DIRE STRAITS - BETTER THAN BARBECUE

BY MANUEL ESPARZA

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

The only thing better than listening to a Dire Straits CD is Dire Straits live.

With no opening act, they launched into "Calling Elvis," the first single from their latest album, On Every Street. Backing them were a percussionist, two keyboardists, a saxaphonist and a steel-guitar player, all with exceptional talent.

Each song was given new interpretations that lasted ten minutes or more. After the song "Sultans of Swing," the audience treated the group to a long ovation.

The individual players did have feature spots in the show. Knopfler's guitar style puts him at the top with Eric Clapton. The steel guitar added a uniqueness to the sound, much like hickory chips add a distinctive taste to the flavor of barbecue.

The only problem was trying to decide whether to close one's eyes and absorb the music, or keep them open to watch the million-dollar light show.

Up in the rafters were six stage hands running spotlights and faerie lights with great results. The effects would make the Mothership in Close Encounters of the Third Kind look like a penlight.

With no technical glitches, the only limit on the show was the group's road manager, who had to make sure that they would not over-exert themselves too early into their two-year tour.

 

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STATE'S BLACK DEMS MAKE SHOW OF SUPPORT FOR CLINTON

BY ERICKA SCHICHE

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

As the stakes got higher in the race towards Super Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton garnered the working endorsement of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats near the end of its conference.

Clinton, governor of Arkansas and a front-runner in recent polls, steamrolled the competition at Saturday's conference with 79.6 percent of 103 voters supporting him. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin followed with 11.5 percent of the vote.

"While Super Tuesday is still a few weeks away, we believe that the results of our straw poll can be used as a measuring stick to indicate which candidate is uppermost in the minds and hearts of black Texans and black America," Texas Coalition of Black Democrats President Booker T. Morris said.

He did not rule out the possibility of the organization switching horses.

"If for some reason Clinton decides that he shouldn't run or if something happens, we'll have to make an adjustment," he said.

In addition to Clinton, the coalition also endorsed Texas Railroad Commission candidate Lena Guerrero, Texas Supreme Court Judge Jack Hightower, Morris Overstreet, in his re-election bid to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, and Charles Baird in his quest to acquire a seat on the same court.

Most received overwhelming support, with Overstreet securing about 99 percent of the vote.

Another controversial leader in the Democratic Party stepped into the limelight Saturday. Despite his failed attempt at postponing the March 10 primary, State Attorney General Dan Morales seemed to be in high spirits as he delivered the keynote address to coalition members in the Westin Oaks ballroom.

"Many persons were moved, some to tears, by a television report about an 80-year-old woman, who could barely walk, registering to vote for the very first time in her life for that election," said Morales, referring to the recent Louisiana gubernatorial election in which Edwin Edwards soundly defeated David Duke.

He said the black voter turnout for that election proved political empowerment could be a powerful weapon.

Ironically, Morales himself recently found how little influence he wields outside the Texas border when Supreme Court justices voted eight- to-one in favor of a Republican redistricting plan.

Citing Gov. Ann Richards' administration as an example, he said "Government can be inclusive and fair without alienating the majority of the citizenry or electorate."

The topic of race-baiting resurfaced during Morales' speech when he said the Republican Party has used this tactic to circumvent more significant issues.

"Reagan talked about the mythical welfare queen, who drove a big Cadillac and got several checks per month," he said. "What Reagan and the Republicans didn't tell you is that a majority of the persons on welfare are white and the typical welfare recipient receives it for only two years."

Morales also spoke of economic empowerment in non-white communities when he said "If African Americans and Hispanics are good enough to pay taxes to the state, they're good enough to do business with the state."

Other issues that concerned conference attendees included the repatriation of Haitian refugees, voter apathy, the death penalty, crime and civil rights.

"We don't have any other refugees who have come into the United States and have been turned back and sent back into the cruelty that these people are experiencing," said Velma Jeter, a founding member of the coalition, referring to the Haitians, who had been classified as economic refugees.

Jeter said the candidates should focus more attention on the situation if they want minority voters to respond favorably.

Such issues also resurfaced at the youth rally. "I liked the idea of Judson Robinson III bringing kids to neighborhoods (such as River Oaks) to see how they could live," said Latrice Sellers, president of the UH College Democrats and rally coordinator.

She said such an activity would give the youth an opportunity to realize their economic potential and give them more incentive to become politically and socially active.

The coalition will play a significant role in the state Democratic Convention in Houston this summer, Morris said.

 

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CENTER TO BE CHRISTENED BY U.S. UNDERSECRETARY

BY CLAY CARPENTER

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

U.S. Undersecretary for Technology Robert M. White will be the keynote speaker at the Feb. 26 dedication of the UH Science Center (UHSC).

White heads the Technology Administration, which was designed to help U.S. industry compete in world markets.

Gov. Ann Richards and Mayor Bob Lanier will also speak at the ceremony honoring the new building.

The UHSC, which opened in May, 1991, houses the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH (TCSUH) and the Department of Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences.

The $22 million building was paid for primarily with Texas higher education assistance funds, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics Dean Glenn Aumann said.

It contains about $15 million worth of scientific equipment, financed in large part by a consortium of companies interested in superconductivity, including Boeing , Digital Equipment Corp. and DuPont, he said.

"Some of the equipment here has been invented by (UH scientists) because it doesn't exist anywhere else," TCSUH Associate Director for Public Affairs Susan Warren Butler said.

TCSUH is the largest center of its kind in the U.S. in scientists, technicians and instrumentation, Aumann said. The center is devoted to the study of superconductivity, the ability of certain materials to conduct electricity with no energy loss. In 1987, UH researchers discovered high temperature superconductivity (HTS), a more efficient form of superconductivity.

"(The UHSC) was built and designed specifically for the research that's being done in it now," said Aumann said. The UHSC consolidates scientists and equipment that were once stationed in several different buildings, Dept. of Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences Chair David Tu said.

"Now we have a home for the department and you see a quantum jump in people talking to each other. Sometimes people sit together and drink coffee and come up with new ideas," Tu said. Tu and TCSUH Chair Paul Chu will speak at the dedication.

The building dedication will be followed by a sculpture dedication. A black granite sculpture depicting an artist's interpretation of superconductivity will be installed in front of the building.

On Feb. 27-28, TCSUH will host its annual workshop on HTS (high temperature superconductivity) materials, bulk processing and bulk applications. UH is considered a leader in materials science, a field dealing with material needs for science and technology, Butler said.

More than 150 researchers and scientists will attend the conference, she said. "We bring together the best in the world and they brainstorm and the information that flows out of these (workshops) is really quite stimulating," she said.

 

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SHELL OFFICIALS GET GRILLED BY STUDENTS DURING MOCK CRISIS

BY REISHA VIRATA

NEWS REPORTER

In order to test its emergency response skills in the event of a real oil spill, Shell Oil Co. invited UH students to a mock press conference.

Holly Hutchins, head of media relations for Shell, said, "The concept of having the drills is to be prepared for any contingency. They are designed to test the emergency response of Shell and our ability to mobilize and respond in an effective way toward an emergency."

Students from the journalism and radio/television departments participated in the event and played the role of the media at the conference.

Some of the questions raised involved issues dealing with the safety of the environment, drug involvement on the part of the people involved in the spill, and the clean-up effort.

Hutchins said the objectives in using the students to play the roles were two-fold.

First, Hutchins said, "We wanted to test the use of the auditorium of the (Shell) building. We wanted to see if it could accommodate media, test the logistics and setting. We were satisfied; it was a good facility. The lighting was good, the sound, everything worked from this standpoint."

Secondly, the students helped Shell prepare for a crisis situation. Houston employees experienced what a crisis situation was like, Hutchins said.

"We were very satisfied with every student. They asked good, pertinent questions, were knowledgeable, took the time to prepare themselves, were courteous, respectful and didn't throw us many hardballs," Hutchins said.

Robert Musburger, associate director for Undergraduate Studies in the School of Communication, attended the mock conference with some of his students.

"I thought it was a good learning experience for the students. They were given a chance to see how the real world operates; how media relate to corporations," Musburger said.

However, he said there were two things that were not totally realistic about the situation.

First, the three major networks, independent networks, and more newspaper people would've been there.

"The second thing is that the reporters (the students with roles as reporters) didn't ask piercing-enough questions. Some didn't listen to the answers given. They didn't ask follow-up questions. They didn't really ask detailed questions. We really didn't find out anything new from what was on the press release," Musburger said.

Musburger still found the mock conference to be a very good learning experience.

Sally Pouncy, a senior majoring in RTV, said that she felt the mock conference was valuable.

"I've never done anything like that; standing up and asking questions that are relevant and make sense," she said.

"I learned that you don't sit down after you ask a question because he (the speaker) might not answer the question. He side-stepped it (the question) completely.

"It taught me that when I go to a press conference, I'll try to hold him to the question."

Shell isn't the only company to administer these drills. Hutchins said the Coast Guard and government and regulation agencies administer these drills as well.

Shell began holding these full-scale drills in 1990, Hutchins said.

He said every drill Shell has involves different role players and conditions. Different situations need to be tested so Shell will be prepared in any emergency, he said.

Shell learned from articles the students submitted that they needed to make the situation clearer to the reporters, Hutchins said.

He said Shell learned it needed to make a certain aspect of the situation clear. In this case, there was some confusion with a few students as to who owned barges involved in the mock spill.

"In a couple of the stories, it was written that the barges belonged to Shell when they really belonged to another company who worked with Shell," Hutchins said.

 

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THECB WARNS FUNDING CUTS AND ENROLLMENT CAPS LIKELY

BY DEBBIE HOUSEL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

The next session of the Texas Legislature is looming over higher education like a black cloud, bringing a dire forecast of severe cuts in funding from Austin.

Although the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) at its Jan. 31 meeting recommended a $662 million higher education funding increase -- 21 percent above the current funding level -- the feasibility of this increase passing through the Texas Legislature looks bleak, Texas Higher Education Deputy Commissioner Don Brown said.

The $622 million recommended increase will be sent to the Legislative Budget Board later this year.

"But having done that (recommended the increase)," Brown said, "a number of board members thought they didn't want to mislead either the universities or the public. On the contrary, a number of members think there is not much of a likelihood of any increases in funding and predict funds will probably be decreased.

"So, to be responsible, they felt they needed to tell universities to be aware, and take steps to be ready for what they think could come about and urge institutions to be prepared," Brown said.

THECB stated in a resolution that, along with the additional estimated need for government expenditures in excess of $5 billion for the January 1993 legislative session, the new funding increase doesn't include any increased financing for higher education.

The resolution states: "The Coordinating Board urges all institutions of higher education to recognize realistically that they may face the most serious crisis in higher education budgeting in the past 30 years.

"In order to protect the quality of programs and services, the Coordinating Board calls upon all institutions of higher education to prepare in-house contingency plans for no growth and institutional retrenchment (including restrictions on enrollments, a freeze in hiring, closures of programs and schools, colleges' and departments' reductions in patient services, reductions in salaries, and cuts in staff and faculty).

"Contingency plans should set educational priorities, including the elimination of programs, in the event the present level of funding cannot be maintained. The contingency plans prepare for cuts as high as 10 percent from current levels of funding."

THECB looked at two facts: The number of students is increasing, and the prospect for increased funding is dim, Brown said.

He said the number of students coming into universities keeps increasing, yet the money is continuing to be distributed more thinly.

"No one knows how long this can go on until we reach a level where it is totally unacceptable," Brown said.

"What the Coordinating Board will do," he said, "is to push very firmly for eliminating programs that are not essential for ones that are."

He said THECB will ask institutions to identify programs that are not turning out as many students with degrees.

"A lot of institutions have already cut back, and now the only ones they are left with are good degree programs, (these institutions) will have to make some hard choices," Brown said.

The UH System Board of Regents and other statewide governing boards are the ones who will decide where the cuts will be made, he said.

If the Legislature has to impose severe cuts, it's possible that THECB, Gov. Ann Richards or the institutions' governing boards could decide to stop enrollment, he said.

UH System Board of Regents Chairman John Cater said although this is the first he has heard of THECB's resolution, he is not surprised. He said the UH System's four campuses are currently evaluating every program to decide whether they should continue operating at the current levels.

The Legislature and THECB may require UH to cap enrollments.

"It has not been adopted as policy, but we're foolish if we don't look at it," Cater said.

Besides enrollment caps, Cater said other possibilities for Texas universities are to draw money from other resources, reduce the number of faculty or to take a higher amount of endowment funds.

But Cater said these possibilities won't change UH's mission -- that of being a teaching and research university.

He said these possible cuts will require a more in-depth look at the programs and how UH fits into the educational value in its market. Some courses could be transferred to UH-Downtown, Cater said.

Brown said another option is to stop enrollment at some universities like UH, Texas A & M and UT, which are completely full, and increase enrollment at other colleges that have space like East Texas State and West Texas State in Amarillo.

UH is preparing a strategic plan outlining its mission, philosophy, external/internal assessment and goals, due by April 1.

Following the first deadline, UH will have to submit by June 1 a more detailed plan expanding on the above-mentioned, stating its specific objectives to reach these goals.

Also during the last legislative session, article V, section 49(4) of the General Appropriations Act, instructed institutions to periodically report the achievement of key performance targets.

These include student retention rates, degrees earned and classroom utilization.

 

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STUDENT GROUP TRIES TO STIR INTEREST IN ISSUES

BY MELISSA NEELEY

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

A UH volunteer organization is trying to move students to not only think about homelessness and hunger, but also to do something about it by getting involved in food drives, volunteer work and other activities.

A student organization, the Metropolitan Volunteer Program began in 1989 and devotes itself to having students and faculty put their talents to use and help others in their community. Its funding comes from the student service fee listed on fee statements.

Other than helping the homeless, MVP works with high school students to counsel and tutor sophomores. It is involved with soup kitchens and meal-delivery services to feed the elderly. MVP also gives UH students valuable experience in the field of social work to later find paying jobs, Lloyd Jacobson, director of MVP, said.

"We're hoping to get people to think about the homeless all year long because they are there all year long," said Jacobson, currently finishing up a master's degree in social work. On March 9-13, MVP will host "Hunger and Homelessness Week" to raise awareness of these issues.

Some of the activities planned include food and clothing drives, a sleep-out-under-the-stars on campus to give students a small taste of homelessness, and also homeless guest speakers, addressing their problems in living on the streets, Jacobson said.

Other student organizations on campus are getting involved in "Hunger and Homelessness Week" as well.

"Alpha Pi Omega got involved this week and is actually taking the lead role in coordinating the sleep-out. The Progressive Student Network is going to participate as well and will help with a lot of the coordination. Team Earth (an environmental group on campus) is talking about having a concert to raise food or money," Jacobson said.

On Feb. 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the U.C. Underground, MVP will host a volunteer fair in which tables will be set up by particular agencies representing mental health, literacy, homelessness-related issues and environmental issues, Jacobson said.

"This is solely a volunteer fair to provide students a way to learn about activities that they want to be involved in. Since the agencies and students get to interact directly, the best recruiting can be done," he said.

The Bristow Center, a drop-in rehabilitation center for homeless persons with mental illnesses, located at 2627 Caroline Street, will have a table set up at this volunteer fair.

"The Bristow Center is designed not only to meet basic needs such as food and clothing, but to go a step further and improve their (homeless people's) livelihoods by, in some cases, teaching them to read and to provide GED training, and vocational training," Paul Marcus, director of the Bristow Center, said.

The hours for the center are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is mostly made up of volunteer workers, and the center is looking for students to provide homeless people with emotional support and to help them find jobs, Marcus said.

Wendy Clark is a UH student majoring in journalism who volunteers to work for the Bristow Center on Friday afternoons.

"I sit down with the person to find out what their skills are and what past work experience they had. Sometimes we have to teach the person how to fill out a job application.

After finding out about their work skills, we go through the microfiche and send them to the TEC (Texas Employment Commission). We help find jobs that are suited to them," she said.

Many UH students are working part-time and carrying a full course load in school, therefore, the amount of students who actively go to MVP seeking to volunteer their services is limited, Jacobson said.

The volunteer fair, occurring next week, may lead students to realize how important their time and talent are and encourage them to become involved with organizations like the Bristow Center, Jacobson said.

 

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REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES SWAPPING MUD SUNDAES

BY FRANK SAN MIGUEL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

In the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Congressional District 25, it's no holds barred.

The race between UH-Clear Lake professor and Republican activist Esther Lee Yao and businesswoman Dolly Madison McKenna has been peppered with allegations and press conferences. McKenna, however, said she is upbeat.

"We're really pleased at the response we're getting and feel that we're building momentum," McKenna said.

"My opponent has attacked the way I live and my family, but I feel that people will be able to judge for themselves."

McKenna's platform has emphasized grass-roots politics.

"Our government of the people, by the people and for the people has become a government of bureaucrats, by special interests and for imperial legislators who hold themselves above the law." Fighting bureaucracy, McKenna said, means setting term limits, rotating committee chairs and abolishing political action committees.

"Our system is very disaffected right now, and if we're to get our government back, real changes will have to be made," she said. "We need to end the gridlock and stop Congress from being dependent on special-interest money."

McKenna said that such items as health and education were high on her agenda, as was giving better representation to the industry-heavy district.

Experience in working with the gas and oil industries, she added, makes her more in touch with the concerns of business.

McKenna was director of project and finance acquisitions for Union Texas Petroleum Company of Houston and, in 1974, was one of the first women hired as a corporate lending officer as vice president to Chemical Bank.

"I have experience in working with the oil and gas industries and know what their concerns are, as well as all business. (U.S. Congressman and incumbent) Mike Andrews simply doesn't," she said.

Health care should not be socialized, McKenna said. "Why are we talking about bringing in a socialized system that is obsolete?" she asked.

"Half the world has thrown off the yoke of socialism. Only our Democratic Congress is plodding down that worn path."

Instead, the health care industry needs a system of market-based incentives to control cost, McKenna said. "I favor bringing more of an informed-consumer approach to health care. People would know what procedures and items cost and would be able to make an informed choice," she said.

McKenna also favors emphasis on preventive care. "So many of our resources are allocated to serving patients in the last six months of life," she said. "We need to reallocate funds to go into preventive care," she said.

Education is "one of the keys for turning this country around," McKenna said, and her plans call for bringing more local control and input into primary schools. McKenna said she has no proposals on changing higher education, however.

On the economy, McKenna favors elimination of a capital gains tax for those making less than $50,000, a reduction of federal spending by 10 percent, and a 2 percent tax credit reduction for purchase of American-made durable and semi-durable goods.

Despite issues, the campaign for the seat is best-known for feuding. At a Feb. 7 press conference, Yao chastised McKenna as a "limousine liberal" who "doesn't understand the values of hard work."

In her announcement speech, Yao said of McKenna: "Like so many people who live in River Oaks, she spends her time on the symphony, the opera and the Museum of Fine Arts. She heads up organizations for poor children, yet her own children attend expensive private schools."

McKenna is a national trustee for the National Boys and Girls Clubs of America, served on the steering committee for Kid's Way, a division of United Way, and has been active in Communities in Schools, which encourages inner-city children to remain in school.

Yao's accusations are characterized by the McKenna campaign as "gutter tactics," although McKenna raised a few allegations of her own in regard to Yao's finances.

Reports filed by Yao's campaign, McKenna said, show little funding has come from Houston. "of the $200,000 she has raised, $132,000 has come from various organizations outside Texas," McKenna said. "I think people have a right to know who's trying to buy a campaign in Houston."

Yao, on leave from UHCL for the campaign, was unavailable for comment.

 

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YOUNG JOURNALISTS DEBATE ETHICS WITH PROFESSIONAL HOUSTON MEDIA

BY RHONDA HECTOR

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

A conference on the rights of the press under the First Amendment was held at the UH Hilton Monday.

Students from area high schools and colleges, including UH and Texas A&M, were involved in round table discussions with members of the professional media.

They discussed cases involving the press's right to print certain items under the First Amendment of the Constitution and whether printing those items is ethical.

"That's the problem with ethical questions; you're never completely right and you're never completely wrong," Charles Cooper, senior vice president and editor of the Houston Post, said. "It's whether you think you've done the right thing after you've done it."

One of the topics discussed was the printing of "hate speech." The discussion was based on recent attempts by a Nazi group to publish an advertisement suggesting the Holocaust never happened in college newspapers across the country.

The students and professionals deliberated what they would do if faced with the same situation.

"You have to decide if what you're printing has value to the majority of your readers," Tom Bell, editor of Public News, said. "But if you start censoring ads from a minority group, you are interfering with their First Amendment rights."

There was also discussion about other forces that determine what the press prints, such as companies who advertise in the paper and the people who own the publication.

"The freedom of the press is determined by who owns the press," Cooper said.

The group also debated whether naming someone in an embarrassing news story is ethical.

"It's a matter of public interest," Tony Peterson, managing editor of the Houston Chronicle, said. "Victims of crime are newsworthy."

Peterson, who recently made the decision to name a minor who shot a fellow student at school, said that although the Houston Chronicle usually does not name minors in criminal cases, there are exceptions.

"There is a difference in a teenager stealing a car or dealing drugs and someone carrying a gun onto campus and shooting a football player in the back," Peterson said.

The conference was aimed at informing the students of their journalistic rights under the Constitution, while also discussing moral dilemmas.

"The First Amendment is an incredibly formidable weapon," Cooper said. "But you need to know where your First Amendment privileges cross over into an invasion of privacy."

The event was sponsored by the Harris County Dept. of Education, the Houston Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the UH School of Communication.

Michael Gartner, president of NBC News, was to be the speaker but was unable to attend due to illness.

 

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RELIGION CENTER SERVES DIVERSE STUDENT GROUPS

BY KATHERINE PURCELL

NEWS REPORTER

Students can find compassion and a refuge from the UH hustle and bustle in the A.D. Bruce Religion Center.

Diana Shankar, the center's building coordinator, said the center has a "warm, friendly atmosphere."

The center encourages all students, regardless of their beliefs, to stop by for a little bit of refuge, Shankar said.

Students often come to the center to talk, to find a support group or just to rest on one of the sofas. Students who work nights often come to sleep on the sofas between classes, she said.

The center houses Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Protestant organizations, a total of 10. It offers studies of the Bible and the Koran, as well as retreats, weekly meetings, worship services and prayer groups. It has classrooms, offices, a lounge and two chapels. Shankar said they conduct four to six weddings each week.

Robert Budewig, pastor at the Lutheran campus ministry, said the organizations provide activities to meet students' spiritual and physical needs, as well. They offer various social events, such as movie nights, sporting activities, parties and trips.

"We're offering (students) an environment consistent with their faith," he said. Several groups offer weekly luncheons upstairs in the center. Everyone is welcome.

People at the Religion Center are happy to answer questions or just to talk. Questions about faith, relationships, frustration and stress are common topics, Budewig said.

"A number of the students, over the period of a semester, have questions pertaining to their faith. How does their personal faith interrelate to some of the classes they're being taught. It's a faith journey that they are going through. Sometimes the struggles are worse than others. To have someone to bounce some thoughts off of, that's what I'm here for," he said.

Budewig said the number of students who come to him for counseling increases by about 50 percent during finals, graduation and during world crises.

Rabbi Stuart Federow said the B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation allows Jewish students an opportunity to "learn more about their Judaism and be able to express their Jewishness in whatever ways interest them."

This organization provides holy day celebrations, bible study, introduction to Judaism, topics on Israel and a "Jewish approach to controversial topics of the day."

Federow said sometimes UH "schedules events on Jewish holidays that it knows are Jewish holidays." He said finals and classes may fall on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, which causes problems for Jewish students. "They have to risk antagonizing professors by following the dictates of their own faith," he said.

Yasser Tolba, president of the Muslim Students' Association, said they add diversity to the UH campus.

"Our goal is to spread Islam. As Muslims, we have certain ways of doing different things." There are people who are "anti-different," he said.

He said during the Persian Gulf War, anything from the Middle East was looked down upon. Islam was equated with terrorism. Some Muslim students got threatening phone calls. Interest at the Dawa table, their Islamic information table at the University Center, declined.

 

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UHSC SCULPTURE TO BE DEDICATED WITH CEREMONY NEXT WEEK

BY CROSBY KING

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

At last -- art you can sit on.

An untitled sculpture consisting of three huge granite slabs will be installed today at the UH Science Center.

But unlike the 21 other outdoor sculptures on campus, this won't attract pigeons.

The slabs, designed by world-renowned artist Matt Mullican, will lie prone on concrete blocks only a few feet off the floor of the center's southwest plaza.

"Mulligan envisions them as being used as stages and platforms and benches," Blaffer Gallery Director Nancy Hixon said.

Two of the pieces measure 16 feet by 8 feet, while the third, a square, has 4-foot dimensions. The slabs will be arranged in such a way that the viewer must take in each one before appreciating the work as a whole.

Symbolic patterns and ordinary signs are etched into the 3/4-inch black cambrian granite.

Hixon said Mullican drew much inspiration from the concept of pop art, and that his designs dwell in our subconscious.

"Mullican's work integrates man and the sciences and art," she said.

The UH Art Acquisition Committee commissioned the project last year, paying Mullican $150,000. The university pays 1 percent of the construction costs of new buildings to provide for their artwork.

Hixon said the committee chose Mullican because he would draw a lot of "good notoriety" to the UHSC.

"We wanted an artist with world-class status who would address things in a non-traditional way," she said.

The committee found that Mullican was attracted to UH physicist Paul Chu's research in superconductivity. The design on the square slab comes from an 18th-century engraving demonstrating the principles of static electricity.

Dozens of Mullican's works have been featured in the United States and in Europe, but this is his first sculpture in the Southwest.

Many of his works are installed flush with the ground, but Hixon said the committee was concerned with Houston's shifting clay soil, and it considered permanence as a top priority.

She said the installation would take two days, weather permitting.

Dedication ceremonies honoring both the center and the sculpture are planned for Wednesday, Feb. 26. Mullican, who is currently out of the country, is scheduled to attend the event.

 

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STUDENT SINGS FOLK MUSIC LIVE

BY SHANE PATRICK BOYLE

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Folk singer Donna Chatham's performance at the Red Lion Pub last Thursday was a pre-Valentine's Day treat for everyone who attended.

Chatham has been performing for five years. In addition to being a singer and songwriter, she is also a UH junior majoring in English.

She played three sets of almost one hour each, performing solo, her only instruments being her voice and an acoustic guitar, but modest guitar was all that was needed to accompany her rich voice.

Some critics have labeled her a blues artist for songs like "Repetition," but she is actually a very flexible musician. Her repertoire includes a variety of songs from country folk to her own renditions of popular songs.

In addition to her own songs, her interpretations of songs by such diverse artists as Nancy Griffith, Neil Young, Dan Fogelberg, Joni Mitchell and Woody Guthrie were included in her show. Her rendition of Joni Mitchell's "Carousel of Time" would have made Joni proud.

The majority of songs she sang were heart-break songs, an ironic theme for the evening before Valentine's Day. These included some of her own and a few by Neil Young, and Dan Fogelberg's "Morning Sky."

She put the audience into a better Valentine's Day mood by shifting away from broken-heart songs. "Come to Town" was one of her transition tunes, which she referred to as one of the two happy songs Neil Young wrote.

Another theme that seemed to carry over to several songs was a free-spirit theme.

These free-spirit songs included Woody Guthrie's "Hobo's Lullaby" and two of her own songs, "Rocking Chair" and "Growin' Pains."

"Rocking Chair" was dedicated to all "artists at heart doing what you want to do -- not because it makes money, but because you want to do it."

Her lyrics sing, "They say you can not live on dreams. Well maybe not, but you can make them live." Another inspirational line in the same tune says, "I know that I must make my bread, but music sets me free."

"Growin' Pains" is a new song, which she performed for the first time that evening.

It is about a woman who rests in the arms of a lover, waiting for the right moment to tell him she is leaving to pursue her dreams, but he already seems to know without words.

"He caught a tear from the corner of my eye, and watched like he waited for words," the narrator says in the song, and the man lets her go, saying, "Give those dreams a chance to come true."

Donna Chatham's next performance will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, at Last Concert Cafe, 1403 Nance.

 

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