UPPC TO ASSESS RESHAPING'S EFFECTS

 

by Tanya Eiserer

Daily Cougar Staff

The University Planning and Policy Council Monday started up procedures to follow up on Phase I of the reshaping process the university underwent over the last two years.

The goal of reshaping was to find better ways to use the university's resources at a time when funds are being cut by the state and to restructure the way the university does business.

UPPC will conduct a survey of the 14 colleges to determine what type of reshaping has occurred and what should happen next.

The council also reviewed the newly rewritten six-year plan. Last year, the council spent the better part of the year making recommendations to the administration concerning the plan, which prioritizes the university's goals and objectives.

Members agreed that the university administration had taken their suggestions into account and incorporated changes into the plan. The changes ranged from the way the university spends money for retention programs to the expenditures of Higher Education Assistance Funds.

Judy Myers, head of the UPPC, joked, "What's the chance of getting it all implemented?"

Skip Szilagyi, associate vice president for planning, replied that some of the plan is already being implemented, but that some of the objectives depend on the university's state appropriations. The objectives already being implemented include creating the position of director of Study Abroad programs, starting the Minority Faculty Recruitment and Retention Program, and allocating $200,000 in HEAF money to address Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. University leaders have previously admitted UH is in for a tough legislative session and remains in danger of budget cuts.

Council members discussed an objective that mandates salary equalities for minorities. Historically, minorities were paid less than their white counterparts. The goal calls for ethnic and gender minorities' salaries to be raised to within 5 percent of the average salary for each job category. For fiscal year 1995, $30,000 was allocated to start the process of implementing an effective compensation system and to analyze pay ranges.

Some members questioned if the wording meant that a minority who earned more than another employee might have their salary reduced.

Dennis Boyd, senior vice president for administration and finance, said the intent was to bring minorities "up to a median level," adding that minority salaries will not be reduced.

Some comments also were made about an objective calling for the development and implementation of plans for the "renovation of existing research space" when HEAF money becomes available.

Administration officials have stated that the university is in desperate need of classroom space and more research facilities.

"We are limited by space. We can only build two or three buildings max," Szilagyi said.

Larry Kevan, a College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics representative, called for the council to study past and future HEAF expenditures to determine where the money would best be spent.

The council also decided to invite speakers to talk about student enrollment and retention, and faculty retention and salaries.

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SPJ PRESIDENT TO SPEAK ON TABLOIDISM

SENSATIONALISM BY JOURNALISTS TAKES CENTER STAGE

by Marla Dudman

News Reporter

"Returning to Social Consciousness in Journalism" will be the topic of discussion at a meeting of the UH chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists today from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. in the UC Parliament Room.

Reginald A. Stuart, national president of SPJ, will be the guest speaker. He will focus on the critical need for integrity and substance in reporting among today's journalists.

Stuart is currently assistant news editor in the Washington Bureau of Knight-Ridder Newspapers. He has been associated with Knight-Ridder since May 1987, when he joined the Philadelphia Daily News as the national affairs correspondent based in Washington.

"The message I will be delivering to journalists, and I hope echoing some of my colleagues, is that we have not had such a respectable year in 1994 for our reputation," Stuart said. "It stems primarily from the excess coverage we have engaged in on such cases as Tonya Harding, Lorena Bobbitt and now O.J. Simpson.

"People feel we (journalists) have become tantalizing and have a lot of sizzle, but we are losing our steak over the long haul in the thing that gives us the right to claim our First Amendment rights – credibility."

Stuart said journalists need to get back to the basics the Founding Fathers envisioned. "Yes, we'll lose ratings over the short haul," he said, "but over the long haul, truth and substance will win out over fluff and style."

Right now, the journalism profession is in a glut of style, Stuart added. He believes it has seriously overlooked the primary news in American society like the problems in education and on the home front.

Stuart said a more substantive look at whether our government is being responsible and whether our tax dollars are being spent responsibly are also being neglected. "Yes, that news is still there," he said, "but we have lost sight of it as a focal point.

"As journalists, we need to pull back, re-focus ourselves on what is truly newsworthy and bring more balance to our coverage. We need to bring back a true social consciousness to our work in the public sector. So because we are in the public eye, the news media has an extra-special responsibility to be very careful. We don't want to be the tool that strikes the match."

Stuart is an award-winning journalist and a recipient of the National Education Association's Carter G. Woodson Award for Outstanding Reporting on Race Relations. He is a winner of the Headliners Award, for Distinguished Service to Journalism from the Journalism Alumni Association of Columbia University, and the Wells Key, the highest honor bestowed on a member of the SPJ.

Before he was elected president of SPJ, Stuart served as the volunteer national chairman of the Minority Affairs Committee. In 1989 he was elected a director-at-large and was also appointed chairman of its Legal Defense Fund, which distributes money to help defend the First Amendment right to free press.

Stuart was elected secretary treasurer of SPJ in 1992 and president-elect in September 1993. He became SPJ president in September 1994 and is serving a 13-month term, ending at the SPJ national convention in October 1995.

He currently serves on the board of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation in Washington, D.C., the education arm of the Washington chapter of SPJ. He is immediate past chairman of the Speakers Committee of The National Press Club and has served on the Print Task Force of The National Association of Black Journalists for more than a decade.

The Society of Professional Journalists is the world's largest organization of working journalists. Stuart is the first black president in the 107-year history of the SPJ.

 

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GOURMET GALA GARNISHES HRM COFFERS

 

by Patricia Davis

News Reporter

Gourmet Gala '94 and the UH Hilton hosted 330 glittering Houstonians Saturday for an event that benefitted UH’s College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

The third annual Houston Restaurant Association fund-raiser for the college was a huge success even though the evening’s emcee, Jim McIngvale of Gallery Furniture, didn’t arrive until the second course.

Gala Chairman Bill Edge, owner of the Confederate House and this year’s chairman, said he hoped the event would raise $50,000 for the college – $30,000 for the HRA Endowment Scholarship Fund and $20,000 for the Larry N. Forehand Endowment Fund.

The gala featured six food courses and seven wine courses. Gourmet cuisine was prepared by Houston chefs Charlie Newman of the Confederate House, Clive Berkman of Charley’s 517, Monica Pope of The Boulevard Bistro, Bruce Molzan of Ruggles and Chai Rapesak of La Strada. A special national guest chef, Michael Chipchase of Robert Mondavi Winery, prepared the dessert.

"We try to put on the premier food and wine event of the year," Edge said. "It’s the Academy Awards of the restaurant business."

However, the crowd that thronged the Hilton’s ballroom was not wholly hotel and restaurant people. Edge said 75 to 80 percent were of the general public who were notified of the event by gala sponsors like The Houston Post. Rice Epicurean Markets also sponsored the event.

Ron Garner, guest of Richard and Evelyn Silen of Blair Uniforms, was attending the bash for the first year.

"It’s a great party," Garner said. "No doubt, eating and drinking is what I do best."

Among the bustling chefs in the kitchens, Pope, who is the first-ever female chef asked to participate, said she was glad to make a contribution to the college and to be a part of the evening.

"I’ve never been down to the school before – it’s kind of fun just to hang out with everyone," she said.

Pope prepared Boulevard Moroccan Salad with cumin and a yogurt dressing for the meal.

"It’s something light to go with all this food," Pope said. "These people are going to be stuffed."

It’s not surprising Pope commented on the amount of food. Edge said the evening’s fare included 142 ingredients – not including spices.

Besides the great food and wine, the gala featured a silent auction during the champagne reception, live ongoing entertainment and dancing following the meal.

Edge said one purpose for the gala was to educate the public about the restaurant and hotel business.

HRA President Darrin Straughan of James Coney Island said the hotel and restaurant business is often underrated.

Straughan said the industry employs 142,000 people in Houston, representing $1.1 billion in wages and benefits. The business also contributes over $240 million in sales tax revenue to the state.

Straughan added that HRA wanted to continue to develop its opportunities for young people.

 

 

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CENTER SERVES ALL YE FAITHFUL

DIVERSITY OF DEITIES AIDS STUDENTS' LIVES

by Farnaz Dandia

News Reporter

The A.D. Bruce Religion Center may be one of the few places in this world where people of every religious denomination can exist in relative peace.

The center consists of at least 10 separate student organizations, including B'nai B'rith Hillel, the Church of Christ and the Muslim Students' Association.

Rabbi Stuart Federow is a part of Hillel, which is a Jewish organization. He said Hillel is a religious and social organization that serves all Jewish interests. Hillel offers lunches for students every Wednesday along with other activities like dances, religious services and Bible studies. Hillel also contains a politically active subgroup called Students for Israel.

Federow said Hillel serves the overall common interests of students, and that there has been no conflict within the organization or with other student organizations. Hillel does not force religion on students, and it is not purely a religious organization, he said.

"There is no Christian or Muslim culture, but there is a strong Jewish cultural ethnicity, peoplehood and tradition," he said.

Hillel Secretary Hanielle Leitner said she has met a lot of people through the organization's activities, which include celebrations of Jewish holidays, picnics and activities with the Jewish Community Center.

The Church of Christ is another active organization, with approximately 200 members. It works to discredit the many dogmas of Christianity and operates strictly by the Bible and the actions of Christ, says Ray Gomez, a junior English and German double major who is an active member.

"We believe in showing our faith through action, like giving weak college students help. By weak, I mean those who give in to worldliness – things this society would denote as normal for a college student," Gomez said.

He explained that the Church of Christ does not condemn or condone, but its members do have certain beliefs to which they adhere. For example, they do not believe in drinking, instrumental music or sexual immorality.

"If a homosexual person who was part of our group made us aware of his or her lifestyle, we would have to tell them about sexual immorality. We do not believe in pre-marital sex – homosexual or heterosexual. But we would not kick a homosexual person out of our group," he said.

One of the main conflicts the Church of Christ encounters is that most of its members see themselves as the only sect that will go to heaven, Gomez said.

But he added, "I have a great respect for other religions, such as Islam. l won't tell them they are wrong. I can't. Even the Bible says God is omnipotent; he has absolute power. I can't judge Muslims. They are fervent, moral and have a law. I have more respect for a devout Muslim than a non-practicing Christian."

Andrea Ault, a sophomore biology major, said the Church of Christ doesn't try to recruit members. People are encouraged to join, but the group isn't as charismatic as other organizations. However, existing members do see religion as an important part of their lives.

The Muslim Students' Association, which has over 500 members, has a different perspective. Hajra Syed, a junior elementary education major who serves as an officer of the association, said, "One of the main goals of MSA is to educate others on campus about Islam. There are always information tables set up at the UC or Satellite, and we have various speakers and Islamic programs throughout the year."

Syed said MSA unites Muslims on campus and provides basic religious services like prayers, religious lectures and special meals during the Muslims' holy month of Ramadan, when all Muslims are required to fast.

MSA also does a variety of charity work to help those in need. For example, it has raised money and clothes for Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and India, Syed added.

"This organization's purpose is to increase religious awareness among the students. We cannot determine whether religion is a large part of every student's life; that is between them and Allah (the Muslim name for "God"). In Islam, we are taught not to judge others; we only provide the services so that others may benefit.

"Islam and MSA are a cultural blending of all kinds of Muslims. There is a huge cultural and moral aspect to the religion. It isn't just a religion, it's a way of life. It teaches peace, equality and respect. We don't have any conflict with other religions unless they attack us; we are taught to respect the beliefs of others," she said.

For more information on the A.D. Bruce Religion Center, call 743-5050. If interested in the B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation, call 743-5397; the Church of Christ Student Foundation, 741-7414; or the Muslim Student Association, 668-5173.

 

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FOOTBALL TEAM GETS KICK OUT OF STOFT

by Jason Paul Ramírez

Daily Cougar Staff

Despite what most people may think, Jason Stoft claims he is, in fact, a "real" football player.

"I don't like the one-bar face mask," the Cougar punter said when asked about the typical type of football helmet and face mask punters today normally wear. "I like to wear the regular face mask just like everyone else. I want to at least look like a football player."

Though Stoft may not appear to look the part to some, at least he is backing it up on the gridiron.

As of Tuesday, Stoft is currently ranked eighth in the nation in punting average, kicking for a 45.3-yard average on 36 boots.

"I think he's (Stoft) the best punter in the country," said Houston head coach Kim Helton Tuesday. "He's the most consistent when you look at the number of punts he's had and the stress he's been under (getting punts off)."

In a 38-7 defeat to Texas A&M Saturday, Stoft set a new UH record in Astrodome games for total punt yardage in a single game with 478 yards on 10 punts.

Stoft is also on pace to shatter the UH single-season punting average record of 43.6 set in 1967 and could even top the school-record total number of punts (78) established in 1947. (He is on pace to finish with 79.)

"At the beginning of the season, I tried to set goals for myself about being ranked near the top (of the national punting leaders)," Stoft said.

However, he wasn't always a college punter. Before coming to Houston as a transfer in 1993, Stoft was a backup place kicker with the Auburn Tigers to first-team kicker Scott Etheridge.

It wasn't that Stoft wasn't good enough to be considered for the job. It was just that he was stuck having to play behind the top kicker in the nation at the time.

"When he transferred, it was to compete for (place) kicking," Helton said of Stoft. "We weren't able to sign a punter for this year, but he walked up to me one day and said, 'Coach, I can punt.' "

"Houston gave me the opportunity to play, and Auburn didn't," Stoft said.

Though the Tigers are currently ranked No. 6 in the nation by the Associated Press, Stoft says he has no regrets about joining the Cougars, currently 0-5 with just one win in his two seasons on the ballclub.

"This season would mean a lot more if we were winning," Stoft said. "But I've been given a great opportunity to play and travel around the country to places like California, Ohio and Michigan. It's been great seeing other parts of the country I probably wouldn't normally see if I wasn't playing football."

But with playing in other parts of the country, and sometimes even in your own home stadium, comes the fact that fans will not normally cheer for the least-favored opponent.

"I love playing on the road and getting a good kick-off and hearing and watching the crowd just go silent," Stoft said. "I didn't like seeing all the A&M fans (many of the 40,184 in attendance) in the Astrodome Saturday.

"Our fans are great, but the numbers aren't. I just wish our fans would realize how hard we work to go out and try to win every week."

Before trying his stock as a player at Auburn, Stoft was a two-year all-league place kicker at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. An all-state punter and kicker as a high school senior, Stoft also played wide receiver and linebacker.

"Coming out of a small high school, I didn't see much of a chance for me to make it as (a wide receiver or linebacker) in college," Stoft said. "I felt that there would be better opportunities for me as a kicker and kind of knew other colleges felt that way too."

Now that Stoft has proven to be a successful punter and not a place kicker, he says he only hopes the NFL notices his success as well.

"I know it's my dream to play in the NFL. I'm keeping my options open, but I would just like to work at continuing to get better first," he said.

In that case, which type of face mask Stoft wears is irrelevant.

 

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FEMMES SOUND LIKE CRANKY OLD MEN

The Violent Femmes will be promoting their latest release, <I>New Times<P>, tonight at Numbers.

Photo by Michael Halsband/Elektra Entertainment

by Stephen Stelmak

Daily Cougar Staff

The Violent Femmes' <I>New Times<P> shows that the Femmes are all grown up. Though old Femmes fans will be pleased that the style of this album is close to their first and best album, the youthful brattiness of the first album has been replaced with cranky old men. <I>New Times<P> is filled with lyrics of self-pity and hopelessness.

"Don't Start Me on the Liquor" marks a change for the worse in the Femmes. Starting out with the crassness earlier associated with the Violent Femmes, it deteriorates.

Halfway through the song, lyrics like "I'm an old man ... I got an old man's pain" bring down the song and the album. "Machine" would be an excellent song if it was two minutes long rather than four. The incessant repeating of machine-like sounds will cause the listener to reach for the fast-forward button long before the song is over. Most of the songs on <I>New Times<P> are not even worth a listen.

Some songs are decent. "Key of 2" and "I'm Nothing" both stuck in my head for days after I heard them. "I'm Nothing," a song about stereotypes and denying them, is the closest to rekindling the spirit and spunk of old Femmes. "Breaking Up," a blend of melodies and harsh sounds, also shows that the Femmes are not dead, but different. The Femmes are at their best when their songs are upbeat and crass, but the few songs that fit this mold cannot carry the entire album.

The one exception is "Island Song." The slow beat and dreary lyrics combine to make one of the best songs on the album. Apparently, a new drummer and record label weren't enough to totally derail the band.

The Violent Femmes are performing tonight at Numbers. If the Femmes play older songs and the best off their latest album, the concert should be well worth the $18 ticket price. The show starts at 8 p.m. Call 629-3700 for more information. Also performing will be Frente!, with G. Love and Special Sauce.

 

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FRENTE! KINDER, GENTLER

by Frank San Migual

While the albums may be a little old, the band Frente! and its refreshing sound prove that raising the often stigmatized pop genre to an art does not always put you flat on your face.

Frente! made a splash last year and earlier this year with two uncompromisingly cheerful releases, <I>Labour of Love<P> and <I>Marvin the Album<P>. The Australian quartet put an almost friendly twist to a cover of the sour New Order anthem, "Bizarre Love Triangle."

As the group touches down in Houston tonight at Numbers with the alt-rock dinosaur Violent Femmes and blues/hip-hop sensation G. Love and Special Sauce, one has to wonder what this band, which is on all the magazine covers, is all about.

Frente! is guided by the distinctive yet unobtrusive vocals of Angie Hart, 21. On cuts like "Most Beautiful," Hart's voice glides over the spare guitar arrangements like you can almost reach out and touch it. Even on more melancholy songs like "Cuscutlan," Hart's vocal maturity belies her years.

Frente! is most often compared to groups like the Sundays and the Cocteau Twins, yet it has a much more scaled-down sound, absent of dense layering and synthesizers.

 

 

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