miracle?” asks Quintanilla. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t do all the things that you could do when you were younger. Keep at it, some will come in due time. Practice makes perfect and so on and so forth. Keep at it, the best gift that you can have is knowing that you’ve accomplished something, and never given up.

THE SEX WORKOUT Sex is good. We all know this. Sex is the best thing and apart from that it is also healthy for you. It burns a ton of calories and it creates endorphins. Endorphins give you this amazing high that just relieves stress and makes life just a whole lot better. So go off and have some good ol’ safe sex. It will not burn off as many calories as running, but remember the rule…have fun exercising. There is only one catch to having sex, and that’s watching out what you do afterward. This means after all that, sex makes people hungry, thirsty or tired. If you are hungry, eat something healthy like chicken or a salad, and if you crave something sweet, eat fruit like strawberries. If you crave chocolate eat dark chocolate. As an added bonus, did you know that sex prolongs your days on earth.

(cont’d on page 148)

Valley Ghost hunters kevin stich


Eight certifiable souls stand under an aging archway peering out into a sea of graves, a slight anxiety at their heels. The night, steadily building to this moment, has come to a sudden halt at the prospect of entering the lugubrious rural cemetery. The thrill-seekers are there to brave the walk around the vacated burial grounds – a group that includes a reporter imbued with a bit of natural skepticism. They are there in the hopes of finding evidence of the paranormal, but not without a few reservations (even for a skeptic). A few of the gathering take a step forward into the darkness, out of the lamplight’s reach, and whether by coincidence or the tenseness of the moment, a biting chill becomes slightly more noticeable. After the band has made its way toward the center of the graveyard, Tony Cisneros, founder of

looking forward to. “It’s about the curiosity of maybe being able to catch that solid evidence,” Cisneros said. “We’re always looking to catch something more solid – evidence of the paranormal – that it does exist ... Just like people look for evidence of UFOs, that they’re trying to literally catch one on video, it’s kind of the same thing with ghosts I think.”

HUNTING A HAUNTING VGHS was started in 2001 by Cisneros, a Chicago native who moved down to the Valley that same year and was looking to join a group of ghost hunting enthusiasts. After shopping the area, he found that the Valley paranormal group scene was lacking. “Back in 2000 I don’t even think it was that publicized yet,” he said. “There wasn’t

"If people claim that they hear paranormal stuff, then we're going to go in there to try and clear it up." the Valley Ghost Hunters Society, starts giving out instructions as to who will be responsible for capturing the alleged ghoulish activity. He offers the task of carrying a digital recorder and asking questions to a wideeyed, skittish first-timer. The newcomer, not wanting to put it to chance, responds with a hesitant, “I’d rather not.” Cisneros chuckles and then hands it to someone else. By the end of the night the group has regularly caught a few instances of what are commonly known as “EVPs” or Electronic Voice Phenomenon. While reviewing the recordings, veteran ghost tracker John Chapa is bemused with a specific clip of audio that is much clearer than he’s used to – a voice not belonging to any of the participants. Excitedly, he rewinds the audio for Cisneros and plays it through the speakers of his SUV. Upon a second inspection the voice audibly mutters the name “Kendra” in a high, hollow whisper. This was the moment they were


obsessed with otherworldly spectacle. However, Cisneros admits that he throws caution to the wind when it comes to any televised ghost expeditions. “The newer shows are all about ratings,” he said. “The interest in the paranormal has increased over the years and now people are more open minded to it than they were before, and so now the interest in it is high. Halloween time comes around and it gets even higher because of the month. But I think that the shows like Ghost Adventures, I think that some of it is true and some of it is fabricated to get people to get caught in an excitement.” Silva, who joined the group in October 2009, after having conducted independent investigations about EVPs, said that one day he hopes that one day technology will be able to capture strong evidence of paranormal activity.


One may wonder: with all the taboo against the supernatural, isn’t there some fear to go along with it? “It freaks me out sometimes,” Silva -George silva said after narrating a story about a much of a high demand [in the area], so haunting in Donna. “But the way I look what I did was I founded Valley Ghost at it is: if you go in there and you’re not Hunters Society back in 2001, and just pissing them off, they’re not going to picked it up from there pretty much.” follow you.” He’s an orthopedic physicians assistant Cisneros said that the most intense by day, ghost hunter by night. VGHS takes experience he has ever had was back in on everything from residential hauntings Chicago as a rookie. The then newbie was to leads on areas with heavy paranormal unloading A/V equipment and carrying it occurrences, all in a search for answers. up a stairwell in a two-story house. “As a society our mission is to go to “On my way up I saw this older black places and solidify claims,” co-director man that was there and I was going up George Silva said. “If people claim that they and said ‘Oh, I’m sorry sir, excuse me,’ and hear paranormal stuff, then we’re going to I just went around him and kept going. go in there to try and clear it up…. Once And when I came down of course he wasn’t they’re presented with the evidence they there, but the group of lead investigators can do whatever they want with it.” were already talking to a lady in the Armed with digital equipment and kitchen,” Cisneros recounts. “As I was members with a self-proclaimed standing there, I heard the lady tell sixth sense, they’ve been featured FOR MORE INFO the lead investigator that she felt on local television stations including her husband was still at home. She Fox News 2 Rio Cable-6 and KNVOpresented to the group a picture of GHOST STORIES ON CAMPUS TV 48 Univision. With an everher husband and to my surprise growing cultivation of television that picture was the man that was SEARCH: GHOST productions about the paranormal, standing in the stairs.” broncradiotv it’s proof of a culture increasingly Like Cisneros’ encounter, their (cont’d on page 148)

Joey Martinez and Michelle Murray study in the quad under a tree.

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we almost asked sga to fund marijuana for this article madeleine smither

he scrapes it up carefully, tests the texture with her fingertips. Satisfied, Alice* loads the bowl. The burbling sound of the bong fills the room; she inhales deeply. After hissing the smoke out between her lips, she says seriously, "I'm gonna say some legendary stuff here." Alice is a UTPA student who allowed Panorama to enter her apartment, and her life as a marijuana user, to find out what life is really like beneath the taboo. Marijuana. Weed. Ganja. Pot. It’s a (counter) culture, a movement, a language, a brand, a stigma; a medically legal substance in 14 states, and a drug that will earn you jail time and a hefty fine in the 36 states. For decades, a debate has raged that can be boiled down to the feelings of two UTPA students: “It just completely opens your mind— the walls go down.” “It’s bad for your brain—also it’s gross and stupid.” Attending a university often means students’ first crack at life without supervision. People’s first experiences with drugs (legal and not) are practically college rites of passage. To find the pulse of the thoughts and experiences of UTPA’s students, a sample of 50 anonymous undergraduates were interviewed and surveyed. They were all types of people, from buttoned-up math majors to bohemian theatre majors, and everywhere in between. Of the 50 students surveyed, half have never smoked pot; the other half, have at least tried it. Of those that have smoked, 11 have tried it once, and haven’t used it since. Most of the one-timers say they wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. “I did it just to try it, my senior year of high school, for the first and last time,” said one male student. “I was just curious,” said a freshman female. University policy states that any student caught selling, using, delivering, or possessing marijuana will be at least

suspended. At most, they will be expelled and faced with criminal charges. And according to, any student with a convicted drug offense is not eligible to receive financial aid for at least one year. Surprisingly, compared to 72 percent of non-users, 90 percent of smokers say they think UTPA’s drug policy is appropriate. Of those that said the policy wasn’t reasonable, their concerns varied. About a third of respondents find fault with the financial aid portion of the policy. According to the UTPA web site, the cost of attending is now more than $6,000 a year. The implication of the policy is that using marijuana should be one of the most discouraged practices on campus. But in the Rio Grande Valley, a primarily low-income area, many students are already working two jobs just to stay afloat. Saving more than $6,000 is not always an option. So with the consequences to their education so dire, why did half of the respondents still smoke weed? What is it doing for them? The 14 students who consider themselves regular smokers said the effects they get from pot are relaxation, laughing and a more expansive thought process. These reports are consistent with medical studies on marijuana’s effect on the brain. According to, “THC acts upon specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, kicking off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the “high” that users experience…in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thoughts, concentration, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.” Alice is savoring a chocolate bar slowly, humming to herself, considering why she smokes marijuana.

“You feel so fearless, and so uninhibited; it’s almost a childish enjoyment of every little thing. Stuff you’re eating, music, jokes…” She breaks off, staring intently at the ground. Perhaps something legendary is about to emerge. After a few more moments of silence, Alice confesses, “I forgot what you asked me.” The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the standard tool used worldwide to diagnose mental disorders. It defines cannabis dependence: “Cannabis abuse: A destructive pattern of cannabis use, leading to significant social, occupational, or medical impairment; need for markedly increased amount to achieve intoxication, persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control use; important social, occupational, or recreational activities given up or reduced because of substance use.” I.e., pot heads. It doesn’t take a doctor to diagnose one, and everyone probably knows of at least one. Any drug, legal or not, when used in excess, leads to that state. The question is: how addictive is marijuana? Alice has had to stay off pot for months at a time before, for job interviews, or for her parents. But, she says, it doesn’t suit her, and is the means to an end. “I know I can stop when I have to—so I don’t look at myself as an addict . But that’s like, ‘what’s an addict?’ Sure, I’m not scratching my skin off, prowling for a fix. But when I have to stop for a long time, I am thinking about it and how I wish I could smoke.” Many studies and publications, including “Time” magazine have reported that about 10 percent of people who try marijuana will become psychologically


dependent on it. “Time” also reports that by comparison, 15 percent of drinkers become dependent on alcohol, 23 percent of heroin users get addicted, and a third of tobacco cigarette smokers can’t stop smoking. In addition to its relatively low addiction rate, multiple studies show quitting marijuana doesn’t come with a painful withdrawal period like other drugs. However, according to, “long-term marijuana abusers trying to quit report irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which make it difficult to quit.” Marijuana is ranked Schedule I by the DEA, as dangerous and illegal as heroin and ecstasy. Cocaine and methamphetamine however, are the lower Schedule II. So, for just a second, imagine you are going to be left in a room alone and unsupervised with a drug addict for a day. If given the choice, would you select a pot head, or a meth head? By DEA standards, methamphetamine is the safer drug. Many proponents for decriminalization argue that marijuana has never caused an overdose or death. The same cannot be said for alcohol, prescription drugs, or even over the counter painkillers. In 2005, ProCon. org, a non-profit organization designed to provide unbiased information, requested

So with the harder drugs aside, let’s talk about college students’ most popular drugs of choice. The ubiquitous huddle of smokers outside every building, and the students that can be heard Monday mornings talking about the hangover they’re nursing. Alcohol and cigarettes for everyone! These drugs are public and popular, with multi-million dollar ad campaigns, and little to no stigma attached. Though some students feel cigarette smoke is dangerous or offensive and they don’t want to be around it, none said it’s a deadly intoxicant that should be outlawed. Similarly, though not all students drink, no one is calling for a prohibition do-over. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and is associated with multiple adverse health consequences, including liver cirrhosis, various cancers, unintentional injuries, and violence.” The CDC also reports that there were 331 alcohol overdose deaths in 2001, and zero marijuana overdose deaths. Further, they report more than 20,000 “alcohol-induced deaths” (excluding accidents and homicides) in 2003, and no “marijuana-induced” deaths. Alice cleans out the pipe as she talks.


nobody’s talking about making it illegal.” She glances out the window when the howl of a siren breaks the silence. “And I have to creep around like a criminal—I am like the least violent person you could meet.” She closes the shades. Twelve respondents reported that they smoke tobacco, saying it relaxes them, or gives them the edge to deal with the stress of life and classes. Drugabuse. gov reports that even though marijuana smoke contains 50–70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke, there is still no proven link between smoking marijuana and lung cancer. So, if the experts have ruled that marijuana isn’t lethal, or as addictive as some legal substances, what’s the deal? Liliana Bachs, MD, wrote an article, “Acute Cardiovascular Fatalities Following Cannabis Use” saying there have been six cases where “recent cannabis intake was associated with sudden and unexpected death. An acute cardiovascular event was the probable cause of death. In all cases, cannabis intake was documented by blood analysis.” One study done by the Institute of Medicine has indicated that a person’s risk of heart attack is four times higher during the first hour after smoking marijuana. There are other proven side-effects,

"I know I can stop when I have to ... I'm not scratching my skin off, prowling for a fix. But when I have to stop for a long time, I am thinking about it and how I wish I could smoke." - ALICE public records from the FDA showing how marijuana-related deaths compare with the deaths attributed to FDA-approved drugs from 1997 through 2005. Marijuana is the only substance on the list that was never ruled a cause of death. Compared to Viagra, Adderall, Wellbutrin and Ritalin, which were ruled the cause of more than 8,000 deaths together.

“If alcohol can be legal, I don’t see why pot can’t. It practically does the same thing, and from what I’ve seen, way more bad things happen to people when they’re drinking than when they’re smoking. I mean, alcohol poisoning. There’s no possible way to overdose on weed. And there are lots of violent occurrences that are alcohol-fueled, even in college, and

such as impaired short-term memory, attention, judgment and other cognitive functions. It impairs coordination and balance, can lead to chronic cough or emphysema and possibly addiction. The government and FDA determine which substances will become legal by weighing its costs against its benefits. Do the costs and benefits of marijuana (cont’d on page 148)



the road less traveled Benny salinas

After 18 years of being led along by the public education system, dictating what and when students study, the new found freedom of college seems like the perfect transition for young people. The freedom provides them the perfect springboard for

the statistic seems startling. Bianca Cantu had plans -- somewhat. After graduating from Sharyland High School in 2002 she moved to Austin to attend St. Edwards University. She spent a year and half bouncing from major to

work, the next I’d be helping the vet with an animal. I got to do a lot of odd jobs.” While working for the veterinarian’s office, CK Salon, a hair salon in west Austin that Cantu would frequently visit, offered her a job doing public relations work. While working there she became friends with an intellectual property attorney, Ray Galasso, who went to the salon and was looking for an assistant. “I’ve always had a really big interest in inventions so it was perfect for me,” Cantu said. “It was my favorite job. I got to learn the ins and outs of I.P. laws and patents.” However, despite the interest and the $32,000 a year salary, Cantu left the Galasso & Associates after her boyfriend suggested she go into real estate. For close to a year Cantu worked for Meritage Homes in Austin giving tours three days a week. During her time with the real estate company she also provided hospice care for her boyfriend’s great aunt whom she befriended after visiting during her commute to work. In 2007 she came home for Easter. During a big family celebration her

21.7% of undergraduate students... are over the age of 25. For an institution normally associated with the post-pubescent idealism of finally being out of high school, the statistic seems startling. starting their life plans. However, along with that freedom comes the unavoidable intrusion that life will have on any set of plans. Bills need to be paid; jobs are offered; kids are born; indecisiveness sets in.; youthful bravado intercepts common sense. All of these things keep some from continuing that movement towards a degree and often leaves students a few years behind in their plans. According to UTPA’s Student Fact book, 21.7% of undergraduate students and 79.8% of graduate students are over the age of 25. For an institution normally associated with the post-pubescent idealism of finally being out of high school,

major, unsure of what she wanted to study, and decided to drop out. “There were just so many options,” Cantu said. “How are you supposed to know what you want to do for the rest of your life when you’re only 18? And at $8,000 a semester it didn’t seem right not to be sure.” Despite objections from family members who argued, quite justifiably, that if she dropped out she would never return to school, Cantu decided to enter the workforce in Austin, working a series of jobs for a year or so each time. “My first job was at a vet’s office as a vet tech and a receptionist,” Cantu said. “I loved it there. One day I’d be doing paper

aunt offered her financial backing if she returned to school at the University of Texas-Pan American. “It was funny. My aunt offered on a Sunday and on Monday I applied to UTPA,” Cantu said. Now 26, Cantu says she’s more focused on school than before. She’s set to graduate in fall of 2010 with a degree in communication. During the fall of 2009 her load became a bit heavier as she found out she was due to have a baby boy. “It’s more a problem logistically being pregnant and going to class,” Cantu said. “I have to be a lot more organized to make sure I eat and sleep well and on time. I

(cont’d on page 149)




n a one-stoplight town, just northeast of Pittsburgh, lies the quaint, blue-collar community of Apollo, Pa. It’s an all-American town with a history of steel mining and an old nuclear power plant; its only real quirk is the fact that with its PA abbreviation, it’s a palindrome (Apollo, PA reads the same backward as it does forward). It’s a long shot that anyone from Apollo would end up in the Rio Grande Valley, but as it just so happens, one did – and he’s changing the face of The University of Texas-Pan American athletics. Chris King grew up in the oft-overlooked city of 1,800 people – Apollo born and bred. A full, stubble-dappled face, surreptitious grin and large, overworked, bullet-point eyes that sit behind thinframe glasses, are clues in to a man who is obsessive over his work – and deceptively so. Hired in September 2009, he took the reigns from interim athletic director Ricky Vaughn after what had been a tumultuous year of transition for the program. Lost coaches, lost players and a waning athletic department: inherited. At the time, he told his staff that

“If I lose the 20 pounds I’ve gained since I’ve been here, yeah I’m a pretty good shooter,” he said, an amused smile forming in his features. “I had a threepoint contest with Manny Hendrix (UTPA guard) … I don’t want to embarrass him, so I won’t say who won.”

THE ROAD TRAVELED King grew up playing sports. He graduated from Apollo Ridge High School, a collegiate-bound athlete lettering in basketball. He started his post-secondary education at Penn State Behrend University, competing in NCAA Division III hoops, and played everything from shooting guard to the small forward position, filling in where he was needed. It’s analogous to his current role at the moment, playing athletic director, promoter and motivator for UTPA athletics. After two years, and a brief collegiate basketball career, King transferred to Penn State University for one year before transferring again to Robert Morris University (then Robert Morris College) to finish a bachelor’s degree in

specifically at the high school level, but when a graduate assistantship at Campbell University in Buies Creek, North Carolina came calling, the new AD took the jumper. “I had an opportunity to get a graduate assistantship at Syracuse (University) as well, but I decided to travel South because I had never been South of West Virginia my entire life,” he said. “I wanted to just get away, help a small town, because I didn’t know what the rest of the world had in store.” King received his master’s degree in educational leadership and supervision from Campbell University in 1997. From there, he jumped to Liberty University, becoming the director of compliance and special events. “I jumpstarted my career because of that,” the rookie athletic director said. “It’s hard to get that first job … I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.” In fact, at 37, he’s one of the youngest collegiate athletic directors in the country. He arrived at UTPA after spending seven years at the University of Alabama as

"If I lose the 20 pounds I've gained since I've been here, yeah I'm a pretty good shooter ... I had a three-point contest with Manny Hendrix (UTPA guard) " I don't want to embarrass him, so I won't say who won." he didn’t work Sundays. His wife Alicia, about to give birth to a baby girl named Kylie, was pregnant, and he wasn’t about to let his life be consumed by his work … it is an easy bet that his staff will say otherwise. Back in September, before his arrival, he admitted to “Googling” the university in order to better understand the situation he was getting himself into – that’s King, a studious preparer. Standing 6-feet-2-inches tall, he’s a basketball player at heart: always has been, always will be. When asked if he’s still “got game,” his reply is simple.

sports management, which he completed in 1994. “When I was at Robert Morris, that’s when I really got serious about studies,” he said. “I had great grades in high school, then I goofed off the first couple of years in college … When I got in to sport management program I had a great mentor, her name was Dr. Susan Hofacre … She saw a lot of ability in me that others didn’t. I was kind of a wiseass, smart aleck, you know, thought I knew everything, and she did a great job of mentoring me.” King had aspirations of coaching,

the head of compliance (2002-2008). Before that, he worked at the University of Central Florida where he served as assistant athletic director for almost four years. In an age of the “commodification” of athletes and sports, King did have opportunities to swim in bigger ponds. However, he found that his passion led him toward working with student-athletes – a fading reprieve in an epoch defined by the consumerism of college athletics. “I had an opportunity at one point to switch over, and I didn’t,” he said. “I had a chance to be working directly for the NCAA


at one point and I didn’t make the move on that … I just recently had an opportunity with the United Football League to be the general manager of one of those teams. I was approached by the administration of that new league, and it was something that I thought about, but at the same time I realized this is my career, my passion. I like to serve student-athletes and I enjoy being around the coaches.”

BIG 'BAMA To do justice to the man who sat behind the desk during the interview, it cannot be overlooked that King came from SEC powerhouse and NCAA football national

it. He’s the head of it, but there was a lot of people who had to build that program from the years it was decimated by the probation to get to the point to hire Nick Saban and take it to the next level.” The prospect of knowing Saban gave King a captive audience in the form of his interviewer. Going into detail he reminisced about the effectiveness of the hall-offamer’s techniques. He said that the hardnosed coach knew what he wanted to do “to the tee,” and that he couldn’t help but learn from Saban’s methodology. King also said that, with the application of those methods, he could see the direction of UTPA athletics progressing extremely fast. But it rides on one idea:


future in all three of those programs,” King said. “We’re no Alabama or Texas (UT). We’re never going to be that level. I don’t think anybody here is dumb enough to talk that we could be, but I do think that we have niche.” As Bronc athletics propels into the future, King hopes to stake a claim as part of the effort to bring a winning tradition to the university. According to King, the local community and UTPA alumni is an untapped well of support – something he is currently attempting to change. He estimates that the department’s revenue will double to triple, possibly within the next few years, including a definite $80,000 increase in scholarships (the budget was

"I don't see any reason why UTPA athletics, in the next three to five years, isn't going to be competing in championships in every sport... We're going to do things here that have never been done before in UTPA athletics." champions University of Alabama. It was there, that the king thought he had truly arrived. “I thought I knew it, I thought I was ready for it, but until you get to an Alabama, on an SEC level, you have no clue,” he said. “I mean it’s such a whole different world. The first year, my head was spinning.” Perhaps it would be starry-eyed to note that King had personal relationships with head coach Nick Saban and the 2009-2010 University of Alabama football team, but it’s too damn cool not to “ooh” and “aah” over. “I talk to the athletic director at least once a week,” he said. “I knew all of them [the football team] … It’s a good group of guys. It’s tough whenever you help build -really I was one of many who helped build that program. Nick Saban was the one who got it done, there’s no doubt about

perception. King’s focus is simple: yes, to bring a winning tradition to UTPA, but also to brand Bronc athletics as a visible marketing tool. “We’ve got to change the perception of UTPA athletics. We’ve got to change the perception so people see us differently, here on campus and off campus. And there’s all kinds of things going on below sea level: we can fix all that, but we’ve got to make sure we fix everything perceptually,” he said.

THE FUTURE OF UTPA ATHLETICS King said that he hopes the future of Bronc sports holds winning championships and instilling tradition, part of which can be done by success in the big three sports: men’s and women’s basketball and baseball.” “I do think we have a great

$5.65 million as of spring 2010). “We’ve got a whole external relations plan that we’ll unveil sometime this summer,” he said. “It will allow us to rebrand … I’d like to see merchandise out in the Wal-Marts, the Targets, the Foot Lockers … Those are the things that Texas and Alabama do.” Another plan to put “butts in the seats,” as King would say, is to overhaul the UTPA Field House to a more modern, collegiateworthy venue. Additionally, in the next seven years the university could look to add women’s softball and soccer. “I don’t see any reason why UTPA athletics, in the next three FOR MORE INFO to five years, isn’t going to be EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW competing in championships in WITH CHRIS KING every sport,” the athletic director SEARCH: CHRIS KING said. “We’re going to do things here that have never been done before broncradiotv in UTPA athletics.”

Rodrick Rhodes, assistant coach for Bronc basketball, looks on at Midnight Madness.

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home– field advantage

the life of a bronc heckler

daniel flores

Psi Sigma Kappa fraterity members have made it a tradition to heckle at Bronc baseball games.

n occasion, it’s perfectly appropriate to yell and scream words of discouragement at grown men. A Bronc baseball games is one such occasion. As long as there has been baseball, there have been wise guys shouting at the players. One of the most famous hecklers of all time was “The Iron Lung of Shibe Park,” Pete Adelis. He was known for sitting behind the plate and knowing the emotional weaknesses of individual players. And he was so good, that teams would pay him to do it. The role of a heckler is the exact opposite of that of a cheerleader. While those people with pom-poms focus on positives and encourage their own team with cheers and chants, hecklers attempt to distract, discourage and psychologically disrupt the opponent. Their objective is to get into the visiting team’s head, forcing mental errors and lapses. It’s psychological warfare at its funniest. And unlike cheerleaders, often times the attacks are personal and immediately relevant to the current situation or physical attributes of a player. Hovering just six feet above the visitors’ dirty dugout is a handful of home fans. It would be inaccurate to label them as spectators because they haven’t come to simply witness the play-by-play of a game; they’re here in an attempt to effect the outcome. Armed with their voice, wit and their numbers, they act as a single entity, never missing a beat. If the pitcher is throwing a little low, they can’t pass up the opportunity to throw their two seconds onto the field. “You can’t get it up, or what pitcher?” The group laughs while the gears of the machine keep turning. “He’s got that erectile dysfunction. He’s got that ED,” another adds. “He should get some Cialis,” someone says to finish off the collaborative heckle. In this particular game versus Louisiana Tech, the group took a “liking” to the opponent’s freshman pitcher, Caleb Dudley. “They were extremely loud,” Dudley recalled. “I could barely walk out of the dugout without my name being yelled at me. There were all kinds of stuff being said, from my dad’s name to the necklace

I was wearing.” “I like how high you lift your leg Dudley. You must be flexible,” someone from the crowd yells. As the pitcher begins to fade and it becomes clear he’s going to be pulled from the game, the fans can smell the blood.

“Stick a fork in him, he’s done! Stick a fork in him, he’s done! Stick a fork in him, he’s done!,” roars Jerry Martinez. Dudley makes the walk to the dugout. He’s heading in the exact direction of the wall of insults. He’s hit with blunt words of discouragement.


“It’s all your fault! It’s all your fault! It’s all your fault!”

Mr. Bronc Baseball “I’ve only missed two home games since ’96. One was because of a doctor’s appointment and the other was because

I couldn’t get out of work. And I couldn’t call in sick,” Jerry Martinez manages to push through his smile. It’s obvious he takes pride in this fact. Jerry is a middle-aged man with glasses that fall on his nose. His wardrobe consists of exclusively Bronc paraphernalia. The jacket draped on


his body is embroidered with the Bronc insignia across the chest and the cap covering his skull is identical to one on the field. Martinez is a staple of UTPA baseball games, but his presence isn’t always well received. “If they’re not talking to us, they’re throwing things at us like ice, water, grapefruit,” Martinez said. “We’ve gotten rocks thrown at us. We’ve have bottles of waters, bottles, flower seeds. They get really mad sometimes,” Amanda Esquivel, avid Bronc baseball fan, said. “The players have even thrown stuff at us.” Esquivel typically sits with Jerry Martinez, and echoes his claims of inappropriate behavior from opposing fans. “They let their emotions get the best of them. I find it hilarious. It’s just baseball, and they have to get used to it,” Esquivel said. “It happens every year. There’s always somebody that doesn’t like what we do and they’re always approaching us.” During a game versus the UTBrownsville, fans of the opponents yelled obscenities in the direction of Martinez and fellow hecklers. Also, one man proceeded to harass Martinez and accuse him of insulting about his family. This sort of thing happens almost every series, they say. It’s comical to witness an adult projecting strings of vulgarity-laced dialogue at another, demanding maturity. The irony escapes them. “They’ve come after me with a lawn chair and an umbrella. It’s amazing how parents just aren’t used to it,” Martinez said. “But the reason they let us do what we do is because we don’t use any profanity. And we don’t use any derogatory statements about race or religion. We’re equal opportunity harassers.” And even though these fans cause problems for the visiting spectators, that’s seems to the people their bothering. “I’ve had no complaints up to this point,” Chris King athletic director said. And opponent share the same sentiment. “And they do a good job of it. They keep it clean and they’re just having fun at the ballpark,” said Louisiana Head baseball coach Wade Simoneaux. (cont’d on page 150)



a haitian rose madeline smither

an. 12, 2010 started out as a normal day for Rose Jean. A senior at UTPA, she plays guard for the Lady Broncs. Jean spent her morning at basketball practice preparing for a game the following week. Afterward, she went home and turned on the TV to watch the news. In that moment, her life was changed irrevocably. A 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Portau-Prince; the damage covered over 120 miles. Within 40 seconds more than 100,000 were killed. Jean is a second generation HaitianAmerican. Her maternal and paternal grandparents live in Haiti, as well as her aunts, uncles, cousins, and their children. In the wake of the disaster, Jean feared she’d lost an entire generation of family in one fell swoop. Images of the devastation rolled on as she frantically dialed her parents, wondering why she hadn’t been told. Jean speaks with her hands and face, energetic and expressive. The anxiety she felt is palpable. “I thought: why didn’t anyone call me?! Why didn’t my parents call me? But I figured, you know, they were stuck on the news too, thinking ‘I can’t believe this is happening’, trying to get in touch with their families: my grandparents, cousins and everybody. So I called my mom, called my dad, they were like, ‘We’re trying to get a hold of them!’ But really, it was more like they didn’t want to talk, they were sad, scared, hoping for the best…” It’s hard to imagine what it would feel like to be separated from your family during a catastrophe, unable to speak to them, knowing there have been thousands of casualties where they are, that they are dead or in danger. In a society like ours when we feel marooned if we forget our cell phone, the agony of zero contact in such a situation is inconceivable. The United States suffered a similar tragedy during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. But the Gulf Coast eventually received assistance from the government to repair the devastation. Unlike America, Haiti’s infrastructure is crippled. The small Caribbean nation is still in the midst of catastrophe. Necessities like food and water are in short supply, and distribution is painstaking and unreliable. Port-au-Prince fell under the control

of gang members when the city prison was leveled, with convicts attacking officers even as they pull bodies from the wreckage. The country is still in peril, and has no timeframe in which to expect a resolution. Where America was woefully slow at responding to Katrina, Haiti’s entire history can be seen as a disaster left unanswered. Their population has been starving, rioting and begging for help for generations. Over three excruciating days, Jean watched the news, waiting to hear from her family. Memories of 1991, when she visited Haiti, reflect the images on the news reports.

"I thought: why didn't anyone call me?! Why didn't my parents call me? But I figured, you know, they were stuck on the news too, thinking 'I can't believe this is happening." - ROSE JEAN “I was 6 or 7. Old enough to remember how everything happened. To see what’s on TV now, to see what I saw in ’91: same thing. We got off the plane, we got in a car. They see us get off the plane, right? They assume we have money since we came with 10 people, ‘cause my family’s big. They attack the car, saying ‘Give us money, give us money!’ My mom gave them money so they could get off the car, and they started fighting amongst themselves

afterwards. And I see on TV now, they’re still doing the same thing. So I see that it…” she looks down, blows out a breath, “I think it hasn’t changed.” Haiti is historically a politically troubled country, to put it mildly. Christopher Columbus claimed Haiti for Spain in 1492, naming it Hispaniola. Spain brought over the first Africans and started the slave trade. Little more than 100 years later, Spain ceded a third of the island to the invading French. In 1795, after 200 years of war with France, Spain fully relinquished its hold on Haiti. Native Haitians fought for liberty, and Haiti was finally declared an independent nation in 1804. Slavery was abolished, and it seemed they had won the revolution. But then Napoleon sent troops to reestablish slavery. All of his troops were wiped out by yellow fever, and it seemed Haitians had won again, but they were forced to pay France 150 million francs for “reparations” of lost slave profits. Over the next 200 years, Haiti struggled through 32 coups, and many more brutal dictators. Each used their power and influence to take what they could of Haiti’s agricultural riches, and pillaged the land until it became what it is today, barren and essentially useless for cultivation. Because of the state of the land, the earthquake was more catastrophic than it would have been—the land has been so stripped of its vegetation and minerals that it completely collapsed in on itself when the quake hit. Finally, Jean got a call from her brother, saying their father was ecstatic, “You wouldn’t believe dad’s reaction! He was all sad, and his mom just called him, and now he’s rejoicing.” Jean was ecstatic for her father, but was forced to wait with baited breath to hear about her mother’s side of the family. “My mom got her family’s news last.” Jean says soberly, “They found her sister alive under the rubble of a church—she was at a church at the time of the earthquake. So her sister, she was blessed. So everything came out, actually, for the best.” Every member of Jean’s family managed to come through the disaster alive and relatively unscathed. One cousin (cont’d on page 150)

snap shot

Orlando Moreno lines up a putt during practice.



Basketball diaries

jermaine seagears Foreword by Kevin Stich

A RAW LOOK INTO THE MEMOIRS OF JERMAINE SEAGEaRS Back in January we came to Jermaine Seagears with a request: to write a raw and gritty account of what goes through a collegiate basketball player’s mind during the season. Thankfully, he was gracious enough to grant our request, and after some discussion, he set off on a task to bond readers to his own thoughts and reveries via his journal. In the following pages, the reader will be given the opportunity to live vicariously through a minimally-edited, honest, self-written look at Seagears’ successes and failures through the 2009-2010 season. Enjoy.

Da' road 2 success After a strong 2009 summer training in Arizona with my strength training performance coach Malcom Moore, I came to Edinburg, Texas on August 27, 2009 physically and mentally ready -junior college transfer from Chandler Gilbert Community College, Chandler, Ariz. I came into a new program with new coaches and teammates, and one still in search of an athletic director. I was ready for the challenge: change the losing culture of basketball, into a winning one. The clock is ticking for me, just two years of eligibility left to play. Now I have three semesters left and two games left in the regular season. Our overall record is 4-25 and in our Great West Conference we’re 3-7. I thought about what I preached to all my friends and family members back home, especially my little brother, “We not gonna’ lose, we going undefeated and win our conference. Texas-Pan American is going to do big things this year. We going to the NCAA tourney.”

Just thinkin' Today is March 1, 2010 and after 30 competitive games, mentally, I’m stronger than ever. No coach, player, student referee, family member gets me down and upset. I represent positive actions. My body is healthy with no injuries; it’s all about

getting a good amount of rest and eating good. My team is my family, we’re all we have, we’re always on the road, flying state to state together. As a team we put the time, dedication and hard work every day since September.

The journey All I can think about is the road I took to get here and what I told my family, friends, coach and my best friend, my brother. We not going to the NCAA tourney because we not eligible. We’re 4-25 and are at the bottom of our conference, the season has been long and frustrating. At the home games you can count the number of people who come to the games with your finger. I thought, “Nobody cares, we’re all the way in Edinburg, Texas. No one even knows where Edinburg is. Nobody cares.” BUT I CARE. I care that I struggled at the beginning of the season with learning the offense. I care about finishing what I started. At one point I wanted to go home, back to D.C. School was getting hard, I wasn’t playing and I didn’t know the offense. My teammates saw my weakness on the court and off the court. I felt out of place, I thought my teammates thought I wasn’t a good basketball player and I couldn’t help them get better. See, when you don’t know the offense and you struggle in

practice, your playing time is affected. I started getting less and less practice time on the court. It was taking me too long to figure things out, and the coaches and players had to continue getting better regardless if I learn the plays or not. I’m not a scholarship player and the main focus was on scholarship players. “Why am I here?” I asked myself. It wasn’t easy. Before the season started I struggled in individual workouts. I struggled with the offense. I couldn’t remember the plays and where to go on the court. I wasn’t used to running numerous plays. Everyone on the team eventually felt comfortable with running the offense, but I still struggled. Leaving practice, no one could feel my pain, but I remained positive, always smiling and showing people I wasn’t upset and depressed. Nothing was fun, not even the college environment, it felt like it was raining everyday in my mind -- foggy, no hope.

How u' feel "man get a degree " I thought to myself, “What I am going to do?” I felt low. I felt like no one cared that I didn’t know the offense and wasn’t playing in practice. Why am I here? My family is struggling at home to pay bills; I’m taking out loans so I could help my mother pay bills. Why? Why? Why? But I couldn’t leave, my mother wanted me



to stay and coach Ryan Marks told me the best way to help my mother is with graduating with a degree. It’s not all about

play wen i wanted to be on the court. Show through my work ethic and intense play on the court.

basketball. It’s not all about basketball.

We talking 'bout practice! After we did drills, they played and I watched. IF I wasn’t playing in practice, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know I wasn’t going to play in the regular season. I had many conversations with my mother on the phone. She told to not only learn the plays, but know every single position, go to the coach an hour or two before practice started so he could help me and know how important this was to me. And that’s what I did. I had my iPod on and the marker in my hand in front of the board, going over every single play and knowing everyone’s position. I was really behind. And every player had a great advantage over me. But all I could hear was my mother’s voice in my mind, “Learn them plays from front to back. Learn everyone’s position. How badly do you want it?” Players would come in right before practice; I was there an hour before practice. Players left after practice was over; I stayed and worked on plays. Every coach knew my struggle and knew how badly I wanted to learn the plays because I asked them about a certain play or asked for help on them. I carried the plays I learned on to the court. I was behind, and knowing the plays would help, but every other player knew them just a good as I knew it, but still better than me. So I thought, “How would I get ahead of my teammates? How would I earn minutes in practice and create an opportunity for myself. It hit me one day on the phone with my trainer in Arizona, Malcom Moore. As a member of Motivated Athletes Program in Arizona, all we do is train intensely. So, during practice I went off!

Work harder than everyone in the gym. Run harder, play harder, jump higher. Play every second like it’s my last. Do everything better and more intense than the next person. If this is what i want and it means everything to me, then show the coaches and players how much it means. Play intense, be the most vocal, huddle my teammates up. Scream out my pain and struggle i had learning the offense, and how i felt watching players

The hardest WORKER -- 'work ethic' I became the heart of the team, team motivator, always pushing myself and my teammates to work their hardest on the court. Just playing harder than everyone else, the coaches saw how badly I wanted to play and how hard I worked to catch up with the rest of the team. Still being positive when I wasn’t playing, when I didn’t know the plays, still pushing my teammates from the sidelines, from the bench, but I always stayed ready, READY for my opportunity to showcase my talent. So many practices I had to be consistent with my approach and attitude for my teammates, which was always positive. I was getting closer; the respect of my team, my teammates finally respected me as a player who knew the offense, who worked hard on the court, who was a leader, who worked extra hard to even be able to practice with them. I felt good, but wasn’t satisfied. That’s what my signature on my text messaging was, so if anyone was wondering what that meant (lol N0t $atisfi3d). I wasn’t satisfied with just being able to practice and knowing the offense, I wanted to be the best defender on the team, and possibly the most improved sixth man.

EVERYTHING HAPPENS 4 A REASON 'No struggle, no success' I had to go through this obstacle to make me a better player. I m glad I did, ‘cause if I didn’t have my mother giving me motivation, my brother looking up to me as a winner and not a quitter and the encouragement and motivation from my trainer, Malcom Moore (who runs Motivated Athlete Program), who I train with in the summer, I would have gave up. But I’m not a quitter, you have to struggle in my book to be successful, and that’s what I had to go through in order to be successful this season. Da’ season has changed in more ways than wins Things have changed. I came a long way, and through it all. I stayed positive

and had been a team motivator, the team leader. Everyday has been a grind; we’re in conference play. For the first time Texas-Pan American is in a conference. We’re competing for a conference title. It’s not looking like will get it this year, but we are getting better. As a team we have learned so much about patience and the journey that we took to become the team we are, playing against the bigtime teams such as Texas, Nebraska, Mississippi State, Virginia, Northwestern, Air Force, Missouri, Louisiana Tech, Northern Arizona, etc.

Da' Season We finished the last two games of the season on the road. We traveled from Edinburg all the way to South Dakota. I don’t remember the airport it was, but what I do remember is getting on a bus and driving five hours to South Dakota, and after playing them, we drove another five hours to North Dakota. That was the toughest part about that road trip. Two games left before the Great West tourney and were on the road. But we were use to it. At the beginning of the year our first 15 games were on the road, so we were ready. As a leader of the team, I had to keep my teammates motivated. Only the strong survive, and we survived, we loss to South Dakota and beat North Dakota before the Great West tourney in Utah. Next up was the Great West tourney in Orem Utah. The winner of this tourney plays in the CIT (College Insider tourney). This was the biggest part of the year. All the struggling, hard work, dedication, competing in practice and traveling from state to state, playing big universities, has helped us gain experience for this tourney. We’re ready.

Great West tourney When we arrived in Utah, our first game was against Utah Valley, a team we split the regular season with 1-1. Before the game I called a meeting for just the players in my hotel room. I tore pieces of paper and told everyone on the team to write down what we needed to do on the (cont’d on page 151)

snap shot

Alex Carnall signs an autograph for a fan after a home game.



staying on track Sander gutierrez arly in the morning the runner takes a step, looks outside, and breathes in the air. He begins stretching his muscles to ensure they are ready. The runner wants to know before he goes out on a daily 11mile run that his body is taken care of. Inhaling the cool South Texas winter air as it comes from the north, he is about to run south, with the wind to his back.

The day begins. Omar Doria, a graduate student at UTPA, needs to clear his mind through running, because this year has been a race of its own, apart from his career with the school’s track team. Quietly Doria sits beside his locker, taking in as much fluid as possible after practice. He has to let his body recover from the strenuous exercises that

"I didn't know I could run like that. I always wanted to be in a sport like soccer but my parents would not let me because they were scared that I was going to hurt my body." -omar doria Body warm and muscle and tendons stretched, his body and mind ready for the day’s adventure. The runner takes one step then another as he moves his legs, the cadence of his feet become a song of its own. Then his body suddenly no longer feels like it is touching the ground rather, it is in a trance. He feels like he’s floating, his legs are moving so they just gently tap the ground.

morning. As he hunches his back and digs elbows into legs, he wonders about how far he’s come.

Setting the Pace “I started running by accident,” said Doria, who graduated from Edinburg North High School, where he was a superstar often making it all the way to

state in long-distance running. “I was in tennis and I was OK at it, when the coach would see that I would never stop running, he recommended I try out for cross-country,” said Doria. Having only a vague idea of what cross-country really was, Doria took the challenge and tried out in the 8th grade at B.L. Garza Middle School. It was there that he began running. “I didn’t know I could run like that. I always wanted to be in a sport like soccer but my parents would not let me because they were scared that I was going to hurt my body,” he figured that he could compete in a non-contact sport even though the years and miles would eventually take a toll on his legs. He became a successful athlete, his long-legged stride and endurance turning his body into a machine. But the running also helped him cope with what was going on at home. On the track, the worries didn’t keep pace. They treaded off the track but they existed nonetheless. He met with only mild success in junior high, but at North, he had the benefit of a Hall of Fame coach in Homer Martinez, who turned him into a champion. “He is an amazing coach, a great role model and a friend you can always count on,” says Doria in hindsight. Though freshman year was exciting, sports-wise, it was a nightmare on the (cont’d on page 152)



The texture of labor & love Joshua garza

hard work, dedication and a lifetime of sharing his heart is finding itself full-circle as the love he has given out comes pouring back

voice is heard in the Bronx. It penetrates past the hums and rumblings of the urban city traffic and elevates above the pedestrian chatter. An artist sits relocated, dislocated from the vein of his everyday agendas in a homeless shelter—a little house of hope—La Casita Esperanza. Nearly 2,000 miles away, in Edinburg, another voice is emerging. It is bursting forth from the cages within the soul where shame and self-doubt had kept it shuttered away for so long. As a migrant student, she remembers the arduous task of the harvest season, laboring in the sun for hours. She is reminded of the textures and smells of the field. A field, a life and a labor she is no longer ashamed of due to the heartfelt words and contributions of that single-soft

voice from New York City. The inspiration to express the migrant struggle was catapulted by Tato Laviera, a poet, lecturer and mentor who works with middle-school students and undergrads across the nation from Chicago, New York, Houston and here at home in the Rio Grande Valley. At the age of 60 he continues his work even as a diabetic affected with blindness. His attitude is still strong no matter his situation as he endeavors to teach within the poetic discipline. The poet, although, chose a new method when teaching these local migrant students. It was a more academic, lifealtering approach than before. He, together with Stephanie Alvarez, assistant professor of modern languages

and literature, envisioned a program for migrant farmworkers to document their life’s story through creative writing. “Migrants are shy. Rarely do they talk about their migrant experience even within their own family,” said Alvarez as she waited on the third floor of the UTPA Library for some of her students to join her. “He has the skills and talent to take that voice out,” she said talking about Lavieria. The poet envisioned the name for the group when first hearing about the migrant toils. “I immediately called it Cosecha Voices,” recalls Laviera after hearing about the migrant struggle from Alvarez’s husband. “Se echa. You throw it. You harvest and then [you have] the voices. I

Tato Laviera poses for a photo in the foyer of La Casita Esperanza




started thinking of a way to create the writing movement.” Laviera gets excited. It is those moments when his emotions are stirred that the pace of his speech picks up and you could see the passion of what he does flood out in every new word and phrase. “I’m a poet and I’m the creative mind. But then you need the college mind. The person who breaks it down. I broke it down into 13 moments—from the time you leave Texas to the time you come back,” Laveria created a rundown for the migrant students to follow. It was a way for the students to rewrite their histories and find their voices through the exercise. Thus far, two groups have gone through the special course in which every other week Laveria came down from New York to lend in the teaching. The bond the students have with this poet of Puerto Rican descent is one of admiration, not only for his teaching style, but personality. “He touches your heart. He makes you come out and say it the way it is supposed to be without being shy or the fear of you being wrong.” said Annabel Salamanca, a student and president of the Cosecha Voices organization. She was meeting with Alvarez to go over plans for a fundraiser for Laviera in the upcoming week. Before the meeting occurred she sat down and shared about her participation in the program. Folding her hands in front of her and looking through her copper-framed glasses Salamanca admits that Cosecha Voices is much more like a family than just an organization. She feels a wealth of gladness to have learned a lot about herself and her peers. “It makes you grow as a student, as a person and as an individual,” said Salamanca. “It helps me understand where I come from and where I want to go.” Alvarez chimes in, “‘I feel like this is therapy’ is what they all say.” She smiles before giggling with a twinkle of satisfaction in her eyes. She gives a pleasant look along with a smile cherished in pride knowing that what she has helped accomplish with this group of students will forever change their lives. “You’re no longer excluded from the rest of the normal kids,” said Salamanca,

describing the feeling she felt before the program. Palmetta Cepeda, another Cosecha Voices student, accompanying Salamanca to the meeting, agreed that it has made her more confident to talk about her experiences in the migrant fields. She is proud to be part of this heritage and delights in her family’s history. Cepeda, although not a laborer herself, did have parents whom she traveled north with to work sites in Missouri and Michigan. In her assignments for the class she wrote an homage to her parents. “Le doy gracias a Dios por dar me padres maraviosos:” she states in her presentation: “I give thanks to God for allowing me such marvelous parents.” Her words throughout the well-documented personal essay, a requisite for course completion, brought her mother’s eyes to tears.

'They cut my brain. They broke into it.' Laviera, sitting a couple thousand miles away in a shelter situated in the Bronx, nods and smiles meditating on the words of great appreciation and fulfillment the students, he taught, have said about his course. This heart-lifting moment is much valued by Laviera for in recent years a trifling serious of ailments, including diabetes, blindness and a minor stroke, have left this poet-lecturer homeless. “I didn’t know where to go,” Laviera recalls the moments after leaving the nursing home where he had stayed to recuperate from a brain surgery, a result of a minor stroke he had in December just days before performing at the Albert L. Jeffers Theatre. “When he did that show. He was not himself. He’s usually 1,000 times more energetic and sharp. He was way off that night,” said Alvarez.”He had had this minor stroke already and didn’t know it. He was already feeling the effects of it.” A week later he was in the hospital. He was diagnosed with water on the brain. “They cut my brain. They broke into it. It has introduced another world to me,” said Laviera. He sat in the back seat of

a taxi driven around by Miguel Peralta, a friend and supporter. Laviera picks at a poppy-seed muffin Ruth Sanchez, his sister, bought him before leaving for work. In his cotton-

white sweater he sits comfortably in the backseat explaining the surgery that put him in his current state. “And when they cut the head and they reduced the water,” Laviera pauses

to take a bite of the muffin. “They say that it affects memory and movement.” What “they” said proved true. After emerging from the surgery he had difficulty coordinating his left leg. In the

fragility of his circumstances he entered a nursing home. He did not remain there for very long. He fled after two weeks. Adjusting to life inside a nursing

Miguel Algarrin shares an emotional moment with Laviera at the Nuyorican Cafe


home was something the artist could not do. Surrounded by the presence of the aging residents, he did not feel himself. Leaving the nursing home presented him with a whole new set of challenges, but it also brought on an alerted hope within his community.

'That's when I began my homelessness' “I didn’t know where to go,” he said lowering his head only to bring it back up sharply to continue, “that’s when I began my homelessness: when I touched the Village street. I left the Village Nursing Home—I said ‘Oh my god.’” In that feeling of hopelessness his relatives were unable to provide a longterm stay. He had to stay close to his hospital, New York-Presbyterian, for dialysis and continuous procedures following his previous diagnosis. He found himself a resident of La Casita Esperanza where Lorraine Montenegro, director of United Bronx Parents, felt it her duty to bring him in. The shelter serves as housing for drug-use residents afflicted with HIV/AIDS. Laviera resides there during the day and commutes to either his mother’s apartment in Manhattan at night or to another residence closer to the hospital on days, like today, before his dialysis treatment. As the evening approached Elizabeth Garcia, his caretaker, was opening up her house to him. She lives a few blocks from the hospital, but first Laviera had to meet with Americo Casiano, a fellow poet, to discuss the details of a fundraiser to be held in late April. They’d be meeting at the shelter, first door on the right, down the fluorescent-lit hallway, a place Laviera calls his office and where he does much of his work these days. Since his initial run-in with homelessness, things have gotten better for Laviera. After arriving at the shelter, an article in the Feb. 12 edition of the New York Times chronicled the series of events that led the poet to destitution. It helped sound an alarm within the community as people came out in great numbers from across the nation to support Laviera. A fund was set up to donate online at,

a committee was also formed to organize events and in help the cause. “I didn’t know it had made such a huge impact...on people in the nation and Puerto Rico,” Laviera said about the article. He took a seat beside his bed, unclasping his walking stick and setting it underneath his chair. He felt more at home. His attitude picked up and became more personal as he took time to talk about his Cosecha Voices students. “Let me tell you something. I have never in my life met a group like Edinburg, man.” To make a forthright statement, Laviera tends to end his sentences with the word “man.” “The mentality of that aspect of the world. They are ‘Yes sir. Yes sir.’ Not subservient. The fact that you have a lot of people there that speak all in English and are Spanish at the same time. And their eagerness as a grace to care is amazing,” his words come flowing from his heart rather than his mind. “And it wasn’t hard for me to identity myself with that wonderful movement of Hispanics, Latinos or Tex-Mex. It is an incredible noble group, man.” Laviera especially enjoys the readiness the group of students has to learn. He says it makes it easier to teach them. “I think there is a mantra with those people who are interconnected with the border. Between Mexico and the US— Texas. It is amazing.” He pulls his body forward and digs his hand toward the ground as to pick a fruit and then lifts it, placing it in front of his face, “The texture, the texture,” he emphasizes. “The texture of what they have gone through. Picking up the fruits and harvesting in the lowest economic force of America.” His faith in his students allows them to become presenters and step up to the microphone. “You can’t pass my course unless you go to the mic and you go public. That’s the ultimate test: the mic and the public— your speaking voice.” He finds fulfillment in the students implanting their voices into the microphone. “That’s the goal and the gold. You give me 13 stages and you create five minutes for the mic.” The 13 stages in order are a dissected and examined look back to where the


migrants ventured from. Laviera begins listing them, with great remembrance for this special tote of information that he hasn’t forgotten despite the brain surgery: “The night before you leave,” he begins listing, “when you leave, along the road, places you’ve visited that affected you.” He pauses a bit in the still air as the voices down the hall, beyond the hospital-green walls chatter on as distant echoes. He smacks his lips and continues, “Entering the town, arriving at your first house, the moment before going out to plant, the first moment of planting, when you went to the distribution place and planted the fruits, the first time you got paid, two experiences in school, the cultural life, and your return back home. That’s it,” he smiles. Laviera wants the students to remember and portray the character that existed along the way. He finds that writing a paper about each stage is the best technique to help the students encounter their inner-voices. He leans in capitalizing the point of it all, “with the migrant movement it was very important for them to see and to understand taking out a fruit from its roots” he redirects his thoughts, “—when it was in your hands that fruit was responsible for feeding the nation.”

'I am embarassed and humbled' On March 9, the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in Manhattan held a tribute show to honor Laviera. The proceeds went to helping out the struggling poet-lecturer. A week prior, he was uncertain he’d be attending the event. But the day before he was anxious to make an appearance. He felt it was right to show his appreciation to all those who came out to support him since his woes began. Laviera sat in the front passenger’s seat of Garcia’s four-door sedan. She would be taking care of Laviera that night. The next day was his dialysis treatment that took up most of his afternoon from 2-5 p.m. The Nuyorican fundraiser was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. The night time city lights reflected off the glass and onto Laviera’s face. With the red glare of the stoplight illuminating the dashboard and steering wheel, Garcia drove silently, listening to Laviera speak (cont’d on page 153)



Joshua garza




When delving into the mind of an artist, one would likely find a collection of memories and situational recollections that have piled up over time -- mental notes and images that have been collecting dust but are nonetheless still valuable. This kind of memory hoarding is essential and it provides the artist with a pool of ideas which can be drawn from to create their next work. Adam Cantu, an art major at the University of Texas-Pan American, does just that. Working out of his art studio, inside his garage and wedged between piles of junk, he has created numerous paintings, drawings and what has generated the greatest response as of yet, his political cartoons. His interest in art is attributed to his early years of life watching typical Saturday morning cartoons such as, “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Looney Toons.” Eventually, he realized that those cartoons were drawn by 40-year-old men, whose jokes were completely over the heads of children, but at the same time could be enjoyed by their parents. This duality of art is what inspired him to create works that could get a reaction out of people, regardless of age. Cantu’s latest political cartoon depicts Uncle Sam, (the national personification of the American Government) being penetrated by Rich Uncle Pennybags, (the mascot of the popular board game “Monopoly”). The question, “What’s the Monopoly guy doing?” is what could be heard from passersby at McAllen’s Art Walk. While this isn’t a cartoon that is intended for the eyes of children, they can still react. Cantu said giggles could be heard from the mouths of high school students who stopped by to view his art. When asked by the high school students for the meaning of the cartoon, he explained the decision made by the Supreme Court to allow corporations unlimited spending on political campaigns. The lack of political awareness among youth, is what Cantu said inspired him to create that particular cartoon. “Nobody knows about that decision because Tiger Woods is the main focus of the news media,” the controversial expressionist said. “It’s like the sickest

thing I have ever seen, but instead we are focusing on Tiger Wood’s penis.” When asked if shock value was important to him, Cantu said that he was a reactionary person, he puts down the image that he sees in his head. “There are people that could put it much more eloquently than I did and probably get the point across to more people,” he said. But that just isn’t his style. This goes back to Cantu’s childhood. He had parents similar to most adolescents -- the “we support the idea, but we don’t understand it” kind of parents. “They told me to draw pretty things

"Usually the stuff that makes me react the most is political stuff because it is just outrageous how our political system is run." -adam cantu like angels and stuff because I was drawing demons,” Cantu said with a slight grin. Now, his stepfather wants to make T-shirts out of his Uncle Sam cartoon. Cantu’s sense of humor is scandalous and is drawn from comedians such as George Carlin and Bill Hicks -- comics who were known for their dark sense of humor. He admires the fact that comedians like Carlin and Hicks were able to talk about serious world issues and make

people laugh at the same time. While his inspiration is drawn from a number of sources, politics is what really irks him. “Usually the stuff that makes me react the most is political stuff because it is just outrageous how our political system is run,” Cantu explained. “It’s being aware of the hand that is about to choke you out, that you don’t see coming because you are not aware of it.” From sketch to computer, that was how his cartoon came to life. People’s complete lack of interest in politics is what worries Cantu. The only thing that Cantu hopes people get from his artwork is a reaction -- any kind of reaction. He understands that nowadays people either lack the time or interest it actually takes to stop and look at a piece of art. “It doesn’t matter how long you spend on a drawing, you are only looking at 3 1/2 seconds of attention span, and now between TV, the Internet, cell phones and everything else, you are only looking at one or two seconds,” Cantu said. Cantu is currently working on his Bachelor of Art with an alllevel certification. With his alternative views, it’s no wonder that he intends on encouraging students to express themselves through art. Despite the lack of support art programs get, he sees art as an invaluable resource. “This is the chance for kids to truly express themselves, then having to take some BS test that they really don’t want to take and it isn’t something that is advancing them as people,” he said. While some of his art does relay a message, he admits that he doesn’t always intend for it be that way. “Some stuff has no meaning whatsoever until it’s done and you look at it and then figure stuff out,” Cantu admitted. “I take myself seriously, but really not seriously at the same time. This Uncle Sam thing has a really serious connotation to it, but it’s really funny.” While he may have plenty of opinions about the state of the US, Cantu wants to make it clear that in no way does he feel that he is a self-proclaimed political activist. While he may not be as learned as he would like to be, he’s all about reacting to the issues that matter.






Adam Cantu

After the coverpage photoshoot Cantu sat down with Panorama to answer a few questions about his work and the materials presented in it. He sat down in front of a desk with his back to an open window. It was rainy outside. Without prompt, he started talking about his work as we flipped through his sketches.

CANTU: “A lot of these are based off Francisco Goya. He did all the prints during the Spanish inquisition. He released them to the public really cheaply…but instead of being killed off like most everybody [that did that in that time,] he was the royal family’s painter. He was always able to escape and get all this stuff out.”

PANORAMA: How do you feel about some getting offended by that?

PANORAMA: How do you conceptualize your work?

“I could see how people could find it offensive, at the same time it’s supposed to be a reactionary thing. To take away from the reaction of Tiger Woods. We’re still on his ass on the news. Who gives a shit about the Masters? It’s not going to affect how the government is run. It’s going to affect your next Buick purchase, or your Wheaties, and his Nike deal.”

“A lot of it is reactionary…like being pissed off about Tiger’s Woods thing then finding that the Supreme Court led to the Uncle Sam getting fucked in the ass by the Monopoly guy…not what I had planned whatsoever but that’s the image that came to my head.”

THE SOAPBOX "It's like the idea of trying to save the planet. The planet will be fine. We have to save each other or else we're fucked." "The thing that bugs me about the art world is that they've had access to artist for hundreds of years and nothing has changed." "Maybe all this stuff [drawings] will piss me off one day and I'll just burn it all."


“It doesn’t bother me. I don’t think it should.” PANORAMA: offensive?






PANORAMA: Does it bother you in any way that your message doesn’t get across and they focus on the vulgarity? “If it makes people laugh...that’s a good thing in this world: a little bit of laughter. I noticed the reaction at the Art Walk and I noticed a lot of people giggling at Uncle Sam getting it or getting it from the Monopoly guy. You don’t have to know what it is about, you can just laugh. But there are people that will investigate it. Those are the people who I prefer get that reaction, but it doesn’t matter. I have no say over that.” PANORAMA: Does it bother you that we’re not going to run it? “Well, yeah, the fact that we can deal with violence but we can’t deal with anything sexual. It’s like one of the most repressed things. But when you watch commercials—just hair commercials—the girl is orgasming the whole damn time in the shower. You have little kids watching that. You have grandparents and everyone

else. We’re in a higher institute of learning, supposedly, where we’re supposed to be thinking in new ways and thinking up new philosophies and having new ideas for the next wave of whatever it is we’re going to do and we can’t look at a simple cartoon without getting offended by it. But then again there are cartoonists who have received threats for using Muhammed in their cartoons. And their lives have been threatened. I’m not threatening anyone’s religion it’s just a political cartoon.” PANORAMA: Where did the Uncle Sam drawing stem from? ‘It was general reaction to the Supreme Court overturning a hundred year ban on unlimited spending for corporations on political campaigns. What you’re going to have now is these really strong unions, really big corporations that aren’t going to be the Walmarts or Targets. Companies that don’t care about their image, those are the companies that will be altering education, altering every aspect of our life moving toward a corporate government.” PANORAMA: What would be your ideal setting for a world to live in? “Pushing for education, I think when you have education that leads to higher learning and the idea that I don’t need to take this stick and beat the shit out of you to get what I want in life... ...Right now, we just push for testing scores. Then you get to college and realize they don’t give a shit about your TAAS score or TAKS score and now their calling it STAR, because they realized that TAKS was a bad name for it. It’s a taxing thing to take a test.”




A. ‘Health Care' “The lawyer and politician–the suit, the guy slowly taking part in the death of people. Trying not to get his hands dirty. The doctors get blamed. Doctors are in fucked position. They spend so much money on their education that they have to charge you a ridiculous amount for health care just to pay off their bills.”

B. ‘Consumerism Bagging’ C. ‘T.V.’ D. ‘Do your part’ The modernization of the cannon and the female role in the future of warfare.

E. ‘Do you know how to farm?’ “That’s what I imagine them asking each other. I mean, What are you going to do without a Walmart, 7-11 or Stripes’ tacos.” F. ‘Target Practice’ “Baby birds feeding with bombs instead of worms–it’s for the kids.”





They want your dreams. They want your soul,” he paused for a dramatic second and delivered what would ring in my ears for the next month. And I won’t tell you what those words were yet but I will tell you of the tantalizing skew they had upon the gear works within my thoughts. The impact of such words grasped onto my desire to understand where this man was coming from and if, in fact, I had given up a piece of myself to the world that I could never own again. Follow me, if you will, for a second: As I began writing this, I formulated it in a way that would make a professor happy. I matched the form within a style guide. I substituted what I wanted for what the immediate audience desired. I wanted to please. I wanted to satisfy, but I felt I was giving myself over to something that I completely wasn’t. It was those words, his words, which zipped and zapped through the circuits

were my thoughts. And then his words jumped back into the fray of my enlightenment as if his dramatic pause had been held for over a month allowing me to hear his words clearly again, “They want your dreams. They want your soul … and if you think about it, they want your thoughts!”

And if you think about it, they want your thoughts The “they” he is referring to was the music labels; the record companies that could have made him, Al, and his wife, Essie Morris, a household name. Al Morris, has a rich sense of life. He has lived a tall life. It all started for a young Albert in Temple, Texas where he worked on a cotton farm from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., six days a week (666). And truly it felt like a curse to him that at the age of 16 he took up learning

The other band members laughed saying it had just be christened!” While Al grew in his technique, continuing his musical career, Essie was growing up on the peach patch in Harris, North Carolina, just south of Asheville. Essie had a strict upbringing. She mentions her father the most in all her stories as a young girl. “I was the champion peach picker in high school,” said Essie, a tall black woman with a body wash sponge-looking bonnet in her hair. She makes grandiose statements, telling tall tales of her life and interconnecting one story to tell another, almost braggingly. “I used to stand on the street corner and sell newspapers and there was a boy yelling, ‘everybody buy Philip Morris!’” she said. “So I stood also and started yelling ‘everybody buy Harris Herald!’” And she stopped there took a turn in

"I played blues Friday, Saturday, Sunday and then I'd play country usually on Monday nights, Wednesdays. After a while I started playing a lot of country. I got away from Blues." - AL MORRIS

within me. I almost felt that I should not even turn the paper in; pronouncing a grand example of ownership to everyone as I selfishly went about my business. Hell, I even thought of creating a cryptic language only I could read and understand. “Merrisifireelolligarky fuschama rrowstal lowisdomon dayes….” And that was just the first sentence. Pacing back and forth in the open space within my bedroom with only a dim lamp on I started talking to myself, saying, “I am bound by the rules. I’m bound by what I desire. I’m bound by the sound of a vibrating phone within my pocket. I’m bound by a stop sign. I’m bound by the paved roads. I’m bound by gravity. I’m bound by far too many things to begin to believe I’m not owned by something else.” Then I stopped to think of the things I do own. Most those things are personal to me, private and precious. Those things

the guitar, hoping for a dream to get off the plantation. Playing it on his breaks or at the setting of the sun, Al improved. One day, Charles “Good Eye” Mayers, a drummer/singer, came and scooped Al off the cotton field and recruited him to play in his band. Al went from making thirty dollars a week at the cotton field, to making twelve dollars a night playing blues. Al went from picking cotton to picking rhythms on his guitar almost overnight. He played at hole-in-wall places at first. Places like Palmer’s Place, a black-owned venue or The Bucket of Blood and Little Chicago. Al remembers the rough crowds at the small venues. “I had just bought a brand new Gibson guitar,” he tells the story with his arms out in a guitar stance. “And the very first night I took it out on stage someone threw a bottle putting a big ol’ dent on it.

the story to mention Al, whose surname is Morris, is connected to the Philip Morris family. The Harris Herald was Essie’s father newspaper. Learning from her father she kept the journalistic knowledge well on into her adult-life. The future was theirs to have.

After High School “As soon as I got out of high school I started playing with Big John Robinson and the Hot Brown Boys in Temple,” Al said, pacing back through the rolodex of memories in his mind. “I played blues Friday, Saturday, Sunday and then I’d play country usually on Monday nights, Wednesdays. After a while I started playing a lot of country. I got away from Blues.” He’s slow to retell a story but it makes it sincere and genuine because he doesn’t want to leave anything out.


Al later moved to Los Angeles where he played with T-Bone Walker, Bobby Day, Eugene Church and 5th Dimension. I know. I know. Maybe one of these or none of these sounds familiar, but rest assured: “These are the highest caliber of Black music,” Essie chimes in, making sure I take note of that. You may not know their names but you might be familiar with Bobby Day’s “Rockin’ Robin” and 5th Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In.” Al toured with them playing guitar or bass. In 1961, Al went off to the Air Force. He continued to flex his musical finesse while there, playing with some others in the same unit. Four years later he returned back to civilian life in Los Angeles where he continued to tour and this time with Etta James, famous for “At last.” He went up and down the West Coast with her and one day while in Seattle she had gotten in a bit a fight with a prostitute. “Etta was a rough woman,” Al said with a laugh and story to follow. Etta’s scuffle had left her with a black eye. She demanded Al take her to the fishing wharf to find some leeches. She had a show soon and couldn’t be seen with black eye. Al, reluctantly, drove her down to the docks and witnessed the slug suck the build-up out of her bruised eye. Al had had enough of the west coast that he returned back to Texas where he met Essie.

A big mouth and pretty pictures Essie graduated from college in 1957 and went on to teach at the National Science Foundation in Tennessee. Education is important to Essie as it was a value her father instilled in her and her ten other siblings. “Daddy was strict about academics. He always pushed up to get the best grades,” said Essie recalling a time her father lined her brothers and sisters up to review their report cards. The education stems deep into her life even today where she attends the University of Texas-Pan American working on a master in communication and finishing her doctorate in school administration. She loves to teach and

loves to learn. Her years as a teacher led her to Texas where she met Al. Al had done some photography. She was impressed by his work and suggested, “Sir with my big mouth and your camera we could do a newspaper for Central Texas.” And with those words, the CenTex Motion was born. The two worked together and spent most their time together, strictly as colleagues. While working on the newspaper Al would start singing and Essie would harmonize with him. Soon the two were singing and humming together fluidly that Al suggested the start a band. “I beg yo’ pardon?” Essie tends to say this in such a fantastical way it almost seems rehearsed at how exact she is with this question. It’s dramatic. Incredibly dramatic and it adds to the charm of the woman that went along with Al and started touring from their first show in Austin, Texas to their most recent show at a Renaissance Club women’s meeting at the McAllen Country Club.

'Cen-Tex Motion editors go Country' The final headline of the newspaper read the above. In true vagabond fashion the two took off touring and living day-to-day on solely tour money. They left behind a home in Temple, Texas and headed back west where the further west they got the better they were received. Their shows took place in small venues and flea markets to bigger shows such as some in Las Vegas or along-side Willie Nelson. Essie admits it was tough since she had never been into music before. Her height to musical experience was singing at hymns at church. She became a natural at it. Expressing herself as when she was a young girl advertising her daddy’s newspaper. She fit right in naturally making friends with Native-Americans. She is part Cherokee. It seems their largest and most respected fan base is the NativeAmericans. Al and Essie have troves of Native jewelry stashed away in a weighty drawer. Essie shows off her finest pieces and wears them regularly. Al’s collection


of belt buckles is impressive. He has a buckle bigger than a melon. All memories of the road remaining everlasting in material and in mental formats. The countless tales are matched with the overwhelming amounts of thank you cards and letters their fans have given them throughout the many years of touring. Essie keeps binders maxed out to the fullest the rings could bear of letters, cards and souvenirs. They are both very proud of the accomplishments they’ve achieved. They feel blessed. And they should, because throughout it all they kept their identity. They never went big or wanted to go big. They saw the danger of losing their soul. In fact, they were coined a “Country Soul” band. If you Google “Mr. and Mrs. Country Soul” the first results are Al and Essie Morris.

Beautiful Souls It’s fitting. The title Mr. and Mrs. Country Soul defines them. They remained true to themselves and true to their music. Al’s first love was Country music and he didn’t give up any piece of himself to make it big. Now, gold in age, Al and Essie reside in a humble apartment complex. It’s satisfying for them to know they’ve owned the track of land they’ve walked on. It’s alive in their memories and their personality. It’s alive in their rich stories and characters. It’s alive in their dramatic retellings of all things they’ve encountered. It’s alive in their soul. That no matter them playing at the McAllen Country Club and receiving little response, they do it for the music and the love of the entire enterprise of entertaining individuals. It’s a wonderful thing about an artist: The truest form of their expression is found not in their work but in their everyday interactions. The irony would be appreciated by any artist, no matter how cliché it may seem these last words are owned by me, but shared forever as a memory of two larger-thanlife individuals that defined their life by the soul they’ve kept in rhythm.

photo essay

never say never

photos by Daniel Flores

Swimming with Dolphins drummer plays on the dontgetemo side stage.

A dedicated fan walks around with poster of a band taped onto his bare skin.

A roadie readies a drum kit for the next band.

Never Shout Never drummer gets a break between songs.

Cisco Adler of Shwayze looks on at a band performing on the same stage he’ll be play on shortly.

James from Asking Alexandria sustained a face injury after partying with another band and falling.

Never Shout Never play on the NSN Main Stage.

A roadie set down his cigarette to properly tune the guitar.

Lead singer of Attack! Attack!, Caleb Shomo, poses for the camera mid-concert.

Larry Bob Phiilips, visiting artist, stands in front of his piece in the University Gallery.

snap shot

photo essay

La Pulga

photos by celine san martin


Volume 1, number 1

Hey, it rhymes with ‘The Orange’


Me designing the page layout for my own story ... damn I look good from behind.

Students write gratuitous headline ‘just because we could.’ Shows increasing lack of character, discretion

By Kevin Stich Staff Writer

Editors of the University of Texas-Pan American’s student-magazine, Panorama, are at it again. They might be among some of the most crude and paltry people ever to have roamed the earth. Sparking more controversy, the staff of the publication decided to run the headline “Testicles!” in the 2010 edition of the Panorama for no apparent reason whatsoever. The text is currently appearing in “The Orange” section of the magazine,

which is composed of satirical articles and advertisements, not to be taken seriously at all. The headline, which can be found above

article. “I’m all jacked up that it’s going to run,” I said. “Seriously, if people are offended, it’s only because their sense

“I’m all jacked up that it’s going to run,” I said. “Seriously, if people are offended it’s only because their sense of humor is a bit dull.” -Kevin Stich, writer of this article in large, bold lettering, has been considered by many to be a blatantly gratuitous act. Among those involved is me, the person writing this

of humor is a bit dull.” Some people have called it stupid, others have called it “incredibly stupid.” However, this is not a complete

shock, as the group is known for controversial content and argues emphatically for freedom of expression. “I’ma get get get get you drunk, get you love drunk off my hump,” editor in chief Daniel Flores said. “What do you think? Pretty good, huh?” Perhaps, there is no good explanation for the staff’s decision, as the staff is mentally retarded. “Time to go take a **** on the old barracuda,” editor Josh Garza said. “Why’d we do it? Just because we could.”

Our dignity

Big-ass bee, people gonna die for sure

By Joshua Garza Staff Writer

It’s got a 13-inch stinger and a 26-foot wingspan, yet nobody in the small town of 4,000 seems to worry about this towering menace sitting in front of the Hidalgo, Texas city hall. In 1992 F.A.S.T. Corp., a company out of Sparta, Wisconsin that manufactures fiberglass statues and roadside attractions, donated to Hidalgo a 20-foot-long and 10-foothigh statue of a killer bee in exchange for $20,000. Since its inception, the Hidalgo Killer Bee has been a roadside attraction receiving attention from media outlets such the Oprah Winfrey show, the Wall Street Journal, TIME magazine, and even found itself in the Guinness Book of World Records. It was all tits and giggles for Hidalgo residents until a looming threat was revealed by researchers. “It’s a sleeping giant right now. Don’t get me wrong, it is very much active,” said Dr. Richard Aster, researcher of dormant tourist traps. “This town is risking a serious threat right now keeping it in such close proximity to the mayor.” Aster and group of ten other graduates from the University of Phoenix discovered climactic changes in the behavior of the roadside attraction. They noticed changes in the last parade the killer bee was involved in. The creature was being carted down Main Street Hidalgo when something odd happened. “It winked,” Aster claims. And that was enough to get the team of researchers to declare the Hidalgo Killer Bee active and nigh upon operative.


NEWS Cat eats ramen, hates it so much

By Joshua Garza Staff Writer

Blakely, a black cat, calls the quad his home. “It’s the fourth bush on the right as you exit the student union,” said Blakely, before scurrying off after a cricket. Last month, Tanya Rodriguez, a political science major, was wrapping up her final lap around campus when she spotted Blakely resting on the sidewalk. “I’ve always had a certain affinity toward felines. The purrs and quivering tails are absolutely hypnotizing,” said Rodriguez, describing her love for cats. Rodriguez recalls trying to make contact with the sleeping cat by whistling and “tsk tsk-ing” at it. “But he never woke up. I thought about leaving it alone, but assumed it might be hungry, right?” Rodriguez recalled. She proceeded by running back to her apartment and getting some noodles from the pantry. “When I came back he was nowhere to be found,” Rodriguez said, her heart dropping. “I was nervous, ‘Where did he go?’ I kept asking myself.” Turns out Blakely was busy with his own agenda. “I love crickets,” Blakely admitted. “I heard that ratty cook snarling and hissing. I assumed she was looking for me.” That was when Rodriguez lured Blakely in with promise of yummy goods. She crushed the noodles inside the package and proceeded to open the bag and scatter it across the sidewalk. “And then I saw his eyes coming around from behind the tree.” Rodriguez said. “I gave him the whole thing and walked away. He loved it.” “I hated it,” Blakely said.


Elevator ‘effed up’ in COAS Students go apeshit at the prospect of losing mode of transportation to third floor

By Kevin Stich Staff Writer In a devastating turn of events, the elevator in the Communication Arts and Sciences building at the University of Texas-Pan American was under repair today. Students broke out in a widespread panic and began running around beating their chests in a violent and ridiculous manner. “It was like, oh so f*cking crazy,” said Tootsie Angeltree, alcoholic, student at UTPA and mother of four illegitimate children. “They told us to use stairs! Like, f*ck that, nobody has taken the stairs in years. Who knows if they even still work anymore?... I’m so drunk right now.” President Robert Nelsen said that there is really no reason to worry and wants to assure people that the elevator will be up and running by tomorrow morning. “There is really no reason to worry. I want to assure people that the elevator will be up and running

by tomorrow morning.” ... Told you. Where the problem really lies is with the handicap students who aren’t able to use the oddly archaic and medieval stairs. The issue has a lot of students worried. “Nah, I’ll just use the other elevator,” said Danny Richards, who just had surgery on his knee after a series of bad paper cuts on his hand... “I’ll be right there Cliff! Anyway, I just can’t believe how many healthy people I see using the elevator on a day to day basis. It’s unbelievable.” But there are those who will experience little, to no disenfranchisement due to the unfortunate event. “What the hell is an elevator?” junior Rojelio Megazord said. And then there are idiots. “Clapping your hands is fun,” freshman Joe Leerman said. Repairmen are already on the scene and, with hopes of going home early, they are working hard to re-

The COAS elevator needs a hug after ouchie. pair the elevator known as the cornerstone of UTPA. “I gotta’ do my job! Get away from me! No preguntas puto!” said friendly repairman Edgardo Ruiz. As crowds have gath-

ered and people are hanging around to see what happens to the broken elevator, students can only hope that come class time tomorrow, they’ll have their beloved elevator back.

17 die in rollie-backpack crash, blood everywhere

By Sasquatch Disco Staff Writer

Not only are rolliebackpacks loud, obnoxious and for lazy people that hate the feeling of carrying a toddler on their back, but they have wheels and wheels typically mean death. Since the invention of the wheel, 192 billion people have died and that’s not including infants. And today was another ex-

ample of the devastation attributed to wheels. “I was drunk,” said Ariana Bevino, charged with two counts of manslaughter and a misdemeanor for noise disturbance. “Jello shots anyone? No? More for me, suckers!” There’s no transitional statement for this next quote… “Hell, I’m more enraged at how loud those damn things are than the two kids that died. That [expletive]

gets ridiculously loud when it hits the stony pavement,” said Kendell Williams, a Students for Peace activist. “Keep the peace, that’s all I’ve got to say.” It happened sometime between noon and 1 p.m. outside the Fine Arts auditorium. Witnesses claim Bevino was in a drunken slur as she rounded the corner and ran into Becca Morena and Alice Winkhandy. “Her wheel came

loose,” witness Diana Dogovia said. The wheel shot out tripping Bevino in the direction of Morena and Winkhandy. “She never lost grip of the rollie-backpack. She never lost grip and that’s what killed them,” said Dogovia as she described the bloodshed. One could only imagine the skull fractures and hip displacements that caused the deaths of these up-and-coming jewelry-making majors.



Onlooker: ‘Holy crap, look at that big-ass bee ... I think I’ll ignore it for now ’ Cont’d from page 1 Aster’s team explained that fiberglass statues, such as the Killer Bee, have three stages: Asleep, also known as Stage Green. This first stage means the monument is inactive and non-threatening to the surrounding population, such as the World’s Largest Ball of Twine in Cawker City, Kansas. Stage Yellow, dormant, means the creature is at risk of becoming active, but is still not a threat. This was the stage the Hidalgo Killer Bee was in until March 7, 2009, when at the Hidalgo Borderfest Parade the changes were noticed, entering it officially into Stage Red. “Now, Stage Red is very dangerous. This mutant is very much active and can come awake at any moment of its choosing. Woe be the

children that are born on that day,” said Michael Freesia, a Chief Fiberglass Engineer flown down from Poland to help monitor the activity of the “mutant.” And this wouldn’t be the first case of Stage Red activity amongst roadside attractions. In Ravenden, Arkansas a 12foot tall raven statue came to life and flew over the city for days dropping large quantities of bird shit on vehicles, buildings and homes. The estimated cost to repair the damages caused by the raven were $1.2 million. Six people were killed in the incident. The raven was eventually shot down by local ranchers and it is now on display on Highway 63, once again—this time, very much a Stage Green. Other incidents include the famous Paul Bunyan, now a legend; he was in fact made completely out of fiberglass. Upon his death he was mum-

mified and set on display in Bangor, Maine. And who can forget Noah’s Ark? It now sits in Lima, Ohio. As history records, the threats are there, but are the residents of Hidalgo worried? “I was around when the bee first got here. I see no need to worry. It hasn’t done anything wrong,” said Beatrice Tulip, a 30-year resident of Hidalgo. John-David Franz, mayor of Hidalgo, is optimistic he can outsmart the creature if and when it becomes active. He wants to reassure his citizens that there is nothing to worry about. He has a plan. “The city has approved the creation of a 50-foot fiberglass woman before the killer bee comes alive. We are hoping the fiberglass woman serves as a decoy attracting the bee to sting her. Bees, as everyone knows, die after one sting,” said Franz. The creation of the fi-

berglass woman will cost $250,000 and the taxpayers aren’t happy. “We can get shotguns and shoot the bee down if it comes to that. But spending $250,000 on another fiberglass statue? That’s ludicrous,” said Dagoberto Lilac, owner of the Killer Bee Stop-N-Shop convenience store. “No. No I don’t agree,” said Marona Daffodil, who provided a short, uninteresting answer. “What if the 50-foot woman enters Stage Red too?” asked Lolita Carnation, owner of Big Bee Taxidermy in Hidalgo. Dr. Aster and his researchers already had the solution to that problem months before Carnation even thought up that question. The answer was simple. “We’ll just build a giant fiberglass handgun. Duh,” said Aster.

As research continues, there are solutions being mapped out and questions being answered in preparation for the imminent fallout of mayhem upon this small town. Aster and his team are monitoring the situation daily, checking for tremors and other clues of Stage Red activity such as winks and humming. According to the Hidalgo City Council, the construction of the 50-foot woman begins in mid-November and a meeting to approve the construction of the giant handgun will be held in March of next year. The city has blocked off access to the killer bee with a decorative rope and warns tourist to view it from a distance. Flashes from cameras are not permitted, as this could trigger the awakening of the creature. Caution is being exercised these days and most residents in Hidalgo have their ear out for the latest buzz.

God: ‘That popular religion thing is taken way too seriously’ By Jesus Christ Staff Writer

After just over 2,000 years of covering the religion beat, I’ve learned a lot. Recently, God, my Father, and Creator of the universe, shared some of his biggest pet peeves with me. “People are putting words in my mouth,” he said, a slight chuckle following the statement. “Sorry, that was funny. No, but really, take those billboards for example. Never did I say, ‘See you on Sunday,’ I was watching golf.’ It seems that the fourhandicapper takes especial issue with billboards claiming his words. Particularly the one that reads, “As my apprentice, you’re never fired.” “Wrong. Wrong, wrong,

wrong. I would fire Donald Trump immediately. Katy Yule, fourth-grader from Ohio? Not my first pick on the playground if you know what I mean,” He said. There are other man-made messages said in the name of the Almighty that He takes issue with. And who can blame Him? Man has been doing things in His name for thousands of years. “Oh, and that book! Ah, what’s it called?!” he exclaimed. “I’ll think of it later. Anyway, point is: did I fax my word down from heaven? I don’t think so. Look, I don’t want anyone dying in my name. I want people to live happily and harmoniously. I want for people to have faith in each other and spend time cultivating that. A little socialism isn’t a bad thing, I created you guys as naturally

communal creatures.” Other pet my peeves my Father mentioned? Bornagain virgins, the Monday Night Football crew, Kevin Stich, generally all of Houston and people who buy Apple products based on trendiness. Set to retire in 2012, God is currently looking for his replacement. Candidates include: Seth McFarlane, Peyton Manning and Steve Buscemi. Each candidate will have to pass a three-part test, including raining down sulfur, a general knowledge of the universe and a soccer match versus the choirs of angels (now 2-19 on the season). Contrary to popular belief, President of the U.S. Barack Obama will not run for God in the 2012 election year.

Some dude’s rendition of God.

pictures of people photos by alma hernandez

photo essay

Alexander, cousin, friend, suffers from arachnophobia.

Joey, friend, photographer, loves her dog more than humans.

Alex, my uncle, coach, loves turkey legs and is afraid of carnival rides.

Luis Moreno sits backstage and waits for his cue.

Steven, brother, Anthony Coll loves best friend, to play Magic: The Gathering.

Jeremy. Photographer, teacher, mentor.

of mice and men photos by daniel flores

photo essay

Noel Reyna drags his prop whip down the hall.

Maegan De La Rosa gets her hair done before a rehearsal.

Senora, who was adopted star in the show, enjoys a catnap.

Luis Moreno sits backstage and waits for his cue.

Anthony Koll sits in the dressing room before a performance.

Joseph Perez sneaks in a nap during a dress rehearsal.

Director Brian Warren offers playful words of encouragement.

Foam heads look on at the a supply room backstage.

Some male cast members rest during their down time.

are we too plugged in? Mario Leal



nalog and VHS were the pinnacle of technological advancement during the seventies, eighties, and (the decade of their subsequent death) nineties. Now, they have become the tokens hipsters use to self identify or craft into belt buckles and art pieces. Technology has evolved from the cliché boombox-carrying thug walking down the street, jamming in a gangsta’s paradise, to the perky cheerleader blaring out Britney on her iPod Touch, IMing her slew of Facebook friends. Generation Y, the generation born around 1980 to the early 2000s, will be known as the forbearers of technological advancement. Between 64 to 69 percent of people within this age range are currently enrolled in college. Not just a person’s, but a whole generation’s understanding of how interconnected the world is has expanded exponentially since the heyday of VHS. People started off with beepers, and now they’re at iPads. At the end of all the fiberoptics, there is a person, family, city, country communicating back. The snapshots of blogs and profiles demonstrates a world entirely different from ours; sometimes as far as Tibet, other times as close as the person sitting in the local coffee shop. The expanse of technology has allowed Generation Y to turn the human species into the human family. Advances in technology have wired people to the max. From a cell phone, one can simultaneous stream news, text, call anything, anywhere, anytime. Technology has empowered people. Information is at the touch of a button. But, are people sometimes, too plugged in? “I just wonder how many people would actually know what to do if anything happened,” said Melisse Brown, sophomore psychology major at the University of Texas-Pan American. “People are taught how to use a computer, but they don’t know how the computer works. They just become so complacent because of technology that they don’t need to know how to hunt, or fish, or grow anything. People wouldn’t know what to do if suddenly everything failed. And technology does fail.” Facebook reached 400 million active users in February 2010. That’s 50 million more in two months from its 350 million

in December 2009. That’s 200 million more from its 150 million in January of 2009. Fifty percent of active users log on every day. More than 35 million update their status daily. Average users spend more than 55 minutes daily on Facebook, and have 130 friends. More than 100 million users are mobile users, and mobile users are twice more active on Facebook than non-mobile users. An incident only reaffirmed a noticeable trend. Waiting in the lab for an open computer, a girl looked around impatiently. When one was free, she immediately jumped at it and logged in. From behind, one could see she was checking her Facebook, immediately harvesting all her virtual plants on Farmville. That was her only need for the computer. She logged off and walked out with a look of assurance on her face.

other on campus. You know how you just walk by people and ignore them because you’re in your own little world? I hate it. Sometimes I just want to yell in the middle of the quad ‘What are you doing? Don’t you all realize we’re people,’” Brown said. “Why can’t people just talk to each other? I mean really talk to each other. Not through technology, though. You’re too removed when you do that.” In an article at, Dr. Mike Merzenich spoke of the evolution of the brain in conjunction with technology. Merzenich, along with a team of scientists, developed software to keep people’s brains in shape. He argues that a societies level of intelligence changes from generation to generation due to shifts in technology and culture. For example, the generation before Gen Y has an understanding of what technology is, but does not have it

"I hate how everyone just ignores each other on campus... Don't you all realize we're people." - MELISSE BROWN “I’m totally addicted to technology. My friends have told me to put the phone down, because I’ll be updating so much,” said Lauren Espinoza, a senior English major at UTPA. “Lauren, you’re here, not online.” This need for technology can be dangerous. Internet addiction rehabilitation centers have opened up. They require a person to hand over all technology, and then retrain them to live without it. Some of the therapies include: reading from a book, yoga, walking around in nature, and other non-technological hobbies. It may seem obvious, but for some, putting down the “Crackberry” is like asking a junkie to go cold turkey. “I hate how everyone just ignores each

as deeply engrained as Gen Y does. And the same goes for the generations before. “Ten years ago, you only needed the computer for simple things. That’s how it’s changed. Now, you back up everything, so the memory has grown and the speed has accelerated,” said Dr. Andres Figueroa, computer science professor at UTPA. “Things like software don’t change that much. The ideas — word processors, media players — all those things stay the same. Hardware is changing. Everyone has the ability to be connected because everything is getting smaller.” In America, nearly five billion texts are sent daily. In 2009, more than 1.5 trillion text messages were sent or (cont’d on page 154)



The answer to cancer rebecca ward

In a dark lab on the third floor of the science building, hungry cancerous cells await feeding time. Protein is their diet. But if cancer cells could think and reason, they would be petrified of what will come through the door in the morning—Dr. Bimal K. Banik, and his team of 30 research students with their cancer-fighting compounds. The laboratory is one of the best in the country as far as academia is concerned; and Dr. Banik would have it no other way. “My

lab is one of best, undoubtedly: I created it to be that way, according to my own choice,” Banik said. After all, he is working with $4,4 million dollars from the National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute, Private Foundations, UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center so he has a few extra dollars to throw around. But were it not for his work before even coming to UTPA, there would be none of that money. And just what was this amazing

breakthrough in research? Well, to put it in technical terms, it is that Beta-lactams can be used not only for antibiotic purposes, but also as cancer-fighting agents. Now, for those of us Americans that have no idea what a Beta-lactam is, let us consult the almighty World Wide Web (or a scientific dictionary). A Beta-lactam is the basic structure for certain antibiotics that we use to treat and prevent the spread of certain diseases (cont’d on page 154)

welcome to the future how utpa changed the nano technology game rebecca ward



f one takes what Dr. Karen Lozano does on a daily basis with her research and development in the area of nanotechnology, and asked any normal Joe off the street (or even a normal Joe from the liberal arts side of a college campus) to explain what it is, the likely response would be, “Huh? What’s a nanofiber?” But fear not, non-science major, Lozano knows how to describe the world of “nano” to even the simplest of minds. She understands that most people don’t understand it; so, in the manner of a truly gifted teacher, she uses the K.I.S.S. method of explanation — keep it simple, stupid. When asked to explain “nano” in terms a 10-year old could understand, Lozano launches into one of the simplest concepts known to children: that of air. We can’t see it, but we know it’s there, Sometimes all it takes to grasp the concept is thinking about the things we take for granted every day, such as the air we breathe, explained Lozano. “I usually say, as basic as the air, you know, we can’t see the air between you and me, because it’s nano. The particles are too small,” she said. Her token experiment for illustration: an air-filled balloon submersed in liquid nitrogen. The air inside the balloon will be super-cooled to the point of compressing until the balloon appears deflated. But all Lozano has to do is remove the balloon from the nitrogen to see it inflate again. The particles are there, “but they come together and it looks like the balloon deflates. So you see, there’s air inside. We can’t see it but it’s there.” While that proves that there are substances available that we cannot see and yet can “manipulate,” it is only the beginning of an elaborate scientific explanation. “You have a hair, so just imagine 80,000 times thinner than your hair, you will not be able to see it. It’s so small that the wavelength of light just passes through it,” she said. Imagine if you will a world in which you had to move air away from your face to see the person across the table. And once you did, what you saw looked like Freddy Kreuger on crack. Blood swirling around through paper-thin skin, volcanic

eruptions of bacteria out of black heads and zits, a veritable living nightmare on your street. The scrolling photographs of her two young sons on the Dell screen of her office computer serve as a testimony to the softnatured and amiable personality that communicates such an ineffable concept as nanotechnology. She speaks and “big words” suddenly seem smaller. But basically, a nano of anything is simply one billionth of the original size.

Not the case with Lozano. Coming to University of Texas-Pan American and beginning work as a mentor and guide for undergraduates in their research, she doesn’t deny that she pushes engineering as a career choice. But it’s all for a good cause: to increase the understanding of and applications for nanofiber reinforcement. And now that she has invented a device that can more practically isolate nanofibers and spin them out, the Valley and UTPA will be

"Go to a room full of people and ask them what they can do with [nanotechnology], 100 people will come up with 100 different ideas." -DR. KAMAL SARKAR And the fact that any human being could understand the potential for manipulation of such minute particles of anything shows just how far the human race has progressed over the past few thousand years, say nothing of the past 100 years alone.

Hot-button 'Nano' Lozano did her graduate research beginning in 1994 at Rice University, but her experience with nanotechnology began years earlier in Mexico where she did her undergraduate work. “Since I started as a student working with nano, and that was the project that I was assigned, that’s how I grew up ... I don’t know much more than nano,” she said. While everyone around her in 2000 was pushing the issue of nanotechnology and in her words “trying to make themselves feel big in the world,” Lozano knows that she truly had the background necessary to conduct research on nanofibers. “If you look at their background [in nanotechnology], there was nothing,” she said.

receiving a proverbial stimulus package of their own. By 2014, over 110 jobs within the $100,000 salary range will have been created by her centrifugal force spinning technology. And not just in the area of engineering. For undergraduates entering UTPA this year, that’s an exciting proposition as they will have immediate access to the jobs Lozano’s invention will have prepared here for them through the new company FibeRio. While nanotechnology did not boom until around 2000, it first surfaced in 1959 when Richard Fenyman, a Nobel Prize winner, gave a presentation at Caltech called “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom.” To this day, Lozano’s colleague at UTPA and friend Dr. Kamal Sarkar quotes Fenyman as the man who truly understood the foundation for all possibilities within the nano realm. And coming from a background in the biology and the physical sciences, Sarkar says he gets excited at the prospect of understanding biological processes from the perspective of the nano scale. “At the end of the day, Mother Nature stared on the nano scale … we meet


somewhere in the middle,” he said. His motto: “We are only limited by our imagination.”

Endless Possibilities “Go to a room full of people and ask them what they can do with [nanotechnology], 100 people will come up with 100 different ideas,” Sarkar theorizes. “There is always room at the bottom.” Statistically, there are around 6.5 billion inhabitants of our planet today. Sarkar illustrates the diversity for the uses of a nanofiber or nanoparticle by saying that if one were to consider only six of the earth’s inhabitants, within those six people, all of the possibilities for diversity must necessarily exist, because on a molecular level, we all are the same. In essence, if there were only six human beings left on earth, those six would, in time, be able to repopulate the earth with all the diversity we see today. That is the basis for the idea that there is always room for expansion at the bottom rung of an organism’s structural ladder. Lozano believes that today’s scientists are only limited by their tools. That’s where her invention using centrifugal forces instead of the costly electrospinning to create nanofibers comes into play. It just so happens that she had a feasible idea. She will be the first to admit that not all of her ideas are feasible. “There are many ideas that I have that are just not feasible for here. I don’t have the instrumentation…I don’t have the manpower.” For those, she keeps a leather-bound notebook among a pile of papers on her desk. Nodding in the direction the book, she proffers that things not feasible for her to work on here at UTPA, she relegates to the pages of that book. “[Those non-feasible ideas] stay in my book…You have to look at what we have here and what we can accomplish here,” she says. “I look at many ideas and when I come up with an idea I look at it and say, ‘Is it feasible here?’ And if it’s feasible here, I just pursue it with all my heart. If it’s not feasible here, I don’t let it waste my time that much.” Sarkar, though a man of imagination and dreams, agrees that if it’s not feasible, there is no use pursuing it.

As essential to the outcome of any craft are the tools that its artisan uses to create. “She’s damn right when she says that when you do research, if you do not have the tools, you cannot do anything,” Sarkar concurred.

"You have a hair, so just imagine 80,000 times thinner than your hair, you will not be able to see it. It's so small that the wavelength of light just passes through it." -DR. KAREN LOZANO Future Foe Scenarios Sarkar elucidates that there is a need to “consider this technology from two aspects and ask, is it evolutionary or revolutionary?” The answer? It is both. In the evolutionary sense, he theorizes that the use of nanotechnology and nanofibers comes down to the molecular level and the fact that “there is plenty of room at the bottom.” Anything can be taken from its most basic level and evolve from there. But at the same time, this technology is revolutionary, and as the doctors Lozano and Sarkar profess, only limited by tools and imagination. That could be scary though. After


all, do we really want the things around us to be more responsive than we are? To be stronger? Smarter? Sounds like something out of a Sci-fi movie gone horrifically bad. Pressing one finger to his chest, Sarkar describes a futuristic garment that could stop a bullet with the push of a button because of the response of the nanofibers running through it. That kind of technology, Lozano says is already in laboratory stages of development. Things such as conductivity studies and reinforcement purposes are being used today on a small scale, but also are undergoing extensive laboratory tests to discover further uses. And what of technology found in vehicles being manufactured today? Cars can now parallel park themselves. They can maintain safe distances between their front bumpers and the car in front of them. All of this is accomplished through smart materials, those materials that can sense and conduct incoming and outgoing information to adjust the function of the vehicle. Lozano believes the possibilities for the use of nanofibers in smart materials could even allow for changes in materials on a molecular level in the future. For example, take the tires on the average vehicle. With nanotechnology involved, the rubber on the tires could change density, hardness, or even tread pattern through the use of nanofibers. Scary? Quite possibly. But that is where the doctors emphasize that engineering and nanotechnology is not a one-man operation, nor is it a science of a single discipline. Lozano realizes that it requires cooperation and theorizing from all disciplines to increase brainstorming potential, as well as global and societal awareness. If someone told said that a shirt could change molecular structure with the push of a button to resist water if it were raining, or to stop a bullet in a more extreme case, one might be afraid that his shirt would be just as able to strangle him or crawl up onto his face and suffocate him. “It could be great if I’m doing something in my lab that in my mind I think is the greatest thing on earth, but when it comes to somebody [in another

(cont’d on page 155)

( expensive photograph not available due to budget cuts )

brian silva

politics + issues

"The past year has proven we can overcome budget challenges... We can do it." -ROBERT NELSEN he financial health of the University of Texas-Pan American has been scrutinized by more fiscal doctors over the past year than one can count on both hands. Fiscal operations have been under mounting stress as the various facets of the university’s budget get cut to the bone. The cuts came from all angles, and they are still not over as the state faces revenue deficits after it underestimated the impact of the economic downturn on Texas’ revenue streams. First came interim president Charles Sorber who took the budget from operating in the red to taking it into the black, which he attacked through “cost avoidance” measures. However, the major measure proposed and implemented as a cushion to the revenue problems was a tuition and fee hike totaling $140 for each of the next two academic years. The initial reason for the tuition and fee hike was to compensate for the revenue issues. Retiring Business Affairs Vice President Jim Langabeer said the university conducted a study comparing UTPA’s expenditures to those of similar


are faculty in the classrooms institutions. What they found in the study Adding to the complexity of the was that the university wasn’t spending situation was an unanticipated revenue its money as effectively as others. problem for the state, which incurred less “We have a revenue problem,” revenue from oil and gas productions. Langabeer said. “The university simply Because of this, in January the Legislative isn’t making enough money.” Budget Board (LBB) asked all state The university has two basic streams of money: tuition and appropriations from agencies, including university systems, to the state. Tuition revenue problems stem provide a plan for a 5% reduction in state from a decision eight years ago, while funds, to be given back to the state at a state appropriations became a problem later time. UTPA’s portion of this was about $7.4 more recently in the past couple of years, million, according to President Robert Sorber said last December. “This goes back to when designated Nelsen, who said the figure is the “real” tuition became a reality, and this cost when all factors are put together. The university had to cut close to the institution chose to keep it as low as possible … partly because of the nature bone. However, Nelsen consistently reiterated of our student body,” Sorber said. that cuts should not be felt by students, “The decision was made, rightfully or with administrators being the most affected. Most items cut centered around travel and wrongfully, to minimize the increases and salary sweeps, which is process of taking up not get ahead of the game.” funds from vacant positions. Eight years ago the Texas When Nelsen presented the Legislature deregulated tuition FOR MORE INFO university’s situation to the UT and gave the state’s university BUDGET CUT System Board of Regents, he systems the ability to control how COVERAGE warned of a potentially worsening their tuition number was raised or SEARCH: BUDGET situation with the impending regulated, presenting a significant legislative session next year. He change in traditional Texas higher broncradiotv expressed that the university’s education fiscal policy, according multiple streams of revenue from the to Sorber. “When the Legislature chose to give state may be reduced in the amount of the regents the authority to increase $21.5 million. Though the LBB required no jobs be designated tuition seven years ago, they basically made a conscious decision to cut as part of the budget reduction, some shift the burden of higher education from in administration have expressed concern that further losses would result in faculty the state to the students and the parents,” he explained. “Once they made that shift, and staff losses. Nelsen reiterated during the cuts the ball game changed. One could say the legislature chose to defer to the students process that not all is “gloom and doom.” “The past year has proven we can and parents the cost, instead of the overcome budget challenges,” he said. broader tax base. “ In recent years, though, lawmakers “We can do it.” The cost avoidance measures that and regents have come to an agreement to cap tuition increases. However, formula Sorber implemented actually resulted in the budget being in the black by about funding, the way in which the state funds a university, was not changed to 0.9 percent. However, with budget cuts accommodate the caps. Sorber said that the underway and possibly more looming with university cannot make up for the decision the biennium and for the next biennium budget, any cushion helps. the university made eight years ago. Nelsen expressed optimism that with “It’s kind of like a salmon, we’re increased funds from enrollment and always swimming upstream,” he said. “You have to get a little dexterous in this a tuition-and-fee hike, the university will be able to absorb some of the shock business in order to try and continue to swim upstream to get ahead of the game, using the added funds. The university to keep the lights on and make sure there experienced rapid growth this academic

(cont’d on page 155)


politics + issues

archer park after dark

mario leal

ruis•ing: 2. Slang a. To look in (a public area) for a sexual partner. Down the vein of the city’s main street, between the glitz and glamour of McAllen’s downtown — the illuminated catwalk of mini-skirts and Sunday’s best served up in a martini glass — and the quaint Valley neighborhood streets with all-American names such as Broadway, Beech, Hackberry, lies the “Circuit.” The “Circuit” encompasses roughly a 15-block diameter — its spine tracing the division by way of Business 83 — and the few streets surrounding Main Street up to, if it’s a busy night, Hackberry and sometimes Pecan. Lying in the middle is Archer Park: this is another catwalk, a darker one. One hidden under the spires of a hotel full of fresh clients, and churches lit only by a few flickering candles. One that only emerges at night and scurries at the sight of red and blue flashing lights; one where silhouettes duck into alleys and behind dumpsters and catcall whistles from a pimp (otherwise known as Mr. White Explorer) are heard. Cars swim through the streets like sharks patrolling for prey, but here, the prey knows it’s being hunted, and wants to be caught. This is where a subculture of men, caught in a generational divide, comes. Where Mr. Windbreaker comes — frequenting the stop a few times a week — walking from corner to corner, twitching his eyes back and forth. This is where a high school coach comes. A news anchor. Someone’s uncle. This is a gay cruising spot.

THE PROBLEM “It’s new gay versus old gay if you think about it,” said 22-year-old Marcus

Lara, an STC student. “Archer Park is where all of these older men, who grew up in a different time, come. It was more acceptable for me to be gay, so I’m more comfortable with it. It wasn’t for them, so they hide. And sometimes, it’s because they just like the thrill of the chase. Why else wouldn’t they just go online?”

"It was more acceptable for me to be gay, so I'm more comfortable with it. It wasn't for them, so they hide. And sometimes, it's because they just like the thrill of the chase. Why else wouldn't they just go online?" -MARCUS LARA Indeed, many of the men that come to Archer Park are generally older, although one sometimes sees younger men. Mr. Black Lexus, 45, was dressed in a polo, jeans and tennis shoes, the brim of his baseball cap angled down low hid most of his face. “I’m not gay,” Mr. Black Lexus said (pseudonym used by request), looking around to see if anyone was coming. “No, I’m not bisexual either.

I’m married and sometimes you know … I come here maybe two or three times a year. Just on the side.” “They’re a product of their environment,” senior psychology major Adrian Garza said. “I would assume most of the men that go around 35 and up. They have money. They don’t go out to clubs because they’re either not out or exclusively looking for sex. For them, it’s a sense of anonymity. Sex is no strings, so it’s less complicated for some.”

GAY IS A WORD In the Valley, the only interactions homosexuals have amongst themselves are mostly at bars and online, to make the trio click of Facebook, Myspace and their choice of gay chat room friendlier, easier, and discreet. “No pics. Discreet guy here on the down low,” McValleyGuy used as his introductory IM. “So you wanna meet or what? Just cum over to my apartment.” Mr. Auburn Hair, a frequenter of Internet chatrooms makes a rare stop to PBD’s, the oldest gay bar in McAllen. “I guess I’m just a boring guy. I didn’t even know Archer Park existed, but then again, I don’t usually go to the clubs,” Mr. Auburn Hair said while lighting his cigarette. “Well, I don’t wear a sign, but there are those who know. Where I like to put it is not the most important thing about me. I work hard, pay my taxes, help little old ladies cross the street, etc.” There is a LGBT population in the Valley, but there is no community: Archer Park is the malignancy of this. “I didn’t know about Archer Park. That’s a little disturbing, but if you think

politics + issues

about it, it’s mostly sad,” said 22-yearold Lee Trevino, pharmacy tech major at South Texas VoTech. “They just grew up when it was really bad to be gay, if you know what I mean.” In the Valley, there are no gay pride marches. There are no organizations that foster support groups or human exchanges other than the hypersexual. There are no places where a gay person can fully feel free of the anxiety of being outted or blatantly looked down upon (even at Archer Park). There is only a small collection of ”alternative” clubs — that shine brightly for a while but quickly burnout when a new one opens — and a lone Democratic organization that yearns for active involvement from an apathetic community.

THE STATS A statistic by Laud Humphrey (Tearoom Trade: Impersonal Sex in Public Places) found that 54 percent of people engaged in this behavior were actually heterosexual married men, and only 14 percent were “overtly” homosexual. That statistic is from 1970, more recent ones are rare if existent at all. Referencing the Humphrey book, Daryl Higgins found in 2006 that 23 percent of these cases, admitted to having protected sex with a same-sex partner while married. Nationwide, there are no “accurate” numbers as to total populations of LGBT people. Some statistics average it as low as two percent and some as high as 13.95, according to a study released in 1990 by David P. McWhirter, Stephanie A. Sanders, and Machover Reinisch. McAllen only reports a 0.2 percent of gay men and 0.3 percent in lesbians on Those are only the people who are willing to discuss any same-sex interactions. There are many factors to this: sex, gender (which is not the same as sex), economic status, religion, race, ethnicity, etc. “Degrees” of sexuality for the samesex arise. Someone can, in laymen’s terms, be a heterosexual with some homosexual tendencies and vice versa. Ted Haggard (the former evangelical minster of New Life Church in Colorado) rings a bell. Does that make the heterosexual

homosexual? Does that make the homosexual heterosexual? Does it send them into the grey-limbo-like area of bisexuality? No, yes and maybe. There are no definite answers to any of these questions. The answer would solely lie upon the individual, their definition of themselves, sexuality, and how that relates to their world.

OUTCOMES “In Dallas, there’s always something to do, so people are talking about what’s going on. In the Valley, there’s nothing going on. So people just sit around and talk about each other. There may be a lot of people here, but it’s like living in a social circle of 100,” Mr. Auburn Hair said. The problem with homosexuality in the Valley, subsequently resulting in Archer Park, is not with a particular set of actions, but with a particular set of words. UTPA held a forum in fall 2009


when the discussion came to allowing an “LGBT SAFE ZONE” sticker on doors of sponsoring teachers on campus. “We can just have it say ‘Safe Zone,’ and everyone will know what that means,” Saldivar said. He also referred to the issue from a “humanist” perspective. The GSA panelists were adamant for full use of “LGBT.” “I’m not gay or straight,” said 14-yearold Juan Gabriel Padilla (one of the panelist with GSA), after the forum. “No, I’m not queer either. I haven’t identified my sexuality, and I don’t think I ever will.” It is instances like this, where you see reluctance for “acceptance” of even the word. The school trustee has very little sway as to the extracurricular this will 14-year-old will get on the streets. When children are not raised in an environment where speaking about who they are is acceptable, they have to find venues (like clubs and on the streets in this case) to find their niche

"I would assume most of the men that go around 35 and up. They have money. They don't go out to clubs because they're either not out or exclusively looking for sex. For them, it's a sense of anonymity. Sex is no strings, so it's less complicated for some." -Adrian Garza for the Gay-Straight-Alliance (GSA) on campus. The forum consisted of a panel of GSA representatives, from on and off campus, as well as three representatives from the McAllen school district, including a trustee. They discussed whether the McAllen school district (and any other school districts, though none showed) would be receptive to permitting GSA’s on their campuses. The trustee, Sam Saldivar, was very receptive to the idea, but was hesitant

“Down here, the gays are just becoming comfortable with being gay. A lot of my friends who are out, are younger, where all the older guys are still in the closet; maybe not to their friends or themselves, but to the public,” Lara said. “Some of them own businesses, some of them are teachers. They could potentially be in a lot of trouble, economically I mean.” Archer Park may not always be around, but gay won’t go away, as the issues are ever growing.

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politics + issues


Joshua Garza

548406846545046084684765406540867788768065405640654 706545043054056456045604545604650406545400540564540 489156548406846545046084684765406540867788768065405 153468706545043054056456045604545604650406545400540 405465489156548406846545046084684765406540867788768 065450153468706545043054056456045604545604650406545 454065405465489156548406846545046084684765406540867 540564065450153468706545043054056456045604545604650 054056454065405465489156548406846545046084684765406 876806540564065450153468706545043054056456045604545 654540054056454065405465489156548406846545046084684 086778876806540564065450153468706545043054056456045 465040654540054056454065405465489156548406846545046 540654086778876806540564065450153468706545043054056 454560465040654540054056454065405465489156548406846 468476540654086778876806540564065450153468706545043 604560454560465040654540054056454065405465489156548 his is an article about numbers: 504608468476540654086778876806540564065450153468706 405645604560454560465040654540054056454065405465489 numbers like 32 and 218. Thirty-two for 684654504608468476540654086778876806540564065450153 504305405645604560454560465040654540054056454065405 the rank the University of Texas-Pan 654840684654504608468476540654086778876806540564065 870654504305405645604560454560465040654540054056454 America received on Forbes Top 100 548915654840684654504608468476540654086778876806540 015346870654504305405645604560454560465040654540054 Public Schools list. And the number 218 540546548915654840684654504608468476540654086778876 406545015346870654504305405645604560454560465040654 for where it ranked overall out of 600 645406540546548915654840684654504608468476540654086 654056406545015346870654504305405645604560454560465 colleges in a report put out by Forbes on 005405645406540546548915654840684654504608468476540 887680654056406545015346870654504305405645604560454 Aug. 5, 2009. 065454005405645406540546548915654840684654504608468 408677887680654056406545015346870654504305405645604 With that said, there are numbers 046504065454005405645406540546548956548406846545046 540654086778876806540564065450153468706545043054056 upon numbers of data that goes into 454560465040654540054056454065405465489156548406846 468476540654086778876806540564065450153468706545043 ranking the colleges. Numerals like 604560454560465040654540054056454065405465489156548 504608468476540654086778876806540564065450153468706 46.7637 -- UTPA’s total score -- and other 405645604560454560465040654540054056454065405465489 684654504608468476540654086778876806540564065450153 digits like 12.5, 25, 16.667, 8.33 and five, 504305405645604560454560465040654540054056454065405 654840684654504608468476540654086778876806540564065 which will have meaning 585 words 870654504305405645604560454560465040654540054056454 548915654840684654504608468476540654086778876806540 further into the article. 015346870654504305405645604560454560465040654540054 54054

When this article was first conceived it was assigned as an assessment of what the Forbes list meant for UTPA. With more research it became a story about numbers and how numbers are the weighing factor to a student’s success. The article that brought up all these numbers was a collaborative effort between the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) and Forbes. The two men behind the information in this article are Dr. Richard Vedder and David Ewalt. Vedder is a “god among men,” according to one post on ratemyprofessor. com. Besides being deified, Vedder is director of the CCAP and a professor of economics at Ohio University. From the reviews posted about him on the Rate My Professor Web site he can aptly be assessed as “funny.” The other man, Ewalt, an editor for Forbes, claims he has been “making nerds cry since 1994” on his Web site He is chiefly involved at Forbes as a tech guru where he runs a blog called “Digital Download” and has appeared on “Good Morning America”, CNBC’s “Closing Bell” and frequently contributes to G4TV’s “Attack of the Show.” “CCAP is an independent, not-forprofit center based in Washington, DC.” Ewalt explained. “They independently research and compile the rankings.” Once the rankings are finished, Forbes features them in a special report.

America’s best public colleges

The annual rankings were started in 2008 when the first generation of the ranking system was released. The first compilation of schools included 568 different colleges, but UTPA wasn’t among them. When the methodology of the ranking changed in 2009, UTPA and 31 other institutions were added based on school size. UTPA was included for having more than 10,000 students enrolled fulltime in undergraduate courses. “[UTPA] ranks in the top third, it does pretty well,” Vedder said in a phone interview. “It ranks much higher than a typical public university.” Kudos to UTPA for making it to a prominent spot, but what exactly is all the congratulations for? “I’m not sure what the ranking was about,” said Erica Garza, a UTPA student, when asked if she knew why UTPA made it on Forbes’ “Top Public Schools” list. Francisco Garcia is equally puzzled. “Actually I’m not too sure about that,” said Garcia, another student who didn’t know how the system was ranked. The UTPA marketing ploy to feature the news about Forbes on its Web site, television commercials and signs got attention, but the undergraduate students from UTPA that Panorama interviewed, along with eight others that knew about the ranking, had no clue as to why the school was ranked 32 on the top public schools list. What attributed to this ignorance from the students? Vedder, who claims to know college students pretty well, shed insight as to the reason. “They sleep in. They party all night. They sit and wake up in the morning, thinking about having to get up to go to class so they just sit there daydream, jack off maybe,” said Vedder joking about college student behavior. “I know college students, college students are the same everywhere.” As director of the CCAP, Vedder oversees about 10 “Whiz Kids” who work on the research compiling information on the institutions that are ranked. According to the CCAP Web site, these “Whiz Kids” are all students attending

(cont’d on page 116)

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50.

United States Military Academy New York United States Air Force Academy United States Naval Academy College of William and Mary New College of Florida University of Virginia University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill University of California, Berkeley University of California, Los Angeles Virginia Military Institute St. Mary’s College of Maryland United States Coast Guard Academy University of Mary Washington University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign University of California, San Diego University of Utah University of Wyoming University of California, Irvine University of Texas, Austin University of Washington University of Florida University of Colorado, Boulder Texas A&M University, College Station Utah State University New Mexico State University, Las Cruces University of Michigan, Ann Arbor California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo SUNY, Binghamton University of Georgia Western State College of Colorado University of Delaware University of Texas, Pan American Florida State University University of Colorado, Denver University of California, Santa Barbara University of California, Davis James Madison University University of New Mexico University of California, Santa Cruz New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology Fort Lewis College United States Merchant Marine Academy Weber State University Virginia Tech University of North Carolina, Asheville Mississippi State University Indiana University, Bloomington The Citadel University of California, Riverside University of Mississippi


politics + issues

Ohio University where Vedder teaches. “I get the best students, I get A-Students — the very best students,” Vedder said in reference to people he picks to do the research to compile the ranking system. The numbers these students crunch are fixed on seven components. Those seven variables are weighted by different percentages. The different percentages are accumulated to give a specific score. The specific score is used to rank the colleges. Now that the exhaustive groundwork to the process has been explained, allow for a reintroduction of those numbers mentioned in paragraph four. 12.5 accounts for the percentages of two components: the first being a “listing of alumni in 2008 edition of ‘Who’s Who in America;’” the second weighs “salaries of alumni on” Vedder mentioned didn’t have

AMONG MEN, if you need some econ classes take history of american or nonWestern economics with this dude.” One could wonder if these are some of those daydreaming students Vedder trivialized. Trivial or truth? For the next measure accounts for almost 17 percent of the scoring and it weighs the college’s fouryear graduation rate. “[UTPA]’s weak point was the graduation rate. [UTPA] has a low graduation rate,” said Vedder pointing out the low 13 percent four-year graduation rate. This means that only about 2,000 students graduate in four years out of 15,000 enrolled undergraduates. This, Vedder advises, is something UTPA should work on fixing if it wants to keep a strong position on the list. wThe next two variables account for small percentages. Exactly 8.33 percent goes to the weighting of students that

to a distinguished spot in the rankings. A thorough process with extensive numerical increments being weighed has led to further assessment of numbers that affect the UTPA student population. The review looks at two variables on the list: the four-year graduation rate and the four-year debt load weight. If only 13 percent of the undergraduate population graduates in four years, then the debt load variable accounts for roughly 2,000 students out of 15,336, a number provided by the Princeton Review. Vedder offers advice on how to fix this. “You need to be focused on the main mission of the school,” Vedder said. “[Nelsen] knows what the mission is. He helps determine what the mission is. But my guess is, truly, to educate undergraduate students. Turning out students, too, will serve Texas and the rest of the country…Concentrate on your

"I know college students, college students are the same everywhere. They sleep in. They party all night. They sit and wake up in the morning, thinking about having to get up to go to class so they just sit there daydream, jack off maybe." - RICHARD VEDDER any information on UTPA’s alumni and that it couldn’t be used. With that bit of knowledge, one-fourth of the evaluation is accounted for and it all goes to the “Who’s Who” variable. The next element in question is entrusted to student evaluations on This element accounts for 25 percent of the weighting. It is also the most highly criticized one. There are complaints that students give good evaluations for lenient professors, which shows itself to be true on one of Vedder’s ratings that reads, “Hard to get an A, but fails very, very few students.” And another one that said, “Only he could make economic history so freakin hillarious! (sic)” and “VEDDER IS A GOD

have received nationally competitive core mission, ignore everything else,” said Vedder, also making note that he had awards. The other 5 percent goes to never made a visit to the campus but faculty members receiving awards for offered ambiguous advice either way. scholarship and creative pursuits. Vedder is 69 and he’s just Rounding up the rest of the measure is UTPA’s strongest FOR MORE INFO another number in this article. In fact, the CCAP ranking of suit: four-year debt load for UTPA IS RANKED schools is just another on the list 3RD BEST PUBLIC student borrowers. UNIVERSITY of other ranking systems. It was IN TEXAS “A fine point at [UTPA] was featured on “CBS Moneywatch” SEARCH: FORBES students do graduate with debt, and compared to the list of other but with less debt than average,” broncradiotv ranking lists like U.S. News and Vedder said. World Report’s list, Faculty Scholarly That was where the school stood out for the CCAP. The two strong points Rankings, Washington Monthly’s college rankings, Fiske Guide to Colleges, the the school received were the “Who’s Who” variable and the debt average, Princeton Review and College Prowler. Numbers don’t lie. Numbers are which accounted for 45 percent of the weighting. This helped propel the school consistent, but human opinion changes. It (cont’d on page 155)


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a man without a country Rebecca ward

Robin Whitely folds blankets preparing for another cold night.


A movie released in 2004 told the story of a man stuck in an airport terminal. The Terminal, the story of the fictitious Viktor Navorksi, played by Tom Hanks, frustrated most viewers because poor Navorksi was in such a helpless predicament: his country was dissolved and he could not return home, neither could he enter the United States. In Reynosa, Mex. exists a man in a similar situation. The man, Robin Whitely, is, by definition a citizen of nowhere, trapped in a life he did not choose.

First Encounter

“Hey, I’m gonna’ have to ask you not to have cameras here. We’re too close to the border. Last time I was interviewed on camera I almost got kidnapped by the cartel,” Whitely said, as he looked around the plaza, searching for a more secluded place to go sit and tell his story. Just across the international border of Hidalgo, Texas and Reynosa, Mexico, there is a plaza, guarded by a 15-foot-tall bronze eagle and an empty flagpole. “I try to stay away from this plaza,” said Whitely. “There are too many eyes.” But though there are guards less than 100 yards away, Whitely still chooses to come here once every couple of days. This

politics + issues

right to do business. The panhandlers. The window-washers. According to what Whitely has seen an experienced, anyone can be a spy for the “bad guys.” That might explain why when Channel 5 crossed the border with a news crew, the “eyes” could hardly miss seeing the interview take place. “If they think you’re worth something or you’re important, they’ll try to take you and hold you for ransom,” he said. “I’ve had a few close calls.” So, they did. He said they followed him on foot all the way downtown until he ducked inside a Catholic church for refuge. He waited a while before reemerging to find the pursuant gone. Obliged to sit under a sapling on the green iron bench, Whitely sounds comfortable, his Dallas, Texas accent juxtaposed with his dark skin and brown eyes. Whitely is Hispanic, but his heart and brain don’t know it.

Ni de Aqui, Ni de Alla From Neither Here Nor There His mom tells him he was adopted, but that she got him from a midwife in El Paso, Texas. Several months before he was even born, his mother, Laura Whitely made arrangements with the midwife


it; but with their names on it and his birthplace still listed as Juarez, Mexico. His face softened as he talks about his mom and remembered all the work she has done over the past 35 years to try to sort out the never-ending battle for Whitely’s citizenship. “She’s not my adopted mother, she’s my mother. She’s the only mother I’ve ever known, all my life,” he said. In 1980, the Whitelys went to court to officially begin the adoption procedure for six-year-old Robin. By March 31 of that year, little Robin was officially a namebearing member of the Whitely family. But his birth certificate from the atate of Texas still listed Mexico as his country of birth. His mother decided to begin the process of filing for citizenship for her son. “She didn’t know how to go about it, so she called several senators,” Whitely recalled. She kept hitting walls, couldn’t figure out what road to take. Once finding an inroad, she was asked for a certified copy of the adoption decree. The state of Texas threw up a roadblock though. Because her son was still a minor, state law sealed all of his personal records until his 18th birthday — including the adoption decree. Whitely’s mother was devastated. Immigration officials told her they

"Now, you tell me how many people do you know, who are Mexican Nationals, illegally in the United States or not, who can produce a birth certificate from the U.S.! That just blows my mind."


is where he can get a cell phone signal from the U.S. Finding a bench on the backside of the plaza, Whitely sits down. “This should be far enough away.” When asked how he was almost kidnapped, he launches into a tale of the day the local ABC affiliate, News Channel 5, came to interview him and find out his plight. The “eyes,” Whitely explains, are anyone: anyone that has to pay for the

that would deliver him. “The whereabouts of my birth is unknown, so my mother contacted a lawyer out of Juarez just to establish some sort of paperwork,” Whitely explained. The city of Juarez, directly across the border U.S. border near Laredo, Texas became known from then on as the birthplace of Robin Whitely. When Whitely’s parents went to procure a birth certificate in the state of Texas, they got

would accept the birth certificate she had for Robin, but that they could proceed no further without a certified copy of the adoption decree. “In our eyes, ma’am, he’s not adopted. We don’t recognize the adoption,” they told her. Whitely gestures, his tattooed arms raised in exasperation. His animated tone recaptures his mother’s frustration as she went back to senators and judicial officials to try to find answers and a solution. (cont’d on page 120)


politics + issues

“Nobody could answer how she could get a certified copy of the adoption decree!” he said, expressing his frustration. But in 1987, a glimmer of hope appeared on the Whitely’s horizon: President Reagan signed an amnesty decree for all illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. who could prove they had been there for at least five years. They took that route, deciding to apply for legal residency for Robin, and when he was 13, he was issued a green card, establishing him as a legal resident. Within three years, he was given a permanent resident card, but had to wait seven more years to be eligible to file for citizenship. Looking back on that time now, Whitely realizes he missed it. “I didn’t jump on the opportunity like I should have,” he said.

The year of his 27th birthday, 2002, Whitely was deported. Brought across the U.S.-Mexico border and just dropped off. Here, in this same spot. This same plaza that would be a welcome place to a tourist but a foreboding one to a man who has never known anything but English and the U.S. -- a man who did not speak a word of Spanish. Anyone here that heard his story would say, tiene razon, he’s got a point. Judges in Texas told him, customs agents told him and immigration officers told him. Yet, none could seem to do anything about it. Yes, he has a point. But at the point where it came to either serving his sentence in federal prison or being thrown to a life he had no concept of, his point was null and void.

Does Crime make a Criminal?

"They didn't take that [I had all those documents] as evidence that there had been an adoption taking place, but as evidence that I was a Mexican national."

Standing before a judge in 2000, Whitely was convicted of possession of a controlled substance and sentenced to four years in prison. Still incredulous, Whitely recalls the ordeal. “When I was in prison…immigration came after me for deportation,” he said. According to immigration laws, possession of marijuana constitutes an aggravated felony, subjecting the possessor (if not a citizen) to deportation. Twelve times in and out of court that year, Whitely fought the immigration law, trying to prove that he should be a citizen based on all the records from his birth up until that time, his 26th year of life. And although he could prove that he had lived and worked and been married and had children in the United States, had all his records from the very earliest part of life, he was shown no mercy and given no other option but to be declared a Mexican national, something the courts had no proof of. “They didn’t take that [I had all those documents] as evidence that there had been an adoption taking place, but as evidence that I was a Mexican national,” Whitely said. “Now, you tell me how many people do you know, who are Mexican nationals, illegally in the United States or not, who can produce a birth certificate from the U.S.! That just blows my mind!”


Do or Die Illegal entry and re-entry into the U.S. is a major problem all along the border of Mexico. The border wall being constructed to reduce or prevent illegal crossings has caused nationwide controversy and conflict. Whitely has never cared about that. He just wants to go home. Three days after his deportation, he walked up to a customs agent at the Reynosa-Hidalgo International Bridge and gave him a phony story. He crossed back into the U.S., a criminal, but only circumstantially illegal. You might say he has just been in the wrong place at the wrong time — only the time has been all his life. But the deportation mess did not suddenly become less complicated. In 2005, Whitely said he was picked up in Ohio on a job site. “I lived, but I lived illegally … the guys I had with me were illegal … I had a driver’s license,” he said. “It took them an hour to find out I was deported, and after they found out, they deported me again.” He was dropped off, once again on the plaza just yards from the bridge, this time at 3:00 a.m. Whitely smiled as he recalled that by 7:00 that evening, he was back with his family in Texas. Again, in 2006, Whitely was thrown back across the border, this time due to being found out through a traffic violation: speeding. ICE agents were informed of his whereabouts when he was arrested on a warrant for owed child support. But, as explained, by the end of that very day he was dropped off again, he was back in Texas with his family. Finally, in 2007, once apprehended for the fourth time, Whitely recalls that the severity of his treatment increased. He was deported again, and afraid to try to sneak back across, he waited a month. As soon as the month was over, he reentered the U.S. and headed back to his ex-wife’s house in Mission, Texas.

Got Money? You can’t even apply for a job in America without a Social Security

number. You can try. You can leave it blank, hope for the best? But more than likely, your application will be thrown in the trash. And if you can’t produce a number, the only way you might get hired is if an employer either happens to be unscrupulous — or at least piteous. Whitely ran into such people: they are probably more abundant in south Texas than even a numerical research value would suggest. And they allowed him to work odd jobs, understanding the situation he was in. But it was not enough. His wife in Ohio now became just another ex, and the ex he was living with became his only means of sustenance. Now, as he sits in the plaza, he has 15 pesos in his pocket, roughly the equivalent of one US dollar. This is half of the money he has to survive on for one day. He lives on $30 a week, and that money, he said, his parents send to him. But he’s not happy about that and feels like an unnecessary liability to a pair that should be long past the age of having to deal with taking care of children. “My parents, they send me money every week, you know, but my parents are 75 years old. They’ve already lived their lives. They’re doing it because I’m their son but… I live on three dollars a day, bro,” he said, pausing, hardly believing his own economic situation. “What y’all probably spend in one evening going out to eat, that’s my whole week.” Perhaps the irony of the fact that Whitely sits in Reynosa today is that this last time, he came across himself. He said he was tired: tired of fighting with his ex; tired of not being able to work. Tired of feeling like he had to be careful not to be caught by police at every turn. And he knew if he was caught, he would be thrown across the border anyway, so he came on his own accord. On his own, however, he cannot work. Mexico has no more claim to him that the U.S. wants to have. He has no identification. “I can’t get a job because I don’t have ID. I’m in a country where they say I belong, yet I have no way to establish myself here either,” he said. “I am a man without a country.” Mexico won’t give him ID and the United States doesn’t want him, he

"I can't get a job because I don't have ID. I'm in a country where they say I belong, yet I have no way to establish myself here either. I am a man without a country." -ROBIN WHITELY said. As he speaks, he is interrupted by a man with an outstretched hand. “No camarada” he says, telling the man in broken Spanish that he has no money. “Me acaba de hechar la migra,” says the man. “I just got thrown over here by immigration.” Realizing the man is in the same situation, Whitely digs in his pocket, pulling out the last 15 pesos he has. “Here man, it’s not much, but it’s something,” he musters in his attempt to communicate. Unless someone else now does the same for him, Whitely will not eat for the rest of the day.

To be or not to be? If a man has resided in a country since birth, grown up there, paid taxes, had family, knows the language, feels the patriotism — if that is all he knows

— then how can it all be taken away from him as if it meant nothing? As if he were never there? As if he never existed? “My biggest thing is, how are you going take something away from me that I earned?” Whitley said. He’s paid taxes. He’s purchased homes. Even when living in the U.S. illegally after being deported the first time, Whitely said he paid for five years on income that he made. “The government is perfectly willing to take my money, but when it comes to helping me,” he said. Fellow Americans can sympathize, many feeling they get screwed over by the government yearly. But who can imagine living in a world where no one claims you? And the country you are being told you are from has no record you ever existed. “Here I am. I exist. I see everything, I hear everything, but I exist only,” Whitley lamented. “That’s it. I don’t have any friends I can go to and talk about it.” He is a man alone in a country he does not know. And he’s stuck. He can’t go South: 30 kilometers into Mexico, there is a checkpoint where everyone that enters the interior of the country is asked to produce either proof of citizenship or a visitor’s visa. Whitely has neither and cannot apply for a visa without U.S. ID. He cannot go East or West: cities in either direction proffer more danger for visitors than Reynosa, and for a man who cannot even communicate on a basic level, that would be disastrous. “I don’t speak Spanish,” Whitely said. “I speak very little … so how am I supposed to communicate with these people? What do you want me to do?” So for now, while lawyers in McAllen have picked up his case and work tirelessly pro-bono to try to sort out the mess, Whitely spends his days walking the streets and trying to stay out of sight after dark. His only lifeline to family is a Blackberry he carries in his pocket. “Without this, man…” he leaves the sentence unfinished. “I didn’t just come over five years ago and get busted. If that was the case, I would have to just take it on the chin and come over here and do what I have to do, and live with it.” He claims to be a changed man. Says he prays a lot. That’s his hope: his faith. (cont’d on page 156)

SGA President, Alex Rodriquez, is campaigning in the Student Union on route to a runoff victory.

snap shot

politics + issues

doctor of doctrine Rebecca ward

A man in blue scrubs stepped to the microphone, his bare feet sinking into the green and red Persian rug. He began to chant, a haunting, wailing sound filled with minor tones and quarter steps not found in the Western music scale. The sounds drifted up through a large chandelier into the domed roof, reverberating off curved surface and down into open air of the mosque. The mosque is not obvious. It sits behind Jackson Village on Jackson Road near Dove Avenue in Edinburg. One of four in the Rio Grande Valley, it was the second to be built by the Islamic Society of South Texas. It was 1:45 p.m. One would think Mr. Scrubs would’ve been at his practice, but he’s there instead — every week. Dr. Mohammed Farooqui was there, too. He left his office on the second floor of the science complex at the University of Texas-Pan American as he does each week at the same time. A devout Muslim, Farooqui was once president of the local Islamic society.

An Immigration Tale A young man stood alone, one of 1.2 billion citizens of his native land. He knew what he wanted and he could not get it here. India is the second most populous


nation in the world. That makes the waiting list for entrance into graduate schools almost as long as the Ganges River itself. Farooqui understood that his only chance to keep studying was the go to the United States. Boarding a plane in 1974, he left his close-knit community and home for the blustery port of entry for over 629,000 other foreign-born immigrants: Chicago. The University of Illinois was happy to have the India native, and Farooqui finished his graduate program in Champagne, Ill. In 1975 he began a PhD program in biology, conducting research and writing about toxicology, the study of adverse effects of chemicals on living organisms. By 1979, Farooqui became a permanent legal resident of the U.S. — a country that boasted freedom of religion, but is notoriously uninformed about the religion of others. Back in India though, Farooqui’s parents were up to something. After graduating, he received a picture and a letter in the mail. The picture? The woman who would be become his bride. His parents had selected a young woman from among his people and sent her picture for his approval. “The first time I saw her in person was the night of the wedding. In my culture, we do not date,” he said. “And I least I know the system works: I have been married for 30 years.” Farooqui found many in the Muslim community of Chicago that he could go and worship with, but relocation can detour one’s routine, and once he reached the Valley, things were not as comfortable. Farooqui was the only Muslim on staff at UTPA when he accepted the position as professor back when the university was only Pan American College. Aside from being the only Muslim in his workplace, his family was only one of six Muslim families in the Valley. Friday prayers were held in homes (cont’d on page 126)


politics + issues

and meals were shared. But then, an idea came: to purchase property and build a mosque for the six families, visitors’ and the families’ posterity. In 1993, they purchased and converted an old selfservice laundry business in Weslaco into the Valley’s first mosque. No longer was there the hum of washers and dryers, no longer the clinking of change as it dropped into the clunky machines, only the hum of prayers being offered to Allah now filled the building. It eventually filled up and became unpractical for the immigrating families across the Valley to drive to Weslaco each week. An Islamic society was raised up to address the needs of the Muslim community in the Valley, and to solve the space and distance issue, its officers decided to build another mosque, this time in the growing community of McAllen, Texas.

smiled and answerd, “None of them came here and then got a job; they actually got the job first, and then came.” So, although the unemployment rate is as high as 20 percent in the Valley, employment is an enticing motivation for a Muslim to move here. And there are more here than one might imagine. Two hundred to 300 families reside across the region from Brownsville to Rio Grande city, but Farooqui said most live in the immediate metropolitan area of McAllen, Mission, Pharr and Edinburg. “I used to go to mosque there in Champagne … [and] I found that most Americans in those days [1975] did not know much about Islam,” he said. “We are 1.6 billion Muslims on this planet. Only 18 percent are Arabs. Eighty-two percent are non-Arabs.”

"The young man behind the counter said to him, 'Oh, your name is Mohammed... Where is your back pack and where is your bomb?'" A Few Good Men Any given Friday during prayer time, the mosque is filled with suits, slacks, scrubs and Abercrombie-like attire. One girl, a visitor to the mosque, leaned over to a friend and whispered, “Hey, I know that guy. I had him for a couple classes in the biology department … I never knew he was a Muslim.” That’s because it isn’t obvious. The young man she pointed to wore a white shirt and jeans, his leather shoes left by the door as he entered to take his place in the line of men reclining on the Persian rugs. “In general, if you look at the pattern of Muslims in the Valley, there are three major groups that you can find. One of them are educators, like myself,” Farooqui said. “And the other group is medical doctors … and also, the other group is business people.” When prompted with the question of why Muslims come to the Valley, Farooqui

-MOHAMMED FAROOQUI Not surprisingly, while citizens of the Valley are accommodating and welcoming to Muslims because of similar familyoriented cultures, they still know little about Islam. Farooqui explains to those with whom he speaks to about Islam that the idea that all Muslims — or even the majority — are Arabs is an extremely common misconception. And any given Friday at prayer time in the Valley, at least 15 different nationalities are represented at any of the local mosques. With the help of Muslims in the Valley, Farooqui helped found the Islamic Society of South Texas, and in a region where there were once no mosques, there are now four, one in Brownsville, Edinburg, McAllen and Weslaco. They encourage visitors, Farooqui said, to help Valley residents understand Islam and to not be fearful or ignorant.

A Mosque and the Friday Visitor “Where are all the women?” a young woman in a black head scarf asked. She handed the microphone back to the barefoot, curly-haired gentleman on the rug. “What was the question? I’m sorry,” he said. Farooqui leaned in and mumbled, repeating the question. “Oh, the women,” said the curlyhaired man with the olive shirt. “They are behind that divider, behind you.” The woman reached again for the microphone, switching it on from the bottom. “What do they do, the women, when the men are praying?” the woman inquired. “They are also praying, in the back. You see that barrier there, behind you? They are behind that,” the man responded. Another girl posed the question of why the men and women must be separated during prayer. “It is out of respect,” answered the barefoot man. “It would not be proper for the men to be kneeling and bending down in posture for prayer and for the women to have to see their behinds, or vice versa. We do not want for anyone to be distracted from God.” Visiting women are not so fortunate as to be protected from the view just described, but then again, they are only there to observe, not to participate. Every Friday at 1:30 p.m. the mosque in Edinburg opens its doors for 1:45 p.m. prayers. Cars begin to pull into the gated drive, parking in single-file spots around the towering white building. The blue minarets reflect the bright Texas sun, casting only a slight shadow to the Eastern side of the building. An elderly gentleman with a camera walked into the northern entrance. Seeing the rack of shoes nearby, he removed his. He is greeted by the man with curly hair and no shoes. They shake hands. “Please, you may keep your shoes on,” said the man in the olive shirt. He turned to two young women near the door, one wearing jeans, the other in a dress and tights — neither had her head covered — and asked them to wait.

be acoustically perfect for chanting and singing, but not for voices being amplified by microphones. His speech became muffled, his message on the condition of the heart drowned out by the echoes of his own words. Nanda, “number 08” with the sport T-shirt reached back to tuck her hair under her head covering. A girl in black with a clay-red scarf nodded, dozing with her chin on her chest. Another young woman struggled with the two pink scarves on her head, fighting to make them meet and not let any of her hair escape from underneath. “And if one part of the heart becomes corrupted, the entire heart will be corrupted!” The man in the olive shirt pontificated. It’s 2:30 p.m. and the visitors have started to become antsy — some shifted in their seats. He concluded and stepped down from the podium. A man in white linen, his head covered in a small bowl-shaped green hat stepped to the microphone. “La ilaha illa Allah,” the sheik — what might equate to a priest or reverend in Christianity — chanted in Arabic. “There is no god but Allah…” The men arose from their seated positions, forming two long lines across the carpets. The sheik used a translator to welcome the visitors after prayers have concluded. The sheik was visiting from New York. Farooqui explained that the Islamic society can’t afford to support a full-time sheik or imam yet.

The man in the green shirt smiled and turned back to help three other men who were setting up two neatly-arranged clumps of folding chairs like one would in a church, or at a speech. Motioning to the young women, the man in the olive shirt asked them to follow. “This is the boys’ side,” he said as he pointed to the first set of chairs. “And this is the girls’ side. Please, sit.” A young couple entered, making their way to the girls’ side. “Hey, this is the girls’ side,” the girl in the jeans whispered, tapping the young man on the shoulder. She explained to her companion how she didn’t want the couple to get in trouble. Slowly, the chairs on either side of the center makeshift aisle filled up, and more are added to the girls’ side. A basket appeared on the back row of chairs and was passed around. Chagrinned, a few women on the back row grabbed for the contents, realizing the basket contained scarves for their bare heads. Overhead, ceiling fans whirred. An air conditioner vent began to rattle, hanging by its last screw from the vaulted ceiling as the unit churned out frigid air. The man in the blue scrubs finished his haunting tune, and as the men concluded their personal prayers, they reclined on the sea of red, green and gold patterned rugs under the domed roof. The man in the olive shirt climbed four steps to the top of a hand-carved platform lectern. Vaulted ceilings may



"Where Is Your Bomb and your backpack?" Farooqui said his brother was once a target of racial discrimination at a hospital because of his name. “The young man behind the counter said to him, ‘Oh, your name is Mohammed,’” Farooqui said. That’s when they asked him where he kept his backpack and bomb. But according to Farooqui, he has only ever known of two such incidents of discrimination or hatred since Sept. 11, 2001, giving the Valley and overall good reputation for receptiveness toward Muslims. Reasons for that could be many, but much has to do with cultural similarity. The Moors ruled Spain for 800 years. Mexican culture still bears the mark of Moorish influence through the Spaniards. (cont’d on page 156) RAYMONDVILLE















77 CI TY


“It would take $35,000 to $40,000 per year, as he would have to support his family as well,” Farooqui said. Private donations don’t allow it and most of the money is going to the construction of the new mosque on Ware Road. It will be McAllen’s first mosque. For now, it sits unused; its copper domes glistening in the sun, its dark inner chambers appear to be nothing more than black gaping holes in a cinder block façade. They will remain that way for the next year as the Muslim community strives to raise enough private funds to finish it.


Islamic Society of South Texas Masjid Arridwan


Masjid Arridwan




Rio Grande Valley Islamic Center Islamic Society of Brownsville




new old blood madeline smither

politics + issues

Like many UTPA students, Robert Schmalzried will soon be attending school full-time, and work two jobs. But Schmalzried, 26, carries an additional responsibility on his shoulders: he is now the mayor of Edcouch, Texas. Edcouch City Hall is a small, modest, grey structure tucked among the dilapidated and abandoned buildings that characterize the tiny town of fewer than 3,000 residents. The new city hall could be a metaphor for Schmalzried’s term. It’s as if, among the squalor, a new building has sprouted from the ground. It’s not opulent, but it is clean and sturdy, and possesses the same qualities as the mayor himself. According to Schmalzried, a passion for politics is in his blood. He leans forward, grinning as he looks back on his earliest political experiences. “I first started when I was young—my mom has always been involved in politics— always gone to rallies and supported

still living here, I ought to give something back. You never know, someday I might move. So as long as I’m here, I’m going to give back all that I can.” Schmalzried is finishing up a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, with a minor in political science. He’s a returning junior who postponed finishing school when he found his calling. “School, I had pushed aside for my campaign. And now I’m getting back into it. I went to speak to my advisor yesterday, actually. I’m a junior, I still have two years left. Little by little, you know? I’d take a couple classes in the spring, a couple in the fall, a class in summer 1, summer 2. And they’re adding up!” When he laughs, it is open, honest and self-deprecating. There is no hint of pomp and circumstance. He looks at himself and his surroundings with a sharp eye, always seeking to improve. One can see how Schmalzried got to where he is in politics. He is the bearer of a new era in Edcouch.


accountability, of the larger cities, some bad policies have run rampant, and run the city into the ground in many ways. As Schmalzried describes some things that have gone wrong in Edcouch, and some things he wants to repair, he slowly grows taller and taller in his seat. “One thing that I’m hoping that I can do—with me getting elected, and Melody too, I count her in everything with me because we’re the younger generation—is to change the mindset of those who think, ‘Oh the Delta area? Nah, they’re a bunch of corrupt politicians over there.’ I don’t want them to think that of us anymore. I have friends in Elsa that are asking me if they should run for the city commission board. I say go for it. We need a change around here. We need a big change. And politically, we need to change. I’m not going to take anything away from anybody. But the new generation needs to step up and say it’s our turn. And let’s do what’s right.”

"Even the politics between us and Elsa... They don't seem to want anybody's help. They don't want our help."

people, help them pick up votes. And she’s a single mom. And I had no babysitter,” he continues laughing, “so I’m in the back of the car while she’s picking up votes! My grandma was in politics, my uncle’s in politics. It pretty much runs in the family. And then on my dad’s side, well, his dad was the mayor.” Schmalzried says that working in politics has been practically a lifelong dream. He grew up in Edcouch, so he feels very close to its issues. Though he could have left for a larger place to pursue his goals, he decided to dedicate his time to his hometown. Schmalzried shakes his head ruefully as he explains why he decided to stay. “Everybody always leaves Edcouch and never gives back. And that’s a sad thing. And I thought, well, as long as I’m

He wants to spread hope throughout its surrounding cities, and prove wrong those who see small-town politics as self-serving and hopelessly corrupt. Many of Edcouch’s new city leaders are in their 20s. Newly elected 24-year-old Mayor Pro Tem Melody Galvan, 25-year-old interim City Manager, Robert Escobar, and the Chairman of the Edcouch Housing Authority Jarrett Castillo, is also 25. They are the “new blood”, and beat the incumbents in those positions. The Delta Area is a region in the mid-valley that encompasses Edcouch, Elsa, La Villa, Santa Rosa and Mercedes. Edcouch sits at the center, and the entire area has been plagued with corruption for many years. The cities, as well as the school districts, have been suffering mismanaged funds, nepotism and neglect. Without the attention, and therefore


The moment that it “clicked” for Schalmzried that he could do something to change Edcouch’s future happened nearly four years ago, when the trash company BFI Waste Services refused to collect the city’s garbage. He shakes his head with a mixture of chagrin and embarrassment for the town. He brings a hand to his furrowed brow. “The trash wasn’t being collected because there was bad management with the payments for BFI. People were dumping it in an empty lot in the middle of town, just piles and piles of bags. Along the curbs, trash bags. And that’s when I thought, this is just way out of control. And it just clicked: maybe I should run. And then as the years went by, I was just building and building, talking to so many people who said ‘We’ll support you. Go for (cont’d on page 156)


politics + issues

obert Nelsen is the man – and he’s “The Man.” The University of TexasPan American’s president is quiet and unassuming, and then, he’s not at all. On the south end of the UTPA campus, on the sixth floor of the executive towers, through a few sets of secure doors and a couple of winding hallways, lays his office. In its presidential grandeur and intimidation, it is occupied by a man who is equally grand, but more welcoming. He’s just the right mixture of relaxed and revered. There’s something too straight-faced about the word “presidential,” and the adjective is hardly sufficient to describe Nelsen. “Do I feel presidential? I don’t know what that means,” he said. “I feel like I’m in charge of the university, and I feel the weight and responsibility of that … I certainly feel like we’ve got a good direction and we know where we’re going.” Often trading cowboy boots for dress shoes, and western suits for business ones, he is for the most part a regular guy -- and then, he’s not at all. For instance, in his office bathroom, on the ledge outside the window roosts a falcon that he fittingly named “Francisco.” How many other presidents of universities would do that? He also has a saddle that sits in his office: a conversation piece for any who enter. The story behind it? The saddle originally belonged to American cowgirl Calamity Jane, and was handed down to Nelsen from a family friend. “An old guy named Shorty Oliver, who was a wonderful guy, 93-years-old, who died the way I want to die (doing what he loved) … he gave me the saddle,” Nelsen recounted. “When he was 16-years-old he ran away from home in Montana, went to a wild west show -- a small one, not one of the big ones – that she was a shooter in. She got very drunk one night, took off all her clothes and rode through the camp. He put his apron over her, she gave him the saddle, the next day he gave me the saddle.” Nelsen is personable, that’s all there is to it. He grew up in Montana not far from Madison River and Yellowstone National Park, where “they don’t have cities” he’ll joke. “The closest town [McAllister] was three miles away,” he said. “It had a

grocery store, bar, hotel, motel, post office and a gas station … all in one building.” Raised on a 1,000-acre ranch, with about 85 cows to its credit, one of Nelsen’s passions is and always will be ranching. He graduated with the largest class in the history of Ennis High school, a whopping 28 people. The UTPA president will be the first to admit that the pastoral, rural life isn’t one most people can identify with. “The first time I took my wife up there, when my son was first born in ’76, it was middle of calving season and it was about 40 to 70 below zero,” Nelsen said. “And we were bringing in calves, we’d bring them inside, pour some milk down them because they’d just been born and they were freezing. We’d pour some milk and some whiskey down ‘em, then take them back outside. And (my


Young University with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, Nelsen went the non-traditional route, leaving with six hours left to manage a chain of western clothing stores called Jack Wolfe Ranchwear in California. However, a year after leaving, his wife Jody Nelsen, the current Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, encouraged his return to school. Nelsen found himself back at BYU to finish his degree and eventually acquired his doctorate’s from the University of Chicago. He moved to Texas to take a job at Northwestern University, before taking a position at the University of Texas at Dallas. “At Northwestern I was going to direct their creative writing program

"I feel like I'm in charge of the university, and I feel the weight and responsibility of that..." -ROBERT NELSEN wife) was sitting around – a girl from Ann Arbor, Michigan – going ‘What the heck is this?’ ... It’s the exact opposite of here.” The cowboy is no stranger to tragedy though. He had two brothers, Mike and Randy Nelsen; Mike, a police officer; Randy, lost in an unfortunate construction accident about 12 years ago. He also lost his only son to suicide. Perhaps that is why, at times, he can seem serious, almost Byronic. He’s a strong individual, an intellectual who knows the importance of creativity and knowledge. When asked, “What’s the meaning of life?” he paused for a long moment, as if to punctuate the importance of the thought he was about to share. “Love,” he said. ‘Words will take you in directions you’d never knew you’d go’ Nelsen graduated from the Brigham

up there, because that’s what I used to do when I was a decent human being,” Nelsen joked. “I went down to Dallas, and every time I’d throw out an idea they’d say, ‘Well, don’t you want to do something stranger? Don’t you want to do something more imaginary? Don’t you want to go off to this end?’ And it was just full of possibilities; they got me drunk on ideas — and not on booze, on ideas.” He was at UTD for 19 years before coming to South Texas. He served as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and English professor at TAMU-CC for just over a year before being contacted to apply for the UTPA president opening. “It’s different every day, so I don’t know what to expect,” Nelsen said. “The Valley is a lot warmer, and I don’t mean as in temperature. I mean more open and friendly, and really embracing.” (cont’d on page 158)


politics + issues

Welcome to the evening show Joshua garza

Local news anchor, Leti Garza, reads a script in preparation for a show.


A career in the public eye often defines the individual. The known person’s name is adjoined by a title, something that reminds everyone of why the name sounds so familiar. This entitlement happens to politicians, professional athletes, religious dignitaries and it happens to Letty Garza, the evening anchor for Channel 5 News. Garza is a woman born for the bright lights bearing down on her. She recalls that from an early age she felt compelled to express herself publically. Garza sat down for an interview, taking time off from writing a script for a news segment she was putting together. She sat there with an unattached earphone on her shoulder, bubble gum in mouth and with a smile that enthusiastically accompanied her while she spoke. There is nothing unpleasant about Garza. She has a way of encircling a conversation with welcomed kindness. Down the hallways of the Channel 5 newsroom, she can be heard laughing loudly with coworkers, holding conversations with everyone she encounters and her singing voice may change the decibel levels in the room at any given chance. Music, after all, was her first passion. “Being a total Donny Osmond freak,” Garza joked. “I honestly thought I was going to be some kind of a singer.” She recalled earning her first car by doing wedding gigs. Her family, she mentioned, is a musically talented bunch starting from her grandfather and on to her brother that continues his musical career in Los Angeles. Throughout college she accumulated 200 hours in Music, as that was her major at UTPA. But her sudden turn to journalism came when one of her music lectors told her she had a broadcast personality. He advised her to take journalism courses to get a feel for it. “I took a newspaper class. And I started writing for the newspaper,” said Garza, talking with her hands in the excitement to tell the story of how she stumbled onto the field of broadcast journalism. “My first article was to write about UTPA’s brand new TV journalism department,” Garza said. She said she got completely involved in the story and made an about-face change switching her

major to Communication, specializing in broadcast journalism. Her career, the one she is known for, was beginning to blossom.

"I was a one-man band" Back before KRGV-TV’s newscast was called Channel 5 News, it was called Eyewitness News from 1970 up until 2000. It was between those years that in 1982, at the age of 22, Garza began interning at the news station. Peter Torgerson, an Eyewitness News anchor from 1979 to 1999, helped Garza land the internship after meeting her at the mall where she worked. Still in school, and recently married, Garza called herself the “longest living intern.” She helped run studio cameras, was the first teleprompter operator and soon got noticed as a dedicated employee landing her a morning anchor position. Garza became a morning news anchor in the mid-80s. She was one of the first Hispanic female news anchors in the Rio Grande Valley television market. Garza describes her morning shows as a unique experience. “I was a one-man band. I did weather. I produced. I did tapes. There was no prompter at that time. And I was the anchor,” Garza said. Being the only anchor in the newscast meant that she had to report on weather conditions too. “Nowadays we have all these fancy computers for weather. Back in the day, I used to call AccuWeather and we had the Valley map and the Texas map,” Garza said, describing the low tech means of translating the weather to viewers. “We had these humongous numbers and they were all magnets we had to place on the maps. So, I did weather and I know a lot about weather, but I try not to tell people that,” Garza joked. (She doesn’t want play forecaster ever again.) Since those times Garza has gotten married twice, raised a child, worked for the US Border Patrol from 1994 to 2000 and all the while simultaneously still did work for KRGV-TV. She has been at the news station for 27 years, but six of those years were spent raising her daughter, Talisa Marie McVea.


timeline 1982 Letty interned at Eyewitness News Channel 5

1985 Became morning news anchor for nearly two years

1988-1994 Was the evening anchor at 6 pm and 10 pm

1983 Graduated from Pan American University (wasn’t UTPA yet) with a degree in Communication

1987 Was a nightbeat reporter and weekend anchor

1994 Worked at the Border Patrol as the region’s first Public Information Officer; continued to work part-time at KRGV doing Wednesday Child 2000-Present Anchors the evening news, now at 6, 10 & 10:30pm

politics + issues

Years of Absence The six years of absence from the news station were focused on her family. Her busy schedule was bearing down on her time raising her daughter. Her work hours ran late into the night and she said she had to find a job that helped her situation. In 1994 she started working at the Border Patrol in the McAllen sector as its first Public Information Officer (PIO). Being a PIO brings the responsibility of communications coordinating and working as a spokesperson providing information to the public. Garza retained her public persona and her job at KRGVTV. She still contributed to the station by doing a weekly segment that focused on the wellbeing of foster children called “Wednesday’s Child.” With a job change, came some personal changes too. She remarried Reynaldo Manuel Garza in April of ‘97. Mr. Garza was deputy chief of the Border Patrol. He has retired from that job and now works for State and Homeland Security. She speaks highly of her second husband. “He’s the most incredible husband and dad. I’m just so blessed. I really am,” said Garza, a sincere smile on her face. “Rey is her stepdad,” said Garza, in reference to her daughter. “But I think he is better than what her real dad could have ever offered her.”

said Garza, making sure never to reveal the mistakes. Her face, although, shown upon it a regret for the miscalculations she kept closeted. “And she tells me, Mom I’m not going to make the same mistakes you did,” looking down while she explained why it hurts when her daughter tells her this. “One, it’s embarrassing. And two, you want your children to ultimately respect you and hold you up here.” With such a moment of sincerity, selfrealization and integrity one could not help but sense deepness, the kind not found in the shallows of the six o’clock newscast. There is something more there, with her open personality there always seems to be a larger dialogue waiting to follow moments like these, such as conversations about her upbringing and religious background.

"I got saved!" Garza is a baptized Catholic and grew up with Christian roots. She mentions her change in religion when she was teenager from Catholic to Southern Baptist. “I got saved,” said Garza, holding out her arms and also holding out the ‘a’ in saved creating a hum out of the word. She made friends with members


shows too. Garza keeps a portrait of Bishop Flores, a Monsignor of Corpus Christ when she met him. He is a beloved friend of her mother-in-law. Flores presided over the funeral of Garza’s father-in-law where she heard him speak. “I just got such a kick out his way of speaking,” said Garza of Flores, who was sent to Detroit where he became the first Hispanic bishop in the country just a month after her father-in-law’s funeral. “Growing up in the Projects was the best time in my life.” Garza’s reflections of the past are mostly those in her childhood. She brings back the fond memories of growing up in the Retama Projects in McAllen. “I grew up in the Retama Projects,” said Garza, pumping her fist with pride. “Yes sir. Growing up in the Projects was the best time in my life.” Garza recalls her childhood as being one of the happiest times of her life. “They used to irrigate the whole place. It used to turn into a big ol’ canal,” Garza said. Her childhood wasn’t all smiles. They were a poor family. Her mother never finished high school and her father didn’t go to college, but both continually pushed Garza to get a higher education. Garza spoke very highly of her mother and what she taught her growing up.

"I was a one-man band. I did weather. I produced. I did tapes. There was no prompter at that time. And I was the anchor." - LETTY GARZA And as for what Garza has to offer her daughter, she said it was life lessons, but the disheartening part is that the life lessons were her own mistakes. This made Garza’s eyes water as she talks about the need for a parent to want their child to think highly of them. “The beauty, I’m not going to say about making those mistakes — but yes in a way that I made them — is that my daughter is learning from those mistakes,”

of First Baptist Church in McAllen and converted to a Baptist. She attended a Baptist church for seven years. “I enjoyed that part of my life. I used to go to Bible classes in Houston — I used to actually give Bible classes,” said Garza with a cheerful smile. “And then after I got married, I decided to go back my Catholic roots.” Garza said she believes in saints and the Virgin Mary. She loves Catholicism. It

“She showed us all the love that a mom could possible show,” Garza said. “She taught me love, real love.” Garza does display a kindness and a love where she works. She especially expresses this passion in her work.

Future Plans and Hopes Garza had just finished wrapping up a breast cancer awareness special she (cont’d on page 158)

mike’s last ride sander gutierrez

politics + issues

On a chilly, 65-degree morning, one can smell the Valley air – or rather the UTPA air filled with vehicle fumes and burned-up, unleaded fuel … biscuits, hamburgers and the faint scent of tacos from the local Aziz gas station. Mixed in with the mess of competing aromas, something that is usually only smelled in urban settings, or on the expressway can be noted: the emissions from a Ford E-350, shuttle number one. It’s Michael Daniel Metzger behind the wheel; he’s better known as “Mike, the Bus Driver,” and has been interacting with students and staff on his bus since the shuttle started running in 2005. Though not every passenger is an extrovert, most have a hard time not engaging in some sort of a conversation with the friendly driver. There’s never a day that Mike won’t engage in a chat, however brief, given the nature of the job. He is a staple in the morning routines of hundreds of Broncs, but six years after becoming the first driver for the UTPA shuttle bus system, Mike will retire. He’s made a living doing something that many people would find boring -- riding around in circles all day following the same route five days a week. But he does the job with a smile. Mike was an odds-on favorite in the minds of many students. Rich in character, he’s a man who lives by one mantra: he has never met a stranger. The 63-year-old from San Antonio but a Valley native because he has lived in McAllen since he was four, will say that he never met a person he couldn’t chew the fat with. “Well, if I can hold a conversation with them longer than ten minutes, then we are not strangers anymore,” said Mike with a smile. He looks somewhat unapproachable from a distance with his fading yellow flattop and thick glasses. Never does this servant of students fail to smile and talk. Seldom has he failed to leave an impression on someone after just a few minutes of small talk and a few meters of distance. Living up to the slogan, “once a Marine, always a Marine.”His high-andtight haircut is always noticeable, a touch

he has kept for as long as he can recall. The semi-retired veteran has kept the same haircut every day of his life. But if he is war-hardened and maintains a military bearing, this member of the older generation reminds us that “back then” wasn’t really a bad time at all. Two weeks after getting married to his wife Vicky, Mike enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.


the next day he would not take them off the peg. As he spoke to me, he looked through the mirror mounted above his head, his eyes piercing like big blue opals. And through the beauty of those eyes, I could see that though he loved his job, he believed it was time to let go. “Honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Mike, looking at me through

"Well, If I can hold a conversation with them longer than 10 minutes, then we are not strangers anymore," -Michael Daniel Metzger “That’s just the type of man he is,” recalled Vicky Metzger, chuckling. In 1966 Mike enlisted and became one of the few and the proud. “I entered as an Optical Instruments Repairman but I came out as an MP (military police),” Mike said. Being stationed in the U.S. for three years, Mike was sent to Vietnam where he served six months in the war, his unit was stationed to Okinawa, Japan where he served his last six months away from the war. Though he loved serving his country after four years and one war, Mike came back to work with his father in his masonry business. “I wanted to be like any good son. I wanted to help my dad,” Mike said. I suppose that after I rode around in shuttle for a while on that day, Mike and I were no longer strangers. But the friendship might have come a little too late, as I joined him for what would be his final route. The weather couldn’t have been better, sunny yet cool, with a light breeze. That day, Mike hung up his keys like any other. The only difference was that

the rear view mirror. “I guess it’s what I’m not going to do anymore: work.” Mike had worked off and on in the construction business from an early age, and though he may not have been a great student, he knows masonry and woodwork. He once held a job at the McAllen Trade School teaching what he knew best. He taught at the institution from 1980 till the day it closed its doors in 1994. As he spoke of his job as an educator, Mike looked out the window at students walking across campus, not socializing, minding their own business and not looking at the world around them. They’re too plugged in for that. Mike looks at them and lets out a sigh, then faces forward and keeps driving. I asked Mike about students these days. “Everybody is so busy on their iPods or text messaging, that they don’t take the time to look at the world around them,” Mike said, his voice muffled by the sound of the diesel engine as he sped off to the next destination. (cont’d on page 159)

this is the proper way to put on a condom

(most of us are products of texas public schools, it’s not unreasonable to think we don’t know how) madeline smither

politics + issues

Sex is everywhere. It’s on TV, in movies, in music, in schools. Even the Swiffer is sexualized—he’s the hot new man in your life that your old mop could never be. One would be hard-pressed to find many commercials that don’t use the promise of sex as an incentive to buy their product. Body sprays, energy drinks, clothes, even gum advertisements imply that if you use the product, you’ll be locked in a flirtatious tussle with an extremely sexy individual in no time. So what role does sex play in our lives, and in society? Everybody wants it, but nobody wants to look desperate. Men who have lots of it are badasses; women who have lots of it are often labeled sluts. America is simultaneously the country that experiences conniptions when an errant nipple is televised, and the country with a multi-billion dollar pornography industry. Needless to say, sex is a polarizing subject. There are many facets to sex, and many philosophies. Sex is an experience that takes place on a mental, emotional, spiritual and physical level. What we learn in school, in church, from our parents, from the media and from our own explorations establishes what kind of sexual beings we will become. The sum of our hopes, illusions and life lessons regarding sex become the foundation of our relationships. It’s hard to argue with facts. Despite this, people will spend hours defending their beliefs regardless of the validity of the information. This is particularly true in instances where education, politics and parenting codes collide. How much of what we are exposed to is fact, and how much is fiction? And more importantly, what are young people learning about it? So, let’s talk about sex. Education.

Sex and Education Here are some facts regarding national ranks in sex education. In order, these are the five states with the highest teen birth rates obtained by U.S. News & World Report in 2009: 1. Mississippi 2. New Mexico 3. Texas 4. Arkansas

5. Arizona What do these five states have in common? Other than New Mexico, none of these states has laws requiring schools to teach any kind of sex education or STD prevention. And in each state, it is stipulated that if a school does opt to teach these topics, they must stress abstinence as the best, and sometimes only, option. Every state has curriculum mandates regarding abstinence, contraception, marriage, abortion, and LBGT lifestyles. Arizona’s mandates include stipulations that educators shall not refer to homosexuality as a positive alternative lifestyle, and teach that it is a health risk. Missing from the five states’ curriculum are any birth control options. Contraception will not be instructed or recommended, and condoms are not distributed. The extent of birth control education is to highlight (and sometimes exaggerate) its failure rates to again stress abstinence as the only guarantee against unwanted pregnancy or disease. And the five states with the lowest teen birth rates: 1. New Jersey 2. Connecticut 3. Massachusetts 4. Vermont 5. New Hampshire Each of these states takes a much more comprehensive approach to sex education. Massachusetts is the only state on this list that does not mandate sex education, though it does mandate HIV/AIDs education be available to every student at every grade level. Of these states only New Hampshire accepts funding for abstinence-only education, all five states cover abstinence as a method that prevents pregnancy and disease. Included in their sex education curriculum is proper contraception use, and classes in decision-making, family planning and human development.

What about Texas? Texas ranked third in the nation in terms of teen births, but does not mandate sex education, and is strict in its abstinence-only policy. Texas gets more federal abstinence funding than any


other state, over 14 million a year, and yet has one of the highest teen birthrates in the country. A group called the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund released a study in 2009 detailing what was being taught about sex in Texas school districts. The study shows that what students are learning is riddled with factual errors, distortions and stereotypes regarding gender roles and sexual orientation. All of the study’s findings were gathered from actual state education materials used in Texas under the Texas Public Information Act. First of all, the study reveals that 96 percent of Texas school districts teach students nothing about responsible pregnancy and disease prevention other than abstinence. Sexuality education materials contained factual errors or mistruths 41 percent of the time. Condoms are the subject area with the most factual errors, coming in at 40 percent of the time. Many districts exaggerate condom failure rates, but others call condoms outright useless. One Central Texas school district had a student exercise that said, “Giving a condom to a teen is just like saying, ‘Well if you insist on killing yourself by jumping off the bridge, at least wear these elbow pads—they might protect you some.’” Other materials say that condoms cannot prevent HPV or AIDS—using a longdiscredited piece of information that HIV is “so small it passes through a condom.” Texas materials also teach that there are many negative repercussions to premarital sex, including but not limited to: infertility, divorce, disappointing God, aggression against women, suicide, low self-esteem and death.

The Reality Every 10 minutes, a teen in Texas gets pregnant. Ten minutes. Just let that sink in. In the time it takes to grab a cup of coffee between classes, another high school-aged girl just found out she is carrying a child. Whatever the outcome, her life is changed forever. If children are never taught the facts by responsible adults, whose voice will they listen to when making choices in (cont’d on page 159)

snap shot

Television star, Eva Longoria Parker, signs autographs after speaking at FESTIBA.



pating in student media, then what

If you’re a communication major and you’re not partici-

the hell are you planning to do with the rest of your life?

photo essay

el chalรกn photos by caleb camacho

Those who choose to cross the Rio Grande wait patiently in their vehicles and turn them off before descending into this last unique stretch of American soil.

Luckily, this peaceful, small part of the Rio Grande River does not usually live up to its counterpart, wild Spanish name of “Rio Bravo,� but safety measures are always at hand, often posing proudly like adornments

The shoveler works quietly without complaining, crossing his blessed tools in the bright early sunlight.

Hidden safety measures abound across this pristine pass from Los Ebanos, Texas to Diaz Ordas, Tamaulipas.

Toiling trip after trip, the chalan workers are strong preservers of the only international, hand-drawn ferry in the Unitrd States.

He sifts out accumulated sand so that the ferry can reach it’s Mexican edge without fail on every voyage.



Why Josh Garza will never date again Continued from page 7

example, where the elitists exist: people that know musicians other people don’t develop a Snob Complex. They throw out names like Radio Delight, Belcher’s Bonanza or The Hughes. No one has heard of those “crack-ass” bands. Those names are the alpha Pikachu of the pop culture name game. The more you know, the better you are — the mentality reflects it. These movie buffs and music gurus spend countless hours listening to music, searching on indie websites just to look better or feel better about themselves—I speak from firsthand experience. I know the tricks, because I’m guilty of playing Pop-Culture Pokémon. Yeah, “Total Eclipse” where Leonardo DiCaprio plays a homosexual poet that finds his soul in Africa. Heard of it? I own it ”Y Tu Mama Tambien.” I may be utterly horny for indie films and music, but I hate it when pop culture is the center of any conversation, especially if I’m trying to get to know the person. People will argue that it helps in feeling out someone’s personality, but it’s all surface and brushwork. My date could easily start listening to The Unicorns in two weeks after I play their “Who will cut our hair when we’re gone” album for her. After humming “Tiny Dancer” all her life she’ll start singing about Jelly Cones and Ghost Mountain. Music and movies tell nothing, especially movies! “I like Schindler’s List,” said “Cat Eyes,” an older woman whose ad I had responded to. She was fairly attractive and she had a webcam. This was the first time I had a more personal meeting with a “Craiger” other than through text messages and AIM. “Why’d you like it?” I asked.

“Oh I like that it was black and white, and the little girl in the red dress,” she said continuing on explaining her interpretations of the color red and continuing on with some other obvious points about the film. All I could think was “Shhhh baby, just…stop…talking.” She kept talking. She wanted to know my favorite movies too: “Lawrence of Arabia,” duh. I shifted through the conversation on first gear the whole way and finally found breathing room in asking her what she thought about dating on Craigslist. “It’s exciting. You don’t know who you’ll meet. I think it’s easier since I don’t have time to go out and I can’t manage my career and my sex life without taking a chance on Craigslist,” she said. Cat Eyes loved the fact that Craigslist allowed her to “feel people out” on her own time — that was understandable. The conversation picked up from there. I liked her overall mood and attitude towards life. The rest of our conversation included talks about my fake life as a baggage handler. I made up stories about stuff we find in luggage that we have to open up because of security issues, while she talked about her ex-husband and family. It was all really intriguing, and then she had to go to bed. It seemed promising; we had really connected, but my fake persona restricted me from pursuing it any further. This time I was the faker. She was actually quite normal, pretty good looking and down to earth. I felt successful, having found a winner on Craigslist, but somehow, I felt that the article was lacking. I had to up the ante. I had to go where I have never gone before.

No ay amor en este lugar Strip clubs are a confidence boost. Aside from being surrounded by horny, fat, middle-aged men with moustaches, one receives amazing compliments from the strippers. It’s all for a paid dance, of course, but still, a person can trick one’s brain to believe that an ounce of what she said was true. It’s like visiting a motivational speaker that sits on people’s laps and rubs their nipples.

I didn’t quite know the etiquette when I walked into “Flub Cantasy.” There’s a cover charge and the strippers don’t take debit, damn. As I took a seat at the center of the club, an “employee” quickly approached me. She unbuttoned my pearl-snap shirt and started rubbing my man-boobs. I was caught off guard, but I was so buzzed from drinking earlier that I played along with grab-assobnoxious behavior. She talked me up, complimenting my looks. “What are you doing here, Bibi? You’re too good-looking to be single, Bibi,” Aside from being called “Bibi” the confidence boost was definitely working. After that her English ran out and she started speaking Spanish. I excused myself to take a piss. That was my way to detour the situation and encounter other strippers including the potential love of my life. As I walked out of the men’s room, my love — mi Amor, stripped up on the stage as she glittered in the light of the flashy strobes slapping a man’s face with her bare ass. It was then that I knew I had to get a dance with her. It was not only that she was bold enough to ass-slap someone, but she had the most perfect nose. I have a nose fetish. I hate to use the word “fetish” because it sounds naughty and dirty, but I’m attracted to girls with profound noses. Long and pointy, what one would describe as a “witch’s nose,” is drop-dead gorgeous to me. I don’t know what it is about the perfect schnoz, but I will instantly be interested in dating a girl if she has one. I waited for “Beautiful Schnoz” to finish her cheeky dance and sat around the stage hoping she’d notice me. I didn’t want to approach her, but I would if she never came my way. After the dance, destiny occurred; she noticed me. She whispered a few confidence boosters into my ear before I decided to go to the back rooms for a private show, which essentially meant things got perverted. This, from what I can recall, was the conversation after I lost interest in the activity: “Que te pasa?” — “What’s wrong?” She asked, only speaking Spanish. “No se — No hay amor en este lugar,” — “There isn’t love in this place,”

I answered. “Why do you say that?” the stripper asked. She got off my lap and sat next to me. With the loud music blaring, in the privacy of a closet-like niche where the beaming lights pierced through the cracks and the sounds of others nearby receiving pleasure could be heard, I decided to have a heart-to-heart with Beautiful Schnoz. “It isn’t the same. There isn’t love here, only lust,” I took a gamble. “You see it’s because I recently broke up with my girlfriend and it’s not the same. There is no real romance here.” All of that was bullshit: I had no recent girlfriend, it was all part of the research. “I know what you’re saying. I broke up with my boyfriend nearly two weeks ago, and tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I have no one to take me out,” she lamented. As I heard her say this I celebrated inside my head. “Yo tambien voy estar solo.” — “Me too, I’ll be alone,” I said with active sincerity. “Sabes lo que dicen?” — “You know what they say, right?” she posed a rhetorical question. “There are more people out there than just that one person. And I wanted to call him! I wanted to crawl back to him but as a woman I have my dignity,” the selfrespecting stripper continued. “I understand, I too have my pride and I won’t call her tomorrow. Me, being a man, can’t stoop to that level,” I said with a smile. She smiled. I continued with the best Spanish I could. “El amor es algo dificil, pero tambien algo bien bonito.” — “Love is difficult, but it sure is beautiful,” I ruminated. “Es verdad lo que dicen…” — “It’s true what they say…” said the stripper. “Two weeks ago we broke up and tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and tonight I ended up meeting you,” she said, putting her hand on mine. “Before you leave, give me your number.” We exchanged numbers. Hugged goodbye and anticipated a merry lifelong romance together. Either I had scored the stripper’s number for being a good client or my romantic language had seduced her.

It sure did wonders for my confidence, though. I’m serious, everyone should try it, a person could move mountains the next day. I never called her; she never called me; I kept it that way. I wasn’t ready to sell my soul to this article, but I came close with the next “Craiger” that responded to my ad with high hopes. The Final Straw I call this last one “Boy George.” She looked like him and she probably might act like him too (imprisoning a male escort and beating him with chains, real freak-nasty.) She responded to my ad and showed me her MySpace. Jakob Roma doesn’t have a MySpace. He doesn’t believe in social networks. I told her she had a pretty smile and she said I was cute; soon enough we were texting back and forth like two love-birds sipping at the fountain of affection. She started texting so much I had to cut it off. I had to pretend I was going in to work. Even then she kept texting. We planned to meet at the University of Texas-Pan American Student Union in the morning. This would be the first time we would meet aside from texting and e-mails. The night before meeting I had told her I got off work at 10 p.m., not even ten minutes after “work” I received a text from her. “How was work? Where do you work?” she asked. It’s my wonder if she was waiting around until 10 p.m. came around to catch me. This was clinger/stalker behavior. I didn’t text back. She texted a smiley-face later, and it was then that I knew I had to bail. I was not going to meet her, I didn’t want to crush her world and I didn’t want her to crush mine. The next morning she texts me at around 9:30 a.m. with “Morning.” And again a few minutes later when I didn’t respond. “Morning.” I slept in; avoided going to UTPA until later in the day when I had class. I was freaked out by how clingy she was before we had even met, before anything had occurred. This had bad

news written all over it. 12:40 p.m. brought a “Hi.” I didn’t respond; she continued. 3:45 p.m. “You stood me up :(“ 9:38 p.m. “Hi???” Next morning, Thursday: 8:55 a.m. “Have a good day!! One more day til Friday :) be happy.” 3:42 p.m. “Are you mad at me?” Next morning: 9:18 a.m. “Morning.” Two days later: 10:17 p.m. “Hi.” The psychology of this blows my mind. I stood her up, yet she was still willing to keep talking to me. She never received a response from me, but continued to message me in hopes that I messaged back. The more severe thing is that she keeps trying to catch me at the beginning of the day. I bet if I were to text her as I write this article, she’d respond overjoyed. That’s when I realized I had taken it too far. The article was over. I was done. Love Locked Down I realized that people are lonely, and where I searched for potential people to date I found the fragility of the human soul within them instead. I found the thing that makes people equal and puts us all on the same level: emotions. This is a whole other essay in itself, but emotions, I found, are the catalyst to many of the decision we make each day. Striking at the nerve of anyone’s emotion places us, as a whole, on a leveled playing field. No man, woman, leader, hero, teacher, brother, sister, friend, elder, sinner or saint is without feeling. Triggering the nerve of this very fragile piece of us can influence decisions, help one to appreciate, make angry or make merry. All in all the pursuit is happiness. Love, for the most part, helps us find that “happy, happy, joy, joy” feeling. In a sense we are slaves to it. In a larger sense passion helps us find that satisfaction and in the broadest viewpoint, love is that fulfillment inside each and every one of us. Even for myself, I found myself attracted to some of the “Craigers.” I found myself having a heart-to-heart, as humorous as it may be, with a stripper. I found the human inside the digital interface of an e-mail or cell phone. Beyond

a few clicks of the mouse or behind the closed curtains in a strip club, I realized everyone is seeking love. Love locked down to an individual or a passion; people need it. People want it. If a person is lucky they’ll be happy when they find it. As for me: I’m still waiting for the stripper to call.


Valley ghost hunters

Continued from page 19

Continued from page 21


our new playground Continued from page 14

even bars” Reynoso said. “After eighteen years I’m a little sad about what’s going on downtown. A lot of the people I knew no longer work around me, and they’re out of jobs, or have had to move. I’ll stay here even if I’m the only one, but at least I’m here.” Heart of the City has brought many businesses to the area, and still has plans on expanding. Their initial plan seeks expansion of their districts in the area outlined by from 10th Street to Bicentennial, and Hackberry to Expressway 83. “We’ve expanded to Austin Street as well, which I think a lot of people don’t know, so it won’t be just 17th Street. I think I’m done with bringing in more to the entertainment district. My next focus is going to be on the arts district and the retail district. I want to focus on expanding, other than the Art Walk,” said Rodriguez. “There aren’t any places where kids can come and be exposed to art, so I’m working on getting funding from either grants or investments, to have teachers or volunteers work on teaching them how to play the guitar or paint. We want to have a place where young people can come and rent and be artistic.”

Stress is bad. It makes your life hell and you cannot function well. It’s college, and stress pretty much comes wrapped up with the tuition-and-fees bill. However if you can get financial aid for tuition then you can get some aid for stress. “Get some time for yourself, don’t try and do everything all at once,” Quintanilla suggests. Give yourself the time do something to release stress. Exercising is one major way to help but some folks lack energy. The best way to regain it is to eat the right things and get some sleep. Students know that sleeping is always good. Get some rest, then go out for a walk or go out with a group of friends to play a sport (instead of video games).

PARTY, PARTY, PARTY It’s the weekend and all college students know that the weekend starts Thursday night and doesn’t end till Thursday morning of the following week. But consuming bottle after bottle of empty carbs is not always good. Beer not only messes with your liver and overworks your kidneys and bladder, but it also retains a lot of fat and the yeast makes you look bloated.

LIVE IT UP There is no need to get fat while we are in the best days of our lives. Why not look our best while we still have good days to come? It’s time for some change, people. And not the kind you put in a snack machine.

findings are rarely dull, as evident in the excitement over the “Kendra” audio. The society has a growing list of encounters and stories that keeps them hungry for more.

we almost asked sga to fund marijuana for this article Continued from page 27

merit its place as a Schedule I controlled substance? In recent years, there has been some controversy surrounding the issue. As policy has shifted over the last 15 years, fourteen states have legalized medicinal marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. All of these states allow marijuana to be used to treat some of the symptoms a myriad of ailments including depression, nausea and appetite loss associated with cancer and AIDS. Twenty UTPA respondents, smokers and non, said they think marijuana should be legalized. Nine didn’t know or were indifferent, and 21 students said it should not be. A third of respondents said marijuana


should be legalized to stabilize America’s troubled financial system. “It should be legalized. It will help people, and more importantly, the economy,” insisted a male business major and non-smoker. “They are looking for so many new things to tax—weed is the perfect thing to tax, like cigarettes or alcohol,” said an art student. Many also said the medical benefits of marijuana should be the basis for its legalization. “There are patients out there suffering from wasting diseases like HIV/ AIDS and dealing with the side-effects of chemotherapy. Pot helps with appetite and pain! What’s not to legalize,” piped a journalism major. Other students said they felt marijuana’s status contributes to the prison overpopulation epidemic in the U.S. “It’s less harmful than cigarettes and produces effects similar to alcohol. Also, most of the people who get jailed because of it are good people that just want to get high,” said a freshman male. Eight of the 21 students against legalization feel that decriminalizing marijuana would make it more widespread, resulting in entire generations of pot smokers. “Lots of people smoke it right now, when it’s illegal. If they make it legal, it will be like alcohol, the way almost everybody drinks,” argued a junior female. “Do we really need another legal drug?” Thirteen said that legalization would lead to various social ills. “Once weed is legal, what’s the next thing? People will think, ‘oh, we’re legalizing drugs now. What else can I get?’” said one communications studies major. If UTPA is a microcosm of the feelings of college students all over America, the next few years should bring some interesting developments in the future of marijuana. The evidence and passion is high on both sides. (Pun intended, but instantly regretted. [ed. I should smoke you for that.]) Alice is tucking away all of her weed paraphernalia, what she calls “potfreeing” the house. “You can’t let just anybody see this stuff. Most people are cool—even if they’re

not into [pot], they don’t want to screw up a life either. But you never know.” Her eyes are lowered, watching her hands as she snaps the top of the box down, hard. “The criminal bit is a little much. I feel like I’m sneaking around to do the same thing all my peers are doing. Yes, it’s a different substance, but all I want is what they want, to relax and have fun. “I don’t know what the future holds— what I can say, is that the best future we can have is the one where everyone finds all the information they can. So many people, on both sides,” she emphasizes with a pointed glance, “spout a bunch of nonsense because they don’t know anything about the topic. The more you know about what you’re talking about, the more educated a decision you can make. The ironic thing is people hearing this advice from a pot smoker, they’re going to think, ‘what do you know about making educated decisions?’” She tucks the box away and shuts the closet door, sprays the house with air freshener, and it’s like her living room was never a pot den. She chuckles to herself, opening the windows to let the outside in. “Maybe smoking is my educated decision—or maybe I’m just high.” *name has been changed to protect the slightly guilty

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED Continued from page 28

can’t pull all nighters anymore.” Despite having a child on the way, Cantu remains optimistically unsure about her future line of work. “I’ve just made so many contacts


during my time working in Austin, I could do just about anything,” Cantu said. “I’ve worked with animals, worked with patents, did P.R work, provided hospice care and did real estate work. So, I really don’t know what kind of work to get into.” Her optimism and flexibility is a necessary kind of quality in lieu of recent U.S. market woes and the general instability of the economy. That instability is what led Rick Garcia to unemployment after Compass Bank, Garcia’s employer, went under. After graduating from Weslaco High School in 1990 Garcia attended UTPA for a few semesters but left after he began work for Magic Valley Bank, eventually becoming a successful manager for the business. However, after the bank was bought out by IBC, Garcia feared he would be fired and decided to instead work for H-E-B as a manager. Another series of layoffs in 2003, reducing 50 managers down to only five, left Garcia reentering the banking business and joining Compass Bank. Then in 2008 a market collapse brought down a series of large banks, dragging down many smaller banks with them. Compass Bank was one of those affected by the collapse. It downsized and laid of large numbers of its employees, Garcia included. Despite a few other job opportunities, Garcia decided he needed to go back to school for the job security is provided. “I had been attending classes on and off for the last ten years or so, but once I was laid off I got back into school seriously,” Garcia said. “It’s kinda’ funny because now I’ll see a few friends from high school around campus and I’ll ask them what they’re doing in school and they’ll give me the same story. They all got laid off after the crash.” Although Garcia had previous experience with college Garcia says he still had his doubts about whether he could pull off a successful finish to his college experience. “I had some worries about whether I could still do it, and also if it would be weird being an older guy in these classes,” Garcia said. “And I mean, there is a lot



of material and I’ve had to pull a lot of all nighters. But it was always doable. It’s not that hard.” With his communications studies degree in sight, Garcia plans to go into teaching, stating he’d like to get a job as a communications teacher. With that job he’d like to start a program teaching students about his real passion: DJ-ing. Since 1994 Garcia has been working with large clubs such as throughout the Valley, such as Club Fuego in McAllen. Working with a variety of music, from rap to tejano, radio stations such as 102.5 “La Ley” have begun airing his sets every Friday. “I’ve always had a really big love for music,” Garcia said. “I have speakers all over my house. I can do really large events without any trouble.” Recently, Garcia participated in a workshop at Club Fuego, giving aspiring and amateur DJ’s a how-to on mixing, splicing beats and setting up sound systems. He hopes to include these kinds of tutorials in his work as a communications teacher. “I was nervous at first going back into school full time,” Garcia said. “But I’m more comfortable now and I can’t wait to finish.” Life’s annoyingly common way of getting in the way pushes everyone in different directions. Its twists and turns kept Nora Hernandez from getting an associate’s degree after a tough family situation forced her out of TSTC in 1985. Before she could re-enter school she married her first husband and had Juliessa, her first child. The Weslaco High School graduate would not enter school again until 1994 when she attended San Antonio College for a degree as a dental assistant. She then entered UTPA in 1996. However, she was forced to leave school once again after having her second child, David Daniel Hernandez, named after her second husband, and would stay away from school until 2001. Finally, in 2004 Hernandez finished her degree in communication studies, only to return for her graduate degree. “I can see a big difference between graduate and undergraduate students,” Hernandez said. “A lot of students I have classes with are my daughter’s age.”

The age difference is especially apparent for Hernandez because among those students are former students she taught while teaching at Donna High School, and perhaps most significantly, her 20-year-old daughter, who is also in the communications department at UTPA working on a theater degree. “It was weird for her at first having her mom around,” Hernandez said. “But now it’s not such a big deal. It helps her because she can ask me questions. We become a support group for each other.” For Hernandez that sort of support group was a key factor in her initial troubles in achieving a higher education. “I never got any encouragement from my parents when I was trying to go to college,” Hernandez said. “But it forced me not to take education for granted. I think everyone needs to take advantage of continuing education because it’s extremely important.” In many ways, the distractions, decisions and curve balls that come our way and push us off our path become blessings in the pleasant surprises that come with life’s meandering nature. But perhaps most importantly of all, they push us to appreciate the fact that ultimately, we still have a say in where we end up.

were really loud. It was actually really funny. And some of the things they said were just off the wall. It kept me entertained.” His coach agreed. “I don’t mind. The more they heckle, the better because it’s going to help our guys to learn that they’re going to have to stay focus,” Simoneaux, Louisiana Head Coach, said. “Actually, I told our guys after the game, it prepares us for conference when we go to Fresno and Hawaii and San Jose. Everywhere we go in our conference is like that and that’s a good warm up.” “At Pan Am it really wasn’t on a personal basis. Sometimes, people talk really bad about you. At Pan Am, they were sort of making fun of you. They weren’t downing you, they were sort of talking to you,” said Dudley. Regardless of the opinion of the opponents, Bronc hecklers believe they make a difference. “Now that we see how much of an effect we have on the players, we actually do help out our team and it shows our spirit,” Rolando Vela, super-fan, said. “It’s fantastic when you have a group of folks that are willing to support your program and get out there and route for the home team,” King said.

home field advantage Continued from page 39

The question remains: is this an effective method of helping a home team? “I think it does. It has an added feature to your game day experience. As long as they’re not crossing the line and being degrading,” King said. “At Pan Am, I wouldn’t say that it bothered me,” Dudley said. “I mean, they

a haitian rose Continued from page 42

even jumped out of a third story window to escape a collapsing building. She repeats again and again that her family is blessed, with an air of incredulous gratitude. Jean smiles warmly as she explains that her father has made arrangements to improve

both families’ future, and keep them all safely together. “My dad rented a house over there for both families to live in. They’re not letting anyone in the houses yet because of the aftershocks. They’re sleeping outside of the house right now until they’re told it’s okay.” She nods to herself. “Everything’s going as well as it can.” Jean’s family, unfortunately, is uncommonly lucky. More than a million Haitians have been displaced by the earthquake. Their homes obliterated, they find themselves living in tents or less, without any amenities, including toilets or showers. Haitians are left without the ability to practice proper hygiene, and their risk of contracting infectious diseases like cholera and malaria skyrockets. Many international aid organizations are doing clean-up projects and building sanitation facilities throughout what have become “tent cities”. This includes Haiti’s own organization IDEJEN, a French acronym, which translates to Out-of-School Youth Livelihood Initiative. IDEJEN gives Haitian volunteers ages 18-24 the opportunity to take the relief effort into their own hands. In addition to building sanitation stations and performing clean-ups, IDEJEN also provides psychological help to youths, and delivers basic food items like rice and oil to displacement camps. The American public has contributed more than $9 million via text message to the American Red Cross, with more being donated every day. More American organizations are on the ground assisting such as UNICEF, The Salvation Army, and religious groups, among many others. The response from the United States and around the world has been astounding. But there is much more work to be done. “I want to say for my family I think things are getting better—but, for—“ she glances away, rubs a hand over her face, “If we could help everybody, I guarantee my parents would. But for some people, I—I have no idea. I just pray for the best.” She stares down at her steepled fingers. The relief effort continues in Haiti, but with 3 million people in need, the solution will not come quickly, or wrapped in a neat little bow. In our ADD, “infotainment”-driven society, it’s all too easy to set aside what

is happening elsewhere once something juicier, something more fun to think about occurs in the news. But without massive assistance, the Haiti catastrophe will not have a Hollywood ending. Jean knows, more intimately than most that Haiti’s troubles are far from over. “I think the U.S. should keep helping because it’s going to take a lot more than a couple months—it’s going to take more than that—it’s going take years. If they do let it slip their mind, it’s not going to be a good situation for Haiti.” At the time of this interview, Jean’s parents, four of her brothers and a cousin had flown to Haiti on a rescue mission. She hopes to join them in the summer, once she has more time. She says that her parents support her, and believe it’s most important that she remain focused on school, and her goals. She is cautiously optimistic for Haiti’s future. “I pray for hope.” She looks down and shakes her head, a pained smile crossing her face. “I just pray for it, because they need peace amongst themselves before anything else.” Throughout the interview, Jean receives numerous texts from her family members. It’s clear that she is staying in constant contact with them. As she walks away, she says a few numbers to her sister over the phone, giving her a code that will alert Jean that the call is from her family. “That’s the code. You use that code if you need me for anything.”

this tourney, win the CIT. We’re all winners. Let’s put Texas-Pan American on the MAP. People have to know about us and what we represent. WE’RE all winners. With that mind set, we won the first game versus Utah Valley University. The first Tournament win felt good. We had South Dakota up next -- a team we loss to twice in overtime. The winner of this would win the Great West tourney. Before that game, I screamed on my teammates in the locker room, expressing how I felt. I told them “ This is it fellas, this is it … Nobody knows about Texas Pan American, Nobody cares about if we win or lose, let’s show the world, show everybody that were are Texas-Pan American and we’re winners. We’re tired of losing, tired of being that team that watches everybody else win, it’s time for us to win for ourselves. Change the tradition and legacy of TexasPan American Basketball and athletics. Everything we have done this year has prepared us for this moment. Let’s make history,” as tears came down my eyes from my adrenaline and emotional frustration for the love of basketball and my teammates. I didn’t think it would hit me this hard, but I knew basketball has always been my heart and I have always been a competitor. So building a relationship with each individual teammate and coach has made this season even more special. Spending everyday in the gym with a group of guys who love the game just like me, and want to become the best player on the court. This experience has definitely changed my life. You build lifelong relationships. Like coach said at the beginning of the year, were marching like penguins, we all must work together to achieve success.

Wining or losing

Basketball diaries Continued from page 46

court to win, and if everyone believed we could win the Great West tourney. I told my team I wanted to keep playing and win

Whether we won or loss that last game, I knew that this overall experience changed my life as a person and player. It made me a stronger individual. No one can break me down; steal my joy for the game of basketball. I have come too far to let someone determine my destiny. We loss the championship game versus South Dakota. When the last buzzer sounded and that was it, it hurt real badly. It felt like someone had knocked a boulder into my heart. I was crushed.

We owe the seniors who are done this year, a Great West Championship, a winning season. And it starts with off-season training. We’re going to come back stronger for next season (2010-2011), just wait and see. Just like I told my family and friends when I first came to Texas-Pan American, we’re going to be so much better and focused. Everyone will know about Texas-Pan American next season. We winners! And the world is going to see:

This is not over for me. Like my coach malcom moore said, “anytime you have 10 toes down and you have your health, the sky is the limit, tommorrow isn’t promised, so go hard in the gym, be the best player you can possibly be. Motivated athletes stand strong.” And most importantly, i thank my mother, the woman who told me never give up, always stay positive, because hardwork pays off. And to my grandmother, “keep god first, and do what you have to do now, so you can do what you want later.” Tough times don’t last, tough people do. And i made it through a tough season of many obstacles and problems, but i’m still standing strong, moving forward. The sky is the limit and i will be successful for myself, for my family and most importantly for my brother, jerome seagears, who is my best friend, everything i go through is for him. I’m blessed to go through obstacle and problems that i will expereince so that he doesn’t have to go through them and i can guide him toward the right direction.

staying on track Continued from page 49

personal front; the year he started high school, his mother, Rosa Maria Doria, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I remember I was about to go to school, as I was walking out the door my mom called me and she hugged me. She said that I had to be strong and that she was going to be there for me then she told me she was diagnosed with cancer,” Doria was shocked with the news. He went back to school and back to running rather than take a day to think about things. It was his mother’s wishes that he never miss out in school. “I had to be strong because I knew my mother was going to be. I knew she was always a strong person, she tried he best and she did her best to fight for it,” said Doria.

Through the Pain By sophomore year, Doria had become the fastest in the Valley in several long distance events such as the 3,200 meter race. By the next season, he was among the best in South Texas. Advancing to the regional meet where he won his first district meet in the 3,200 meter race with a record time of 9:29:00. In that same year he took ENHS to regional’s. As a senior for the Cougars, he was one of the best in the state, setting records in the 1,600 and in the 3,200 meter. There he won his first regional meet in the state. At the end of the day Doria was ranked 8th in the state of Texas. The scouts came out looking for him, Doria, however; decided to stay close to home as his mother’s battle with cancer continued. Along with his successes in cross-country he even managed to graduate at the top 10 percent of his class. His looks can be deceiving. His stature looks a bit small while sitting, but standing at 5-foot 11 inches Doria measures out as an ideal athlete. Though generally quiet, he approaches with a smile, a reflection of his positive outlook and drive to be something special in life. As an entering freshman he competed in all five of his cross-country meets. Though the pace was at a much higher level and a longer distance, Doria persevered and managed to get a person best of 25:58 in the 8,000 meter race. Though things were looking good for the, then 18 year old some things were just not as they seemed. After competing one full season of

cross country, Doria decided to take some time for the next few seasons. “I knew I wanted to keep running, but I needed to focus on the things that were going on at home. I needed to take care of my siblings,” said Doria. With his mothers ailment reaching its final stages Doria would take some time off and only go to some meets throughout his years at UTPA. Though missing some meets the young runner managed to break some records and almost always place in the top 10 at any meet where he competed. Having graduated in Spring of 2009, he was accepted into the graduate program at UTPA and began competing full time once again. Every race that he would run he would do for the people that he cared most for in his life; primarily his mother, whom every race was dedicated to. “I perform better when she is with me,” he says, “I don’t know I just get pumped when I think of her. She keeps me on the right track. I want to represent her wherever I go,” says Doria. Finally at the turn of the decade in January Doria’s mother lost the battle against cancer. The runner was left with just memories.

Avoiding 'The Wall' After losing his mother to cancer January of this year Doria keeps his head up. He goes to Bronc track practice every day, does research and teaches labs for his grad life, and is a good son to his father and a good brother to his siblings. “Cancer was a curse but it was also a blessing,” he says in a low, saddened tone. He voices the word that affects 1 in 8 women per year but he adds that ironically, his mother’s tragic illness and death at age what was a blessing in the end. “It helped me appreciate things more. I do wish I could have spent more time with my mom but this was the time that she had, so I am happy,” he admits. “I just wish I had a camera and a camcorder to take a few more memories.” His mother, who once worked at UTPA as a custodian, struggled with the disease for a total of seven years before passing away in 2010. Doria dealt with the trauma from age 14 on. No matter


how hard things got for her attitude it showed Doria how to stay strong and be positive in the face of adversity. Today he works hard to maintain a sunny side-up mentality as a result. The way his mother dealt with excruciating pain was a lesson to the young runner. Usually she tried to hide the pain and downplay her plight. “She was a warrior. She taught me a lot even when she was in pain she would keep strong for me and my siblings,” Doria remembers. Ultimately when his mother passed she left him with enough strength and wisdom to understand that in life some things happen, others don’t. As Doria discusses the experience, his expression is calm, as it is when he runs. He is in a state of tranquility that belies the fact that he has suffered deeply from the loss. “Every day, even before she passed away, I’ve been strong. Though I had lots of emotion for the first few days then it was a shock, and the days after all that, you just spend remembering.”

A new day Through it all, he’s kept running and has not missed a UTPA meet. He has done well for the Broncs although the only thing he has left of his mother are pictures and photos. With one more year of college left, Doria has a lot to consider. “I don’t know if I want to go to medical school or if I want to keep running, a dream of mine has always been to run professionally in Mexico,” he said. Running through miles and miles of man-made pathways, he darts up, slows down, zig-zagging through Edinburg on a daily basis. He has been running through a lot in his life and is sometimes puzzled by it all. But the trials and tribulations are left behind just as footprints on the track. Whatever comes his way in the future, he is ready for it. Running through life is not about how one takes the curves or how strong one starts. It’s about taking the right pace at the right time. He’ll just have to keep the pace and stay on track.

texture of labor & love Continued from page 55

as he admitted how the overwhelming nature of the outpouring of support has touched him. “I am embarrassed and humbled.” The traffic light turned green. “I’m embarrassed that an individual like me had to get in that situation. And I am humbled to realize that so many people shouted out attention at my plight and came out with wonderful compliments, that they are creating a moment in my honor...” He confesses that he is “plunged in humility” by the outcome of his struggles and the realization that his writings have been studied and read by numerous amounts of people across the nation. “I’m going [to the event] as the humblest guy, man,” with sensitive sincerity he utters, “People are coming out. They’re really coming out.” And they did come out. The small cafe crowded over with a group of about a hundred or so people in attendance.

Stirring up the feeling within The Nuyorican Cafe is nestled between a row of buildings in an area richly Puerto Rican. The dim, colorfully lit interior of the cafe filled in with the talk and conversation of the night’s event. The organizer of the event, Raul K. Rios, and a handful of poets performing that night stood outside the doors chatting before the event took stage. There was a feeling of readiness and a certain desire in most’s heart to see Laviera arrive and also possibly hear him perform. The angst of the hour could be felt as the event started without him in attendance. La Bruja, the show’s emcee, started things off with some welcoming humor and


poetry. She shared a special piece of hers with the group, dedicating it to Laviera. And then another poet took the stage where midway through her performance the claps and exaltation beckoned the attention of the show-goers to turn around toward the entrance of the cafe to recognize Laviera. With standing-applause the show paused as Laviera moved along toward the front seating reserved for him. His hand on his sister’s shoulders, as she guided him past the jubilant supporters that came out that night to help raise funds and awareness for his situation. He took a seat at a table just a couple of feet away from the stage. He raised his hands in the air and clapped along with the rest of the room until it filtered down back toward an attentiveness for the show on stage. “Now I’m under pressure,” said Peggy Robles, the performer on stage, greeting laughs with a pulsing nerve realizing the setting had changed. He was now in the building. The night went on with tribute poetic readings and outbursts from the crowd. A happy stir was renovating space within the room; intoxicating words flowed out the mouths of the poets grasping the listeners’ attention. But it was not until two well-dressed Puerto Rican men took the stage that Laviera’s spirit started to break through the shell of his frail state. The men, Luisito Ayala and Sammy Tanco, were sequenced into the show as per Laviera’s and Sanchez’ request. The charismatic duo took the stage with dominating presence and uplifting beats incorporating the audience’s participation into their act. Laviera joined in on the singing and the special moment surrounded the words as he sang the chorus to a song: “te quiero ver, te quiero ver,” singing “I want to see you, I want to see you.” The voices and music of the two impacted a deep personable feeling with Laviera as the charming love they had for the homeless, sick poet was felt through their actions and candid affection. Coming off the stage Ayala placed the mic in front of Laviera and sang together with him, “I want to see, I want to see you.” The love was coming full-circle in that moment. Laviera’s helping of others with



his demonstrative actions was bridging the gap from unawareness to a newfound realization that all he had given of himself was a love-payment for this moment. The singing stopped. Ayala and Tanco embraced Laviera as they headed off back into the crowd. The moment was fixed as Laviera’s emotions could be felt stirring within him. He started talking more and moving past the fragile feeling he must have felt after his dialysis treatment just five hours earlier.

'This is the moment' A week prior to the event, this writer, Joshua Garza, was asked by Cosecha Voices to present Laviera with a Build-ABear. It had the group’s voices recorded on it, sending a special message to him. Rios, the organizer that night, made room for Cosecha Voice’s special tribute. La Bruja took the stage inviting me up there to present the gift. Standing there, looking out into the bright spotlight I began reading my speech. “Through Tato’s lessons and motivations he helped them no longer doubt their abilities,” I said at one point and continued off at other times recognizing how wonderful it had been to have experienced New York City for the first time with Laviera. The tears at this point had already started rolling down Laviera’s cheeks. His sister handed him a napkin to wipe them off. And then, adding to the emotion, I presented, as a peer of the Cosecha Voices students, their gift to him. “I cannot represent the struggle and history those migrant students have had to live through, but as their peer I offer this gift on their behalf. It’s a teddy bear with their voices recorded on it and they want to say something to Tato,” I lifted the bear-paw up to the microphone and pressed it. The voices of about four girls from the group resonated through the speakers, “Tato this is the Cosecha Voices. We love you!” His tears linking to their struggle captured the emotion within the room. A sob was heard from where he sat. The words and the notice that they had emerged as better individuals because of him echoed the feelings of others in the room, as one poet later said after the event, “What was said about Tato during the speech was exactly what I wanted to

say. He teaches by example.” And by example he taught again that night to be the humblest, most loving soul in the room, appreciating every ounce of every word poured forth that night. A moment lingered as he cried hugging the teddy bear tightly searching for the paw in his blindness to hear their voices once more. The tears ran hard as he hugged me with a full embrace of gratitude. “This is the moment...this is the moment,” he said properly distinguishing the elevated love he had just been bestowed with. This, his students, the link to who he is, had bathed him in waters of humility and grace. His mood lifted and his smile glowed brighter. The sweet simple words of a genuine “I love you” swept between those seconds as the weight lifted off his shoulders. The gift he had given out had come back, wrapped up in earnest admiration. Not through the form of a stuffed bear, but through the changed lives he helped awaken. And as the migrant students before him, he had now found a way to emerge out of his struggle with beaming optimism and clarity cured by the texture and toil of the fruit of his labor. He too, now, has fed a nation.

phone could be mightier than the sword is a palpable metaphor for how effective technology can be. “It could be negative for some people, but anything could be bad. I think technology is a plus because it allows me to be in contact with someone if I need to be, but not have to be at the office. I can have my Smartphone and be playing racquetball and still get e-mails and what not,” Figueroa said. “It allows me to perform higher functions. I can write my papers, spellcheck it, communicate with more people more efficiently, I can calculate things I would be unable to otherwise,” Espinoza said. “Technology is here to make my life easier, but I do recognize that sometimes I abuse it. Sometimes I need to be reminded that, and sometimes I need to remind myself about it.”

the answer to cancer Continued from page 103

ARE WE TOO PLUGGED IN? Continued from page 100

received. This meteoric rise in technology is beneficial, and we should not proclaim that it is entirely a detriment. In June of 2009, Twitter helped start a revolution in Iran. The ayatollahs saw this and tried to shut down the Internet in their country, but with the help of the U.S. State Department, communication was able to continue. Regardless of the legitimacy of the election, the fact that a simple cell

(for example, severe infection). But of the several thousands of theses written and studies done on Beta-lactams, as well as the countless number of laboratory tests, there was only one—that of Dr. Banik—able to innovatively and conclusively demonstrate to the world that these compounds are effective in the inhibition of certain types of cancer including ovarian, breast, leukemia, prostate, melanoma and liver. And he spent nine years developing and designing that research. Though he patents drugs, reviews journals and holds current professorial positions with at least three universities, Banik says that actually being in the lab, doing the research for anti-cancer drugs is what he enjoys most. “If I do not work in the lab, or write papers or grants, I feel I

am not doing anything,” Banik revealed. “I can continue from morning to night without eating food, by doing research only.” That surely denotes dedication to a cause and passion for a vocation. And just how does Dr. Banik find the time to do all he does? He works seven days a week. “I come here at 6:30 every morning, that is the reason,” said Banik. “Even Saturday and Sunday.” Just when you think that only a madman would have the stamina to do all Banik does in one week, consider that he is, after all, one of the leading cancer researchers in the world. In essence, were it not for the research he has completed and continues to work toward, more lives would be claimed each year by rampaging cancer cells like the ones hiding in Banik’s dark lab. So next time someone tries to tell you that UTPA holds no candle to the scientific world, just ask them to pick up a copy of Banik’s resume and simply browse through—if in fact the denigrators can even stumble past his various titles and positions held; and that is just the first paragraph. We may be small on the map of University of Texas schools; we may be forgotten, but as Banik says, “it’s not where you do what you do, it’s how you do it and what results you produce”.

only now being explored to it basal and most intricate potential (Remember? “There’s always room at the bottom.”), they are just content to be working with a university that recognizes that potential and wants to do whatever the doctors see as feasible. After all, that’s why UTPA hired someone with background in nanotechnology to lead students in research in that field. As the bottom of Texas, the Valley has been growing steadily for years, but economically it has stayed near the bottom in U.S. standards. No more. It now has a cash-cow of the mechanical engineering world; and the proverbial emergent bovine came from the third best public university in the state. Sarkar would reiterate, “There’s always room at the bottom.”

situation leaves a lot of UTPA’s future up to the next legislative Session, which will decide how much is actually cut or if the tuition cap will once again be removed or adjusted, allowing schools like UTPA to raise tuition by much larger margins. The other option is for the state to increase formula funding, therefore increasing the university’s appropriations from the state. The latter option would allow tuition to be kept low while maintaining good health for the university’s finances. Though, it was the legislature who put the university in its bind to begin with, a complicated move to take the state’s higher education institutions toward privatized-like institutions. “One could argue that the Legislature could do better by us, or anyone else,” Sorber said in December. “It’s more of how they handle higher education and how they shift the burden.”

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welcome to the future Continued from page 107

discipline] they might perceive it as a threat or they might perceive it as a joke,” Lozano said. Of course there is always the possibility for a technology to be abused or even for a device to go awry. But for now, that is not Lozano and Sarkar’s main concern. For a technology that is

year, after having stalled for several years. The enrollment growth is expected to continue, and the added source of tuition revenue is expected to build the cushion against cuts. Though some of the shock may be absorbed, a lot of what was promised before will not be able to happen for a while. Nelsen said the new parking lot that has been planned to be built west of the university will be delayed. The university has been delaying the project for at least a year now, with the original issue being land attainment. Nelsen had originally planned for new faculty hires to be a part of the tuition increase, however, he told Regents that is now not possible. This

IT'S ALL IN THE NUMBERS Continued from page 116

changes in variables and in components year to year. It changes in how a ranking system is altered and why the United States Military Academy jumped from sixth in the 2008 ranking to first in the 2009 ranking. It changes in the first methodology only have five components to weigh to having seven components the second year. It changes every time a word is added to or taken away from this article. One thousand, four hundred and ninety-eight words later this article comes to a conclusion and that’s not a matter of opinion.

A man without a country Continued from page 121

And his family; Whitely is a family man. Yet, how can a man who cannot kiss his children goodnight as he tucks them into bed feel like a father? How, when he cannot hug them, congratulate them, scold them, mentor them, teach them or even tip-toe into their rooms at night to watch them sleep? Four children in America know where their father is, but have no hope of reaching him; and he can barely handle separation from them. His eyes grow moist as he talks about his children. “My daughter, she’s six years old. First year of school, man. Kindergarten. I missed it. I miss a lot of things…I have a son who’s two and a half…” he said. “I’m missing out on everything that has to do with my family. You know, the holidays are coming… Here I am, by myself.” He is one father who will not be there on Christmas morning this year to see the kids open their presents. He won’t get to buy them anything, won’t even get to look them in the eye and say, “Merry Christmas. I love you.” He will see his children once more this year. “My kids get to come over and visit about once a month, but they don’t like it here. Come on, let’s face it. I don’t like it here. It’s — it’s just … different,” he said. That difference is something Whitely will have to face for at least another five months. “My lawyer told me to give him at least nine months. It’s been four months already,” Whitley said. “If it goes much longer than nine months, I think I’ll go crazy here, man.” So, who is to blame for all of this? If Whitely were going to sue someone,

he said it would be the government. He knows what happened, but just because he understands the failure, that does not lessen its impact on him. “The system failed me. The same system that was supposed to be there to help me and guide me through this process failed me,” he said, frustrated. Whitely said it all goes back to that day when his mom tried to apply for his citizenship and was denied because of a lack of the certified adoption certificate, which was under lock and key with the State of Texas. “That document should have went in that day,” he said, looking back on the past. “If we could have produced that, I would not be here today,” he said. But he is here today. And he will be here tomorrow. And for 145 more days at least, running from the cartels, paying for an unfinished roof over his head and one meal a day. As the sun goes down on this border town, a dim bulb flickers in a concrete room as the darkness envelopes a man that simply exists — and Uncle Sam does not know or perhaps even care.

According to him, it’s very easy to interact with Hispanics because they understand the cultural similarities. They are an un-intrusive people who, according to educated men like Farooqui, get a bad rap globally now because of a few radicals who take verses of the Quran out of context. It has been theorized that the farther south one travels, the warmer the cultural climate and greater the receptiveness on the part of the people toward strangers. If that’s the case, the Valley is the next hotspot for Muslim immigrants, as the population has increased to nearly 50 times what it was just 25 years ago. At that rate of growth, the local Muslim community should surely be able to fully support an imam and finish its new mosque.

New old blood Continued from page 129

DOCTOR OF DOCTRINE Continued from page 127

Family is highly valued; muslims today appreciate that quality about Hispanics. Farooqui said he enjoys living in the Valley. “One of the reasons I like this area is because of Mexican culture, because they are highly influenced by the Spanish culture … they know Arab culture,” he said. “It’s easy to raise our children here, away from cultural differences [we would experience up north].”

it.’ And that led to my campaign.” Schmalzried insists that he hasn’t experienced any of the pressure or corruption that has characterized so much of Edcouch’s reputation. He chooses his words carefully, but is adamant that he will not tolerate any such behavior in his city, or anywhere he finds it. “Corruption-wise, I haven’t encountered anything because I guess they’re afraid that if they try to do something corrupt around me, I’m going to bring it up to them, put it to a stop, and embarrass them. Say, ‘I saw this and I caught you.’ So I think around here, not that they would, if they were to even think about it, they don’t want to even try. I’m not saying they would, but not in Edcouch. Delta Area politics has a very bad reputation. And I mean—I can’t say that it’s not true. Because it’s all over the


news, it’s in the newspapers. It happens. Around here it’s a little bit worse. People around here are used to those ways. It’s kind of hard to change it. Schmalzried’s hope is that all of the smaller cities can work together to improve the region as a whole. It is apparent that he is incredibly proud of his city, and despite its past issues, has high hopes for its future. One of his long-term goals is to build the region up by building an infrastructure that draws businesses, creates jobs, and makes Edcouch an attractive, peaceful place to live. As a very small town, it doesn’t get much attention as far as state funding, according to Schmalzried. When he discusses the funding imbalances among districts, Schmalzried is very calm, but one can sense the heat underneath his statements. He sits a little straighter in his chair, and leans forward, speaking crisply, like he has had to say these words several times before. “We’re the largest precinct, but the most neglected. Because of McAllen, because of Mission, because of Edinburg. They just suck everything up like a sponge over there. Over here, Edcouch, Mercedes, La Villa, Elsa, nothing. They don’t think too much about this side of Hidalgo. It’s a little upsetting, you know? I’ve gone to meetings and I fight with these guys. And sometimes, it gets a little ugly. One thing, something I was really proud of, dealt with the state recovery funds from Hurricane Dolly.” Schmalzried debated with the drainage district manager and other city mayors until he won $5.3. million in recovery funds to repair damage to the Delta Area. Schmalzried has used the funding to re-pave all of the dilapidated roads in Edcouch. He says Galvan, the mayor protem, has created community events the city has never had before like its first Easter egg hunt, Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner and toy drive, among others. This is the kind of difference that Schmalzried promised in his campaign, with its slogan “Giving the community back to Edcouch.” It’s also the kind of difference that its citizens need to see to believe that things are changing. “I feel, with the events, they can see

that we’re trying to reach out so we can all come out together as a family, and we haven’t had that. We had our first ever Fourth of July event last year. Beautiful, beautiful. People were amazed. And I was there, walking around at the end of the event. And people were just walking up to me, shaking my hand, saying ‘Man, never in my life did I think that Edcouch would have a firework display.’ So the people are responding well. They’re happy.” One Edcouch resident and UTPA student, Rina Castillo, says the changes can be seen not only in the look of the town, but the mood of its people. “I know that while he was running, there was a lot of questioning that he was too young and so forth. But now it’s been about a year, and there’s a change in the younger people. Now there’s demand. They are demanding a change in politics. They look up to these younger leaders. They are tired of the old school that brought everything to where it was in the beginning.” Castillo says Schmalzried and Galvan’s campaign even inspired her to try running for office. “They broke the ice for me!” She laughs, and says that she assisted in the campaign going door to door, so she already has firsthand experience being told she can’t change things. “I’ve already heard ‘you’re too young’ and ‘what do you know?’ It didn’t stop them, and it won’t stop me. I think maybe that’s the greatest change the mayor has made—we, as a town, are starting to believe in ourselves more.” Another resident, Benny Ybarra spoke passionately about Schmalzried. “There’s mayors, and then there’s Mayor Schmalzried. A man who takes his office as a chance to make a difference, not just an opportunity to gain power. And that’s what I see, a positive difference.” Comparing life on the national level to his small town, Schmalzried’s wish is that the people would step up to help out with all the work their leaders are doing. Though the city has been troubled for many years, Schmalzried notes that the necessary changes can’t come from one side. He sighs, says that he understands the hesitance of Edcouch’s citizens, but that he needs their


support to make the changes needed. “They NEED change. They need the city to step up and do things for the community. But one thing I ask of the citizens is for they themselves to step up. If they want the community leaders to go out and do stuff for them, well they need to go do things for their community leaders also. They say, ‘Hey, we want our streets cleaned.’ And I don’t have the manpower to clean up every street. There are two people to clean up all of Edcouch. We don’t have that much money. Why don’t you go clean from where your property starts, to where your property ends? Why don’t you sweep up that curb? And if everybody does that, the streets will look clean.” In his short time in office, Schmalzried has made an impression on Edcouch. He has built a reputation on running a clean campaign, and following up his promises with actions. The reputation he’s built for being a champion of the people, as opposed to some of his predecessors, has made him optimistic about a reelection in 2011. He chuckles with boyish confidence, saying he hopes he gets reelected, but doesn’t mind if he doesn’t, as long as he accomplishes the goals he set for his term. “I don’t care if I get re-elected. I just know that as long as I’m here, I’m going to do the best that I can for the city. And that should give the people reason enough to want to re-elect me.” Schmalzried has infused a level of belief and engagement in the people of Edcouch that a new generation of young people are running for office, including students at UTPA. His intention, Schmalzried says, has always been to change the course of Edcouch politics, and to change the minds of its citizens and those around it. His belief has been the realization of his campaign hopes, and the sweeping changes across Edcouch in the last year. Schmalzried says that he has learned a lot from being in office: about politics, about Edcouch and its people, and about himself. He leans back in his chair and looks up at the ceiling, folding his hands on the table in front of him. He is contemplative, and some of his intensity



seems to slip away. There is a certain reverence when he talks about what it takes to do his job. “I’ve learned that it takes a lot of hard work. And I’ve always had a good work ethic. But to know that I’ve got meetings every day. I’ve got to drive to meetings in Harlingen, drive to meetings in Hidalgo, and be there on time! I’ve always been pretty outspoken with my friends--now I go to a boardroom with a bunch of politicians, and I don’t know anybody. And I stand up and say ‘Edcouch needs this, and I say we do this for Edcouch.’ Knowing that if you really want something, you’re going to go after it. And since I really want a lot for this little city, I know I’m going to fight for it. And I’ve come to realize that I’m a fighter. Anything that I believe in anything, and anything that I want. And I could say that maybe that’s one of the most important things I’ve realized about myself.”

Presidential Continued from page 131

However, there is an inkling of hunger for teaching in the classroom setting, despite the fact that Nelsen maintains he’s found his passion. “I miss teaching a lot, but I’m still teaching,” he said. “When I’m out there with the legislators I’m teaching them about what UTPA is all about … It’s a different type of teaching. “I love being in the classroom. I loved getting students to think out of the box. I was a pretty outrageous teacher. I would sit in students laps, I would mess up guys’ hair while I was sitting in their laps and make them think in different ways.”

Nelsen built his reputation on writing short stories, and taught that writing is found through taking apart other people’s stories and analyzing them. Among his favorite authors is Flannery O’Connor – an author from whom he draws many literary lessons. “She is god by the way,” he said. “She said that if you don’t discover anything when you’re writing the story, how do you expect the reader to discover anything? It’s not write what you know like most people will tell you, it’s write what you don’t know.” Budget cuts cutting into the plan Nelsen is faced with a daunting task that rears its face in the form of $7.4 million in budget cuts. “With the budget cut, my number one rule was, not that you take care of parking. My number one rule was that you don’t cut any instructional services for students. Number two is that you don’t fire anybody,” he said. One of his biggest challenges will be expansion despite the budget, as the university’s classrooms are at 100 percent capacity. Finding a direction for the university was another challenge that the new president faced when he took office in January of 2010. “Now is the perfect time to decide what our next steps are,” the freshman president said. “When I’m looking at the budget, I’m looking at what are we doing to help the Valley and how does it fit in? How do the students that come out of here benefit the Valley? How do we help them? We are not trying to be UT Austin, we are trying to be the very best university that has ever been for this region.” Nelsen expects the university to grow to 20,000 students by 2010 and 25,000 students by 2020, and said that 30,000 is more than realistic in the future. His main goal for now is to make sure the university keeps excelling at a reasonable rate. “I think it’s a really damn good university,” Nelsen said. Goals in hand, and a vision for the university, Nelsen has a strict sense of the work that has to be done. So, in a lot of senses, the man is presidential — and then, he’s not at all.

welcome to the evening show Continued from page 135

had worked on alone that brought in high ratings for the six o’clock newscast. The effort was called “Breaking the Barriers,” a piece that aimed to help surpass the average number of breast cancer checkups. Garza works solo on many projects. She said it is alone that she does her best work. Garza has been anchoring the evening news since 2000. Aside from anchoring she will go out and report stories. She is very much dedicated to her job and respects the leadership. “It starts at the top,” said Garza about what keeps the ambition and drive alive at Channel 5 News. “We have tremendous leadership here and that’s why we’re number one. That’s what sets us apart from the other newscasts, because we all love to work here.” She hopes the numbers and ratings continue to grow for Channel 5 News. She has an inkling that the Rio Grande Valley will no longer be considered a “trainer’s market” and the area will become a profitable news making region. “That’s my hope for the station. It grew from a tiny little spec on the map and now — Channel 5 has put the Valley on the map,” said Garza with certain air of pride. And she has much to be proud of. Her nearly 30 years of working at the station has shown her dedication and professionalism in her field. She has become a household name in the Valley and a popular emcee for various events and charities across the Rio Grande. Throughout the years of her public career Garza has earned more than just the title of Evening Anchor for Channel 5 News. She’s much more multifaceted than is perceived -- even by HDTV. She’s a loving mother, a happy wife, a practicing

Catholic, an advocate for breast cancer awareness and a genuine, sincere open book with substantial dialogue of stories upon stories to tell stories about.

Mike's last ride Continued from page 137

As I looked at my cell phone, I suddenly realized how narrow-minded my vision had been. Slowly and discretely, I send my last text message and turn my cell phone off. The ride on shuttle bus one began to look more and more like a journey through the generations past and present -- this is no longer just a trip from point A to point B; it is a look through Mike’s all-seeing blue eyes. It becomes more and more obvious as I look outside that nobody walks in pairs. And if they are, they’re still listening to music or mashing buttons with their thumbs, pressing “SEND” on their cell phones. Couples don’t seem like couples and friends don’t seem like friends as these machines manipulate their activity. Feeling somewhat ashamed of being part of such a society, I stepped out of the bus and decided to take some air, contemplating engaging in a conversation with a complete stranger, hoping that afterward we would not be strangers anymore. After all it is my job. I greeted people as I sit on the bench and think, “maybe this is how Forrest Gump felt when he was waiting to meet Jenny.” Other shuttles passed, their drivers asking if I’m going to get on, but I just told them, “I’m waiting for Mike.” Fifteen minutes later, Mike was back with the same smile as he opened the door. I saw that Mike not only loves this country, but he is still hopeful that change will come soon. Though he might not have been a college student, Mike still showed

that he knows more about politics than any other college student who has ever gotten into his shuttle. One student made the mistake of telling Mike that he was not going to vote, saying, “I just don’t think that I’m going to make a difference if I vote. It’s just one vote.” Mike nearly stopped the shuttle so he could lecture the youngster about the right to vote for our leaders. He said he gave that student an earful about civic duty. “Every vote counts,” Mike always tells students -- something that people don’t quite understand because they live in selfcontained, electronic bubbles. Better yet, why don’t we Google the answer to see if Mike knows what he is saying? That will surely make reading better. Once again we passed the auxiliary parking and head for Edinburg Baseball Stadium through bumps and potholes. Only one student stepped off and no others came in. The door closes and we drove off to the WRC … no students, then to the SBC. “Y’all wait for everybody to get out,” said Mike with a firm but friendly tone. As soon as the people inside the shuttle exited, the driver allowed the line of students arriving from 11:35 a.m. classes to get on. They all rushed in, cramped in, and soon the desolate shuttle looked like a can filled with sardines. Students rubbing elbows, crowded next to each other; it could be worse, they could be walking. Armpits up in the air, exposed, as some of the students couldn’t find a place to sit and are forced to stand. “I don’t know, I just like riding on the bus with Mike, he’s really friendly with me every time I get on,” said Jennifer Garza, a freshman marketing major. “He likes to talk and I like to listen, though I have never talked to him … he’s just funny and he smiles.” Jennifer, whom I met on the bench after feeling inspired by Mike to never meet a stranger, is now a friend. From there we were no longer strangers, but more like acquaintances. Maybe Mike was right. All we needed to do was just shut off the devices and look around us. The air was fresher, I could breathe better, the sky had never looked so blue and the grass never greener. Curious to see what the other shuttles were like, I decided that I would ride in another bus -- just to see if I had been mistaken.

Fewer students, maybe – maybe not. However, the student-driver interaction was lacking. “I know the other drivers, they are good people I don’t know why they don’t talk,” Mike said. Though the shuttle system will keep on with its operations, shuttle bus number one will never be the same. By 3:30 p.m. Mike had turned in his keys to a bus that was once filled with the chatter of students getting a lesson in politics or masonry, from a man with blue eyes who, no matter what time of day, would never deny a student some chat. Mike the bus driver will be missed.

This is the proper way to put on a condom Continued from page 139

their sex lives? The children of today’s society are living in a world much different than those of us who grew up in the early 21st century. Generation Y is aptly named. They always want to know “why?” They have been raised on the multimedia explosion brought on by cell phones, the Internet and interactive video games. Because of the wealth of information and entertainment at their fingertips, today’s youth is more exploratory, and will seek out the information withheld from them. The world has changed, and will continue to change. The question is whether education will evolve to meet the needs of the students of today. In a small sample of 50 anonymous UTPA students, 90 percent said they believe factual, informative sex and STD education should be taught in schools, and that it would benefit teenagers to learn. One respondent replied, “I think if children were presented with all the

information and risks, they would be more likely to protect themselves.”

Sex and Religion Of the students surveyed, 67 percent said they align themselves with Christianity in its varied forms like Catholicism and Mormonism. The others classified themselves as not religious. In the Christian faith, it is considered a mortal sin to “fornicate.” (Any sex had outside the bonds of holy matrimony.)

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” 1. Corinthians 6:48 NIV Yet 80 percent of those surveyed have had sex.

Abstinence Some respondents said that they were religious, but that they didn’t believe sex before marriage was as sinful as their religion makes it out to be. Others said that they have sex, but are often wracked with guilt about it. “It makes me feel like crap sometimes because sex is supposed to be between married couples.” “I feel sinful every time I do it.”

Sin and Sex “The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice arts, the idolaters and all liars. Their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” 1.Corinthians 6:8 II The Bible mandates that all sex take place within a marriage bond and allow for procreation. Scripture is actually very positive about sex, provided it is in a heterosexual, married setting. It is described as the ultimate union between a man and woman in love, which can even bring you closer to God. Fornication, however, is listed along with homosexuality, bestiality, incest and necrophilia as “sexually immoral” acts. Some of the students interviewed were gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Of those that were religious, most said that they believe God is a loving God, and will not actually view them as sinful for their sexuality. “Who was the Bible written by? Some

men, right? I believe in the things Jesus said—not the other stuff.” Of those that were not religious, they often cited the prejudices of the Christian tenets as the main reason they were not. “I am not accepted there [in church]. I can feel the hate sometimes. I have friends that are religious, and they accept me—but not everyone thinks like that I guess.” A lot of the debate around religion and sex surrounds the definition of sin, and the changing times. Are we still living in a world where it’s a good idea to have unprotected sex every time you want to make love? Is it more sinful to prevent a pregnancy than it is to have a child when you are not ready, whether emotionally or financially? Facts and faith are equally immovable objects, but sex is an irresistible force.

Dating on Campus About half of the survey respondents said they have dated, or met the person they are dating here on campus. Many noted that when students meet in a collegial environment, it’s easier because they already have something in common. “Finding someone on campus—it’s good because you know that you both have goals in life. They’re not just sitting back, they’re going somewhere.” “You know, dating someone from your college sounds great, until things don’t work out and you might have to see that guy every day! I have been there.” “Meeting someone in college is like an ideal situation. You meet so many people every day, and you can find people who are passionate about the same things you are.” Of the students polled, the five most mentioned desirable traits were: sense of humor, confidence, a smile, a fit body and a good personality (easy to be around). The five least desirable traits were: cockiness, a boring personality, being uneducated, desperation and promiscuity.

The Dry Spell Twenty percent of respondents said they were choosing not to have sex at this point in their lives. One respondent said, “I have a two-yearold daughter. Between her, work and school, I don’t have time for a relationship right now,

and that’s fine with me. I’ve got a lot on my plate. I would love to meet someone, but I’m not looking for anything serious right now.” Several others echoed her sentiment. Some said it was because they haven’t found the right person yet. And a few said they were waiting for marriage. “I haven’t had sex. Sex is about something special—love—but I’m not religious about it.” “I am religious and you can’t have sex until marriage. I practice [abstinence] because I haven’t met the right guy yet.” “College is my life right now. I want to do this right and I don’t want a distraction.” While some students choose not to have sex, others go without involuntarily. One third of those having sex described the sex as intermittent, characterized by the phrases “not often”, “randomly” and “once in a blue moon.”

Love or lust? Of the 80 percent having sex, about two-thirds of students were having regular sex with a monogamous partner. Sex-life satisfaction is another hotly debated subject. While some play the field and sleep with multiple partners, others insist that the best sex takes place in a loving, monogamous relationship. “If you stay with one person all through college, I think you’re settling. In college we have a lot of opportunities. You do a lot of changing, so it’s hard to meet ‘the one’ when you still don’t know who you are.” Another student said, “I have never met someone that I want to be around all the time. I see couples who are together for months or years, and they bicker with each other, they don’t have sex anymore. I don’t want that. The way it is now, I meet someone, and if we are both feeling it, we have sex. You don’t have to be in love to have sex.” Sex is a complicated business. Whether monogamous or casual, it grips you and forces you to answer certain questions about yourself and your beliefs. Sex is an evolving beast as well—the problems seem to grow more complex as time goes on. We are soon to be in a position to teach the younger generation, even our own children, what they need to know to thrive in today’s world. So, when you’re in that situation, what will you say?

Panorama 2010