DO WOMEN GET EQUAL TREATMENT?

by Karen Snelling

Daily Cougar Staff

The U.S. Constitution states that all men are created equal. Many women, however, have found that this renowned statement doesn't include them.

Society doesn't encourage women to pursue the same careers and lifestyles as men, said Sandy Frieden, a professor in the German department.

She said when she was a UH undergraduate student, a professor asked her if she was going to quit school after she got married.

When she mentioned her goals of becoming a writer and scholar, a different professor told her to think about working for a travel agency. "They didn't realize how devastating it was to me," she said.

Frieden said that although her past experiences didn't hamper her ambitious career, many women live their lives by what other people expect.

The assumption by society of the inferior female has influenced women's lives, she said.

Karen Haynes, Ph.D. and dean of the Graduate School of Social Work, said her position as the only female dean in the history of UH is a blatant example of how women typically don't obtain authoritative roles.

Even when women become leaders, there are subtle differences in what people expect from them, Haynes said.

Most people want women to be compassionate, nurturing leaders, and as a result, women don't have as much influence as men, Haynes said.

Instead of using the typically male power-dominating style, women tend to lead with a more gentle approach, Haynes said. She gave examples where women share decision-making duties with their subordinates and work using a first-name basis more than males.

The difference between how people treat men and women begins with the parents, said LaToya Johnson, a freshman pre-med major.

Parents give their daughters dolls and makeup to play with, while they encourage their sons to climb trees and race toy trucks, Johnson said.

"To stop the differences between males and females, people need to instill new attitudes in their own kids," Johnson said. She suggested letting children choose their own toys.

Joanna Muirhead, a freshman pre-pharmacy major, said unequal treatment between sexes can also be found in elementary schools. "Teachers pay more attention to boys because they assume boys are always getting into trouble," she said.

Teachers often choose boys for physical tasks before girls because they assume boys are stronger, she said.

Jon Schultz, a sophomore HRM major, said he noticed more men than women working in expensive restaurants. "I see most waitresses in casual restaurants," he said.

People are working to correct any unfairness between men and women, said Michael Jordan, a senior technology major. "Younger generations won't notice as big a difference as in the past," he said.

"In my experience, there are subtle differences (between how men and women are treated) but they are not major disadvantages to anyone," said Sara Freeman, associate dean for the College of Business.

"Women have made headway, but there's still inequality," said Felicia Durden, a sophomore communication disorders major. "I'm not sure if there will ever be a complete change."

 

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CHRISTIANS DEBATE MUSLIMS

by Yonca Poyraz-Dogan

News Reporter

The centuries-long debate between Christians and Muslims about religion was debated once more Wednesday. Three scholars discussed the concept of God in both religions.

Lynn Mitchell, a resident scholar in religion, said Muslims often question why Christians don't believe in Islam, although Muhammed is mentioned as the last prophet of God in the Bible. The Islam, or Muslim interpretation, is that just as Jesus was a prophet of God, Muhammed was too.

As Mitchell stressed the importance of the interpretation of the Bible throughout his speech, he said that in the New Testament Jesus talks about the "paraslete" which means "comforter" in the modern language.

According to Muslims, "paraslete" refers to Mohammed, while Christians believe that the "paraslete," or the comforter, is the Holy Spirit, Mitchell said.

The issue of the Trinity was the most controversial issue for both the 25 member audience and the speakers.

"No prophet ever uttered the word 'trinity.' It is neither found in the Holy Bible, nor in the Bible Dictionary. 'Trinity' was originally introduced to the world by Hinduism," said Dr. Abu S. Alam, who has studied the Bible and the Koran.

He said the Christian Trinity consists of God, Jesus and Holy Ghost. Islam demands not only to believe in the oneness of God, but also to worship 'Him' alone, Alam said.

Mitchell said the concept of a trinity was invented by theologians to try to communicate the Christian understanding of God as one, but at the same time Father, Son and Holy Spirt.

The biblical language always distinguishes "Jesus and Father," he said. "God reveals himself through a personal life. The birth of Jesus Christ doesn't indicate that there are two Gods," Mitchell said.

Muslims consider Mohammed different than Jesus, Mitchell said. For Muslims the Koran is the word of God, and for Christians, God reveals himself in the perfect way through Jesus.

Mitchell, who is also a minister, said Christians believe incarnation is necessary. "If you have seen the life of Christ, then you have seen the Father. You have seen His nature and attitude," he said.

Hafiz Nisar, a scholar and Imam (priest) of a mosque in Southeast Houston, said a special relation between Jesus and God is not understood. He said that's why 'trinity' is the term used to clarify the relationship.

Mitchell said he prefers to use biblical language rather than philosophical language about the Trinity, because the complexity of the philosophical language is confusing.

Nisar said the Koran has maintained the same language since it was revealed, or written. Alam also said he has difficulties with understanding the Bible because its language has changed a great deal over the centuries.

Mitchell said he also has had difficulties understanding the Koran because he wasn't raised in a Muslim community. He said in order to understand the Bible's historical, cultural and linguistic problems, a person can study for 20 years in Harvard.

"Tele-evangelists say 'God loves sinners.' God surely does not love sinners, or He would ask us to commit sin, instead of forbidding sin," Alam said.

According to the Christian faith all human beings are sinners, Mitchell said.

The Bible doesn't say God loves people if they do good but He doesn't love them if they don't do good, Mitchell said.

"The only reason that God loves is because He wills to love. He does not love only people who are good. He loves all people in spite of their sin and He wants to redeem them so they can become truly good," he said.

Alam read a paragraph from the Bible (Genesis 18:21), "I will go down to see whether they (the people of Sodom and Gomorrah) have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me and if not I will know."

Alam said according to this statement from the Bible, God is ignorant, rather than all knowing.

The Koran, however, reveals God to be omniscient, according to Alam. "He knows what is in the heavens and on earth; and He knows what you conceal and what you reveal: yes, Allah knows the (secrets) of (all) hearts (H. Q. 64:4)."

Mitchell said people talk about God in human terms. "We say God sees with His eyes but literally, He doesn't have eyes. These are just the terms we use," he said.

Mitchell said both Christians and Muslims have a tendency to interpret each others' religion in the worst light but in fact, they need to understand each others' beliefs.

All speakers said both religious beliefs maintain the idea that only one God exists, God is unique and God reveals himself to his people.

They agreed the Muslim and Christian communities should try to understand each others' beliefs better and live together in peace.

The second of the three discussions, "The Holy Scriptures," is going to be held April 12, from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. The third one, "The Holy Prophets," is scheduled April 22 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. The meetings will be held in the Houston room in the UC.

 

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UH EVICTS STUDENTS IN DEBT CRACKDOWN

by Heather Wolk

Daily Cougar Staff

As a result of the administration cracking down on student debts, as many as 130 students who owe the university a total of $350,000 are the largest eviction list UH has ever compiled.

In an attempt to clean up the university's debt collection process, this semester the administration restricted students who owed money to the school from enrolling. These students were either unable to enroll or were dropped from class.

The majority of the students on the eviction list are not currently enrolled in class. Why? Because of the administration's new policy not to allow students to remain in class -- or on campus -- if they owe money to the school.

But because these students are in campus housing and not enrolled in classes, they are being asked to pay their debts in full, or get out.

Several students simply left without paying their debts. When UH attempted to collect, they found empty rooms.

Even though Tom Penett, director of Residential Life and Housing, said six students have been evicted, a source from Cougar Place said he knew of at least 80 people being evicted and between five and 10 rooms had locks changed to keep students from coming back.

Graduate student Dai Huynh received a letter dated March 9, 1993 ordering her to vacate the premises on or before March 15.

However, her fee bill states that the amount is due on March 26.

"I got a eviction notice before payment was even due," said Huynh.

"I paid it. I had two days to come up with the money and they weren't even willing to work out a payment plan or anything," Huynh said.

"It made me realize what a mess this system is. I have a clean record and they didn't take that into consideration. The fact that they're not willing to work anything out only works against them," said Huynh.

Penett said the eviction rate is normally low. "About six evictions a year is normal," Penett said.

"Our poor enforcement policies may be at the root of this problem . . . but this is not an abrupt move," said Penett about the biggest sweep of debtors in UH's history.

UH Bursar Phyllis Bradley said there is no option at this time for an agreement or payment plan.

"They are asked to pay their delinquent debt in full or vacate the premises," said Bradley.

Unfortunately, many of these students are foreign or out-of-state students who have nowhere else to go.

Senior Terek Fahaad, who attends UH-Downtown, fought for two years to get on-campus housing and currently owes more than $3,000.

He finally got on-campus housing last semester but received an eviction notice last week.

When he received the notice, Fahaad offered to pay $500 up front, requesting an arrangement or some sort of payment plan. UH refused, ordering him to vacate his room.

He has carried various debt amounts from semester to semester but has always been allowed to continue his classes.

Those living off campus who owe money are sent through the same channels as before, said Bradley.

"They will receive notice that they will be disenrolled from the school, and we will continue collection attempts as before," said Bradley.

A senior, who lives in Cougar Place and who asked to remain anonymous, has one semester left and approximately $700 in unpaid debt before graduating, but was not evicted.

He feels that because he gets financial aid, the university hasn't evicted him since he is within its grasp to collect the money.

"This has been the worst four year experience of my life," he said.

He has decided to go to another university to do his graduate studies.

 

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COLLEGE STUDENTS LEADING RISK FOR STRESS-RELATED SUICIDE

by Karla S. Mishak Lee

News Reporter

Suicide is a leading cause of death among college students, second only to accidents, and experts say mid-terms are one of the stressful events that may lead students to a crisis situation.

College students are at greater risk for entering a crisis situation that may end in suicide than non-college students, said Dr. Rosemary Hughes, assistant director of Counseling and Testing Services. She said every 20 minutes in America there is a successful suicide.

There are several key factors that may determine the likelihood of an individual committing suicide, according to Hughes.

One factor, stress, is relative to an individual, said Hughes. "What one student would see as fairly stressful, might be seen by as another as inconvenience," she said.

Coping ability is another factors. Some students can recover from minor failures much better than others.

"A lot of negative emotions in response to a minor setback is worse than feeling a little bit bad in the face of a major life disappointment," she said.

The support group of family and friends is a big factor, said Hughes. The more people who are supportive, the easier it is to recover from a crisis situation.

Attitude also plays a part. If there is a sense of hopelessness or helplessness, students are in more danger than those who may have the attitude that they'd better get their life back in order.

Changes in mood and behavior also are a factor."That type of change may indicate that the student is deteriorating in his or her coping ability. That's the time that it's really important to intervene," Hughes said. There are also several high risk "red flags," according to Hughes.

Hughes said a close eye should be kept on people who exhibit impulsive behaviors not fitting the situation, those suffering from a prolonged depression, a loss of interest in activities, a loss of appetite or disturbed sleep, and those who give away possessions, drop academically, or make comments such as "I can't go on."

Dr. Lynn Rehm, a psychology professor and a recognized expert in the treatment of depression, offered suggestions for helping a friend who may be contemplating suicide.

If a student mentions suicide, he said, try to get more information about the situation, and don't keep the knowledge secret. Take charge of the situation and get help for the individual, said Rehm.

Another way to help is to listen and empathize with the individual. "People who are depressed often just can't see the options that other people can see very clearly," Rehm said.

"Suicide is often impulsive," said Rehm, "and we generally think that if people waited for a while and thought through things that they would come up with a solution."

Hughes suggested pulling together support for the individual. "We forget sometimes that we can always rally support, pulling in the family, pulling in the friends," she said.

Help is available on campus at the Counseling and Testing Center. Students, faculty and staff can see a psychologist for a one-time consultation free of charge.

The Counseling and Testing Center is located on the second floor in the student services building adjacent to the health center. Walk-in counseling hours are 10:00 to 2:00 Monday through Thursday. The phone number is 743-5454.

 

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SOUNDS OF SUICIDE

by Rebecca McPhail

Daily Cougar Staff

 

Hank Williams Jr. just may be keeping the Suicide Hotline in business.

In a study released last September, Steven Stack, a professor of sociology at Wayne State University, and Jim Gundlach, an associate professor of sociology at Auburn University, drew some startling conclusions about the effects of country music.

"We found that, even when you factor out the influence of poverty and divorce, there was still a moderately strong relationship between the amount of country music on the air and the white suicide rate," Stack said.

The year-long study assessed the effects of country music in 49 major metropolitan cities by comparing the market share of country music on the radio and the number of reported suicides.

The idea for the study came a couple of years ago during a graduate seminar in statistics presented by Gundlach.

Using the example of suicide rates in cities, Gundlach demonstrated the phenomenon of an "outlyer," an extreme value that cannot be explained. While conducting the demonstration, Gundlach noticed both Nashville and Oklahoma City were outlyers because they had far greater suicide rates than were expected.

One of the seminar students suggested country music as the underlying cause, Stack said.

Although neither professor was convinced by the theory, they decided to conduct preliminary research involving several cities.

"Sure enough," Stack said, "there was a relationship that went well beyond just explaining why Nashville and Oklahoma City had higher than expected suicide rates."

The pair used the preliminary findings as a starting point for the year-long study that followed. The study's findings closely matched the original research.

Divorce is usually the strongest predictor of suicide, Gundlach said. But the pair found country music is 80 percent as strong a factor as divorce.

"I wasn't necessarily surprised to find that there was some significant effect," Gundlach said, "but I was really surprised at how strong it is."

Stack attributes the correlation to the predominant themes in country music, including relationship difficulties and alcohol abuse.

"If you have the kind of music that emphasizes love problems and alcohol abuse and you have a lot of people that listen to that music, I think the music probably brings out those sort of suicidal risk factors or serves to multiply the ones that are already there," he said.

However, the study is not without its detractors. The Country Music Association is not convinced by the research.

In a statement released several months ago, Ed Benson, executive director of the Country Music Association said, " ...to look at the statement that was done -- measuring country music radio listenership in key markets and correlating suicide rates in those cities -- and then somehow linking those two factors is a quantum leap at best.

"They could have just as easily tracked country music listenership and ulcers and tried to come up with a cause and effect relationship for that as well."

As a follow-up to their study, Stack and Gundlach are already working on a second study which researches the effect of heavy metal music on the youth suicide rate.

"In states that have higher circulations of heavy metal magazines, there's a higher youth suicide rate; youth being 15 to 24 years old," Stack said.

Already anticipating the backlash that will follow the next study's release, Gundlach still counts his blessings.

"I haven't gotten any death threats," he said, "although I have been called 'a conehead academic.' "

 

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UT STUDENT TURNS HOLLYWOOD DIRECTOR

by Deborah Hensel

Daily Cougar Staff

Even a laboratory rat can write and direct a better movie than the big Hollywood studios--for a fraction of the millions they spend.

Robert Rodriguez has proven that with El Mariachi.

The 24-year-old former University of Texas film student hit the big time when his $7,000 "home movie" was picked up and distributed by Columbia Pictures. El Mariachi opened on a platform release of 90 theaters in six major markets in February. The subtitled film in Spanish opened in six houses in Houston Friday, when Rodriguez was in town to promote it.

The story, in Rodriguez's words, is about a mariachi who becomes a reluctant hero when he starts living the tragedies he sings about in his ballads.

A case of mistaken identity and an accidental switch of guitar cases make him the target for a band of hit men.

Rodriguez, the son of a cookware salesman and a nurse, now has a $5 million budget to produce the sequel to his dark comedy for Columbia.

His rags-to-riches story began when he decided to make a film for the Spanish home video market.

Although he was working two jobs to pay his way through college, he decided he needed to go somewhere quiet to concentrate on the script. So he checked himself into a research hospital as a human guinea pig for pharmaceutical testing.

He walked out with a completed script and $3,000 to help bankroll the project. With a borrowed Arriflex 16mm camera and no crew, he set out for Acuna, Mexico to shoot. He was accompanied by his friend, Carlos Gallardo, who stars as the mariachi.

Their total assets included a school bus, a motorcycle, permission to use two bars and a ranch -- and H.B., Gallardo's pit bull dog. All of these elements were written into the script, he said.

All but $600 of Rodriguez' $7,000 budget went for film and processing. One scene he wanted to shoot involved breaking the mariachi's guitar -- something Rodriguez said he couldn't afford to do.

Without more sophisticated equipment, the young film maker had to improvise. Six smooth shots that would have ordinarily required the use of a dolly or a Steadicam were actually filmed from a wheelchair, with Gallardo pushing him, he said.

Rodriguez, one of 10 children who grew up in San Antonio, said he has always been interested in movement. In fifth grade, he amused himself by drawing flip comics in the margins of school dictionaries, leaving them for his classmates to discover.

Later, he drew a comic strip based on his family, "Los Hooligans," which ran in UT's Daily Texan for three years.

School never really interested him, he said, and a 2.0 GPA initially kept him out of film school at UT. But when his first 16mm short film, Bedhead, won many national and international film festival awards, things started turning around for him.

Now, because of El Mariachi, which won the Sundance Film Festival audience award, he was recently asked to teach a class at UCLA.

But, Rodriguez said he thinks film schools are "a waste of time."

"They don't teach you how to tell stories, they don't teach you how to make movies without a crew or any money," he said. "What they teach you is how to make movies with a big crew and a lot of money so that when you graduate you can go pull cables on a real movie set.

"The best way to learn anything is just by doing it," he said.

Rodriguez said he admires directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorcese, John Carpenter, James Cameron, Francis Ford Coppola, Stephen Spielberg, John Wu and Jackie Chan.

He said he especially appreciates directors who don't have a lot of money but a use a lot of creativity. This year's Academy Award nominations bode well for the independent films represented, he said.

"People are starting to realize that money has nothing to do with telling a good story or making a good movie," he said. If money were the criteria, Hudson Hawk might be the best movie ever made, he said and then smiled.

As for the $5 million Columbia has given him for the second in the Mariachi trilogy, Rodriguez maintains a humorous perspective.

"I'm just going to spend $7,000 and keep the rest," he joked.

He said, seriously, the money gets used up quickly by things that have nothing to do with the creative process.

"Completion runs, insurance, attorney's fees -- aack, it's starting to scare me already," he said. But, if it ceases to be fun, he said he'll go back to making films the cheap way.

"Someone will buy them," he said.

Rodriguez said the trend toward more ethnic films will depend on what sells.

"That's why they make African-American films. It's not because they think they're swell guys, but because they can make money from them," he said. "Green -- that's the color they like most."

Dressed in sneakers, jeans and a denim workshirt, Rodriguez said success won't change his lifestyle much, except he plans to help his brothers and sisters through college with some of his earnings.

He and his wife, Rice University Art School graduate Elizabeth Avellan, who was also his associate producer, have no plans to buy a big house or a fancy car.

"I'd rather just concentrate on the work," he said.

 

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MUSIC NOTE

Seventh Annual South by Southwest Music & Media Conference (March 17-21 in Austin)

-If you're in the mood to travel, head up to Austin for for the four night music fest (it started last night) featuring more than 300 musical acts playing the area's best venues.

-Wristbands good for admittance in venues are on sale for $30 (plus a $1 credit card fee).

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