Thursday, September 6, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 11


SGA discusses Arabic, Microsoft at meeting

By Tim Williams
Daily Cougar Staff

Those in attendance at Wednesday's Student Government Administration meeting, in addition to the ordinary routine of Robert's Rules of Order,
were treated to an added bonus: hearing up-and-coming artists' music bleeding through the walls of the University Center's Cougar Den.

Due to scheduling conflicts, the SGA moved from its usual meeting area in the Bluebonnet Room on the UC's second floor to a room adjacent to
Coog's Cafe in the UC's underground level. Apparently a popular place on Wednesday nights, Coog's serves up a powerful combination of alcohol
and karaoke.

However, once merry-makers wrapped up the final chorus of "On the Road Again," senators started driving home their thoughts on obtaining a
purchase agreement with Microsoft that could aid students in a big way.

"The Microsoft Office suite retails for $399, (while) students could purchase it for only $5," Humanities and Fine Arts senator April Spreeman-Harter
said of her proposed purchase agreement bill. "If the University of Texas can do it, then why can't we?"

Currently, $212,000 of student fees is used to purchase Microsoft software for UH faculty and staff, Spreeman-Harter said. Citing conversations with
Betty J. Roberts, associate vice president of technology support services, and other UH officials, Spreeman-Harter said that it would cost a total of
$300,000 to include students in the purchase agreement.

Carl Wilson/The Daily Cougar

Members of the SGA Senate, contending with the sounds of karaoke singing from Coogs Café, hold their Wednesday meeting in the unfamiliar
surrounds of the University Center's Cougar Den.

The main concern with the bill is that it must be worded tightly so as not to allow UH administration to raise students' costs, said SGA President
James Robertson Jr.

Upon the recommendation of Spreeman-Harter, the senate sent the purchase agreement bill to committee for further consideration.

Once there is an indication of a "groundswell" of student support and "solid proof" that UH has sufficient funds to cover students, Spreeman-Harter
said she intends to circulate a petition to document the fact that students want the purchase agreement.

In other business, senior communication major Nora Ashour spoke to the senate about Arab and Muslim students' efforts to ensure that the Arab
Language Studies program remains in place next year.

"With all the Arabs, military personnel and business majors that want to learn Arabic, (College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean W.
Andrew) Achenbaum recognizes that it would be a good program," Ashour said.

The program is vulnerable to being cut because of a lack of funding, she said. "We have been told by administration that if we as the Arab
community don't raise the money, then the program will go away."

Estimates are that the program will cost $148,000 to run for the next two years, Ashour said. A more permanent endowment of $1 million to $5
million would be needed to ensure that the program doesn't fade away.

"Rice has an excellent Arab language studies program funded with money that was originally offered to UH," Ashour said. "I don't know if there are
politics behind it, but once people get enrolled, (the program) will be harder to get rid of."

Robertson replied, "That's just one part. The College of Business has had to cannibalize some programs. Some students come (to the business
school), get presented with all these excellent programs, and are told that only one is available, with 20 spots open."

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