MEXICAN FAMILY'S TRIALS DURING REVOLUTION TOLD

ARTE PUBLICO GETS AUTHOR PUBLISHED AS OTHERS REFUSE

BY REBECCA MCPHAIL

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, UH will play host to author Victor Villasenor as he delivers the first lecture in the 1991-92 Inventive Minds Series.

Villasenor's third published novel, Rain of Gold, has just been released by UH's own Arte Publico Press. The novel has the distinction of being the first hardcover book published by Arte Publico.

Rain of Gold is Villasenor's account of his family's struggle to live during the Mexican Revolution. He spent 12 years researching, verifying, and, finally, recording the stories of his immediate and extended family.

It was this dedication to the truth that led to his falling out with Putnam, the book's original publisher. Villasenor had already accepted a $75,000 advance when he learned that Putnam had plans to shorten the book and market it as non-fiction.

They felt that the book would sell better as a romance, he said.

"They wanted to push it as Gone With the Wind," Villaseanor said.

After a great deal of bargaining, he bought back the rights to his book and began searching for a new publisher. His search led him to UH's Arte Publico Press.

Villasenor had his reasons for choosing Arte Publico.

"I didn't have to explain myself," he said. "They understood what western writing is about."

Arte Publico, headed by Nicolas Kanellos, is currently the largest U.S. publisher of Hispanic books. Despite Arte Publico's nearly 20 years of experience, Kanellos was doubtful about publishing Rain of Gold.

"Competing against the major publishers for newspaper and bookstore space takes resources, and we just don't have those resources," Kanellos said.

However, with the advice and encouragement of contacts in the New York publishing field, Kanellos and the staff of Arte Publico decided to accept Villasenor's offer. It was by no means an easy task.

"We really had to tax ourselves," Kanellos said. "We had to do a lot of overtime work and we had to recruit a lot of extra people to make the whole thing come about."

Since its release in August, Rain of Gold has met with nearly unanimous approval, receiving favorable reviews in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Although Villasenor worked hard for this success, his journey to this point was difficult and, at times, uncertain.

Born in California, Villasenor spoke mostly Spanish at home until he entered school and was required to speak English. This caused obvious problems -- and he further hindered by severe dyslexia.

Despite his difficulties, at age 20, he vowed to become a writer. "When I was 20 years old, I swore before God that if He'd help me become a great writer, I'd never accept money, I'd never accept positions, I'd never accept anything from anyone until I became that," he said.

During the next 10 years, Villasenor honed his craft and wrote nine novels and numerous short stories. He supported himself by doing seasonal construction work.

He received over 260 rejection notices until 1973. It was at this point that Bantam published Macho!. Villasenor went on to write another book, Jury: The People vs. Juan Corona, and a screenplay, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez.

Villasenor first learned of the story of Cortez, a man who killed a sheriff in 1901, from a folk song his father used to sing. This interest in the stories and wisdom of his parents and grandparents led to Rain of Gold, his most ambitious project to date.

Although he spent long years researching the facts and sunk heavily into debt, Villasenor felt the story needed to be told. "In our rush to progress," he said, "we've lost a lot of wisdom and we've lost the family unit."

"What my book does, more than anything, is fuses the family together through hardship. It shows that we are a wonderful species," Villasenor said.

The gamble that both Villasenor and Arte Publico took on Rain of Gold is beginning to pay off handsomely. The paperback rights to the novel have just been sold to Dell and negotiations for a miniseries based on the book are taking place with interested parties such as HBO.

Arte Publico, spurred on by the success of Rain of Gold, is now committed to doing more national publishings. Kanellos and his staff are currently hard at work again.

"We're launching another hardcover commercial book," he said.

Villasenor, who is currently on a publicity tour, is looking forward to his engagements in Houston.

"I felt very at home in Texas," he said. "I've become a reborn Texan."

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

MIDDLE-INCOME STUDENTS MAY SOON FIND FINANCIAL AID HELP

PROPOSED BILL TO RESTORE STUDENT AID CUTS

COUGAR NEWS SERVICE

It's an age-old complaint among college students stuck in the middle -- their parents make just enough money to disqualify them for financial aid, but they need financial help.

Many students, parents and educators say they are tired of a system that favors the rich and the poor and leaves out those in-between.

Now, the problems of middle-income families struggling to educate their children have caught the attention of legislators and administrators. And some colleges have come up with innovative programs to help students caught in the middle-class money squeeze.

On Sept. 26, the United States Student Association, a student lobbying group, convinced the House Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education that middle-income families need help.

In the draft reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, USSA had an impact on several changes made. One of the most dramatic was the establishment of Pell Grants as an entitlement under which every eligible student can receive grant assistance.

The Higher Education Act is reviewed every five years, and the Pell Grant's maximum amount is recommended in advance to the Appropriations Committee.

As an entitlement, the Higher Education Committee would take the current discretionary function away from the Appropriations Committee. For example, if $5 million were the funding recommendation, $5 million would be what the Appropriations Committee would have to authorize rather than using that figure as a ceiling.

Other USSA changes in the draft included:

Increasing authorized funding for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program (to $600 million from $499 million), the State Student Incentive Grant program (to $125 million from $85 million), and the College Work-Study program (to 900 million from $650 million).

Excluding home, farm and business equities from the government's need analysis of families.

Reducing the portion of a dependent student's income expected to go to college expenses from 70 percent to 50 percent.

Eliminating the double-counting of students' savings.

Although the bill is only in draft stages, USSA is confident the changes will remain for the bill's final passage.

In a prepared statement, USSA president Tajel Shah says, "Students have seen their educational access increasingly threatened by the erosion of grant programs and USSA is organizing to reverse this trend."

Colleges and universities across the country are doing their part as well.

Beginning in th 1992-93 school year, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, is offering one of the most generous aid packages on record for middle-income students and their families.

Antioch offers Middle Income Assistance Program loans and zero-interest. If the loan recipient graduates, the loan is forgiven. Students can receive a maximum of $7,000 each year.

"This is the only forgivable loan program for middle income families," says Jim Mann, Antioch public relations counsel. "A number of people are doing other things like forgiving half of the loan ... but I think the others pale in comparison."

Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y., established its Parent Aid Loan Program about eight years ago, offering low-interest, partially forgivable loans to middle income students.

Hartwick's loan program offers students a maximum of $2,000 a year during their freshman and sophomore years. If two-thirds of the loan is repaid within six months of graduation, the remaining one-third is forgiven.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

UH PROFESSOR WANTS TO CLEAN UP STATE'S AIR

MATSON APPOINTED TO TEXAS AIR CONTROL BOARD

BY MICHAEL D. OESER

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Environmental engineering professor Jack Matson knows what the people of Texas, and especially Houston, have been breathing for years, and with his recent appointment to the Texas Air Control Board -- he plans to do something about it.

"Seven billion pounds of volatile organic compounds are released in Texas every year," Matson said. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as benzene, are the main reason for the deterioration of the ozone layer, he said.

"That's the haze you see over the city today," he said.

Matson was one of three new people appointed by Gov. Ann Richards to the board, including the new chairman Kirk Watson, a civil attorney and Sierra Club member from Austin, and Suzanne Ahn, a neurologist from Dallas.

Matson said the biggest task facing the nine-member board is making the state conform to the new federal Clean Air Act, which could be especially troublesome where Houston is concerned.

"(The Clean Air Act) is really tough. They really do want to clean up the air," he said. "Houston has the second worst air in the country behind Los Angeles. We live in a petrochemical and oil-dominated culture here. Seventy percent of the petrochemicals in the U.S. are produced in this area."

Matson said while emissions from industry are going to have to be reduced, the other main source of emissions -- automobiles -- is going to have to be seriously cut also.

"What we're going to have to have is some strategies that are going to change our lifestyles.

"This is a federal stipulation so we don't have any choice but to comply," he said.

Matson said if Texas doesn't comply with the standards, it could mean loss of federal highway funds and the implementation of emmissions offsetting, whereby, before beginning operations, a company trying to enter the market that would emit 50 tons of VOCs a year would have to find other companies to pledge a total cutback of 100 tons of VOCs a year.

If imposed, Matson said emissions offsetting could reduce or even stop economic growth in Houston.

Matson said his own personal mission is to get a much higher level of citizen involvement at the decision-making level in the board.

"This should send a message to industry to pollute less," he said.

Matson's credentials include 17 years of teaching, consulting and research in the areas of water pollution and hazardous waste.

"I was sincerely surprised -- happily surprised, but surprised nonetheless. I thought there would be more significant objections from industry considering what an ardent environmentalist I am."

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

GOV. RICHARDS ASKS VOTERS TO SUPPORT NEW PRISON BILL

BILL WOULD ADD 25,000 CELLS TO HELP KEEP DANGEROUS CRIMINALS BEHIND BARS

BY DEBBIE HOUSEL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Trying to remedy Texas' "strained beyond capacity" prisons and jails, Gov. Ann Richards urged a capacity crowd here Wednesday to vote in favor of a $1.1 billion prison bill on Nov. 5.

"No matter how hard we try we can't be sure our loved ones aren't protected. There is not a failure to communicate, we're sending out a message loud and clear, we have had it," Richards said.

Richards spoke to about 800 members and guests of The Forum Club Of Houston during a luncheon in the Grand Ballroom of the Doubletree Hotel.

Proposition 4 will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot, and if approved by voters, will issue the building and construction of 25,000 prison cells at a cost of $1.1 billion.

In 1962 there were 12,000 people in Texas prisons. Today there are 50,000 people in penitentiaries and 40,000 in county jails, Richards said.

"Prisons are strained beyond capacity. People are arrested and out before the paperwork is done," she said.

The current total prison capacity is 50,000 cells, and last year alone, 46,000 people were convicted, she said.

"We need to get our priorities straight. We need to use the cells we have for violent criminals. Right now we have a system where an individual who writes two hot checks receives the same conviction as a rapist. Now common sense tells you who should be spending time in Huntsville.

"If a 19-year-old with a fake ID gets caught buying a bottle of liquor, even if they are a first time offender, they are convicted of a felony and sent to the Big House, which is the best crime school in Texas," Richards said.

Richards said 12,000 of the new cells should be designated for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Drug offenders will have to undergo rigorous treatment and must stop, she said, noting that other states that have incorporated this concept have had a success ratio of three out of four offenders that don't return to prison.

After Richards' speech she responded to questions the audience had written on cards.

One question posed concerned higher education cuts.

"I don't think higher education faired too badly. I consider myself a friend of higher education. Houston, Texas, would not be what it is today if not for UH and Rice Universities," she said.

Richards said the Legislature has asked universities to inform legislators of how much they have in their local funds to institute some accountability during the budget process.

"None of us want to hurt higher education, but we have not been successful (in finding out these funds).

"Everyone says, `Don't gouge me anymore with taxes.' I listen to you. I am not stupid. The last session was belt-tightening, brother, and it will again be with the next session," Richards said.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

SUMMER IN GERMANY PROVES REWARDING FOR GRAD STUDENT

BY MIGUEL ZEPEDA

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Few people can say they've been involved in research that could help a large part of humanity -- let alone help find a cure for a deadly disease.

This past summer, UH honor student Coleen Murphy did just that. Murphy, a senior biochemistry major, traveled to Germany to work for Bayer G.M.D.H., a large German company that is involved in medical research.

She worked alongside Hanno Roder, a former MIT professor and a leading scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer's disease, the progressive, irreversible neurological disorder that affects older people, causing them to lose their memory and impair their judgement.

Roder is publishing his findings on what he believes is a major breakthrough in the study of Alzheimer's disease. When he publishes, Murphy said she'll take pride in knowing that her work was part of an important finding.

"That was the first time I had ever seen first-hand research," she said. "I had read about techniques used in research in books, but this was pretty exciting, reading on current things."

Murphy was one of 10 students selected from across the United States to work for Bayer. The other nine students worked in various fields ranging from engineering to business.

It was there where she learned to value the importance of a second language. Murphy knew she would be there for three months and that she had to communicate with German people.

"I enjoy being bilingual," she said. "I learned a lot about the language and the culture. I could live here (in the United States) or over there. But I believe American universities are the best."

Murphy didn't stop working when she left Europe. Along with her fall class schedule, she's working on her senior honors thesis with UH biochemistry professor Kurt Krause. Her research utilizes a process called X-ray crystallography, which helps determine the structure of protein and its function.

School had always come easily for Murphy. As a high school student from Spring Hill, Kan., she'd get her schoolwork done so that she could participate in another activity she's always enjoyed -- sports.

Not only was she recruited for her academics, she was also recruited for her athletic prowess. She was a gymnast until age 16 and ran hurdles in high school. But she decided that she didn't want to pursue her athletic career. Besides, she said when she got to UH, things started to change.

"Things drastically changed when I got to UH," she said, referring to the time consumed by her studies.

Murphy said she selected UH because she was impressed with the Honors Program.

"I really liked the Honors Program," she said. "I think you get a more rounded education because of the added requirements. I have a broad range of interest and the program allows you to have discussions in their smaller classes. You can discuss literature in a room with 20 students, instead of 400."

Murphy's professors are pleased with the work she's done while at UH.

Ted Estess, head of the Honors Program, said Murphy is an outstanding student and expects her to continue her work in research.

"Coleen is one of the most outstanding students I know," he said. "She's doing outstanding work in her research."

Murphy said she will attend graduate school, but isn't sure exactly what type of research she will be involved in.

"I feel I have to learn before selecting which field I'll be working in," she said. "There's just so much in biochemistry. I'd like to be involved in medically-related research. I want to help people on a large scale, and I am more interested in being behind the scenes."

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBILITY SUBJECT OF NEW ACT, DEBATE

BY MELISSA NEELEY

NEWS REPORTER

Two faculty members spoke in Austin last week about the American Disabilities Act and its important provisions relating to employment for the handicapped on a national level.

"The ADA reinforces legislation made in the 1970s because there are now deadlines for compliance to its laws and private businesses are now included. Before the ADA was passed, legislation stayed out of the private sector," said Karen Waldman, Coordinator of Handicapped Student Services.

The employment section of the ADA becomes effective July 26, 1992 and says that qualified disabled persons may not be discriminated against by employers because it is convenient for them to do so. For example, a company cannot deny employment to a handicapped person because its buildings are not wheelchair accessible, Waldman said.

The ADA will affect those employers having 25 or more employees on July 1992, and on July 1994, those work places having 15 or more employees will be affected.

"Students with disabilities will have an easier time getting jobs because the working environment will be more accessible," said Professor Mark A. Rothstein of UH's Law Center and a speaker at the ADA meeting in Austin.

Some issues discussed on Friday were designing accessible work environments and assessing if a person can effectively do his job, Rothstein said.

"Representatives from corporations, small businesses, lawyers and industrial psychologists are a sampling of the audience attending the meeting," Rothstein said.

Ray Pentecost, a UH architecture professor, talked about the importance of designing handicapped-accessible buildings and the expense of accessibility in the job place.

Small businesses, like those which are family-owned, cannot afford to make themselves accessible with ramps so alternative methods such as valet parking and curb service will be developed, Pentecost said.

The standards and changes imposed by the ADA are not unbearably costly or will cause unbearable hardship to the employer, Pentecost said.

UH's student population may increase because the ADA will allow more handicapped students the transportation to come to class since more Metro shuttle buses are being lift-equipped, Waldman said.

"There are nine routes now which are handicapped accessible and six more routes will be lift-equipped in the next couple of weeks," Waldman said.

Metro will be working with disablity groups to find out which routes should be stressed and made accessible as soon as possible, Waldman said.

"There will not be drastic changes (at UH) because we are pretty accessible due to legislation passed in the 1970s, but subtle changes like lowering water fountains and elevator buttons and making more accessible bathrooms will be made because of the ADA," Waldman said.

The ADA's intentions are not to do everything overnight, said Waldman, which is, "positive because UH is committed to quality of accessibility and not just meeting the bare minimum standards."

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

COLEMAN EDGES PAST BONEY IN DISTRICT RACE

GETS 53 PERCENT OF VOTE TO CLENCH EVANS' HOUSE SEAT

BY DAVE DAVIS

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Houston businessman Garnet Coleman pulled out a surprising victory in Tuesday's runoff election against local civil rights activist Jew Don Boney in what Coleman describes as a "cleanly run race."

When the polls closed Tuesday evening, Coleman had received 313 more votes than his opponent, which earned him 53 percent of the total votes cast in the runoff.

Coleman admitted to being a little surprised at the results considering Boney won the initial special election with 29 percent of the vote.

"The first race had so many candidates participating that the votes were somewhat dispersed," Coleman said. "I was somewhat surprised at the outcome, but at the same time I knew that I had gained a lot of support throughout the race."

Coleman also received some helpful endorsements from former District 147 candidates George Dillard, Larry Blackmon and Dave Edwards, as well as two key endorsements from The Houston Post and the Houston Chronicle.

Coleman will finish out the current term that was previously being served by the late Larry Evans, who died recently of an apparent cocaine overdose.

Coleman realizes he will not be much of a factor during the remainder of the session of the state legislature. However, he plans to immediately become active in other facets of the position.

"There's more to being a state representative than just voting," Coleman said. "I plan to immediately begin to familiarize myself with my constituency and let them know that I am available to them."

Coleman also reaffirmed his commitment to addressing the needs of UH and other Texas colleges. Coleman said one of his priorities is to create bond elections to make sure Texas has enough money to provide student loans to all students who qualify.

Coleman also recognizes the inequity in the availability of Permanent University Fund monies to the University of Texas, Texas A&M and other Texas universities. UH and other state universities are ineligible for these funds.

Coleman had reservations about attacking the fund, as his opponents suggested, but said he would consider plausible alternatives.

"I don't feel that you have to tear something down in order to build something up," Coleman said. "I might not necessarily go after the PUF fund, but I would certainly lobby for something like it for other state universities."

Coleman also restated his support of a rail system to ease Houston's transportation woes. Coleman says Houston needs to commit to some form of mass transportation, and it needs to be soon.

"Let's face it, we can't keep widening the freeways," Coleman said. "Cities like Atlanta, that already have a rail system, are beating us out for federal money because we keep postponing the effort."

The proposed rail system was one of the principal areas of contention between Coleman and Boney. Boney, who repeatedly referred to his campaign as a, "grass roots effort," had been criticized for not having a broad enough base of support.

Coleman said his Tuesday evening victory party was proof of the diversity of supporters his campaign attracted.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

UH SYMPHONY SHINES

BY DAVID W. OERTEL

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The UH Symphony Orchestra opened its first concert of the semester with John Corigliano's Promenade Overture.

With everyone off-stage except for the percussion and french horns, the startling first notes were announced, surprising the audience.

This piece provides several wonderful orchestral and theatrical techniques. For example, in the beginning, the initial off-stage trupet fanfare was very effective and dramatic. It is repeated throughout the overture; different sections of instruments entered one at a time, playing their figure of the accompaniment, providing a wonderful method of getting musicians on stage.

Throughout the overture, the main theme was passed around from section to section canonically with occasional solos sneaking through. To add a bit more of theatrics to the mood, in the last measures, the tuba player ran in playing a simple accompaniment pattern searching for his seat and finally sitting right on the final note. It was a marvelous and entertaining premiere performance for Texas and maestro Adrian Gnam.

The next piece on the program was the Horn Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, Opus 11 by Richard Strauss. The soloist, Eric Ralske, gave a delightful performance.

After the nod from Mr. Ralske, maestro Gnam gave a strong introduction which led to a solid performance in this refreshing interpretation. Ralske showed a virtuostic ease in technical passages throughout, especially in the final movement. After his performance, the resounding applause yielded him a second bow.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Overture to Don Giovanni, K. 527, conducted by graduate conducting assistant, Don Keller, was performed in a most spirited manner. The slow and ponderous opening gave a wonderful contrast to the new tempo at the Molto Allegro. mr. Keller's premiere performance with an orchestra was truly a success. Mr. Keller was easy to follow, whowed expressive passages and certainly added quality to the musical evening with a very dynamic performance.

Clear, crisp violins provided a tight and energetic display of sounds required for Sir Edward Elgar's Variations on an Original Theme, Opus 36 "Enigma." Subtleties indicated by maestro Gnam's conducting gave each of the short variations it's own entertianing personality. These variations have proved to be a marvelous method of showing off the talent of the students playing various instruments like the cello, clarinet, viola and oboe.

The finale demonstrated an exciting conclusion to the variations. With a long stretch of applause, Gnam recognized every prominent soloist and section, showing his delightful rapport with orchestra.

Visit The Daily Cougar