UH SEEKS MORE THECB REPRESENTATION

by Kristine Fahrenholz

Daily Cougar Staff

UH wants more direct representation on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board by placing an alumnus on the board.

Currently, no one on the board holds a degree from UH. UH President James Pickering plans to submit some names of university alumni to Chancellor Alexander Schilt in hopes of gaining some representation on the THECB.

"At the present time, there is no one on the board who has seen our university on the inside," Pickering said. "It would be nice to have the opportunity to have someone on the board who knows UH from the inside and out."

The appointments of new members are made by Governor Ann Richards. They serve six-year terms, said Ray Grasshoff, public information officer for the THECB.

Grasshoff said there is nobody on the board who represents any particular college, but there are members who are alumni of other Texas colleges.

"With 18 people voting on issues, one or two votes from members that are alumni to a particular college isn't going to drastically shift the outcome of the vote," he added.

Pickering said, "Theoretically, members of the board are not supposed to be affiliated with any institutions because decisions are made in the public interest."

Grasshoff said, "The THECB takes policies and looks at the big picture -- a state-wide view."

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

STUDENTS HIT BY RISING AUTO-INSURANCE COSTS

by Sally Pouncy

Daily Cougar Staff

College students have long felt the crunch of hard economic times before other sectors of society. The cost of living deflates students' bank accounts, and basic necessities become luxuries.

Driving to campus is one of the basic necessities for UH students, but since 1982, drivers have had to pay more money to roam the road.

That was the year the Texas legislature decided all drivers must carry liability insurance. Since then, drivers have been forced to carry proof of insurance on their vehicle at all times. If the driver can not afford insurance, they might as well take Metro because the fine for driving an uninsured vehicle is stiff.

The first time a driver is caught without insurance they must appear in traffic court. They may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor and face a fine ranging from $175 to $350. On a second offense, the driver must go to the District Attorney's office and face a Class B misdemeanor and pay up to $1,000.

"If you convict people who are first time offenders who can't pay, then the insurance rates are going to go up," said Mike Elliott, Fort Bend County assistant district attorney.

The current rate insurance companies can charge in Texas is about 30 percent of the state-set guideline. However, a person's driving record will ultimately set the cost.

The state has a program designed for drivers who have not been able to get coverage with a regular company.

Independent insurance agent Randy Timpelton explains the application process and cost of using the state program for insurance coverage: "First the driver must fill out an application for the Texas Automobile Insurance Plan.

"Then the state will make a company accept the driver for up to three years, but not at the company's rates."

"The rates the driver will pay are determined by base rate set on a clean driving record," Timpelton said. "Every ticket a driver has on their record ups the cost by 15 percent of the base rate. Each accident costs 20 percent, and a DWI (Driving while intoxicated) or a ticket for driving without a license will increase the cost by 60 percent."

"A ticket for driving without a license can cost the driver more than expected. If the driver does not go to court and show they have a license, it could cost them in the long run," he said.

Another way to get affordable insurance is to check with independent dealers. These are the people who represent multiple companies and can get good rates for drivers. But do not rely completely on an agent to get you a good deal.

"Call a bunch of agents -- either independent or ones with large companies," he said.

If you can not find an agent who suits you, go to the library and look up consumer magazines that rate insurance companies. Also, the state Department of Insurance can help answer some of your questions about an agent's license status and a company's complaint history. The state also publishes a free guide to insurance shopping.

The August issue of Consumer Reports magazine explains there are other ways to lower your rates besides changing agents. For instance, tell your agent if you move closer to work or school because it could lower your rates. Also, pay your total premium at once; it could save you a few dollars in fee cost. And take a defensive driving course; it could lower your premium by 10 percent.

"Another way to lower your rates is to move outside of the city limits. Once you get into the county area, your rates drop," said Timpelton.

To find out more information on state publications about insurance, call the state insurance hotline at 1-800-252-3439.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

STUDENTS CAN NOW TAKE GRE ON COMPUTERS

by David Sikes

Daily Cougar Staff

UH graduate school candidates can now take the Graduate Record Exam on computers and get their scores immediately.

But as is usual with new technology, it will cost twice as much as the standard written test.

UH is one of four schools in the nation that recently acquired four computers each as part of an experimental testing program sponsored by the Educational Testing Service.

Until recently, only the paper version of the GRE was administered at UH. Four times a year, approximately 400 students take the written test.

Students taking the standard version of the GRE test must wait up to eight weeks for their scores, said Gerald Osborne, director of Counseling and Testing.

The logistics of organizing mass testing is a hassle, Osborne said. Students have to show up an hour ahead of time and identifications must be checked by the more than 25 supervisors on duty.

With the computers, students like the convenience of arranged times and knowing their scores immediately, Osborne said.

"The stress of waiting for your scores for eight weeks is nonexistent with the computer version," he said. "You know immediately if you need to re-schedule, start studying for the next test or get on with your life."

ETS does not allow an immediate printed document of scores yet because they want to verify them, Osborne said. It takes about two weeks for a hard copy of the test results to arrive at the appropriate departments.

UH can administer up to 40 tests per week. Test are given twice a day, five days a week. Both the paper and the computer tests take three to four hours to complete.

Appointments are suggested to insure that a computer is free, said Osborne.

The computer test cost $90, compared to $45 for the paper version.

"As more students participate, the cost will go down," Osborne said. "Eventually, it will be less than the paper version."

Students can take the computer test only once a year while the paper test can be taken four times. Osborne said this difference is due to the fact that there is only one version of the computer test but four versions of the written test.

The new facility is available to anyone, but only 140 students have taken advantage of the computer test at UH.

"Most of the faculty don't know that we have this new computer option. People in admissions don't know, either," Osborne said. "It's a well-kept secret because we're not as good at communication as we are at testing."

"When we first got the system, they (ETS) told us not to advertise. I don't know why," said Stephanie Siewert, UH test information specialist.

The worldwide testing organization conditionally loaned the computers to UH in October.

"ETS made the best IBM PCs available to us free," Osborne said. "The agreement is that if we keep the computers and administer the test for three years then ETS will let us keep the computers."

The other schools experimenting with the testing computers are Arizona State University, Miami's Dade College and Norfolk State University in Virginia.

Of these institutions, only ASU's program has been as successful as UH's facility. According to Walter Reeves, ASU test administrator, about 150 students have taken the GRE on their computers.

Reeves said ASU has used their college and local newspaper as well as informational fliers to get the word out.

Students at Norfolk State University have complained of eye strain from looking at the black and white screen, said Robert Alford, Norfolk's director of testing.

"They also have complained that they can't see the entire page of text," Alford added. "They have to scroll down to read it since only about three fourths of the page is visible."

Siewert said, "The one downside is the math part of the test. Before they take the test they think it'll be difficult on the computer. They can use scratch paper though, so in the end it isn't really a problem."

Tests available on computer include the English, Spanish, Chinese and math placement tests.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

MAC OF TRADE

by Patti Warner

Daily Cougar Staff

Mac knows football. Mac knows baseball. Mac knows pain.

Sound familiar?

Houston's version of Bo Jackson, 21-year-old Jason McDonald, or "Mac" as he is known to teammates, came to UH last fall armed with a football scholarship and natural ability.

"I figured there was no better place to go than UH as a receiver," McDonald said, referring to the annually high scoring Cougar offense. "I knew all along I was going to play baseball, too. I wanted to go somewhere I could play both. "

However, McDonald was greeted rudely in his Houston debut. On his first catch of the 1992 football season, McDonald collided with the Ragin' Cajun defensive line and strained his knee ligaments to end his season.

The injury gave McDonald more time to prepare for what he calls his future -- baseball.

"I like baseball a lot better," McDonald said. "Yeah, my future is definitely in baseball."

The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him out of high school in the 15th round in 1991, the California native opted for Sacramento Community College. It was there that Cougars football coach John Jenkins found McDonald and brought him to Texas.

"To be quite honest, I didn't know he was as fine a two-sport athlete as he is," Jenkins said.

McDonald, a switch-hitting shortstop, immediately blended with the Cougars infield. Although he has committed 14 errors this season, it is nothing compared to the 25 errors committed by his predecessor R.D. Long.

"I worked out at both second base and shortstop," McDonald said. "I'm not uncomfortable at either position, but I think I can benefit the team the most at shortstop."

For the past five games, McDonald has been unable to benefit the team at all. During the second game in Austin, McDonald slid into Texas catcher J.P. Webb. The run counted, but McDonald suffered a deep thigh bruise that has kept him out of the lineup.

"I've been taking whirlpool and ultrasound treatments," he said.

Left fielder Brian Blair, who usually bats behind McDonald, will be glad to see him return to the lineup. Blair was inserted into McDonald's leadoff spot.

"The job is a lot different," Blair sAid. "Getting your leadoff man on is as important as the rest of your offense. When Jason gets on, he usually steals second then we drive him in."

McDonald is eager to return. His 29 walks lead the team and his 16 stolen bases and .465 on-base percentage makes him an effective lead-off man.

McDonald also knows he must return to the lineup in order to ensure his future. Scouts from Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Chicago descend on Cougar Field every weekend to eye the fleet-footed McDonald.

 

*******************************************************

*******************************************************

 

 

PARKING, SECRETARY BILLS TABLED IN LAST SENATE MEETING

by Rivka Gewirtz

Daily Cougar Staff

Unfinished business marked the closing of the 29th Students' Association Senate.

The last meeting of the 29th SA Senate Monday night left five bills tabled until the next session. The bills can only be revived if a senator from the new administration reintroduces it.

One of the bills was a piece of legislation that proposed cutting off appropriations for a secretary in the SA office. This position uses $22,872 and constitutes 24.4 percent of the SA budget.

The bill proposes the job be filled by a work-study student, whose salary would be less than the current secretary.

Saving money with lower budgets was a major campaign promise of both former SA presidential candidate Cipriano Romero and President-elect Jason Fuller.

Discussion on the floor showed that senators felt more research had to be done with members of the Student Fee Advisory Committee before the bill could be passed.

"We used to have students in these positions, but it did not work. People hired their friends, then they would become enemies, and the person would stop working," said Student Regent-elect Jeff Fuller.

Speaker of the Senate Michelle Palmer said many of the senators gave up on their good work because it was the end of the administration.

Palmer said, "I think people just wanted to get out of there. It was a long meeting. They didn't take care of a lot of important business.

"In terms of the secretary, Rusty (Hruska, incumbent SA president) was for that bill, but Jason (Fuller) is not. People tabled it so it won't go into effect."

Senator Justin McMurtry plans to reintroduce the secretary bill along with another piece of legislation that would take party affiliation off election ballots. McMurtry said he believes party politics do not encourage students to get involved in the political process.

"This gives us the initiative to get out there and meet our own constituency. We should be known for more than a party's platform. How can we serve our con-stituency if they don't think we have the time to get out there and talk to them," said McMurtry.

Opponents of the legislation feared the bill would lower the voting population. Voter turnout is already a huge problem -- only 900 out of 33,000 students voted in the March election.

"As a U.S. citizen, I don't know all my representatives, and I don't expect UH students to know every single one of theirs. Parties are a reference point. If a person isn't campaigning enough they should be kicked off the ticket," said Senator Gavin Kaszynski.

The parking bill was also tabled. The legislation would stop UHPD's Parking and Trans-portation Department from selling more parking permits than the number of parking spaces available. The bill states this would free up more spaces during peak hours.

"Some of the bills will be reintroduced and some won't. Some of them are just bad bills, but the parking bill is in research and will definitely be reintroduced," said Palmer.

Visit The Daily Cougar