Archive for: April 2014

24/5 PCL: The Nightlife

Late Night Studying at the PCL: A Photo Story

It might be a library. But visually, there is so much more than meets the eye.


By Rachel Bush, Rabeea Tahir, and Ingrid Vasquez

For some students, the 24/5 initiative, in which the Perry-Casteñeda Library is open for 24 hours a day, five days a week from midterms to finals, is something that is taken for granted. But for former UT student government president Wills Brown, he remembers a time in the not-so-distant past when it was difficult to find anywhere to study that was open late.

“After my sophomore year, budget cuts took away any 24 hour study spaces,” Brown said. “Only the Union was open until 3 a.m.”

When Brown and his friend, Thor Lund, decided to run for student government president and vice-president in the spring of 2012, both knew they needed “new and fresh ideas” to campaign upon. Brown and Lund decided to base their campaign platform on making the PCL a 24 hour study space.

“Most schools within the UT system have 24 hour libraries,” Brown said. “We wondered why the flagship university didn’t have one.”

Students were receptive to the idea and when Brown and Lund won the election in March 2012, they quickly met with library staff to begin planning for the endeavor. PCL staff was receptive to the 24 hour study initiative, but decided to conduct preliminary research on library usage before any decisions were made.

“There are as many students, or people, who are logged onto our PC’s and wireless network at 3 a.m. as there are at noon,” said Catherine Hamer, Associate Director for User Services at the PCL.

The library’s research found that the cost of operating the PCL 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week would take an additional $319,000 per year. Library staff realized that the PCL did not need to be open 24 hours-a-day on weekends or during school holidays, and from the research conducted, there was even more evidence that  and that is when the 24/5 initiative was proposed.

In the new proposal, the PCL would be open 24 hours-a-day from Sunday to Thursday from midterms until finals. With this  new operating schedule, the library would only need to procure an extra $45,500 in funding, which Brown and Lund took charge of raising.

“We worked with Texas Exes, the Provost of Libraries,the athletic department, and many others to generate the  $45,000 needed to open PCL for 24 hours,” Brown said.

Another struggle facing the initiative was that of security. During the day, the PCL employs two security guards to oversee the building, and the new library schedule would be no different.

“We do have two guards overnight,” Hamer said. “Our Vice-Provost was really adamant that if we were open overnight we would have to have an additional security guard in the building because we’ve always had one at the entrance of the PCL. He was concerned that it was such a big building and there would be times when there were a lot of students in here, which is great because you feel like you have security in numbers, but then there might be times when we’re open 24 hours when it might not feel so safe.”

Since its inception, the 24/5 initiative has been a success. The problem the library now faces is that students want the 24/5 schedule before midterms start. Hamer said that starting the 24/5 hours earlier in the semester is something the library would be open to exploring, should they find the funds to pay for the extended hours.

Brown can now look back on his part in helping to begin the 24 hour study space at the PCL and finds that, although it was his campaign that ultimately brought about the change, the initiative goes beyond him.

“It’s not about me or anyone else in student government,” Brown said. “It couldn’t have happened without UT Athletics and many other groups. It’s awesome to see it’s still going on and students are benefiting from it.”

Many students seemed to wonder why having PCL open 24/7 was not an option. Considering the library has limited funding, here is a breakdown of what the cost would be if PCL were to be open 24/7 during the FALL/SPRING semesters and if it were to be open during the entire year.


More than a voice: Sasan Rezaie

People know the voice of the PCL. But do people know who the voice really is? This is an interview conducted with Sasan Rezaie by Rachel Bush, editing by Ingrid Vasquez, and collaboration with Rabeea Tahir.

A Video Story – 24/5 PCL: The Nightlife

Life Is Ruff: A Look Into Austin Pets Alive!

Barbosa in the Water (Not a Pirate’s Tale)

By Cheney Slocum and Jamie Oberg

They sang “Happy Birthday” to her.

It was an evening full of clichés, of endings and new beginnings.

The Georgetown High School Varsity Swim Team holds an end-of-the year banquet each year. It marks the end of the seniors’ high school swimming careers and brings every other swimmer one year closer to the coveted position of being a “senior” on the team.

But for senior Mallory Barbosa, last Thursday was not only her last end-of-the-year banquet, it was also her 18th birthday.

At every end-of-the-year banquet, the seniors on Barbosa’s swim team have their own “table” commemorating the end of their high school career

At every end-of-the-year banquet, the seniors on Barbosa’s swim team have their own “table” commemorating the end of their high school career.

Both milestones punctuated the fact that Barbosa now faces the imminent transformation from dedicated student-athlete in high school to just a student in college.

“Swimming to me was something you can’t want to take back because you spend so much time with the people you’re with that it just feels like a second home,” said Barbosa.

But the swimmer, who will be attending the University of Texas at Austin in the fall, is far from the only young athlete facing this tough transition.

According to an annual report by the NCAA, there were 853,965 senior high school student-athletes competing in the sports of football, basketball, baseball, men’s hockey and men’s soccer alone in 2012. That staggering number of young athletes competed for a total of 46,442 roster positions at NCAA member institutions for the next year.

For 81.6% of those young people, including Barbosa, their careers in organized athletics are over. They are forced to transition to college campuses or into their chosen field of work without a comfort of a sport family.

One such former athlete is Stephanie Marcu, a junior sociology major who participated heavily in volleyball, swimming, and track while at Dripping Springs High School. Marcu, whose father owns a volleyball club program in her hometown, says that while she didn’t try to get recruited in high school, she wishes she had in order to make her shift smoother.

Barbosa swims breastroke at the TISCA, or Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association, championship swim meet.

Barbosa swims breastroke at the TISCA, or Texas Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association, championship swim meet.

“Transitioning to a non-athlete was one of the hardest things,” Marcu said. “In high school, I relied on sports as a competitive outlet, to occupy my free time, to build friendships, and as reason to work hard and have tangible accomplishments. Not participating in competitive sports, as I was accustomed to doing, really altered the structure of my daily life.”

One of the most blatant modifications in the life of former high school student-athletes is that they now longer are forced to partake in physical activity.

After years of spending upwards of twelve hours a week in a practice facility, many students struggle to physically cope with newfound time and freedom.

Barbosa said she is grateful that her sport, swimming, is commonly practiced by older athletes as well, and doesn’t have the limited timeline of other sports in the recreational sphere.

“Swimming is working a lot of muscles that you want to work when you’re older to keep your metabolism up and our muscles firm,” Barbosa explained. “It’s things like that that aren’t as detrimental on your joints and bones, as playing football or soccer.”

Barbosa participated in other sports when she was younger, but after she was diagnosed with scoliosis in middle school, she was limited to swimming.

Barbosa participated in other sports when she was younger, but after she was diagnosed with scoliosis in middle school, she was limited to swimming.

While recreational swimming, typically a solitary sport, undoubtedly has its physical benefits, Marcu encourages new “non-athletes” to pursue intramural and club sports in college if they are at all able.

“Not only do sports keep you fit, but they teach you discipline, perseverance, respect, and so much more,” said Marcu. “Sports gave me accomplishments that I was proud of and reasons to work hard and improve every day. You might as well continue paying as long as you have the capability and passion.”

Sophomore Flora Barrow said that one of her main problems as a college student involves the combination of laziness and a lack of motivation which she feels has stunted her potential to fully take advantage of her opportunities at UT. Barrow, who grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina participated in field hockey, lacrosse and swimming while she was in high school.

“Athletes are always structured and always have set schedules because they have to,” Barrow said. “And I think that it’s important to keep structure so that you can do what you really want to do instead of getting lost in the transition.”

While many former high school-student athletes don’t fully recognize the lessons they’ve learned from their participation in high school athletics until they step on campus, Barbosa said her time in the pool has already helped her deal with the challenges of university life.

“Swimming taught me that as bad as the race may be you have another chance to be better and nothing really stops moving,” Barbosa said. “I didn’t get accepted to the engineering school as a freshman at UT, but as devastated as I was in the beginning the reminder that everything keeps going is a positive reminder that I’ll get through it and swimming really taught me that.”

Barbosa will be attending the University of Texas in the fall and plans to specialize in prosthetics. [Photo courtesy of Mallory Barbosa.]

Barbosa will be attending the University of Texas in the fall and plans to specialize in prosthetics. [Photo courtesy of Mallory Barbosa.]

Rainey Street Undergoes Major Changes

The Rise of the New, the Fall of the Old. 

By Kristina Latham, Tricia Small, Dylan Carter

After dramatically changing a once run down residential street into an Austin hotspot, Lustre Pearl has shuttered its windows to make way for an 8-story apartment building.

After dramatically changing a once run down residential street into an Austin hotspot, Lustre Pearl has shuttered its windows to make way for an 8-story apartment building.

The Austin skyline is to be changed by 2015 as Rainey Street develops new hotel skyscrapers and better bars leaving Austinites and businesses to adjust to the alterations.

Rainey Street, located near Lady Bird Lake and Interstate 35, is known as a part of the Historic District in Austin, TX. Before the many bars and businesses, Rainey Street was a quiet residential area. Many of the houses are a bungalow style and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

All that history is changing as the addition of multiple hotels and condos along Rainey Street transform the eclectic strip of mostly privately owned bars into a more commercially developed area. Because of the new business, most of the bars and small businesses are forced to close up or  revamp their style to fit in.

The bungalow style buildings that once characterized Austin's Rainey Street are turning into rubble as new residential high rises get ready to spring up.

The bungalow style buildings that once characterized Austin’s Rainey Street are turning into rubble as new residential high rises get ready to spring up.

Lustre Pearl, the first bar on Rainey Street, recently closed its doors “to make way for a high-rise,” according to KVUE reporter Heather Kovar.

If not closing their doors altogether, many bars along Rainey Street are revamping their buildings or being bought out by larger investors hoping to capitalize on Rainey’s popularity. Rabbit’s Lounge has undergone renovations to become a newer and better bar, hoping to keep pace with the many the new bars coming to Rainey Street. Andrea Grimes, reporter for Eater-Austin, a news site for upcoming eateries,  got the report on it.

“Rabbit’s Lounge on East Sixth Street officially shuttered last fall,” Grimes reports, “and the space is now set to be revived with an infusion of new, Rainey Street-filtered blood.”

With all the changes, Austin’s Rainey Street will soon look more like a hotel and condo strip rather than a historical landmark. According to Jude Galligan, Downtown Austin Blog (DAB).org writer, there are 7 total hotel and/or apartment buildings set to pop up on Rainey Street. Those include: Fairmont Austin, Waller Center, Hotel Van Zandt, Millennium Rainey, Rainey Tower, Skyhouse Austin and North Shore Lofts.

“New apartment high rises and an influx of new bars,” Galligan writes. “Things are really happening in Rainey.”

Although officials say the new buildings will bring jobs to Austin, the famous bar street will never be the same. There will be skyscrapers, more commercial bars, less historic charm, and Rainey Street will be a temporary home for thousands of tourists each year. With these new changes occurring, some Austinites are unsure how to feel about the ‘new’ Rainey Street.

“It’s a shame it’s changing,” Michael Watts, a frequent Rainey Street goer, said. “There’s nothing like this place anywhere else.”

Though the Austin skyline will forever be changed, Rainey Street will always be a part of historic district.

Social Club Lends Their Legs to the Austin Blind Community

A Win-Win Cycle

By: Alexis Chastain, Jessica Duong, Caroline Khoury and Joan Vinson

DSC01485Animation and Photo by: Alexis Chastain

The volunteers are members of Social Cycling Austin, and they’ve come to the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to guide students on a bike ride through the surrounding neighborhood.

IMG_3860Photo by: Joan Vinson

The tandem bikes are donated from various organizations and people who own them but simply have no use for them.

After the newly paired duos take a practice spin around the parking lot, they set off as a group for a 90-minute ride.

Originally, Social Cycling Austin started out as a group of people wanting to ride together, making local restaurants and bars their destination. It is a social club after all. They started “Lend Your Legs” to give back to the community.


Mike Kaylani, member of Social Cycling Austin and co-founder of the Lend Your Legs ride, speaks about the ride.

Photos by Jessica Duong

Designed by Jessica Duong

Designed by Jessica Duong

Cycling Safely in COADesigned by Jessica Duong

Designed by Jessica Duong


Get Your Curl On


Instructor Pat Popovich curling at Chaparral Ice.

Instructor Pat Popovich curling at Chaparral Ice.

It seems as if criticism of the 2014 Winter Olympics was never in short supply, from the media’s coverage of lack of attendees to the hashtag sochiproblems inundating Twitter. Despite all the negative press, curling, the popular Canadian sport, once again became a crowd favorite, especially among Austinites.

After the Winter Olympics, people from all over Austin lined up to take Sunday morning “learn to curl” classes held by the Lone Star Curling Club at Austin’s only ice rink, Chaparral Ice on West Anderson Lane.

Pat Popovich, a Level 1 Lone Star Curling Club instructor, registered with the U.S. Curling Association said that they get a lot of interest in the sport during the Olympics because it’s on TV.

Popovich teaches one of two classes on Sunday mornings from 9:30-11:45. Their “learn to curl” classes went from about 15 people in each class to about 50 after the Olympics. So far they have taught 400 people this year.

“We rely 100 percent on the Olympics to get members,” she said.

“I read an article in the Austin American-Statesmen on Christmas Day in the sports section and said to myself, it looks like bowling on ice to me,” Popovich said. “I went to a ‘learn to curl’ and I haven’t stopped since and that was seven years ago.”

The game is sort of a hybrid of bowling and shuffleboard but played on ice with 40-pound “rocks” or “stones” as she described the game.

Two teams of four compete to deliver 40-pound stones to the center of the target or “house” by lunging the stone forward while the other teammates “sweep” ahead of the stone with a brush attached to a stick to ensure it reaches its target. Each member of the team has two stones to move across “pebbled,” or specially watered ice, and whichever team has the closest stone at the center of the target wins the game, she said.

“It’s easy to learn but it takes a lot of balance,” Popovich said. “We don’t wear ice skates that’s never ever ever.”

“I’ve never worn ice skates in my life,” she added.

Instead they wear curling shoes or just plain old sneakers.

She plays in a more advanced league in the Lone Star Curling Club that has been meeting on Sundays and will continue through June.

What she likes most about teaching the game, she said, is people’s sheer interest in it.

“Once they understand how to deliver a rock and how to sweep, they really do enjoy it,” Popovich said. “Because it really is a silly sport.”

Curling instructor Pat Popovich coaches a beginner curler

Curling instructor Pat Popovich coaches a beginner curler

The Lone Star Curling Club also has a little league for new curlers this month to accommodate the influx of new members on Friday nights from 9:15-11:15.

Marcy Davis-Skonieczny, 44-year-old real estate agent in Austin, got her competitive women’s kickball teammates in on the fun after she watched Curling on the Olympics.

After she and three of her friends attended a “learn to curl,” they started playing on Friday nights for new curlers.

“We had our first match, which we won,” Davis-Skonieczny said.

She has been playing for one month and said it’s a lot harder than it looks.

“There’s a lot more strategy involved than you think,” she said. “What you imagine might be your strength, may not be.”

What she likes most about Curling is the camaraderie between players.

“You want to see your opposition enjoying the game,” Davis-Skonieczny said.

She has been Curling for one month so far and can see herself playing for a long time to come.

Landon Russell, 49, another Level 1 Instructor, said the Olympics and a quick Google search for clubs in Austin a few years ago got him into Curling.

“What I like about it is that any body can play,” he said. “A couple years ago we had a 90-year-old who played in the club for a while.”

He said people of different ages from college kids, to children, to elderly people come to curl.

“We get all different kinds of folks,” Russell said.

He said there are also chances for the leagues to compete and his team has won tournaments in certain brackets.

“There’s a bonspiel or curling tournament the first of May in Dallas.” He said.

“It’s a lot of fun and you don’t need tons of athletic ability,” Russell said. “We are always looking for new members.”


Believe it or not…The Museum of Weird exists in Downtown Austin

By Emma Banks

A dried and shrunken body is on exhibit at the Museum of the Weird. By Emma Banks

By Kaine Korzekwa, Kirby Camerino, Joanie Ferguson and Emma Banks

Since 2000, the slogan “Keep Austin Weird” has been synonymous with the city’s cool, authentic culture and helped to solidify the presence of local businesses in a growing metropolis. Few businesses represent this ideal more precisely than the Museum of the Weird.

Danielle Wilson, manager at Museum of the Weird. By  Emma Banks

Danielle Wilson, manager at Museum of the Weird. By Emma Banks

The museum, located on East 6th Street, is one of the few places in the country that visitors can still go to see all sorts of oddities and sideshows. Historically, this type of entertainment was most popular with the rise of traveling circuses in the early 1900s, and declined quickly when the introduction of television made it easy to see the world’s most exotic attractions at no cost. Owner Steve Busti and manager Danielle Wilson hope to change that.

“[The museum] is really unique not just to Austin but to the world,” Wilson said. “Where else are you going to see a taxidermy two-headed cow, or a guy swallowing a sword or a natural born freak doing sideshow acts? It’s just one of those things, when you come to Austin, you have to see it, because you’re probably not going to see it anywhere else. It’s kind of a once in a lifetime thing.”

Juan Martinez, sword swallower. By Emma Banks

Juan Martinez, sword swallower. By Emma Banks

Busti could spend a lifetime collecting oddities and explaining their significance to others. It’s his passion and his lifelong venture to instill a love of the weird in a society where being desensitized is common and the strange can go largely unnoticed.

Some sideshow acts, however, are impossible to ignore. Sword swallower Juan Martinez is the perfect example of an attention-grabbing performance.

“How I got into it? I was bored. I already knew a ton of acts and I wanted to learn something new,” Martinez said. “Sword swallowing seemed a good one because that’s the big one; that’s an act that a lot of people can respect.”

Manager Wilson is a testament to what seems to be a passion that is contagious. After moving to Austin from Indiana three and a half years ago, she was quickly hired at the Museum of the Weird and almost immediately adopted an obsession similar to Busti’s. Her interest has yet to wane.

“I knew nothing about it but as I’ve lived here and worked it has become a passion,” Wilson said. “It is so interesting, and the history is awesome. It’s a subculture; people that know about it really know about it. There’s definitely a community.”

Click here to view a photo slideshow.

The museum, however, is certainly not only for those who cultivate a passion for the weird. The majority of visitors are simply passers-by who are driven by curiosity and want to learn more. Tickets are $8 per person and the museum is open daily, 10 a.m. to midnight. Customer Mckenzie Andrews said it was well worth the price.

“I’m from out of town and thought it would be cool to see,” Andrews said. “The whole thing is so weird — weird but cool. Austin has definitely stuck to its motto.”

At the core of Busti’s business is a passion for life’s strange and normal moments — the weird in both the uncommon and the common. He plans to expand and open a second location on South Congress soon.

S.M.I.L.E. and Brave the Shave

Carolina Media hugs her sister after braving the shave. Photo by Rachel Hill

Carolina Media hugs her sister after braving the shave. Photo by Rachel Hill

Jasmine Alexander, Angela Buenrostro, Rachel Hill and Claudia Resendez

Audience members watched attentively as a panel of brave participants said goodbye to their heads full of hair. Young men lost inches, while girls gave up feet of luscious hair, switching their everyday look for a more unconventional bald head.

Smile volunteer Dakota Batch shaves Ricky Llamas's head.

Smile volunteer Dakota Batch shaves Ricky Llamas’s head.

These people did not simply lose their locks for style; instead, they did it to raise awareness of pediatric cancer as part of Brave the Shave, an event benefiting the St. Baldrick’s Foundation by Students Making Impacts through Love and Empathy (S.M.I.L.E.). Some do it for the praise, some solely to show support, others because they want to try something new, but in the end, it is all for a cause.

Brave the Shave 2014 took place on April 5 in front of the University of Texas tower located in the west mall. Participants sat on stage while audience members watched their acts of bravery take place, as has been the case for the past three years.

Since the event started in 2012, on an annual basis, hundreds of people vow to shave their heads in unity in support of children battling cancer. This year alone, there were 195 participants.

Due to past events being so successful, for Brave the Shave 2014, S.M.I.L.E. set a grand goal of $65,000 and raised 88.8 percent of that. A vast $57,717 was raised by participants, volunteers and donors, as stated on the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website.

Of the $55,000 2012 goal, $57,542 was raised, reaching 104.6 percent of the target. The next year, of the $75,000 goal, $56,260 was raised, reaching 75 percent of the target.

“We’re all really passionate about this,” said Theo Costin, Brave the Shave 2014 event coordinator. “It’s been really hard, but it’s been worth it; the event has been bigger every single year.”

Carolina uses her phone’s camera to check her progress

The success of these events is due in great part to those whom participate. For Brave the Shave 2014, the top single participants included Holly Smith, who raised $6,475; Imani S., who raised $2,087; and Joshua F., who raised $1,563. On the other hand, others decided to team up and raise money in a collective effort. This year, there were 24 teams, and the top three were S.M.I.L.E., which raised $10,537.49; Team Caroline, which raised $7,530; and The Bald Brigade, $4,419.

UT sophomore and English major, Carolina Media, shaved her head in honor of her cousin who had cancer. Her friends took photos and videos with their cell phones as the barber shaved her head. Once she was done, her friends greeted showered her with hugs and tears.

“I was emotional because I realized how much people love me and like how much they’ll come out and support me,” Medina said. “They’re still going to love me now that I’m bald.”

All of the proceeds from the events go to benefit the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which then allocates the money to organizations focused on pediatric cancer research. In total, over $100,000 have been raised by S.M.I.L.E. from previous events. People can help S.M.I.L.E. in their efforts by signing up to shave their head, volunteering or simply donating to the cause.

By signing up to shave their head, participants not only help in funding pediatric cancer research organizations, but also show others that “bald is beautiful.” This raises awareness to the disease in general and through this act of solidarity, the participants also show support for those affected by cancer.

“It’s a great cause,” said Megan Yeager, junior international relations major and Brave the Shave 2014 participant. “I wanted to show people that bald is beautiful.”