MAMBO KINGS SIZZLE ON SCREEN

BY SALLY POUNCY

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

One of Spain's hottest actors hit the American silver screen with his first English-speaking role in The Mambo Kings.

Antonio Banderas stars opposite Armand Assante in a movie guaranteed to make your feet move.

Set in New York City, 1952, the film chronicles the lives of two brothers who left their native Cuba to fulfill their dreams of becoming music stars. Cesar and Nestor Castillo (Assante and Banderas) are musical whizzes on the drums and trumpet. Nestor is the creative partner of the team while older brother Cesar is the businessman.

The night they arrive in New York, Cesar immediately wants to go to the hottest mambo club in the city. While there, he jumps on stage and does a complicated percussion duo with mambo legend Tito Puente. The two pound on the drums with lightning-quick speed, climaxing prematurely when a gun shot rings out causing the crowd to run out of the club.

The brothers start their own orchestra and begin the long road to stardom, climaxing with an appearance on the television show I Love Lucy.

The music of the film propels the movie through every twist, turn, grind and gyration. The sensual and passionate rhythms of the mambo reflect the attitudes of the characters. Cesar is arrogant, strong and racy, much like the music of his country. He lives life to the fullest by doing everything to excess while laughing in the face of trouble. Nestor reflects the passionate side of the Latin beat. His emotions rule him.

He writes songs for the girl he left in Cuba, but marries a woman he meets in New York. Nestor is quiet and often overshadowed by his boisterous older brother, but when push comes to shove, Nestor doesn't back down.

Dancing goes hand in hand with the musical theme of the film. The mambo becomes not only the style of music on screen, but an announcement of sexual attraction between two characters.

When Cesar and Dolores (Maruschka Detmers) dance the mambo, they set the screen on fire. The masculinity of the dance emphasizes the driving force between the two. The audience thinks Cesar and Dolores will become a couple only to have those thoughts trashed when she returns to her date, Nestor, after the flaming-hot mambo.

The Mambo Kings is a must-see for all Assante and Banderas fans.

 

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BASEBALL NOTEBOOK

BY MARTY HAJOVSKY

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Man bites dog, or rather, steer.

Forgive the hyperbole, but it was that kind of weekend at Cougar Field. UH baseball set the Longhorn-bashing tone when they recorded their first-ever series win over fourth-ranked Texas, taking two of three.

After the Cougars won Friday's opener with a convincing 5-2 victory, the two teams split a Saturday doubleheader. Texas won the first game 6-1, but had trouble manufacturing runs in the second game as Houston coasted to an 11-4 triumph.

"These are big, big wins for the Houston Cougars," Houston Coach Bragg Stockton said after the series win. "After all of our losses, we needed this. I did too; the trainers were beginning to run out of Rolaids."

After this series, it's the Longhorns that might need them.

Texas' once-seemingly-unshakeable stranglehold on first place in the Southwest Conference race may be showing signs of slippage.

The visitors from Austin were thin on pitching and got even thinner as they not only dropped their first series of the year, they also lost star hurler Brooks Kieschnick on a base-running error that was entirely of his own making.

Kieschnick, last year's SWC Player-of-the-Year as a freshman, sprained ligaments in his left ankle while coming into second base in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader.

Leading 3-0 in the third, Kieschnick, a .341 hitter, laced a single into short left that he tried to stretch into a double.

Kieschnick, who was hit by a pitch in Friday's game, was out by a mile. His injury came when he tried to beat the throw standing instead of sliding. He jammed his ankle on the bag and had to be assisted out of the ballpark.

Kieschnick's fate had an ever-so-slight tinge of poetic justice. In the first, he drilled lead-off hitter Greyson Liles with his first pitch, seemingly in retaliation for Friday's plunking. In the end, his lack of composure may have cost his team some wins.

"We got a big break with Kieschnick not being able to play the whole series," Stockton said. "That last game would have been a lot closer with him in there."

Texas Coach Cliff Gustafson could only agree with Stockton.

"He's our best pitcher and our best hitter," Gustafson said. "Obviously, losing him is going to hurt us. I think we have enough hitting to make up for it, but it's the pitching where we'll be hurt the most. I really don't know what we're going to do."

For the Cougars, redemption was sweet as they finally did what they've needed to do all year -- put together some timely hitting with an already superb pitching staff and manufacture some wins.

Wade Williams was the beneficiary of most of UH's offensive output this weekend. The transfer from Texarkana JC twirled a complete game victory in Saturday's rubber game despite struggling with spotty control.

"My fashion was bad. My curve was bad. It was all bad, but our defense was great," Williams said. "I don't know how, but we got a win and that's all that matters."

Defense wasn't the only thing that won the game, as Williams' teammates finally woke up at the plate and gift-wrapped 11 runs for him on 16 hits.

No one deserved the run support more than the junior from Tyler, who has been the Cougars' best starter all year, compiling a 1-2 record with a 1.63 ERA going into the Texas series.

After carrying a no-hitter into the 11th against Rice last week, a longer no-hitter than anyone in SWC history, Williams was named the Mizuno National Player of the Week and also SWC Player of the Week.

After the team effort that beat the Horns this weekend, it's easy to spread glory like that around.

"These were the kinds of wins that can carry a team the rest of the year," Stockton said. "We just hope we can use these to climb right back in the pack. We might look up in a couple of weeks and find ourselves in the thick of things."

Even though the schedule shows the weekend as just another conference series, the question of the hour is, if the Cougars can beat superpowered Texas, what else can they do?

 

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PRIDE, YES FACE RUNOFF FOR POSITIONS OF PRESIDENT AND VP

BY FRANK SAN MIGUEL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

PRIDE and YES candidates are set to battle it out Wednesday and Thursday in run-off elections for Students' Association president and vice president.

Results from last week's elections gave YES candidate Rusty Hruska 40.9 percent (744 votes) of the vote to PRIDE candidate Damien Kauta's 33.1 percent (601 votes). Student Advocacy candidate Andrew Monzon garnered 17.7 percent (321 votes) and PLAID's Eric De Beer got 8.3 percent (151 votes).

YES vice presidential candidate Crystal Brown narrowly missed a win, pulling 48 percent of the vote for the position. A 50 percent majority gives candidates an automatic win.

Brown will face PRIDE vice presidential candidate Charles Gaviola, who earned 37.9 percent of the vote, in a runoff. PLAID candidate Lee Preimesberger tallied 14.1 percent (228 votes), while Library Committee Chair Don Easterling got one vote.

PRIDE candidate Mitch Rhodes won an uncontested race for student regent, while Progressive Student Network Chair Melissa Stewart received one write-in vote.

PRIDE and YES split At-Large Senate positions, with PRIDE candidates Chaudry Ajaz and Henry Gaw and YES candidates Stephanie Hawkins and John Bard securing wins.

YES took all five College of Business Senate seats, while PRIDE swept the College of Engineering and took two of three College of Education seats.

PRIDE candidate Mark Anderson bested YES candidate Natalie Sinn in the College of Hotel and Restaurant Management 46 votes to 22.

Student Advocacy candidates Carlos Morales and Shane Patrick Boyle won Senate seats in the College of Humanities, Fine Arts and Communication, while YES candidate Dylan Moore won HFAC Position 4. PRIDE's Meagan McGovern won an uncontested race, although Daily Cougar Managing Editor Rebecca Deaton received one write-in vote for the position.

A Monday recount, however, gave two more votes to YES candidate Brad Gibson, ousting Morales from the position.

PRIDE won the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics' three seats and College of Pharmacy seat. Student Advocacy candidates Greg Propes and Michelle Palmer won in the College of Social Sciences while YES candidate Jennifer Zuber won Social Sciences Position 3.

Student Advocacy candidate Roberta Bowen won College of Technology Position 1, and YES candidate Louis Puente won in an uncontested race.

Independent candidates Dina Abramson and Jennifer Garner, both current senators, won their positions.

In all, PRIDE took the most seats with 15, YES took 10 and Student Advocacy won five.

"This was a tough race, and it's going to be a tough runoff, " Kauta said. "We're going to need to campaign more in the business school and get support from all students. As evidenced by the cougar issue, YES is not working for all students, but only a fraction of the campus, a clique of special-interest groups."

Hruska said one of his biggest battles was of perception.

"We've gotten a lot of flak and criticism for being a Greek ticket. We're hoping to show students that we're here to represent all students," Hruska said. "There have been a lot of falsehoods that have been portrayed about our party that I'm hoping we can clear up in the paper."

YES' support for a live mascot, which became an issue of protest for two student groups last week, needed to be put into perspective, Hruska added.

"People are taking this like it's one of my big issues, when it's only a sub-issue of an issue," Hruska said. "I'm in favor of putting some of the animal rights people on the Cougar Guard to make sure no abuse occurs."

Trisha McKaskle, director of administration and finance for Association of Students for Animal Protection, however, said Hruska's concessions missed the point.

"Rusty is still not addressing the fact that a live mascot is costing students money better spent on students," she said. "Regardless of who's on the Guard, there is still a liability factor and still cost involved."

Both Kauta and Hruska said they would be seeking endorsements from Monzon and De Beer.

Although Monzon said his defeat was disappointing, he added he still hoped to be involved with a new administration. He said he would give both candidates time to talk with him before any decisions would be made.

"I'm kind of leaning toward Damien right now, but I want to hear what each has to say," Monzon said. "I'm more than willing to talk with each and give advice where I can."

De Beer was reportedly endorsing PRIDE in the upcoming runoff.

Hruska said he had doubts about getting his old rivals' endorsements. "They were campaigning together, and it was definitely against me," Hruska said. "What you saw was the old administration working against a newcomer; they didn't like seeing someone new coming in."

Students approved a $15 library fee to be implemented for the next three years. 67.9 percent of students voted for it while 32.1 percent voted against.

Students also favored a smoking ban by 42.9 percent. Almost 27 percent favored further regulation, while 25.9 percent favored maintaining the current policy. 4.3 percent had no opinion.

Students stung the Athletics Department on a poll showing more than 60 percent favored yearly reductions to the athletics budget or cutting the department from the budget altogether, making it self-sufficient. More than 13 percent favored no change in the department's funding, while 6.4 percent favored an increase in funding and 15.5 percent favored a dedicated fee for athletics.

Last week's election raised allegations of conflicts of interest as well as accusations of poor leadership and unethical campaigning. About three-fourths of the complaints filed with the Election Commissioner Stefan Murry concerned campaign violations by YES. On Thursday, YES was banned from campaigning from 3-7 p.m.

 

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PROGRAM SPREADING ART OF WRITING TO HISD

BY REBECCA MCPHAIL

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

Since its birth in 1984, the UH-based Writers In The Schools (WITS) program has brought both guidance and creativity to nearly 20,000 students in the Houston Independent School District.

WITS places writers in public and private schools to work with students in grades K-12 and their teachers.

After an intense application process, including submission of resumes and a series of interviews, each writer is trained for 16 hours and assigned a buddy to watch and work with.

WITS Director Victoria Jones believes the training process is an important step for the writers.

"People could be great writers or great teachers," Jones said. A third grade HISD classroom "has its own particular concerns to deal with." After completion of training, the writer is assigned one class to work with for the duration of the school year. The writers generally hold one or two meetings per week with their class during which they encourage creative writing and open discussion.

Although the writers receive monetary compensation, Randall Watson, a writer in residence for two years, believes the true rewards are included in the work itself.

"I like working with the kids," he said, "They're almost awed by what's in their own imagination."

John Harvey, WITS project coordinator and writer in residence, said each writer is allowed the freedom to form their own curriculum.

"But we allow the children to take us in different directions," he said.

The program was founded eight years ago by Phillip Lopate of UH and Marvin Hoffman, former director of the Teachers & Writers Collaborative in New York.

Lopate is no longer with the program, but Hoffman is very much involved and is currently serving as chairman of the board.

Jones said the duo formed the program in an effort to introduce new methods of teaching writing in Houston schools.

"Their original goal was to provide children, classroom teachers and educators with new approaches to the teaching of writing that will inspire children and excite them rather than make them feel that it's another arena for failure," she said.

Currently, there are 65 writers in residence in 58 locations throughout Houston. That number is a sharp increase over the 20 or so writers involved in the program only three years ago.

Although 85 percent of the writers work in urban, public schools, the program also exists in specialized and private schools such as the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

In the past few years, WITS has moved out of the schools and into other settings.

"We wanted to find a more dynamic area for writing than a school classroom," Harvey said.

This desire for additional stimuli led to the inception of the Menil project two years ago.

The project allows WITS writers to walk the children through the Menil collection, taking time to stop and form both written and verbal responses to the works.

Upon completion of the tour, a visual artist visits the students' classroom and guides them through an art project.

A program of WITS' size does not come cheaply. Jones said the program's yearly operating budget is about $400,000.

"Funding comes from a lot of foundations, a lot of federal money through various school programs and some state programs," Jones said.

Members of WITS are currently working to broaden the scope of the project.

"We're working on placing writers

 

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COUGARS UPSET UT TO TAKE SWC TOURNAMENT

BY JASON LUTHER

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

DALLAS -- Junior guard Derrick Smith hit three crucial, second-half three-pointers, and Craig Upchurch scored 16 second-half points to fuel the Cougars to a 91-72 win over Texas in the SWC championship game Sunday at Reunion Arena.

The win gave the Cougars an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which they will enter Thursday against Georgia Tech riding a nine-game winning streak.

It was Houston's first conference tournament championship since 1984.

"To beat a team like this and win the championship is very pleasing," Houston Coach Pat Foster said. "I really am happy for (Craig Upchurch, Derrick Daniels and Roger Fernandez), who, two years ago, lost to Arkansas in the finals."

Senior forward Sam Mack, who scored 28 points in 26 minutes against the Longhorns, said the win proved Houston is a legitimate NCAA tournament contender.

"With this win, we assured ourselves that we can play with anybody," Mack said. "Texas beat us both times, and we just wanted to come back and show our fans that we could beat 'em."

The Cougars refused to succumb to the Texas full-court press, a defense which had dominated them in their two previous meetings this season.

Daniels said the Houston game plan was to be patient with the press and not turn the ball over.

"In the first half, we were almost scared to have a turnover," Mack said. "We knew we were going to have some; the key was not to get down on ourselves when we did."

The Cougars had only 12 turnovers in the game, half as many as they averaged in their other two contests with Texas this season.

Both teams came out cold for the start of the first half, exchanging the lead for the first 10 minutes.

At 9:38, the Cougars had a 16-13 lead.

However, the Longhorns got hot, going on a 22-8 run over the next six minutes and leaving the Cougars behind by 11.

But for the third time in two games, Houston surged back against a double-digit deficit, and by halftime, they had come within four at 37-33.

The Cougars came out for the second half with a new purpose, finding Upchurch inside during a 16-6 run that gave them the lead for good.

Foster said getting inside early in the half was the key for Houston.

"Craig got us started off quickly in the second half, and we were able to get the ball inside.

Texas battled back twice in the second half to within one, the last coming at 61-60 with 9:10 remaining.

However, the Cougars raised their game to a level they've achieved only a few times this season, going on a 9-0 run, and putting the Longhorns away for good.

Smith scored seven of the nine points, including a 3-pointer and a slam.

Foster said Smith was the difference in the game for Houston.

"You've got to have somebody that steps up every night, and gives you a boost," Foster said. "All of his 3-point shots came at key times in the ball game."

Mack nailed the game down for Houston, scoring 10 points in the final three minutes. He was narrowly beaten out by Texas' Dexter Cambridge as the tournament's outstanding player.

The Cougars shot 69 percent from the floor in the second half, but along with the offense, they were containing the Longhorns on defense with a 2-3 match-up zone.

Houston held Texas to 37 percent shooting from the floor in the second half.

Junior center Charles Outlaw blocked four shots and grabbed a team-high six rebounds.

 

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SXSW HEATED UP AUSTIN

BY SALLY POUNCY

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

The bands were hot, the shows were hot, the town was hot. It could only have been South by Southwest (SXSW.)

Austin transformed itself last weekend for Texas' best musical event to happen in a long time.

The conference, in its sixth year, has drawn bands, producers, music companies and media members from all over the world. Approximately 400 acts were booked into 22 official club venues.

Unfortunately, by Saturday night, the venues were packed and not everyone could get in. However, if you were lucky enough to have an official SXSW badge, the bouncers loved you and let you get into any club you wanted, then tried to bar your way out when you wised up to the fact that the band playing was crummy.

Like the old saying goes, there are two sides to every coin, and that adage proved true when watching new bands performing.

Funk band Billy Goat practically caused a riot when they played at The Main Event Forum. People were pushing and shoving for a better view of the group before the show ever started! When the first chord was finally struck, bodies started flying, and mayhem took over. Straining against the barrier of the stage, individuals started slam-dancing and stage-diving, crushing those underneath who were unaware of incoming flesh.

However, the piece de resistance of the show came from their last song "Let's Get Naked." Band members moved to the sides of the stage to make room for people from the audience who wanted to climb on stage and flaunt their bare bodies. More than a few jumped on stage and pulled off some of their clothes, but no one pulled it all off.

The audience loved everything Billy Goat threw at them, literally. Theirs was a great show to see, but there were more bad shows than good.

The Walk-ins, a Cleveland band, should have walked out of the club before starting. They had one major problem; the lead singer could not sing to save her life. She stunk. If the band wanted to impress any record companies, they should have left her in the van.

SXSW was a great opportunity for new artists, but it's over now. So, if you have a band, and you have a savvy agent, try to be in Austin next year.

 

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SENIORS REVEL IN SWC TOURNEY CHAMPIONSHIP

BY JASON LUTHER

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

DALLAS -- Sunday was an emotional day for the Houston Cougar basketball team as they added their first conference championship in eight years to an already-outstanding season.

For Cougar seniors Craig Upchurch, Derrick Daniels and Roger Fernandez, Houston's 91-72 win over the University of Texas in the SWC tournament championship game was the reward of a combined 13 years of service.

Upchurch was wondering if it would ever come.

"This was my last chance," said Upchurch, who was named to the all-tournament team. "It was time for me to do whatever I could to help get the team to where we are right now."

Senior forward Sam Mack, who has been with the team for only a year, was perhaps the most valuable player in the tournament for the Cougars as he had a combined total of 55 points in the final two games against Texas Christian University and Texas.

Mack dominated the final minutes of the Texas game while playing with a badly-bruised tailbone he suffered in the TCU game.

The players didn't get back to the hotel until late Saturday night after the double-overtime win over TCU, but Mack was delayed even longer due to random NCAA drug testing. He wasn't released until 12:30 a.m.

He said the injury kept him up for most of the rest of the night.

"Every time I moved around in bed, I would ache," Mack said. "I got in a tub full of hot water because Derrick told me to."

Sleep or no sleep, Daniels said nothing was going to keep the Cougars from giving Texas their all.

"We knew that most of the guys didn't go to bed until 2:30 or three in the morning," Daniels said. "But it's a mental thing. We had to put all that aside and go out and play."

However, Houston kept everyone else wondering if they were going to win.

From the very first game of the tournament against seventh-seeded Southern Methodist University, the Cougars looked as if they could be eliminated at any time.

However, their determination triumphed as they came back four times in three games and three times from double-digit deficits in the last two.

In the first game, SMU led by as much as six in the first half, but the Cougars, led by the aggressive play of center Charles Outlaw, battled back to take a nine-point lead by the half.

However, Houston failed to put the Mustangs away until the last minute of the second half, and it appeared they would have big trouble against some of the higher seeds.

They did.

In Saturdays semi-final game against TCU, Houston was down by 18 points before seven minutes had elapsed.

However, Houston Coach Pat Foster went to the bench and a full-court press to get the Cougars back into the game.

A pair of three-pointers by junior David Diaz and freshman Jesse Drain, and a jump-hook by sophomore Rafael Carrasco put the Cougars to within 11.

Meanwhile, the press was stifling TCU, and the Houston starters were starting to come around.

Upchurch and Mack combined for 19 points in the last 10 minutes to put the Cougars up by one at the half.

However, Houston abandoned the press in the second half, and TCU took advantage by taking the lead again.

By 14:31 of the second half, the Horned Frogs' lead was up to 13.

The Cougars went back to the press, and by 2:40, they had tied the game at 66.

In the first overtime, TCU guard Albert Thomas made a basket with 0.2 seconds left to tie the game again at 76.

However, Mack made a 15-footer in the first seconds of the second overtime, and the Cougars had the lead for good. They went on to win 87-84.

The strength of Houston's bench against the shorthanded Horned Frogs may have saved the game for the Cougars.

Foster said he was pleased by the way the bench performed throughout the tournament.

"Our bench has been very, very good to us," Foster said.

The Cougars will enter the NCAA tournament against Georgia Tech on Thursday.

Foster said the SWC tournament win gives the team momentum going into the NCAAs.

"We felt like if we could win this thing, that we'd establish ourselves as a cut above."

 

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NEGATIVE ADS THE ISSUE

BY KATHY ALLEN

DAILY COUGAR STAFF

The public can be assured this year's presidential candidates will continue to jab opponents with negative commercials, but this time, the public is getting help from the news media in sorting through the candidates' accusations.

"People have been bad-mouthing each other ever since we learned how to speak," said Richard Murray, professor of political science.

If candidates have the money for commercials, they initially use them to introduce themselves, but once they get past that, they have to distinguish themselves from the other candidates, Murray said.

If a candidate says, "I'm great," over and over again, people have a tendency to question that, he said.

"You typically see more aggressive negative ad campaigns at (the presidential) level," especially as the field narrows, Murray said.

Also, negative advertising usually increases as a candidate slips in the polls. One way to sway voters back is to raise the negatives in the other candidate, he said.

But candidates are beginning to realize it's dangerous to make negative charges that can be successfully rebutted, which Murray said can backfire on a candidate. As part of that rebuttal process, "we are seeing newspapers become somewhat more aggressive in covering the campaigns' electronic media messages," Murray said.

Ted Stanton, head of the journalism department, said the press was generally dissatisfied with its 1988 presidential campaign coverage.

"The PR people on each side had been enormously effective in shaping the coverage," Stanton said.

"At many press meetings of editors and others in print and broadcast journalism over the past several months, the subject of how to regain control of campaign coverage has been high on the agenda," he said.

Several news organizations have publicly declared they would focus more on the issues. Broadcast news groups said they would increase the average sound bite from the 1988 low of 12 seconds to 30 or 60 seconds, Stanton said.

Garth Jowett, professor of radio-television, said, "I have noticed an enormous improvement, especially in the print media."

More emphasis is placed on analyzing the words, phrases and images of advertisements in this campaign, Jowett said.

Candidates have complained the media accuses them of negative advertising even when they are simply contrasting themselves against an opponent -- that the pendulum has swung too far the other way, Jowett said.

"In some ways, the waging of the campaign has become as much a story as the candidates themselves," he said.

Alan Bernstein, the political writer for the Houston Chronicle, said coverage of campaign commercials has been a fad since the 1988 campaign season. He questioned whether too much coverage has been devoted to analyzing advertisements.

"When (the Chronicle) feels like the advertising is germane to the campaign, we wade right in and analyze the statements -- in the context of news," Bernstein said.

In last year's mayoral race, the Chronicle decided on a case-by-case basis whether the advertisements were newsworthy.

The Houston Post, however, took a different approach by publishing "truth boxes" as a regular feature during the mayoral race.

"Truth boxes" show a still photograph from the television commercial and display an analysis of the statements made so the public can make an informed judgment of the message's truthfulness.

The Post will probably use them again in the fall when the field narrows down to two, said Tim Graham, metro editor for the Post.

But Graham doesn't think the increased scrutiny of negative commercials will deter candidates from using them.

"Negative campaigning is here to stay -- it works too well," Graham said.

One reason the trend could continue is voters say television, not newspapers, is their primary source of information about the candidates, Murray said.

But Carl Ferraro, assistant professor of radio-television, said the networks are still too geared toward tabloid sensationalism because they sense that's what sells.

The public receives too much information; rather than being clear and simple about the issues, the public hears descriptions of Jerry Brown's clothes or Bill Clinton's extra-marital affairs, Ferraro said.

 

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NEW GROUP DISPELLING MYTH ABOUT EXOTIC RELIGIONS

BY KATHERINE PURCELL

NEWS REPORTER

Students interested in non-mainstream religions such as witchcraft and Druidism now have an outlet for learning through the newly-formed Students' Religious Alternative.

Doug Jensen, president of TSRA, said his group is for religions "that fall outside the realm of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islamic beliefs.

"The group was founded basically on the principle of freedom of information," Jensen said. "If you try to find out information about some things like Druidism or witchcraft, it is probable that you're going to get books from the bookstores lying to you based on what people want to hear. You're probably going to get fabricated lies, which have been passed down through history and propaganda."

Jensen, a senior majoring in psychology, sees the group as a "melting pot" for non-dominant religions.

"Four-fold path," "create a reality," "align your Chakras" and "seek the goddess" are four philosophies some alternative religions hold.

The "four-fold path" to enlightenment comes from Shamanism and refers to finding "perfect understanding of oneself and the world around," Jensen said.

"Create a reality" is a New Age belief. "New Age is founded on the principle of self-empowerment through love," he said.

"Align your Chakras" is based on Indian mysticism concerning the separate nature of the body and the soul.

"Seek the goddess" refers to Wicca, the modern revival of a folk religion loosely referred to as witchcraft, Jensen said.

He said the group is not political; it exists for educational and social purposes through discussion meetings in which the group converses on different topics from various points of view.

"Because we have such a wide variety of beliefs in the group," Jensen said, they may "attack a central viewpoint, like the origin of man, from each belief's standpoint and see what comes of it, trying to assimilate a common ground between beliefs."

Jensen, who was brought up Lutheran, now considers himself a mystic. "I'm still searching for the answers," he said.

The group is not atheistic, Jensen said. Atheism is the denial of any greater power. "Most faiths in our group would acknowledge the existence of something higher than humanity."

Ralph Alberico, a member of the group, said he thinks TSRA is a good idea for UH because "the only support groups on different types of religious beliefs (before TSRA) were Buddhism, Hindu, Christianity, Judaism and Islam."

Alberico, a freshman English major, is a secular humanist. Secular humanists believe in the equality of all individuals. They don't believe in the existence of any higher power, he said.

Jensen said he hopes the group accomplishes "understanding between faiths and beliefs and eliminating popular misconceptions."

TSRA meets every Monday at its desk in the Campus Activities Office in the UC-Underground.

 

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