SA SENATE SUFFERING AFTERMATH OF APRIL'S BALLOT-STUFFING FIASCO

by Melinda McBride

Daily Cougar Staff

April's Students' Association election, in which the SA president-elect was disqualified, produced a senate now 12 members short.

Seven senators attended Monday night's meeting. "As of Monday, three more members were out, and we needed at least half of the 22 senators, plus one, to attend in order to make quorum," said Michelle Palmer, College of Social Science senator and speaker pro temp.

Monday night's meeting would have been chaired by Palmer, but was cancelled because they did not have enough representation for a vote.

A full senate of 29 college representatives, four at-large-senators, a vice president and president took office in April; yet SA has failed to make quorum for three of its nine meetings.

"There have been a lot of problems this election year," Palmer said. "The president-elect of the PRIDE party got thrown out for stuffing ballots, but 15 senators who ran and were elected on that party platform remained."

The original senators elected in April represent three parties: Student Advocacy, YES and PRIDE. According to SA records, nine of the 15 PRIDE senators have since resigned.

Ten students were elected to represent YES; three resigned. Student Advocacy senators have had no attrition; five of the five elected are still serving their respective colleges.

"What happened was the student-body voted party instead of getting to know who was running," Palmer said of the unusually high number of senate-seat vacancies.

SA President Rusty Hruska said with important issues like the university's restructuring, pending legislation and nominations of new senators, the lack of support affects the entire university.

"I ran on the platform that senators need to communicate with the students in their respective colleges," said Hruska, who brought April's ballot-stuffing issue to the attention of administrators. "And in order for senators to interact with their constituents, they have to be devoted to the ideas, goals and dreams of this university."

At least two of the senate vacancies are the result of schedule conflicts, not party affiliation. "But the fact remains that basic business is failing to occur because of election fraud," Hruska added.

Faced with having to fill 12 senate seats, Palmer said she wants to ensure that any future controversial election minimizes the prolonged effect on the senate.

"The senators are working on rewriting our election code," she said, "and we're trying to get qualified people to apply for senate seats -- people who are willing to attend meetings twice a month."

Any student who can attend the bimonthly meetings and who has a declared major can represent their college as a senator. "There's no GPA requirement, and there's no requirement to be particularly active in campus politics or animal rights or anything like that," Palmer said.

"We are the students' voice in the administration and the state legislature," she said, "and anyone who wants to be a part of initiating legislation and following it through has to be a part of us."

Recent SA legislation includes the student library fee that generated more than $1.1 million for M.D. Anderson Library. The same SA election ballot that generated the library fee approval also contained a referendum to decrease or ban athletic funding.

The library fee was approved by two-thirds of the voters and was subsequently implemented. Seventy percent of UH voters said athletic funding should be banned altogether, yet the administration decided to override that vote.

"Even though the administration doesn't always act on our legislation in the way we'd like, we still get the opportunity to have our voice heard," said Palmer of a senator's role as a student-oriented lobbyist.

"Monday night," she said regarding her frustration with having to adjourn, "we were going to look at legislation that supports the concept of a high-speed rail that goes from Houston to Dallas to Austin." UH support or disapproval of the idea will have to wait until the next meeting.

The senate is also trying to get a university bill passed that will provide a copy-card machine in the computer center. Hruska said the sooner April's election can be put behind them, the sooner existing and future senators can concentrate on student concerns.

"The new senators need to be responsible and ready to serve students," Hruska added. "They're servants and need to take their responsibility seriously and carry through with their duties."

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COUGAR PATROL SHORTAGE AFFECTING SERVICE QUALITY

by Marissa Garcia

News Reporter

Students have to wait longer for escort service and vehicle assistance since the number of Cougar Patrol members has decreased over the last decade.

The Cougar Patrol program, an extension of UHPD, was established in the early 1980s with 20 to 24 members. Now there are only eight.

Lt. Brad Wigtil said that despite this, the program has been a success, and more students are demanding its services.

"It's a good program serving a real need, but unfortunately, at some point, people are going to have to wait," he commented about the smaller number of patrols available.

Lt. Malcome Davis said the calls for assistance are taken in the order in which they are made.

This "first come, first serve" approach to handling calls may make students angry, but what they have to understand is the patrol may already have three other people waiting for help, he added.

Ana Barrera, a biology freshman, said the wait can be frustrating. "I've already used the services a couple of times, but it takes too long. I waited almost an hour when my car stalled and was late for work," she said.

Despite the fewer number of patrols in comparison to earlier years, Wigtil said he didn't consider it a safety problem but admitted that more patrols on campus wouldn't hurt.

"I think that increased visibility reduces fear and would give people a feeling of being more secure," he said.

"Fewer members means less available service. If we could set locations where the majority of students are at a given time, we could pick up students where they would need it," said Lt. Richard Storemski, who is in charge of the Communication and Records department.

Storemski mentioned they would have to observe the locations and times that would be most critical, and that perhaps there would need to be a trade-off between accountability and efficiency.

Davis said police officers do get called in when Cougar patrols are busy, but it is not presenting a real problem.

John Ruby, a computer science senior, said he's concerned that police would end up spending time doing minor tasks like fetching gas or jump-starting cars and not be available for real emergencies.

Wigtil said there are some changes taking place as far as re-assigning duties under different divisions. Parking and Transportation personnel may be assigned other duties, freeing police officers and Cougar patrols for other types of services, he added.

Wigtil stressed nothing concrete has been decided at the present time, but changes can be expected by Oct. 1.

Cougar Patrol duties are separated into two divisions. These include patrolling the campus and dealing with lost-and-found items.

Davis, in charge of Cougar Patrol personnel, explained all members are students and are paid through a work-study program in which 70 percent of their salary comes from the federal government.

Wigtil, responsible for training the patrollers, said the work-study program allows for more coverage time. Three work-study patrollers can take the place of one non-work-study patroller, he said.

Wigtil explained that each patrol member receives a minimum of 20 hours of training and are reviewed to see if they need more.

The training involves teaching them how to jump-start a car and how to understand and respond to messages given by the dispatcher.

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STUDENTS FIND CITY MORE FUN THAN CAMPUS; APATHY BLAMED ON NEARBY URBAN ACTION

by Karen Snelling

News Reporter

Several UH seniors and graduates blame the university's location for low student participation in campus activities.

In an interview with 20 seniors and recent UH graduates, many said the city diverts the students' interest from campus activities.

Angela Majors, a senior pre-med major, said students attending college in smaller towns attend more campus events because there is less to do in a small town.

She attended Texas Tech for two and a half years before coming to UH. With little to do in Lubbock, students' main interest centers on the campus, she said. Students don't choose UH for socializing because there is so much to do in Houston, she added. The move to a college with only three dormitories from a college with 24 required a great amount of change, she said.

Jeff Tait, a senior psychology major, agreed it was hard adjusting to UH after living on a college campus in a small town. He attended Ricks Junior College in Rexburg, Idaho.

"UH is not as active," Tait said. He enjoyed Ricks because there was something to do on campus every weekend, and he felt like a part of the school, he said.

Sharon Stevens, psychology graduate, came to UH after attending South West State University in San Marcos. "UH was not my idea of college at all," she said.

At South West State she lived on campus, took approximately 17 hours each semester and did not work. At UH, she has to commute in city traffic and doesn't have time for extracurricular events, Stevens said.

Justin Struby, a senior mathematics major, said the first year he lived on campus he didn't get involved and had a hard time meeting people. And he couldn't do much off campus because he didn't have a car, he added.

Kaytherine Lambert, a senior in psychology, said, "It's easier to get involved with school if you're living on campus."

Students in the dorms have more time because they do not have to drive far to attend events, she said.

Bill Carter, an electrical engineering graduate, said because his classes required so much work, he couldn't get involved with campus activities his last two years of school. "I also worked 30 hours a week."

Carter said he considered joining a few campus organizations during his first two years, but decided against most of them because he couldn't find much information about them.

Monta Ford, marketing graduate, went to the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida, for two years before coming to UH. "I never lived on campus, but I feel closer to Central Florida than UH," she said, adding the school's location outside the city limits made it easier to meet people.

Ford said separate UH departments do have activities, but the campus as a whole does not seem united.

Dean of Students, Willie Munson, said UH is more active than many other residential campuses. He said because most UH students live and have jobs off campus, they socialize and work closer to their home.

Munson suggested that because most students have to work, they have less time and money to spend on campus life. Not feeling strongly connected to UH might be true for some students, but not all, he added.

Students who make time for campus events obviously have a strong sense of UH spirit, he said.

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KICKING GAME CRAFTY FOR COUGARS

by Adam King

Daily Cougar Staff

Imagine 105,000 mosquitoes buzzing around your ear, thirsting for your blood.

Now picture those mosquitoes in the seats of the largest college stadium in the nation, speaking unintelligibly, yet deep down you know they aren't saying anything nice about you.

You are Trace Craft, place kicker for the Houston Cougars, and you realize the screaming mosquitoes surrounding you are Cougar-bashing Michigan fans attempting to disrupt your concentration.

The ball is snapped, you take two steps and kick. It sails towards the goal posts from 34 yards out. The referee signals "no good." Wide right by a foot.

Craft walks off the field, a zero on the scoreboard staring him in the back.

He didn't let the miss get him down, although he could have.

"(Offensive right tackle) Darrell Clapp always teases me," Craft said. "Like in practice, I'll miss a field goal, and he'll razz me a little bit. When I came off the field (after the Michigan miss), he patted me on the back and said, 'It's okay.'

"That's just one of those things that make you feel a little better."

The miss was Craft's first. He made four consecutive field goals before that, hitting his longest from 42 yards against Illinois.

"I like pressure situations. This one time I just let it get the best of me," he said. "Better to miss it (the kick) now than when we get in conference when the games really count.

"At least we get to go back up there (Michigan) next year and give them a run for their money. Now I can deal with the pressure a little better."

Craft attributes his kicking prowess, in part, to working with his idol, ex-UH kicker and all-time NCAA points leader Roman Anderson.

"Roman was my big brother in my fraternity, and he was one of my best friends," Craft said. "I don't consider myself close to him (in ability). Just being able to work with Roman in itself was an honor."

Craft follows a strict regimen on every kick: intensity, concentration, execution. His talent, though, was nearly lost to Austin College in Sherman.

"I wasn't even going to come down here, and (superbacks and special teams) Coach Tommy Kaiser called me, offering me a chance to kick," he said.

In his freshman season, Craft held the backup role behind Anderson. Now a sophomore entering his fourth game as the starter, Craft is looking forward instead of back.

"I'm hoping to see a 60 or 70 point win" against Southwestern Louisiana, he said.

"I think the open weekend (Oct. 10) will help to give us more time to put Michigan behind us."

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BRIEFS

VOTERS WELCOME

CPS - A nationwide student voter registration drive has been scheduled for Oct. 1 as students at 41 colleges and universities in 21 states take part in discussing political issues.

The National Student Voter Registration Day is sponsored by the Center for Policy Alternatives, the National Civic League and the Knight-Ridder Corp., and is endorsed by the United States Student Association and the League of Women Voters.

Historically, young people eligible to vote generally stay away from the polls. In the 1988 presidential election, only 36 percent of 18-24 year olds voted, and many blamed the difficulties of becoming registered to vote, according to the Center for Policy Alternatives, a non-partisan group that works to promote progressive state policy.

BANNED BOOK

AMES, Iowa (CPS) - An Iowa State University professor sued several school administrators and the Iowa Board of Regents after he was barred from using a book he wrote as a required text in a class.

John Strong, an associate professor in human development and family studies, claimed his First Amendment and academic rights were violated because he couldn't use his book, "Unlocking the Communication Puzzle," as a primary text in his course.

"(The professor) feels strongly that the university is interfering with his rights to select his own materials," Anthony Renzo, Strong's attorney, told the Iowa State Daily.

A student complaint in 1991 brought the matter to the attention of school administrators, and a department committee later voted that the book should not be used as the primary text. It was also determined the book contained no bibliography or cited scholars.

BEER BUST

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (CPS) - A University of Florida student government plan to pass out cards for free beer was nixed by university officials.

The plan was that a student would get a card for one free beer a night at local bars after signing a pledge card promising that he or she would not drink and drive.

Pledge cards were to have been distributed to about 9,000 students of legal drinking age.

"At first we thought it was done as a spoof," said Art Sandeen, the university's student affairs vice president. "We thought it was a terrible idea."

HALF-PRICE COLLEGE

HARTFORD, Conn. (CPS) - A program that offers local high school students a 50 percent discount on tuition at the University of Hartford is boasting a 91 percent retention rate, officials say.

The program, which started in 1990, offers talented graduates of Hartford city high schools a half-tuition plan for each year they attend the university.

Officials credit the program's monitoring system, in which faculty and staff members are assigned certain students to counsel and advise, for keeping the students in college.

 

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