KING VERDICT RE-ESTABLISHES FAITH FOR SOME

by Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar Staff

Although citizens of Los Angeles avoided another urban rebellion, some UH professors say social and legal aspects of the Rodney King civil rights trial should still be addressed.

Among them is Sandra Guerra, an assistant professor of law who specializes in criminal law at the UH Law Center.

"I don't think the distinction is one that should hold up," Guerra said, referring to the distinction that has been made between the state criminal trial and the federal civil rights trial.

The jury found Sgt. Stacey Koon and officer Lawrence Powell guilty. It convicted Koon for failing to prevent unlawful assault and found Powell guilty of using excessive force.

Former officer Timothy Wind and 10-year veteran Theodore Briseno were found innocent of using unreasonable force.

"I think the outcome was probably the best one for the city and probably reflects pretty fairly the extent of culpability," said Guerra, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney.

However, citing the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states, "No person shall be subject for the same offense ... to be put twice in jeopardy of life or limb," she said the civil rights trial constituted a case of double jeopardy.

Prior to the announcement of the verdicts Saturday Christian Davenport, an assistant professor of political science, and doctoral candidate Darren Davis announced results of a survey of 1,300 African-American and Anglo Houstonians. Of the former, 81 percent said they believed the officers were guilty.

Davenport predicted containment efforts would deter citizens.

"Some faith may be re-established in the legal system, but I believe it would be misplaced," said Davis, referring to the possible reaction of people if those convicted are forced to serve prison sentences.

"Justice has been served. Let this stand as an example to all police officers across this country who have used excessive force or might be tempted to use it in the future," said California Rep. Maxine Waters.

 

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SUMMER SCHOOL CLASS CUTS TO AFFECT MOST STUDENTS

by Meagan McGovern

Daily Cougar Staff

Although almost every UH college has cancelled some summer school classes because of budget constraints, the picture may not be as bleak as it seems.

Most colleges are trying to compensate for the cancelled courses by putting students who priority registered into another section of the same course.

All 11,000 students who priority registered for summer will receive a letter this week listing their summer class schedule.

Those who signed up for now-cancelled classes and were not placed in another section can try again at priority add/drop, May 3 through May 7. Priority add/drop is scheduled by social security number. Check the summer course schedule for dates and times of add/drop.

Regular registration for summer sessions I, II, and III is May 10-12. Registration for summer IV is June 21-22. Fall registration is Aug. 2-3. Check course schedule for more information.

 

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FRONTIER FIESTA HAILED A SUCCESS

by Debbie Callier

News Reporter

The Frontier Fiesta and Cook Off held on the UH campus this weekend successfully entertained, fed, challenged and rewarded thousands of students and Houstonians while raising money for the M.D. Anderson Library.

The fiesta, first started 72 years ago to stimulate school pride and spirit, grew to enormous proportions -- 100,000 people regularly attended -- and raised money for projects such as the campus pool, which was totally paid for by its profits, according to Ron Morris, from the UH Office of Development.

Revived last year, it promises to become a campus tradition again. "It's the only event that pulls together students, faculty, staff, alumni and the business community," Morris said.

Estimates on attendance vary and total profits are not yet tallied, but Rusty Hruska, former student body president said, "It was clearly a success from the scope of participation and the money raised for the library."

He said 30 to 50 organizations participated. "We as students and faculty are here every day, but it drew in barbeque teams from all over the city.

"One woman said she brought her mother, who graduated from here in the 1930's, and she remembered the Fiesta from then," Hruska said.

Groups such as the athletic department, ROTC, fraternities and sororities produced variety shows and carnival events using "Welcome to the New Frontier" as their theme.

First prize for attendance went to Sigma Phi Epsilon and Zeta Tau Alpha for their Golden Nugget dance and variety show.

Delta Gamma and Sigma Nu won best front. Their show was "How the West Was Lost."

The Silver Spur, by Tau Kappa Epsilon and Alpha Chi Omega, won first place overall.

The ROTC won for its carnival booth and the athletic department won in a special category.

There were 25 winners, five each in five cook off categories.

UH scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $300 went to several high schools and homecoming queens for other contests.

Both Hruska and Morris looked to the future and ways to improve the fiesta next year.

"Last year most shows were by the Greeks," Hruska said. "Next year we expect more diversity from groups reflecting the heritage and cultural differences that make up the university."

From a practical standpoint, Morris said it would make sense to include a returnable damage and cleaning deposit with the entry fees. There was some minor damage to the parking lot asphalt due to the barbeque fires and some groups left a mess.

In the 1950's, when the fiesta reached its peak, it was one of the biggest events in town. Morris doesn't expect it to reach those proportions again, but he believes it has a healthy future.

 

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NEW SA PRESIDENT KEEPING BUSY AT WORK

by David Sikes

Daily Cougar Staff

Jason Fuller, the new SA president, has only been in office two weeks and has already appeared on TV promoting Frontier Fiesta and commenting on the athletic department.

Between classes and his SA duties, Fuller's schedule is full.

Fuller said he plans to market SA in an "ambitious and visible campaign" during his administration.

Fuller, who often stays in his office until midnight, devotes about 40 hours a week to SA business in the UC underground.

Fuller said he owes it to the "customers" to make SA a more approachable body that encourages politically active students.

The political science major said his political aspirations include being the first Republican elected to the Texas legislature from South Texas. He described himself as a "bleeding heart conservative."

"I'm fiscally conservative but moderately liberal on human rights issues," he said.

Fuller wasted little time in kicking off his initiatives as the 30th SA senate's president.

Fuller's administration is conducting a survey to determine how to best serve his constituents.

The questionnaire asks students about their campus habits, their knowledge of SA and how they get their UH information.

In the works are programs to change students' attitudes about SA by targeting incoming first-year students during orientation.

"I feel that we (SA) should reach out to the students, and they shouldn't feel that they have to come to us," Fuller said. "Especially freshmen who can feel timid or intimidated about coming to the SA offices."

To familiarize students with SA, Fuller said this year about 40 internships are available to students interested in SA positions in the future.

The senate will continue to lobby for UH concerns in Austin, Fuller said.

Fuller also hopes to conduct a town-hall type meeting each month in the UC and Satellite. They would provide students a forum to voice grievances.

"It OK to call or write to SA, but it's better to join in," Fuller said.

Students are encouraged to attend a cabinet meeting Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the American Cafe.

"Just look for the SA banner and bring your complaints, comments and suggestions," Fuller said.

 

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LATINOS ADDRESS HOT TOPICS

by James Alexander

News Reporter

Political power, stereotypes and inter-cultural marriage are among the topics to be discussed at this week's "Latinos/Latinas in Houston" conference.

The conference, beginning today and continuing through Friday, will take place at the UH Hilton Hotel and is sponsored by the Mexican-American Studies Program.

"We are trying to concentrate on Hispanic issues, particularly those associated with Houston," said MAS Program Coordinator Laura Gonzalez Murillo.

Most of the topics will be presented by UH faculty, she said. "We also have two visiting scholars serving as presenters and three scholars coming in from other state universities."

Murillo said the scholars chose the topics, and a few of them have either written or are writing books on some of the issues.

"I feel that all of the topics are of equal importance and are timely with the Hispanic change in numbers, demographically," said Lorenzo Cano, associate director of MAS.

Cano said in an event like this he would like to advance people's knowledge of the problems Latinos and Latinas face, and together they can begin to figure out solutions.

"It's important for us to have input from all the ethnic communities so that we can build bridges and educate ourselves of these problems together," he said.

"The conference was originally planned over two days, but since we had such a successful response from inviting scholars, the topic list grew longer and we had to schedule it over four days to get everything in," Murillo said.

"The event is free to the public and we hope to get a strong student turnout," she said. "In addition, we sent out 3,000 invitations to local groups and chapters such as the League of United Latin American Citizens, Women in Leadership and the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals." Other invitees include attorneys, public figures and former students.

"It's been a long time since we've done an event like this," Murillo said, "but since many people requested that we do it again, we decided on doing so. We would really like to make it into an annual event."

The conference will begin each day at noon. Each presenter has been designated one hour to address a topic and receive feedback from the audience, she said.

 

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FACULTY REACTION TO MONDAY'S DECISION MIXED

by Kristine Fahrenholz

Daily Cougar Staff

UH faculty reacted with cheers and jeers to the news that Dr. James Pickering was reappointed president.

"I congratulated Jim, although I was a little disappointed that the board didn't take this more seriously," said George Reiter, president of the Faculty Senate.

The senate had recently voted to recommend a national search for president to the Board of Regents.

Robert Palmer, a Cullen professor of history and law, had circulated a petition calling for faculty members to back the senate's decision. The petition accumulated 90 signatures.

"This is extraordinarily damaging to faculty governance," Palmer said. "It goes against all of the principles of affirmative action."

Palmer said he knew from the beginning that UH System Chancellor Alexander Schilt "was bent" in Pickering's direction.

Although the Board of Regents' decision is final, Palmer said there are other avenues to offset that decision, but he wouldn't disclose any specific information.

Faculty Senator Cameron Mitchell, an associate professor of management information systems, said, "I think it's good that Pickering was reappointed.

"He would have been picked anyway, so why spend all of the money on a national search?" Mitchell asked.

Faculty Senator Judy Myers, assistant to the library director, said she expected the decision.

However, she said, "We'll never know if we got the right person for president."

Faculty Senator Mike Brady, a professor of education, said, "There are times when we bend tradition, and this is one of those times." Brady did not support the Faculty Senate's decision to ask for a national search.

"Pickering is the first president to come to the system and be successful at different levels," he said. "He is giving a serious effort at this institution's reevaluation.

"Pickering loves this place," he added.

 

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REGENTS VOTE

by Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar Staff

Members of the Board of Regents voted unanimously in favor of the appointment of UH President Dr. James Pickering to an indefinite term.

In doing so, the regents rejected Cullen Professor of History and Law Robert Palmer's petition proposing a national search for president. Palmer garnered 90 signatures from faculty members.

"I don't disagree on the desirability of conducting a national search, and in normal times, we of course do have them. The decision that I was called upon to make was to give to the Board of Regents a recommendation in terms of what best served the University of Houston in what has proven to be a very difficult time," said Chancellor Alexander Schilt, referring to his recommendation that Pickering be appointed to serve.

"Regarding general revenues, UH is facing a $13.6 million hit in the Senate and a $15 million hit in the House -- the largest of any university in Texas. Because of its enrollment (about 33,000), UH will get significant help from the tuition increase," said Schilt, referring to the scheduled $2 tuition increase.

"That, plus some new special items funding, brings the drop in an all-funds budget to $10.6 million in the Senate and $11.4 million in the House -- still alarming numbers."

Regent Kenneth Lay, whose term expires in August, nominated Pickering. Regent Elizabeth Ghrist seconded the motion.

Only one regent, Zinetta Burney, expressed reservations, but she refused to elaborate.

Pickering assumed the post of acting president after the death from cancer of Marguerite Ross Barnett, the eighth president of UH. In April 1992, the regents appointed Pickering to serve a 2-year term.

Pickering declined to comment on the assertion that he was being appointed because he would not challenge the system administration or the regents on certain issues.

"I think it's more difficult to walk in at a high level and be thrust into solving problems of the institution -- without knowing who the players are, without knowing who to trust. In talking to other university presidents who come onto their campuses from the outside, that is the key problem they face -- who do you trust? Everybody is going to hit you with unfinished agendas," said Pickering.

He disagreed with a statement made before the meeting that he would come out stronger as a presidential candidate had he emerged from a pool of candidates.

Prior to the meeting, the faculty senate narrowly approved the measure to appoint Pickering instead of conducting a search.

The staff council conducted a survey of about 10 percent of the staff. Of those questioned, 81 percent supported the appointment of Pickering as permanent president, while 19 percent did not.

Pickering said he is aware of the concerns expressed by some members of the faculty senate, but said the search process does not always result in a clean-cut mandate for a university.

"While we were greatly concerned about the academic tradition of having a national search, we felt very strongly that we had the right man for the job," said Board of Regents Chairman John Cater after adjourning the meeting.

"He is very capable in the fields of dealing with the legislature, dealing with the business community, dealing with the campus constituencies. And when you couple his concern for superb education with the qualities he brought to the table, it seemed like a slam dunk," said Cater.

Pickering will retain his $156,045 salary.

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