UHPD CLOSES ARGUABLE SUMMER RAPE CASE

by Deborah Hensel

Daily Cougar Staff

UHPD Chief George Hess addressed the Sexual Assault Task Force Monday and reiterated his opinion that the alleged sexual assault of a young woman at the UH Hilton this summer never occurred.

An Oct. 16 memo from the task force asked the chief why a group of faculty, staff and students in Agnes Arnold Hall on Oct. 6 were told -- without informing the task force -- that in UHPD's view, the Hilton incident did not occur.

In response to that memo, Hess told the committee, "It was spontaneous. It came from the heart."

Hess said he used his own judgment in making his remarks in response to the fear and concern he perceived from the task force.

Hess addressed the group in Agnes Arnold Hall to discuss safety issues after an attempted assault in that building occurred a week after the alleged assault at the Hilton.

"I apologized to the committee if that was inappropriate. I've since thought about it. I don't know if it was inappropriate," he said.

"I certainly didn't see it as harmful or perpetuating a myth about sexual assault," Hess said.

Gail Hudson of the Counseling and Testing Center asked Hess whether he was saying there was proof the incident never occurred or if it was his opinion it never happened.

"In my opinion, it did not occur. I am not alone in that opinion," Hess said. "(The) parents don't believe it occurred. The (Houston Police Department) officer does not believe it occurred.

"I think the university needs to know if something did not occur."

The memo also asked if there's a UHPD policy or training in place on how to handle or publicize such cases.

"In sensitive cases that require media notification, that is done by Eric Miller or Wendy Adair (of Media Relations)," Hess replied. "In the case of the sexual assault at the hotel, we turned that over to them.

"I did not follow that guideline. I did not call Wendy Adair or Eric Miller and tell them we'd been working on this case for four months, and we don't believe it occurred," Hess said. UHPD has closed the case.

Under certain conditions UHPD can bring charges against people who make false statements. UHPD has discussed this case with the district attorney, but no charges have been filed against the woman, Hess said.

Following Hess' remarks, the task force discussed the flyers depicting the alleged suspect, which are posted around campus. The task force is pondering whether the posters should remain on display and the time limit for posting.

The task force also heard from Adair on the dissemination of the campus security bulletin.

Adair said in serious incidents or emergencies -- particularly regarding a suspect with a weapon -- voice mail will be used to alert faculty and staff, as in the case of a hurricane warning.

 

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STATE LEGISLATOR URGES STUDENTS TO GET INVOLVED WITH BUDGET CRISIS

by Karen Snelling

Daily Cougar Staff

District 149 State Representative Talmadge Heflin urged students to get active within the university and in Texas government to initiate change.

Heflin, who spoke to members of the Students' Association Monday, said, "Change is going to take place." Legislators in Austin are going to start tightening their belt and cutting back spending for public education, but student input can affect how much and what is cut, he said.

Students can get involved with government by spending just five minutes each day identifying concerns and writing to their legislators, Heflin said.

One way to open the lines of communication is for students to get to know senators and representatives in their respective districts, he said.

Schools such as the University of Houston and the University of Texas will be in competition with community colleges and technical schools for state funding, he said. Heflin believes these education systems, which are extremely different, should be funded based on criteria unique to each college or university.

Because the Board of Regents votes on fiscal-related policies, Mitch Rhodes, a student board member, asked Heflin what should be done to give students an active voice and vote at the board's meetings.

Heflin admitted he was not sure how students can get those privileges. "Something about the radical student scares older people," he said. Although students are affected the most by the board's decisions, many education officials don't believe students are ready for that kind of power, Heflin said.

Heflin commended UH for its recent improvements although UH is behind UT and A&M with alumni support.

Rhodes defended UH by reminding Heflin that UH is different from most colleges. Most UH students are older and work and care for families, Rhodes said. "Our students aren't here for just college alone," he said.

Other topics SA discussed included the Board of Regents' recent approval of additional journals for the MD Anderson Library. The purchases will increase the journal collection by 13 percent. The board allotted part of the more than $1 million collected from the $15 student library fee to purchase the journals, Rhodes said.

SA President Rusty Hruska, said they also plan to conduct student town meetings on the Satellite hill. During these dialogues, SA senators will inform students about the reshaping process at UH, Hruska said. The reshaping process involves redistributing university funds to be used more efficiently, Hruska said.

 

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COLLEGE STUDENTS' STRESS THERMOMETER STEADILY RISING AS EDUCATION COSTS SOAR

(CPS) -- Whether it's slaving over books or at a part-time job, college students risk burnout with late hours and hectic schedules in the race to get a diploma.

Workaholism wears many faces in the college population: It shows up in an over-achieving, perfectionist "superstudent," a cash-strapped scholar juggling a job and schoolwork, or a college athlete who squeezes study between hours of practice, said psychologists who counsel stressed-out students.

"There is a sense, nationwide, that mental health staffs are seeing more distressed college students," said Phillip Meilman, director of counseling at the College of William and Mary in Virginia and author of "Beating the College Blues."

"There is no hard data, however, but there is a subjective impression that there is a higher level of dysfunction, that there are more serious problems," Meilman said, noting that substance abuse is often an attempt to regulate stress.

The average college experience today is no longer the easy, unrushed transition into adulthood that it used to be.

"The stakes have been raised to the point that everyone has to do more to arrive at the same place, and that becomes stressful and unhealthy," Meilman said.

Mental health experts agree that economic problems are taking a toll on students, and many are seeking help at university counseling centers to cope with the complexities of their lives.

"The increasing costs of college, the problematic economy, coupled with students placing unrealistic demands on themselves, are having an impact on students and on how much they can engage in the learning process," said Alan Berkowitz, director of the counseling center at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York.

Students are working more hours at part-time and full-time jobs and are getting paid less for their efforts. Educators complain that bleary-eyed students, struggling to pay rent and tuition, often put academics on the back burner.

However, colleges and universities are becoming more enlightened about stress.

New York University has more than 50 programs in residence halls to assist students in coping with stress. One group, known as "Peers Ears," offers walk-in offices staffed with trained students who offer support and encouragement to harassed students.

At Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, a campus-wide "howl" can be heard for miles the night before exams as students are encouraged to let off steam with a horrifying school-wide primal scream. The occasion has been dubbed "Students Collectively Realizing Exams Are Monday," but is better known as SCREAM.

Students stress seems to get worse as years go by, according to an article in The New York Times that recently reported the mental health center at the University of Washington in Seattle sees more graduate and professional students than undergraduates, and more seniors than juniors.

Even at institutions where money worries take a back seat to academic concerns, the issue of workaholism has taken on new dimensions in the past five years.

At Harvard University, for example, academic and sports competition has become so fierce that students are being offered new relaxation program to help them let go of health-draining stress.

"We are organizing a program with Herbert Benson, the author of 'Relaxation Response,' to help our people learn his techniques," said Dr. Randolph Catlin, director of mental health services at Harvard University.

"We tend to have high achievers here," Catlin said. "There is an old adage that everyone here is used to being in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and it's hard to realize that only 10 percent get into our 10 percent."

Athletes also face conflicting pressures to succeed academically and win in sports competition.

"We look forward to working with coaches eventually," Catlin added. "There is a lot of stress among the swimmers, divers and track stars."

Mental health workers say that habitual, addictive work patterns among college students have childhood roots, and even children as young as 4, 5 and 6 are feeling pressured to compete with their peers in today's world.

"There is a lot of rewarding of that kind of behavior in our society," said Dr. Mort Ormond, author of "The 14-Day Stress Cure," who says that students of all ages are suffering an "epidemic of stress."

Some reports have shown that student stress, particularly around exam times, is associated with a decline in the body's immune system defenses, leaving it vulnerable to illness ranging form the common cold to recurring herpes attacks.

Studies indicate that not only do students suffer anxiety over test results, but they also have an increase in irritability around exam time that is accompanied by a decline in positive experiences and socializing.

At the University of California at Berkeley, a coffee shop manager reported that business increases by 30 percent the week before exams when 550 pounds of coffee are consumed by stressed-out students in comparison to the usual 400 pounds.

Mental health experts say they can often chart the stress level at their institutions by the academic schedule and the time of year.

"We can see the stress level by the case load at the counseling center," Meilman said.

"It is usually low at the beginning of the academic year, it crescendos at midterms, and from midterms to finals it is running at a peak. After finals the case load drops to zero," he said.

"Right now I am trying to deal with an onslaught of new cases. I feel like an air traffic controller who is trying to control patients getting to therapists," he said, adding that he had eight student file folders on his desk but no counselors available.

"Students always wait until they are in great distress before seeking help," he added.

Meilman said that 25 percent of the student body at he College of William and Mary are employed, and working students are generally more prone to stress.

But Meilman noted that he is most concerned about a certain type of student, who may or may not hold an outside job, but who is "perfectionist, intense, and tense" with a tendency to be anti-social and who often spends long, isolated hours in the library.

"Their lives have become a grind," he said.

Treatment for workaholism requires a realization on the part of the student that they are behaving in a compulsive way. In many cases, Meilman said students are unaware of their unhealthy attitudes toward work.

UH's Counseling and Testing Center (743-5454) assists students both by appointment and on a walk-in basis.

 

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COLLEGES' DRESS CODES PUTS BANS ON SHORTS, MINISKIRTS

CPS--A list of "don't's" in Brigham Young University's dress code recently drew national media attention to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints school, where short shorts and miniskirts are not allowed.

"Our honor code has drawn attention in the past. We're used to it," said spokesman Brent Harker. "We expect high standards. When someone finds an exception it makes the news. But the standards are important. A large majority of the faculty and students support it.'"

Few colleges and universities in the United States have official dress codes. But for the handful that do, watch out if you try to wear a short skirt or shorts to classes. At BYU, for instance, you can be refused service at the library or campus-run eateries if your clothing isn't up to code.

While many students, faculty members and administrators may think a student dress code is anachronistic, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. and BYU in Provo, Utah, take it very seriously.

"It's a Christian school," said a Liberty University spokesman. "So they believe students should dress like they attend a Christian school."

At BYU, men and women "must have a clean and well-taken care of appearance. They must avoid extreme hairstyles," said Harker. "We don't have punkers with orange hair."

What brought BYU to national attention recently was an Associated Press story that referred to students wearing shorts on campus. Provo can be hot in September and October, and after the administration approved the wearing of shorts a couple of years ago, suddenly there was an impression that the hemline started moving up the thigh a little too much.

Coupled with the story was a picture of a female student wearing shorts that were a few inches higher than her knees.

However, no action was taken against the student. "We don't want a repressive, police-like atmosphere on campus," Harker said.

The restrictive dress code was enacted at BYU in the early 1960s. "There were a lot of variations in clothing at that time," Harker said. "Certain ways of dressing such as beards, beads and bangles reflected the counter-culture message that was not acceptable at a church-run school."

Skirts were required for women and slacks for men. Additionally, men couldn't have beards or long hair. "It was quite a visible contrast to what was going on," he said.

In the early 1980s the rules were relaxed somewhat: Men and women were allowed to wear jeans. But not grubby jeans. And beards were still banned. And finally, in 1990, the shorts were added to the list of approved attire, provided they were around knee length. Beards are still banned. So are earrings for men. If men want to wear mustaches, they must be neatly trimmed.

All but 2 percent of BYU's 29,000 students are Mormons, and all students must sign an honor pledge that says they will abstain from liquor, drugs, tobacco, sex, tea and coffee.

"They must demonstrate in daily living the morals of a chaste and virtuous life," Harker said. "Our dress code has to do with a chaste and virtuous life. It's different at BYU. That's the point: We're different. We're a minority."

At Liberty University, a conservative Christian school, male students must wear dress slacks, shirts and ties to class, and women must wear dresses. No shorts are allowed unless a student is going to a physical education class or to work out. Students also aren't allowed to use drugs, alcohol or tobacco, curse or have sex.

But these schools are the exceptions, not the rule. At the University of St. Thomas, a Catholic institution in St. Paul, Minn., there is no written policy for a dress code. "There used to be a sign at the grill that said, 'No shirt, no shoes, no service.' But it's now gone," said spokesman Jim Winterer. "If someone came to class dressed inappropriately, they would be asked to change."

He said the school has an open atmosphere, and there is rarely a problem with how students dress.

"It doesn't even come up. Most of the time you have to wear clothes in Minnesota," he said. "You can't go without shoes in the winter. You'd freeze your toes off."

 

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BRIEFS

FINANCIAL AID

WASHINGTON (CPS) -- The U.S. Department of Education made available $56.7 million in student aid for victims of Hurricane Andrew, Hurricane Iniki and Typhoon Omar. The money is available for the 1992-93 school year.

The aid will be available to an estimated 33,000 students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate and professional programs, U.S. Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander said.

"We're pleased that we were able to make this aid available quickly, and with minimal disruption to students, he said.

About $40 million of the aid was for emergency Pell Grants, and $16.7 million will be awarded for campus-based programs which are administered by school financial aid offices.

FEMALE VETERANS

COLUMBIA, S.C. (CPS) -- The controversy over educational access at The Citadel escalated a notch after the South Carolina higher education commissioner told the military institution it should admit women or risk losing a court fight.

Higher Education Commis-sioner Fred Sheheen said that while he can recommend the action, the commission has no legal authority to enforce it.

The Citadel has been sued by three female veterans who contend they should have access to day classes at the all male, state-run school in Charleston. Rather than admit the women, the school closed down its day program for male veterans and proposed establishing a separate school for women.

The only other state-run school that is military and all-male is Virginia Military Institute, which won a federal appellate court ruling in October. The court ruled that VMI need not admit women, but that Virginia must provide other opportunities for the same type of education.

Lt. Gen Claudius Watts III, president of The Citadel, lauded the decision in the VMI case, and defended single-sex education. "For years this state (South Carolina) has wisely provided an opportunity for single-gender education for females and males, and it continues to do so today," he said. "The evidence of the wisdom and value of these programs is abundant."

MORE DORMS

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CPS) -- Florida's nine public universities will need at least 10,500 more dorm beds between now and 2006 to keep up with burgeoning student demand.

The state university system, which currently has 185,000 students enrolled, expects an additional 80,000 students in the next 14 years. A spokesman said that current dorms must also be renovated, especially older buildings that don't meet federal access requirements for disabled people.

Officials estimate the cost of adding the 10,500 beds at $200 million, and another $200 million will be needed to upgrade existing dorms. Florida's current on-campus population is about 12 percent. Nationally about 30 percent of all college students live in dormitories.

 

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USM OFFICIALS OK NUDE-WITCH CEREMONY

GORHAM, Maine (CPS) -- A sophomore at the University of Southern Maine at Gorham has obtained permission from university officials to perform a witchcraft ceremony in her campus dormitory room.

Rebecca Hotaling, a 20-year-old sophomore from New Jersey, promised to learn to handle a fire extinguisher, to use safe candle holders and to have a student patrol the hallway in case of fire.

The ceremonial knife Hotaling uses in the ritual had to be registered as a firearm.

The student, who dresses in black and paints her nails with black polish, says she is a member of the Wicca sect.

She rejected an earlier university proposal that she be watched by another person because she performs the ceremony in the nude, or "sky clad."

"You mean our Wicca witch?" asked Judy O'Malley of media relations, when asked about Hotaling's activities. "We've gotten so many calls about her."

O'Malley said the university had to be assured that Hotaling would carefully observe the fire codes at the school.

"There was never a religious question," said O'Malley, "just a fire-code question. And her knife had to be registered as a firearm."

Hotaling practices her ceremonies in solitude.

"Her coven is in New Jersey," explained O'Malley. "It's not like the Baptist Church where you visit when you are out of town. You observe rituals with your coven only. They are like your family."

 

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ANYONE FOR CHOCOLATE-COVERED INSECTS?

AMES, Iowa (CPS) -- Two Iowa State University students finally coaxed Jay Leno into sampling a Chocolate Chirpee, a chocolate-covered cricket, from a tray of critters on a recent <i>Tonight Show<p> appearance.

Julie Stephens and Kathy Gree, co-presidents of the Entomology Club, flew to Burbank, Calif., to share some corn borer bread, maggot crispies and fly hopper caramel corn with the talk-show host in early October.

They also brought 100 hissing cockroaches to show Leno.

Leno's staff called the two after reading about the university's annual Insect Horror Film Festival which features horror films about insects and insect desserts.

"They were very calm and poised," said Donald Lewis, club adviser and extension entomologist who oversees the film festival.

"It's not easy to be called a 'maggot-eating college student' and keep your sense of humor."

The horror film festival, which is held in early September, is modeled after a similar one at the University of Illinois called the "Insect Fear Film Festival."

Lewis admits the films are not "quality cinema," and greatly exaggerate the truth about insects. This year, the festival featured a Japanese film called <i>Mothra<p>, which is about a giant silkworm and is considered a classic among bug horror films.

"The recognition has been welcome," said Lewis, who has been with the department for 15 years. "We've had our 15 minutes of fame. We've done some really important things, like helping farmers and public outreach, but we get famous for something like this."

 

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TIGHT FINANCES PUT STUDENTS IN GRIP OF HOMELESSNESS

LOS ANGELES (CPS) -- When John boards the bus after long days of class, he often falls asleep, not bothering to tell the driver to awaken him at the stop near his home. It's not because he doesn't care about getting home; it's because he doesn't have one.

John's situation is not an isolated case. Across the country, a growing number of college students are finding themselves in the ranks of the homeless, forced to juggle their dreams of success with the reality of survival.

"You have to go slow," said John, an auto mechanic student in his mid-30s at Santa Monica Community College in Southern California. John, who holds a part-time job at the college, doesn't want his real name used because he doesn't want people to know he's homeless.

"Sometimes I sleep on the bus, taking the bus all the way into downtown Los Angeles and come back in time for classes in the morning. Sometimes I live in a motel for a week when I get paid. Sometimes I live in the streets. Sometimes I stay with a friend if he has a car."

Although there is no official number of homeless students in the United States, estimates of the total homeless population range from a conservative figure of 500,000 to 3 million, according to advocacy groups.

Even with such a large number of students needing so much, only a few colleges have addressed the problem directly.

One of the largest efforts has taken place in Florida, where the state Legislature passed an amendment earlier this year that exempts homeless students from paying laboratory and instructional fees at state-supported community colleges and universities.

While Hurricane Andrew added a significant number of students to Florida's homeless ranks, college officials said the new law and Florida's sunny climate had already attracted many homeless people who want to be students.

"Our percentage of homeless is higher than the general population. We have about 100 (homeless students) here," said George Young, vice president for student affairs at Broward Community College, which has about 50,000 students on three campuses.

Efforts to help the homeless are also taking place in Massachusetts. Last month, Suffolk University in Boston awarded a homeless man a four-year scholarship. Kevin Davis, 31, began studying finance this fall under the private university's annual Homeless Student Scholarship Program.

"I always wanted to go to college and now I am," Davis said in a statement. "I have a wonderful opportunity to build a new future."

Students are also pitching in to help other students. At Michigan State University in East Lansing, students have joined with a local philanthropist to open a food bank for students who may live off campus and who are having financial problems, including any homeless students. To encourage participation, 20 percent discounts at the bookstore are being offered to donors, while recipients can receive food without having to prove their need.

Despite these efforts to help homeless students stay in school, rising tuition, cost-of-living increases and continued low wages are forcing more students to choose between attending classes and having a place to call home.

For example, John is on his third venture as a homeless student since moving to California from New York. He became homeless each time because he could not afford to pay for housing.

"I had found a two-bedroom apartment with a South African student. He rented me a room for $280 and we split utilities," recalled John, who holds odd jobs and receives financial aid. "When the student finished the four years at UCLA, he was supposed to leave the country. I didn't have enough money to keep paying the rent."

With only $400 a month in income from a part-time job and financial aid, John said he has just enough to pay for food and bills, such as storage for his belongings, a student bus pass and, ironically, a Visa credit card obtained at a student rate.

One student decided he would rather go homeless than sacrifice a quality education.

Charles Kirby, 25, decided to live in his van when he enrolled at California State University, Northridge. After working for two years as a waiter, Kirby did not want to see his savings wasted on high rents, which can run as much as $500 per month, even sharing a small apartment.

Working to pay that kind of rent would interfere too much with his grades, said Kirby, who lives off his savings and does not work. "I consider being a student a full-time job. I want to get the A's to go to graduate school," said Kirby, an English major. "I'm a serious student. I'm not just some hippie in a van.

"Why should I spend money on housing when I don't know what tuition is going to be next year? I want to be prepared," added Kirby, pointing out that CSUN's fees were raised 40 percent this year due to a California budget crisis.

But Kirby's decision to be homeless has had a cost, even if it is not rent. It's nearly impossible to lead a normal life, he says. He must photocopy textbooks to save money, eat only fruits, vegetables and other perishable foods because he has no cooking facilities, keep his van away from campus police and sneak into the gym to shower. He also gets lonely.

"I can't give any women my phone number," Kirby said.

For some homeless people, however, college may be the last chance of a normal life.

 

 

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