UT STUDENT PULLS PISTOL ON CAMPUS

BY MICHAEL D. OESER

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

University of Texas student John Oliver took problem resolution to a new level Wednesday -- he walked into the UT president's office with a .357 magnum.

The 21-year-old walked into the crowded reception room of President William Cunningham's office about noon wearing a backpack, UT Police Lt. Gerald Watkins said.

"He walked up to the secretary's desk and asked to see the president. When the receptionist told him the president wasn't in, he reached in his backpack and pulled the gun," he said.

However, Oliver hadn't noticed the presence of UTPD officer Don Marquez when he entered. Upon seeing the gun, Marquez tried to sneak up on Oliver, but the gunman heard him coming.

Oliver turned on the officer, but Marquez was close enough to knock the gun barrel up. The weapon discharged into the roof, and Marquez wrestled Oliver to the floor and handcuffed him. No one was injured.

A press release from UTPD said Oliver was upset over school difficulties and had wanted Cunningham to resign.

Oliver was arrested and charged with attempted capital murder, aggrevated assault and unlawfully carrying a weapon on a prohibited premises.

"On a college campus, things like this don't usually happen. I'm just glad someone was there to take care of it," Watkins said.

 

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BILL REWRITE COULD MEAN MORE MONEY

COUGAR NEWS SERVICE

Students soon may find more grants in their financial aid packages.

Higher education associations have been fighting to expand grant eligibility while simultaneously arguing that a decade-long trend toward loan-based aid should end. Their battle will climax this fall when Congress rewrites the Higher Education Act, the blueprint for all federal aid programs.

National student leaders say the battle can be won if students are willing to join the fray.

"It is going to be an incredibly tough battle, and you need to call your congressmen," said Selena Dong, legislative director of the United States Student Association.

The House Postsecondary Education subcommittee led the reauthorization effort, holding more than 45 hearings during the past two years.

The subcommittee has finished its hearings and is expected to begin marking up the bill early this fall. Mark-up is the crucial phase for all bills. That's when congressional representatives go over the bill section by section, proposing new rules to replace ones they do not agree with.

When the subcommittee finishes, the House Postsecondary Education and Labor committee will examine the bill before it goes to the full House for debate. Any section of the bill can be amended at any point in the process.

The Senate also will begin later this fall marking up its version of the Higher Education Act. When the House and Senate pass their versions of the act, a conference committee will try to combine the two bills into one, which must be approved by both houses.

Dong said this mark-up process gives students a chance to fight for proposals they favor, such as switching financial aid emphasis from loans to grants.

"A lot of people say, `What difference does it make to call your congressman?' But a lot of changes have to be made and congressmen do read their mail," Dong said.

USSA, the primary student-run lobbying organization, has been pushing to expand Pell grant eligibility to families with incomes up to $49,000 and to reopen the Stafford loan program to all students, regardless of income. It also wants to increase Pell grant awards and to make them an entitlement, which would protect them from budget cuts.

The group included these recommendations in a 25-page proposal it submitted to the subcommittee.

"We want to make sure that middle-income students get Pell grants and are eligible for Stafford loans," Dong said. "We don't want to create a system where only the very poorest and the very richest students can go to college."

The Education Department and the Bush administration are proposing more modest changes. Their recommendations, delivered to Congress earlier this summer, would expand the maximum Pell grant from $2,400 to $3,700, but it would restrict the grants to the neediest students.

The administration, however, would expand loan programs for middle-class students. The Stafford loan limit would go to $3,500 for first- and second-year students and to $5,000 for third-, fourth- and fifth-year students. Graduate students could get up to $7,500 annually.

Also, the limit for Supplemental Loans for Students would increase to $6,000 for undergraduates and $10,000 for graduates.

The administration plan would create $500 achievement scholarships for Pell grant recipients and it would expand outreach programs to low-income communities.

Dong said she believes many proposals favorable to students will make it into the bill.

Charles B. Saunders, a senior vice president with the American Council on Education, said most lawmakers were looking for ways to help middle-class families afford college without taking out too many loans.

"Where the punch comes is that the administration only favors grants for the neediest," Saunders said.

The council has proposed raising the maximum Pell grant to $4,500 and expanding eligibility to families with incomes up to $45,000.

The American Association of Unviersity Students, which represents more than 300 student governments, held its 1990 national conference in Washington when the reauthorization process began. They lobbied Congress for the day, visiting members' offices to tell them how important increased financial aid was to the average student.

AAUS president Daniel Labovitz said the association's big push now is to increase student power by registering students to vote.

"If they go out and vote, then they have more of a chance of getting listened to," Labovitz said. "If you don't vote, then you are not really a constituent."

Labovitz said all students need to write their representatives.

Saunders agreed students need to make their opinions known.

"Students in general need to monitor what the committees are doing in both houses of Congress and express support," he said.

 

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PERFORMANCE ART AS TRIBAL RITUAL: THE ELECTRIC BLUE

MAN TROUPE REDEFINES THE GENRE

BY CHRIS ENGLISH

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

When most people think of performance art, that esoteric word art pops out at them with big, bold letters, as if it's a medium only understandable to highbrows or when interpreted to you by someone with a voice like Allistair Cooke's.

I remember one particular experience with my brother who goes to a military academy up on the banks of the Hudson. He was down for Christmas vacation, so I took him to a party at Downtown Grounds.

For entertainment, there was a comedy troupe doing a Karen Finley-style performance which featured this larger-than-average (okay, fat -- sue me if it's not politically correct) woman in pink negligee wearing a mask and rubbing lard and other various food items across her person. This whiny female voice was piped in over the speakers, discussing her shy nature, her inability to meet boys, and her eating problem. My brother, casually accustomed to having large mortar rounds fired in his general direction, was oddly enough, paralyzed with fear. He stood there, rigid, staring like a deer in the road before headlights.

It was the unknowing which paralyzed him. He wanted to laugh, but thought that the performance was art and therefore to be taken seriously. He didn't understand the show and was at an impasse. We left hurriedly and went to see Twisting the Farm at Zelda's. He actually did enjoy that. No accounting for taste, I guess.

"I thought I was going to throw up," he told me later. Even to this day, he eyes me suspiciously if I suggest something to do when he's in town.

Such is definitely not the case with the Blue Man Group, the art troupe who opened DiverseWorks' performance calendar this season with a drum roll and a splash (both occurring about the same time). The word in big, bold letters is performance.

The three guys, painted blue and acting as one, combine aspects of street performance, stand-up comedy, music and visual art into a large bowl, turn up the heat and bake the concoction into a repaste for the whole audience to enjoy.

Today is Sunday, and Blue Man is now lounging around DiverseWorks Artspace after an all-night ordeal of packing and cleaning up after their show (they get pretty messy -- splattered paint, marbles, marshmallows, Captain Crunch nuggets, you name it.) I find them now peering over the top of Jeff Poss's Caged Rage, admiring the simplicity and ingeniusness of its mechanism. The first thing I notice is the long hair. The sculpture is part of the Contemporary Issues show that started the day before. We go to the bar to talk.

The audience itself is part of the show, as Chris Wink, the guy in the center, says. "It's very much audience-based, because we're trying to make rituals rather than performance art."

I told them my little anecdote about my brother, thinking it was relevant in some way.

They looked at each other quizzically for a moment and I shut up.

Chris shifts in his seat on the staircase as he explains, "Most performance art is you have something to say and you say it and either the audience gets it or it doesn't, whereas this (Blue Man) is about rituals; it's about community; it's about audience; it's about including the audience to make a tribal experience."

To help myself understand what he meant by "tribal experience," I went to the Webster's unabridged Third New International Dictionary. According to it, a tribal is "resembling a tribe in possessing a sense of identification with and loyalty to the habits, traits and values characteristic of a close-knit familistic, socio-cultural occupational, or political group or in ceremonial or ritualistic activity."

From what I take that to mean is that what Blue Man is trying to do is to involve the audience in the act, for them to identify with those blue characters on the stage, to react all in the same way together.

Normally what happens in an ordinary theatrical performance is that the individual members of the audience, brought up on television, put their blinders on and ignore the rest of the audience, perhaps even their date, to watch a performance. The people on stage always seem farther away than they actually are. You leave the performance and discover that your friend Jim Bo was sitting behind you. The idea behind Blue Man is that you are part of the show, that you aren't just an atom, spinning alone in a universe of other isolated atoms, that you can take part in a group experience.

Of course, you don't need a Webster Dictionary to help you understand the show, nor Allistair Cooke explaining it to you calmly in a Windsor chair. You don't even have to understand the show. That's not the point. You just have to be there. And laugh. Because laughter seems to be the universal solvent for a Blue Man show. I don't think Allistair Cooke would completely approve of Matt Golman's, the guy on the left, artistic skill of spitting paint onto a canvas.

Blue Man includes the audience in the show mostly through pranks, whether it's taking them backstage, hanging them upside down, painting them some color (it was pink Friday) and slinging them against a canvas; or inviting them onstage to feast upon a Twinkie.

Phil Stanton, the guy on the right, discusses the isolation caused by that delineation between audience and stage: "How do you make a tribal experience, a happening, from a theatrical setting? We try to make use of the area we've been given."

Chris Wink continues, "I guess the over-arching thing for us was that we were trying to make a tribal experience and we were noticing how difficult that was and how almost everything tends to either isolate you into your own room with your VCR or overload you with stimuli."

They passed on this hi-tech confusion to the audience with spoofy skits about everything from fractals to virtual reality, with a virtually exotic mind trip to the Orange Show, everything tied together eclectically with a tribal beat.

The beat is African-Latin-American, inspired mostly from Chris' training in the field of percussion. Matt and Phil picked it up along the way.

The show mostly centered around TUBES, featuring xylophonic instruments fabricated from PVC pipes and tubing in strange configurations. At one point, Blue Man did a rather original cover of "White Rabbit" with the lyrics (as well as some interesting discussory digressions) appearing on electronic LED display screens. It even beat Mae West's cover of the Doors' "Light My Fire." It's true, she really did.

How did this all come about? "I guess it started about three and a half years ago, mostly out of boredom. We didn't know we were going to do a show per se, we were just going to do some happenings ... scheming up things that would be wild, to shake things up a bit, so we got a bunch of people and got blued up and did some things in the street, and that's how we got started and then we just took that energy indoors," Chris explains with a few chuckles.

"We've been doing the same things ever since. It's not like we've been developing new shows; we're not theater-based; we try to create happenings. Some of the first things we performed indoors we do now. We build on what we've got, change stuff, just try to make it better, make it more of an experience with the audience," he says as he goes over to the counter to retrieve some Chinese food containers, stepping over a long line of duffel bags and battered metallic cases.

"You don't mind if we eat, do you?" Sure, go ahead.

 

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POSSIBLE HPD RESERVE FORCE WORRIES POLICE GROUP HEADS

BY JOHN CORDES HOWELL

NEWS REPORTER

Houston Police Chief Elizabeth Watson's proposed reserve police officer force is cause for concern by the presidents of HPD's largest unions.

"I've got reservations about an auxiliary police force," said Greg Bisso, president of the Houston Police Patrolmen's Union. "Being a police officer is a profession, not a part-time job."

"I'm not sure a reserve force will work," said Doug Elder, president of the Houston Police Officer's Association. "We need more police doing police work. This issue is more complex than just forming a reserve force."

No timetable for forming the reserve force has been set. The proposal, which was first considered during Lee Brown's tenure as chief of police, must be approved by City Council. Watson said she would like to see the program started as soon as possible.

While Bisso and Elder don't seem to agree with Watson about whether the idea of a reserve police force is a good one, they both agreed liability was their main concern.

The issue of liability revolves around what duties the reserve officers will be allowed to perform -- whether they will be allowed to carry weapons and the type and amount of training and supervision they will have.

"Training, screening and accountability are my main concerns," Elder said.

Although he believes the community needs to be provided more police protection, Elder said he wondered whether the reserve force would be a liability or an asset.

Bisso shared the same concerns, adding he didn't believe a reserve force would fit in with the idea of a neighborhood-oriented patrol, which is an important part of HPD's patrol philosophy.

Watson said reserve officers will complete the same number of hours of training in the area to which they are assigned as regular police officers. She also said the reserve officers would be phased in through the use of pilot programs in certain departments in HPD, but offered no specifics.

Watson played down the concerns expressed by Elder and Bisso because the proposal is still in the planning stages.

"It's hard to oppose something if you haven't been given the details," Watson said.

Other police agencies in Harris County use reserve officers to supplement their department's manpower. Harris County Constable Precincts One and Four, and the Harris County Sheriff's Office have used reserves in all areas for years.

The HCSO uses field-training programs for its reserves, of which it has hundreds.

"It's been extremely successful. It would be hard to operate without them at times," HCSO Chief Tommy Thomas said.

The Precinct Four Constable's office has a 32-week field training program for their reserve officers, during which they ride with an experienced officer. As the reserve officer moves through the program, he or she handles more of the workload.

"We use reserve officers in all capacities, including patrol, communications and warrants," said Chief Deputy Constable Karen Moore.

Watson is aware other departments are using reserve officers.

"We try to learn from the experience of other agencies," Watson said.

Both Bisso and Elder said they are concerned the proposal is "election-year rhetoric." This concern is fueled in part by the lack of details from Watson's office. Elder said he sent a letter to Watson three weeks ago, but hasn't received a response yet.

Bisso and Elder said they would monitor the situation.

"I'll keep an open mind until the chief tells me what she wants to do," Elder said.

 

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JUGGLING CLASSES, CHILDREN CALLS FOR CREATIVE SCHEDULES

BY TODD DUPLANTIS

NEWS REPORTER

Imagine getting up in the morning, getting ready for the day, feeding and tending for a young child and rushing through morning traffic to arrive at a day care center -- all before your 8:30 class.

For many UH students, this is a daily activity.

"Everything has to be so routine," said Michele Richards, a senior majoring in communications. "My life is on such a tight schedule. I leave no room for just waking up and saying, `Hey, what can we do today?' There's no freedom to life. From now until Dec. 13, my life is totally structured. Every working day, I know what I have to do that day."

Richards, who has a five-month-old son, has worked on her college degree for the past eight years. In order to finish this December, she has to take 21 class hours.

She is currently on a leave of absence from her job as a flight attendant to finish school.

"I'm not working; I'm going to school Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, I can be completely committed to taking care of my son. My husband is with him two days a week," Richards said.

Alice Quinn Schwartz, a senior majoring in journalism, finds her routine of being a student and a parent a bit easier.

"On Monday and Wednesday, it's pretty much set," she said. "We have a nanny that comes in to care for my child. I also own a business, so I'm covered by having her."

Not all students, however, have the choice of taking care of a child at home. The UH Day Care Center is an option for those who can wait one or two semesters to get in.

Marceline Devine, child care center director, said the length of the waiting list for students, faculty and staff depends on the age of the child. The younger the child, she said, the longer the wait -- ususally one or two semesters.

The center, which cares for children between the ages of three months and kindergarten, has about 190 children enrolled, and 70 percent are students' children, Devine said.

In order to enroll a child, Devine said a parent must sign a contract for the semester. This contract commits the child for two, three or five days of care, she said. The contract also states parents must maintain enrollment or employment at the university, Devine said.

The cost of the UH Day Care Center is comparable to rates at other area day care centers. The UH Day Care Center charges $90 per week for children up to 24 months, compared to Children's World Learning Center, which charges $88 per week.

One difference, however, is that the UH center includes diapers with the cost, Devine said.

"One of the uniquenesses is that we provide the whole program," Devine said. "We not only provide care, but we provide breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks, diapers and baby food."

Shari Riley, a senior majoring in communcations, has used the UH center for more than two years and is very pleased with it. Riley said though the on-campus center is convenient, "I couldn't have done it without my husband. He's been very, very supportive."

 

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MUSIC PROFESSOR FILLS HALL WITH ROMANCE

BY STEVE GARRETT

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

UH Music professor Stephen Smith will fill the Dudley Recital Hall with romantic melodies from some of the world's most renowned composers Saturday at 8 p.m.

Accompanying him will be his partner of the past 20 years, his wife, Carol.

"At first it was difficult working with her because of our different interpretations of music. The longer we've played together though, the more our opinions fall in line. It's ideal," Smith said.

The recital will feature compositions by Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler. Smith said the French and German composers selected have a special meaning to the couple.

The piece Smith admires most is by Maurice Ravel. The French composer penned "Don Quichotte a Dulcinee" while working with baritoness Martial Singher, Smith said.

"I feel I have a direct relationship with this piece," Smith said. "Singher was one of my teacher's teachers. I feel I can do this piece the way the composer intended."

Smith said he also admires the Strauss piece, "Allerseelen," which is part of the recital. It's a lush, romantic piece that has communicative power and beauty, Smith said.

Smith, who has taught voice at UH for two years, began his love affair with music when he was in the seventh grade. He wanted to take piano lessons, but his father disapproved and wouldn't pay for them, Smith said.

So Smith financed his own lessons by cutting neighborhood lawns. The lessons and the budding lawn care business only lasted a year, but his love of music grew stronger until it became the most important thing in his life.

At the University of Arkansas, he studied music for three years before specializing in voice.

"I decided singing was the most viable option for me," Smith said.

In college, Smith was inspired by a German singer named Dietrich Fischer-Diescau.

"I never particularly liked his voice, but he communicated well. Vocally, I wanted to be like him," Smith said. "He sang musically and artistically expressed the text."

 

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PERRY, DEFENSE TAKE AIM ON ILLINI, STAKE OUT CHIEF VERDUZCO

BY JASON LUTHER

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

No Houston player in his right mind would want to play Miami again at this time of the season.

No one, that is, except Cougar strong safety Kenny Perry.

"I'd love to play Miami again this week," Perry said. "I think we're a better team. We gave up some big plays, and you can't win and give up the big plays. Fortunately, the loss came early in the year. We're going to bounce back."

If the Cougars are to salvage some national recognition in Illinois Saturday, they will have to bounce back like they did last year after the Texas game.

However, a blowout of a 1-1 Illinois team will probably only further embellish Houston's reputation as bullies where most faithful skeptics are concerned.

The 5-8, 170-pound Perry is more optimistic.

"I wouldn't be suprised if we were back in the top 10 within the next two or three games," he said.

National reputation and ranking aside, Houston needs to win this next game for themselves. A win would greatly boost the confidence lost in the Miami game. However, going in to the conference schedule with two consecutive losses could prove disastrous.

Houston will have two weeks after the Illinois game to prepare for their first conference game against Baylor, and their attitude will dictate their preparation.

However, with the conference schedule approaching, the Cougars cannot afford to look past the Illinois game; they must be intently focused. Not on touchdowns and interceptions, but on the fundamentals.

The basic rules of football are throw the ball, catch the ball, run the ball, and if you don't have the ball, crush the guy who does. Houston lost to Miami because they broke not one but all of these rules, especially the one about crushing the guy who does.

If Houston can't execute tackles against Illinois, they will be in big trouble.

In its first two games, the Fighting Illini offense has averaged the fifth most total yards per game in the country. This is more than Houston and Miami.

Junior quarterback Jason Verduzco ranks fourth in Illinois history in total offense, passing yards, completions and touchdown passes. His 431-yard passing day against Missouri is the 14th best in Big 10 history.

"He's kind of a Doug Flutie- type," Houston Coach John Jenkins said of the 5-foot-9 quarterback. "From the standards of size and all that business, you tend to put some minuses on him and say, `no, he can't play,' but there's a boatload of competitiveness bottled up inside that young man. He executes well and I can clearly see why he turned in the kind of performances he did (this year). Boy, he's a tough, fine competitor."

Perry agreed.

"He's not big but he's got great mobility and a strong arm."

Perry said the Cougar defense will have to put pressure on Verduzco and shut the Fighting Illini offense down no matter what the Houston offense does.

"If we have to win 3-0 and shut the offense out, then we have to," Perry said. "Last year our offense carried the team, but we can't always rely on that."

Along with cornerback Jerry Parks, Perry, whom Jenkins calls the quarterback of the defense, is a key to bringing the Cougars back from the Miami loss. He and Parks are the only senior defensive leaders and contribute a great deal to the morale of the defense.

Perry was on his way to a banner season in 1990 when a broken foot against Arkansas took him out after seven starts. He left with 56 tackles, three interceptions, a fumble recovery and a broken-up pass. He was named national defensive player of the week by Sports Illustrated after two key interceptions in Houston's comeback win over Texas A&M.

A candidate for post-season honors this season, Perry is off to a good start.

He is one of the only guys in the Houston secondary who didn't get scorched by the Hurricane receivers. He was co-leader in tackles with five, broke up a pass and combined with defensive end Allen Aldridge for Houston's only sack. In Houston's first game against Lousiana Tech, Perry had four tackles and one broken-up pass.

If the Run-and-Shoot offense can catch fire again, it will take some pressure off Perry and the rest of the defense.

Although the Illinois defensive line is nowhere near the caliber of Miami's, they do possess a valuable weapon in safety Marlon Primous.

An All-America and Jim Thorpe Award candidate, Primous stands 10th on the Illinois career tackles list with 256.

Still, Illinois Head Coach John Mackovic knows Houston has given more whippings in the past three years than they have received.

"If we aren't ready to play against Houston, I'm just not certain what the score might be," said Mackovic, who coached the team to a Big 10 co-championship last season.

Saturday's game will be Houston's first ever against Illinois, and only its second matchup against a Big 10 team.

 

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COUGARS LOOK TO AMBUSH, TOAST FIGHTING ILLINI

BY MIGUEL ZEPEDA

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

When the Houston Cougars tangle with Illinois' Fighting Illini in Champaign, Ill., only one team will be the toast of the town.

Neither team had reason to celebrate last week as they each lost for the first time in the `91 campaign.

Houston, 1-1, comes into the contest with a huge 40-10 blemish suffered at the hands of Miami.

Illinois is coming off a disappointing road loss against the Missouri Tigers.

The two teams collide in their first-ever meeting, before a national television audience at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Houston will be facing almost a mirror-image of itself in regards to passing offense. The Fighting Illini ranks second in the nation in passing (behind UH), averaging 392 yards per game.

Leading the IIlinois attack is quarterback Jason Verduzco, who has put up David Klinger-like numbers in his first two games.

The 5-foot-9 junior from Antioch, Calif., has thrown for 780 yards and leads the nation in total offense.

Illinois Head Coach John Mackovic defends Verduzco from critics who say he lacks size.

"He's a terrific competitor. Being 5-9 has no bearing. He was one of the best sophomores in the conference (last year in the Big-Ten). Jason's done a good job for us," Mackovic said.

Houston Head Coach John Jenkins compares Verduzco to another undersized quarterback -- former Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie -- whom he coached while with the New Jersey Generals of the now-defunct United States Football League.

"His (Verduzco) competitiveness and his ability to make plays are very, very similar qualities. He's an explosive little guy. Certainly, we've got to bottle him up," Jenkins said.

Verduzco has a talented corps of receivers to throw to, namely All-Big Ten candidate Elbert Turner.

A 6-foot senior, Turner is coming off the most productive game of his college career, having caught seven passes for 157 yards.

But Illinois' offense won't be the only show in town.

Houston, no stranger to gaudy numbers, leads the NCAA in passsing offense and is averaging 41.5 points per game.

Mackovic is well aware of Houston's potent offense and said his team will have to work hard to get pressure on Klingler.

"Houston has one of the most explosive offenses in college football. If you're not ready to play them for an entire 60 minutes, you're going to have a long afternoon," he said.

The Illini defense will also have to contend with the speedy UH receivers.

Junior Freddy Gilbert leads the nation in receptions per game at 13.5, while Marcus Grant ranks eighth in yards per game with 108.

Houston's offensive line is looking to redeem itself after allowing five sacks against Miami.

If the line fails to protect Klingler, no one will be proposing a toast in Houston.

 

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SCIENTISTS TO REPLICATE CONTROVERSY

BY MAURY HAMMOND

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Recent scientific findings suggesting homosexuality is biologically determined are being replicated, and the world could have an answer in two years.

Simon LeVay, who published his findings in the Aug. 30 issue of Science, presented evidence suggesting homosexuality is, at least in part, biologically determined.

The study is causing much debate among groups who have been haggling for years about whether homsexuality is biologically determined or a product of early environment.

LeVay, who has declared himself a homosexual, said most gay people he talks to are excited by the possibilities his work represents. They feel many of the social, legal and work problems they have could finally be resolved, he said.

"Now that we have a specific area of the brain to study, I feel we are close to finding out answers to these long-standing questions," LeVay said.

Some groups fear homophobes could exploit the result, pointing out a brain "defect" in homosexuals, possibly even screening for homosexuality in utero when technology permits.

"Many people think being homosexual is a question simply of choice. I don't know about them, but I've known since I was three years old that I was having sexual thoughts and feelings that weren't `normal,'" said John Cook, vice president of the UH Gay/Lesbian Students' Association.

During a meeting in the University Center, members of the group discussed the possibilities of what might happen if the LeVay study proved to be valid.

Cook said while it would be nice if it was "that simple," he thinks being homosexual is much more complicated.

"It would be great. But I don't think the study was really that conclusive. He didn't have a very large sample group. Anyway, I think the question is more of whether or not to come out of the closet than of how someone becomes homosexual," he said.

Most members of the group echoed his response. "I knew from way back that I was gay. How I came to be gay wasn't really important. It was coming out, telling my friends and family that I was gay that was the hardest. My mother didn't speak to me for a year," said a senior majoring in accounting, who asked not to be identified.

Other GLSA members voiced fears homophobes would, if the study proves true, try through amniocentesis or some other procedure to "fix" it.

LeVay believes more positive strides will be made following the confirmation of his work.

"People won't change their attitudes just because of this work. It's a matter of feelings and emotions, not intellectual rationalization. I hope that as this work is studied and confirmed, people will come to understand that if gays can't control their orientation there is no difference between them and peoples who happen to born left-handed.

"People are right now studying the possibilities of genetic predisposition, that is not my field, but within 10 years we should know which gene or which combinations of genes cause many behaviors," LeVay said.

"There is no doubt that some would try -- would they succeed? I don't think that's realistic. I think gays and lesbians will gain more from this than they will lose," said Chris Bacon, chair of the Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus in Houston.

Bacon, a lawyer and vice president of the Bar Association for Human Rights, based in Houston, said if the study proved true it may go a long way in improving the legal climate surrounding the gay and lesbian community in the United States.

"If homosexuality is proven to be immutable. And, that's the important distinction, then the tests used to determine cases of wrongful termination in the workplace could be held to stricter or tighter standards. In other words, if it is immutable, it will be harder to justify termination of employees based on their orientation because they can't do anything about it," Bacon said.

The courts, especially the Supreme Court, are reluctant to expand the number of what they call protected classes or "suspect classes," and right now there are still only three classes requiring the strictest tests of all regarding equal protection and privacy invasion: race, religion and alienage, he said, pointing out gender is still not protected.

"Actually, the mentally retarded have more protection in these areas than do gays and lesbians," Bacon said.

LeVay, who does research for San Diego's Salk Institute, pointed out his findings contain no direct evidence that the difference he observed actually causes homosexuality.

However, many scientists in LeVay's field have attested to his competence. In fact, one neuroscientist, familiar with his work, said LeVay was very well-equipped to make the observation. However, he said big speculation should be put off until the results are confirmed.

 

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NEW NAME JOINS RACE FOR MAYOR

BY ANTON P. MONTANO

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

With more than 2,000 signatures in hand and sparse representation of local media, Willie Mae Reid, 52, threw herself into the 1991 mayoral campaign Thursday, representing the Socialist Workers Party.

"It's not so much the office," Reid, a refinery operator for Shell Oil, said at City Hall. "It's very important that we participate in this process and become part of the political discussion of promoting possible solutions to problems."

Reid's campaign waived the $1,250 ballot fee and collected 2,300 signatures in a three-week period, 900 more than the 1,400 needed to petition a name onto the mayoral ballot. Reid is the only mayoral candidate to file under petition.

During the petition drive, however, Reid said Houston police wrongfully harrassed people working for the Socialist Workers Party.

"The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has already agreed to be our legal representative," Reid said. "But, if they are successful at preventing us from voicing our ideas, they could stop anyone."

Reid said police charged a campaign worker Aug. 6. with "distribution of commercial handbills" and "blocking a city sidewalk with a table" at the corner of Main and McKinney streets. The campaign worker was trying to get signatures to place Reid on the ballot.

"If this is not a case of free speech, then nothing is," said Jerry Freiwirth, the cited campaign worker.

"They had the option of dropping the charges, but they aren't," Freiwirth said. "Even the charges themselves are suspicious. Our petitioning was clearly not commercial. The table was a very small, little table. And we've done this for more than 12 years now without problems."

A jury trial on the charges is set for Jan. 22.

"This is an attempt to limit the ability of socialists to campaign," Reid said.

Reid's candidacy for mayor marks the fourth time she has run for public office. In 1976, she ran for vice president of the United States. Reid was also a candidate for Texas' 18th Congressional District in 1990 and for mayor of Houston in 1985.

Reid said local media have taken over the role of deciding who are the major mayoral candidates and are ignoring her campaign.

"We will certainly have to fight for equal time," Ried said. "This is supposed to be a non-partisan campaign, but we have a problem getting the major media to cover our campaign. We'll be fighting to get into debates and pushing for political exposure."

Reid said the other mayoral candidates were using crime as an issue to distract attention from the underlying problems of a profit-oriented government.

"Capitalism is what throws these people to the fringes of society where they're forced to survive," Reid said.

For Reid and the Socialist Workers Party, participation in the mayoral race is an opportunity to put the "socialist alternative" into political discussions.

"This society is based on profit," Reid said. "It should be understood that political institutions are designed to protect profit. But, when there's not enough to go around, there are attacks on the gains of the past -- like affirmative action programs and abortion rights.

"We need to unite working people," Reid said. "Corporations are being attracted to areas because of cheap labor and low taxes. We need to organize in order to confront this. It's not an individual problem; it's a class problem."

Reid said the socialist position should not be confused with the bureaucracy of the past's communist Russia or Eastern Europe.

"I think the U.S.S.R. represents decades of intimidation and bureacratization," Reid said. "The leadership in the U.S.S.R. went wrong. But, the masses in Russia are rising now and those workers will join the world."

Tom Kleven, a Texas Southern University professor of law, said Reid's campaign is an important lesson for students.

"I think students should recognize that society is not nearly as democratic as purported to be," Kleven said. "The increasing amounts of money have affected what is really an undemocratic political process."

Kleven said the Socialist Workers Campaign was an attempt to mobilize more democracy.

"We support full democratic rights," Steve Warren, a Socialist Worker candidate for city controller, said.

The Socialist Workers platform includes a demand to shorten the workweek without any pay cuts in order to increase the availability of jobs, the maintenance of affirmative action programs and the cancellation of all Third World debts.

"We need to have priorities of how the wealth is spent," Reid said.

Reid said the cutting back of hospital services for the indigent in Houston needs to be addressed, the minimum wage should be raised and Allen Parkway needs to be renovated to provide low-income housing.

Steve Warren, a 43-year-old sugar refinery operator for Imperial Sugar in Sugar Land, is running for city controller as a write-in candidate for the party.

 

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