SA REJECTS PLAN TO DUMP VEEP

BY MEAGAN MCGOVERN

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Students' Association senators voted down a referendum last week which would have gauged student views on the idea of terminating the SA vice president's position.

The current vice president, Andrew Monzon, said he wants his position eliminated.

Because of a senate resolution to reduce spending, the SA budget needs to be streamlined, and $15,000 has just been cut from last year's $108,000 budget, according to the final budget published by SA.

The biggest item cut from the budget was last year's $4000 Student Empowerment Awareness Month, which sponsored various activities last semester, including the mayoral debate here on campus.

Other victims of the cut included $1250 from the SA staff development fund, a fund which finances retreats for senators, $1000 each from two contingency funds, and $1000 from the office supply budget.

Minor amounts were cut from long distance telephone bills, the inauguration fund, and the travel expense fund.

Another $4,000 would have been freed if the vice president`s position had been eliminated, Monzon said.

He said the position is "very ceremonial. We felt it could be eliminated, and other people could take over the few duties that the job entails."

The SA constitution states that the vice president's duties are to take over in case of an accident, resignation or temporary need.

According to Kevin Jefferies, an SA senator and a proponent of the idea, "The vice president has an office and a computer and, in return, has to serve on a couple of committees, which someone else could do just as well."

The speaker of the senate, Lee Grooms, who wrote the bill, concurs. "I thought it (the office) should have been cut not from any failing on the part of any people who have held the office, but because the office lacks any organizational legitimacy," he said.

The issue, which was voted down at a Feb. 24 meeting, required a two-thirds vote by the senate to pass, and then would have been put to a vote in the general election on March 11 and 12.

The final vote, a voice vote, fell well short of the two-thirds needed.

Monzon is running for SA president in the general election and believes the issue will resurface. "Now that the idea of getting rid of the office has been introduced, more people feel comfortable with it. If it came up again, and wasn't an election semester, I think it would pass."

Monzon is running without a vice presidential candidate on his ticket to emphasize his feelings about the issue. "I would really be a hypocrite if I ran with a VP candidate," he said.

Grooms agrees. "It's been something of a political sacred cow in the past. People are used to having a vice president. Now that the issue's been brought up, people will re-examine it."

 

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FOTOFEST '92 FOCUSES ON LATIN AMERICA AND EUROPE

BY REBECCA MCPHAIL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then FotoFest '92, with over 100 separate displays of current and historical photographs, is a story of epic proportions.

FotoFest is an international biennial photography festival dedicated to showing new artists, bringing new works to the United States and fostering a greater understanding between different cultures.

The festival kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday at the George R. Brown Convention Center and runs through April 5.

According to Wendy Watriss, the co-founder of FotoFest, this year's event differs from the past three festivals.

"This is the first of the four in which the exhibitions that FotoFest has organized and brought to Houston follow a theme dealing with both history and art," she said.

The event includes 30 displays concentrating solely on the works of Latin American and European photographers, many of which have never been shown in the U.S.

In addition to the main site, photographs will be displayed in over 80 galleries and alternative spaces throughout Houston.

In 1986, Watriss, her husband Fred Baldwin and gallery owner Petra Benteler organized the first FotoFest. From the outset, the trio had very definite ideas in mind.

"There were two purposes. One had directly to do with photography, and the other had to do with trying to create a more global awareness of culture and what people in other parts of the world are doing," Watriss said.

Over the years, the festival has grown rapidly in size and in the amount of press coverage it receives. FotoFest's public relations department is now fielding inquiries from sources as diverse as Rolling Stone and Esquire. Watriss attributes the festival's growth to Houston itself.

"I think there's been a lot of positive support from many sectors of the public, particularly the art community here. The galleries and museums have been very supportive. I don't think we could have done it in another place," she said.

Not content to serve simply as a display space, the festival will feature lectures, performances and a chance to meet well-known photographers.

The Meeting Place offers an opportunity for amateur photographers to meet and learn from some of the country's most prominent photographers, critics, dealers, publishers, editors and collectors.

In addition to receptions, lectures and slide presentations, the panel of experts will be available for 20-minute portfolio critiques.

FotoFest also serves a year-round function in various Houston schools. Since 1988, the organization has sponsored the "Literacy Through Photography" project.

The program concentrates on grades four through eight in the Houston Independent School District.

Each child, equipped with a camera, is instructed to take pictures of themselves, their homes, and their families. The children are then asked to write about the completed assignment.

David Brown, FotoFest's director of education since 1990, works with 550 children in 10 different schools.

"When you take in a box of those photos every week, and the kids spread them out on their desk and they're very excited and they want to tell each other the stories and they want to share pictures with each other, it creates a circle of intimacy," Brown said.

Of course, a festival of FotoFest's magnitude carries a hefty price tag. According to Watriss, the total cost is between two and $3 million.

Watriss makes no apologies for the cost. "When you think of the kind of money that's spent on other types of things, it's not a lot of money. $1 million or $2 million is nothing these days," she said.

The bulk of the money comes from grants, in-kind contributions and funding from corporations, Watriss said.

Although this year's festival is the largest so far, Watriss has big plans for the future.

"We would hope, at some point," she said, "to be able to travel the festival to one or two other places."

 

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TRIAL MEMBERSHIP FOR GRADUATES BOOSTS ALUMNI GROUPS' NUMBERS

BY REBECCA PRESTON

NEWS REPORTER

The UH Alumni Organization has increased ten-fold during the last eight years, rising to its present level of 17,000 members from just 1,600 in 1989, Assistant Director of Programs Susy Smith said.

"About four years ago, the AO began giving free one-year memberships to graduating seniors as part of an ongoing effort to increase participation," Smith said. "The membership is given automatically upon graduation, but the retention rate has been good. After the first year, AO membership costs $35 per year."

Twenty separate UH alumni constituent groups function under the umbrella of the AO. These groups include most of the university colleges as well as special interest alumni groups and industry-sponsored alumni groups, Smith said.

AO constituent groups in 1991 gave UH students scholarships of about $26,000, Smith said.

With just over 150 total members, the Mexican-American alumni group handles one of the most successful alumni-funded scholarship programs for UH students.

Anthony Magdaleno, vice president of Mexican-American Alumni, said the group gave out 44 scholarships of $500 each last year.

"Our scholarships are not limited to Mexican-American students, but the majority of our applicants are from minority high schools," he said. "As a member of the scholarship committee, I am especially interested in minority students who have goals of attending medical school or law school."

The Marching Band Alumni Organization is the newest alumni constituent group. President Becky Young Marsh said the group had been getting together socially for several years.

"The alumni band has marched at homecoming for the last four years," she said. "Last year, we had 110 alumni on the field."

The band's alumni group awarded their first scholarship last year.

Bonnie McNemar, president of the College of Education alumni group, said their organization has been in place for about 12 years and includes about 2,000 members.

"Our main focus is to support the College of Education. One of our ways of doing that is by trying to get alumni involved in activities on campus," McNemar said. "And we try to have fun while we're doing it."

In 1991, the education alumni group also awarded two scholarships of $1,000 each.

Dan Dodson, chairman of Houston Industries Incorporated (HII), said the organization is a unique corporate alumni group.

"We are the first alumni association in the nation that formed as a corporate chapter,"Dodson said. "About 99 percent of our members are employees of HL&P. We had so many employees that were UH graduates that we formed an alumni organization."

"Our members love the University of Houston and want to see it grow and become a really premier university,"Dodson said. "We realize how much UH did for us, and we want to give something back."

 

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UH FARING BETTER THAN TCU, SMU IN WAKE OF PROBATION

BY CROSBY KING

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

In five years, one football team has gone from scandal to respect, while the other has floundered in uncertainty.

A series of wrongdoings in 1986 in the football program landed UH in hot water with the NCAA. It joined Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University as Southwest Conference schools with penalized football teams.

But compared with TCU and especially SMU, UH's football team has come back strong, developing into a national power and showing few ill effects from years of sanctions.

It has been an uphill climb.

Five years ago this month, UH released records showing wide-scale payoffs to football players from the office of former Head Coach Bill Yeoman. More than 20 players had received as much as $500, summer jobs and other financial assistance.

Yeoman had already resigned following some players' admissions of taking cash. Two days after Yeoman's last game, UH President Richard Van Horn honored the coach's $100,000-a-year contract by offering him a fund-raising post with the administration.

After the March report, some students and faculty members protested Yeoman's continuing involvement with the university, but the school retained Yeoman, who had coached the Cougars for 25 years.

His replacement, Jack Pardee, instituted a high-tech passing offense which brought Andre Ware into the spotlight, earning the quarterback the Heisman trophy and bringing the team national attention.

The team was on coast-to-coast television and playing traditional powerhouses. The Cougars' reputation had reached an all-time high.

SMU was not so fortunate. Back-to-back infractions and large payoffs brought the NCAA's "death penalty" to the football program, banning it from competition for a year and prohibiting home games for another. The school then chose to eliminate the program altogether. The Mustangs returned in 1989, but recruiting problems have kept the team in the cellar of the Southwest Conference.

The bitterness over the penalty caused students and alumni to protest the appointment of former Gov. Bill Clements to a school fund-raising committee. After Clements retired from SMU's Board of Governors in 1987, he revealed that he and other members had approved payments to football players when the school was already on probation.

At UH, there was no serious push to oust Yeoman, still a highly respected figure, from his new position as executive director of Athletic Relations.

Bruce Oppenheimer, member of the Athletic Advisory Committee, had sent a resolution to the AAC calling for Yeoman's departure, but it was rejected.

Today, Oppenheimer says it didn't matter if a majority wanted Yeoman out; the Board of Regents supported him, and their fight with the NCAA prolonged the penalties.

"There were people who favored getting rid of Yeoman and taking our medicine," he said, "and those who favored playing hardball (with the NCAA) and preventing sanctions."

 

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SFAC'S BUDGET KNIFE A LITTLE DULLER FOR '93

BY CROSBY KING

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

In these days of tight budgets, the Student Fee Advisory Council (SFAC) has good news for student services: This year, the red ink is merely pink.

SFAC Chair Dan Lurvey said a tentative report listing augmentation requests shows the units are asking for only about $100,000 more than is available.

Last year, the requests exceeded funds by about $275,000.

Board member Robert Judy, instructor of Electrical Electronics, said the units requested less money than last year because of a combination of prudence and their experience with the 1991 hearings.

"People who have critical needs probably had those needs met last year," he said.

SFAC's hearings began Wednesday; they resume again Friday and end Monday.

The committee heard one unit who requested nearly half as much as its base budget. Karen Waldman, coordinator of Handicapped Student Services, asked for enough money to avoid a possible lawsuit by those who couldn't be helped. Waldman claimed HSS should get funds from the school's state tax appropriations since the unit is federally mandated.

Lurvey said that because of the school's long process for requesting a fee increase, student service fees would probably not go up in the fall.

Judy said such an increase would not meet with much resistance.

"Nine dollars per semester is hardly enough to make you discontinue your university career," he said.

 

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SA CANDIDATES TRADE BARBS, CLAIM 1991 ISSUES FORGOTTEN

BY FRANK SAN MIGUEL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Two SA presidential hopefuls, both candidates last year, have solutions to student problems, they said.

This year, however, they've traded accusations of apathy and lackluster leadership as well.

PRIDE presidential candidate Damien Kauta said he wanted to run again after seeing unkept promises from SA President Michael Berry and Vice President Andrew Monzon, who both won on the Coalition for Immediate Action (CIA) ticket last year.

Monzon is running this year as the presidential candidate for the Student Advocacy party.

"We feel like there are too many people in SA that are career politicians, like Andrew Monzon, who ran on issues that they never followed through with," Kauta said.

"Last year, he (Monzon) campaigned on three issues: crime, the bookstore and shuttle-bus service," Kauta added. "Not only did he not write any legislation about the issues he told students he would work on, but, while he was not doing his job, found the time to run for Houston City Council as student concerns were being neglected."

Monzon ran against former City Councilman Larry McKaskle for the District A seat last fall, garnering just over 800 votes.

Kauta said such actions by Monzon were a violation of trust.

"People voted for Monzon with belief in him and belief that he would take on the issues he campaigned on," Kauta said. "He had the tools of an office and staff and forgot about students."

Monzon fired back. "If Damien Kauta is such a good candidate, why did his vice presidential candidate last year get more votes than he did?" Monzon said. "Students didn't buy his line last year, and now he's trying to peddle it again."

Kauta received 50 fewer votes during last year's elections than his ELITE vice presidential candidate Todd Ramey.

Monzon defended his work over the past year. "While I may have disagreed with Michael (Berry, SA president), my role was in supporting the president," he said. "The vice presidential job is essentially at the whim of the president, and many of its duties are pre-empted by other positions."

"Sure, I could have written all kinds of legislation, but then I would be blamed for showcasing," Monzon said. "I feel like I proved myself in working to make student concerns heard on committees and in meeting with administrators."

However, Kauta questioned the activities of the last administration. "I'm sick of hearing the excuses of the vice presidents, at least the poor ones, that their hands are tied and they're limited by the president," he said.

"The (vice presidential) job has few specific duties, so you have all year to do what you want to do or to work on the issues you campaigned on. And Monzon won with the president he campaigned with, someone you shared issues with, and he still did nothing."

"If Damien felt that strongly about the issues, why is it that we only see him in February and March?" Monzon retorted.

Since last year, Kauta said he has been working as treasurer of the India Student Association, getting experience with large budgets.

Kauta said that his party was the only one with concerns for all student constituents.

"We're the only party with a student regent candidate and the only one which has fielded candidates for some colleges," Kauta said. "That makes me question how much concern some of these other parties have for the constituencies of those colleges."

"To the (Student Advocacy) Party, I ask `where are your Engineering candidates and vice presidential candidate?' To PLAID, `where are your Business senators?' And to Yes, `where is your student regent candidate and the rest of your Social Science candidates?' Kauta added.

"All of these positions which these parties have completely neglected says something about how much they care about these constituents' concerns."

"We opted for quality instead of quantity," Monzon said. "We'll remain committed to students if we win or lose."

Student Advocacy presidential candidate Monzon said his party brings experience, fiscal conservatism and accountability to student government. In order to foster accountability, SA needs to streamline itself, Monzon said.

Monzon supported a failed attempt to put a referendum on the ballot to eliminate the position of vice president.

"There's not a lot to do in the position, and we can always save the money," he said. "We're in tough times right now, and we need to look where we can cut corners."

Monzon also supports trimming the SA budget by $15,000. "If we're to ask the administration how it spends money and ask them to use our money wisely, SA needs to be willing to trim down to show its commitment."

Kauta disagreed. "I think cutting the SA budget is ludicrous. SA has the potential to inform and launch projects with that money," he said. "I don't think that even a $200,000 budget would get what SA could get accomplished. You start asking for less now, you'll get even less than you ask for."

Kauta said that such issues as campus recycling need attention. Campus groups could be solicited to help get more recycling bins on campus. If necessary, however, Kauta said that SA could absorb some of the cost.

Monson said he saw SA as a lobbying group for student interests. "SA itself doesn't have a lot of power, but it has the potential," he said. "We can't expect to bully people around. We must earn respect."

Kauta said SA's poor image was a direcr result of inner-office tensions like those of last summer, which Kauta termed "a soap opera."

Last summer, Monson accused Berry of overpaying executive secretary and girlfriend Nandita Venkateswaran and causing problems with former Administrative Secretary Doris Ayyubi. Monson told senators that he had written a letter to Dean of Students Willie Munson, SA advisor, that the organization was being "split into two factions of untrusting parties."

"UH administrators are picking up Daily Cougars and they're reading about this soap opera and people's power plays, and the whole thing makes SA look pathetic," Kauta said. "I'd like to bring respectability back to SA. If we're not unified, how can we work effectively?"

Monson said that working with administrators to educate them about legislation is important. "We need to meet more with the Faculty Senate and administration," he said.

Both said that the election is a matter of getting students involved.

"People need to ask questions about who's running," Monson said. "Too many candidates are more flash than substance."

"I think the fact that some are running under the bannerof accountability says something about them," Kauta said. "Accountability is not an issue. You must always be there for students, assessible to them. Pride will make sure that our door is always open for them."

Monson and Kauta support a referendum on this year's ballot to add a $15 dedicated library fee. Monzon opposes the referendum on this year's ballot to eliminate smoking in all UH buildings while Kauta said that he has no position on it.

"I don't know if the smoking bill is very practical though," Kauta added. "I see it causing a lot of tension."

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