Archive for: November 2015

Texas Women in Cinema Face Gender Disparity

By: Haley Cavazos, Kyle Cavazos, Danny Goodwin, & Danielle Haberly





Lack of female representation in most lines of work has been a cause for concern for quite some time. The fact that a group can make up half of the population while only constituting 4.4% of CEO’s for Standard & Poors 500 companies is at the very least puzzling. One field in particular lacks gender diversity at all levels.

Cinema has been a male-dominated industry since its inception. While females have always had on-camera roles, it’s the behind-the-scenes and studio work that has excluded women for as long as the cameras have been rolling. Even on-camera roles are limited to younger and more attractive women that are easily marketable.

Only 1.9% of the directors that made the top 100 grossing films of 2014 were female. The majority of films that women produce and direct are documentaries, which as a whole are much less viewed than narrative pictures.

While there are definite generalities to be made about film as a whole, many women have different experiences that paint a more holistic picture. Kat Candler, a RTF professor at the University of Texas, believes there are key difference between the business of producing independent films and large studio productions.

“In the independent film community, there’s a much more even divide in terms of male and female filmmakers because we’re creating our own opportunities,” Candler said. “Whereas you have the studio system, which has studio heads that are male dominated.”

Candler describes her experience in Austin, a much smaller scale film community than New York or Los Angeles, as encouraging.

“When I moved here I knew I wanted to make movies and no one ever told me I couldn’t,” Candler said. “There were no negatives about it. It was just very open, very welcoming, and very encouraging.”

Her experience in Hollywood differed very greatly.

“It wasn’t until I went to LA and started having some meetings where there were definitely condescending remarks and statements,” Candler said.

While Austin might be a better working environment for female filmmakers, the University of Texas’s film department shows a true lack of diversity. Male students outnumber females greatly, especially in the directing and cinematography classes.

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Advanced Narrative Enrollment

Madeline Packard, the president of the organization Women in Cinema at UT (founded by Kat Candler), believes that more women should be involved in the entire filmmaking process and not just production and writing courses.

“When I talk to undergraduate students about why they may not be interested in [directing and cinematography] courses, there’s a lot of hesitation,” Packard said. “There’s something that I feel a lot of female filmmakers just can’t get past. To me, that comes from the underhanded sexism, which isn’t intentional and isn’t directly hurtful, but it subconsciously gets to the student body as a mass and creates these roles that don’t exist.”

Many efforts have been made to encourage more women to participate in filmmaking. Michelle Voss is the creator of Femme Film Texas, which is a camp for young girls that teaches them about film in order to “promote media literacy and encourage self-expression.”

“I wanted to get film technology in front of girls and introduce the idea of girls being the media makers and not just the media consumers,” Voss said.

Voss’s passion for the development of young female filmmakers reflects the sentiment of UT student Katherine Wei, an RTF major who finds representation to be imperative.

“The stories that we tell kind of reflect society and the stories that are heard are heard by a wide audience,” Wei said. “The way we tell a diverse story and create a diverse view of our society is through having a wide range of people telling stories.”

Cinematography Enrollment

Deep in Diversity: How Ethnicity & Class Backgrounds Matter at UT Austin

Cassandra Jaramillo | Jade Magalhaes | Sandy Marin | Jan Ross Piedad

As the oldest of her four siblings, Cecilia Flores said she wanted to be a role model to her sisters and go to college but knew money would be an issue for the family of six.

“I had no idea as to how we would pay for college considering we were a big family and my parents were barely making enough money to sustain us,” Flores said.

Flores is one of hundreds of students at the University of Texas who will benefit from its relatively new initiative called Texas Advance, a program aiming to increase socioeconomic diversity on the Forty Acres.

The initiative, which began in August 2014, aims to help under-resourced students in the state who are at the top of their class. With the help of federal and state grants, students in the Texas Advance initiative receive can receive award amounts up to $15,000 a year. Scholarship programs like the Presidential Scholars and University Leadership Network help students cover tuition and fees and offer outreach programs for students.

Last year, the university said it committed $15 million for the program to help 750 students throughout four years. In a release, UT said the initiative expanded to $20 million and will now help about 1,000 students over the next four years.  

For the 20-year-old from Eagle Pass, Texas, the initiative gave her the opportunity to pursue a dream of higher education.

“Money was going to be the deal breaker in this case,” Flores said. “I was either going to UT or I was staying in my hometown to start community college.”

Flores graduated from C.C. Winn High School, which lies in a small border town. As a first-generation college student, it was difficult to transition to the challenging workload.

“I come from a really small town and when I got here it was a huge difference. It was really difficult to adjust to that. But ULN helped me,” Flores said. “I really had no idea how to manage my time. They were the ones who guided me to getting used to the college experience.”

But despite the challenges, Flores excelled.

Video: Minority Enrollment at UT


She is currently a junior and a double major in psychology and Iberian and Latin American languages and cultures. Flores is one of the several Longhorns who will be in the first graduating class benefitting from the Texas Advance initiative in May 2017.

Carolyn Connerat, associate vice provost for student success initiatives at UT, said the admissions department, financial aid services and UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement all collaborated to create and market the program.

“It’s important for the university, being the flagship public university in the state of Texas, to make sure we have opportunities for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds to be able to attend UT if they would like to,” Connerat said.
The university identifies students from low-income families in multiple ways. Diane Todd Sprague, director of financial services at UT, said one criteria includes students who qualify for federal Pell grants.

Students receiving Pell grants accounts for 25 percent of the student body this year at UT, Todd Sprague said. Compared to other Texas universities, she said the population of students who receive grants is relatively normal. 21 percent of Texas A&M’s student body, for example,  received Pell grants for the 2015-2016 year, according to Todd Sprague.

“We are here for a purpose. We want to serve the citizens of Texas. Obviously we pay attention to the demographics of the state,” Todd Sprague said.

The initiative is paid for with legislative funding and thanks to the Houston Endowment this year, $8 million dollars will help sponsor 125 students from the Houston area for the next three entering classes at UT.

On the Whole: Texas Colleges

Connerat said when the Houston Endowment learned about the Texas Advance initiative, they were interested in helping the program.

“They were very excited about the program and how we are really focusing on helping these students to come to UT to develop leadership skills and professional training,” Connerat said.

With the help of the endowment, the university will be allowed to free up funds to help more students as well, Connerat said.

“It’s a $8 million grant to cover the costs of those students from the Houston area. Because of the Houston endowment, that allows the university to use funds that would have gone to pay for that  to give to other students through the Presidential Scholars program or whether it’s through financial aid,” Connerat said.  

For the entering class of 2016, the deadline to submit an application for admission and to be considered for a Texas Advance award is Dec. 1.

Video: Affirmative Action Lawsuits at Universities

Support for Stressed Students


By: Austin Hamby, Renee Moreno, Mark Roberson and Victoria Rodriguez

Before students can enjoy winter break, they must first go through finals. The weeks before the end of the semester are a difficult and stressful time for students. Photo Credit: Victoria Rodriguez

Before students can enjoy winter break, they must finish finals. The weeks before the end of the semester can be a difficult and stressful time for students. Photo Credit: Victoria Rodriguez

Counseling and Mental Help Center Provides Helping Hand to Stressed Students

It’s that time of year again. Students are walking through campus with blank stares, drinking excess amounts of caffeine and logging endless hours in the library.

December is considered finals season, one of the most stressful times of the year for students. Busy schedules full of holiday plans and test preparation bring stress levels to a peak for most students on UT Austin’s campus.

With heavy workloads, students spend a large portion of their time in the library. Often sacrificing sleep for study time, students create even more stress as they feel the effects of sleep deprivation.

Student Sleep Habits

Newton Liu, a sophomore at Texas majoring in chemical engineering, wishes that students could have later classes so students could sleep more and feel less stressed.

“I think a lack of sleep is a main reason why a lot of people are stressed more. So I feel like whenever I get more sleep I feel less stressed regardless of how much work I have,” Liu said.

The university may not heed Liu’s suggestion of moving classes to later times but they offer several services at the Counseling and Mental Health Center to decrease stress.

Katy Redd, the Assistant Director for Prevention and Outreach at the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, said that the center sees an increase in students as the semester progresses. Finals season is the busiest time of year for the CMHC.

According to the CMHC, both stress and anxiety are the most common reasons students seek help from the Counseling and Mental Health Center. 70 percent of those who seek help cite stress or anxiety as the reason.

Effects of Stress on the Body

After depression, academic issues are the fourth most common issue with 37 percent of students citing academics as an issue that caused them to seek help.

Juan Cortez, a sophomore theatre major at the University of Texas at Austin, explained that during this time of the year, numerous obligations can cause high levels of stress in students.

“I have a couple of finals coming up I guess for class. As well as a couple auditions for like different productions. You know, ‘How am I going to get home for Thanksgiving?’ and you know just typical stress you have for classes,” Cortez said.

In order to help meet students’ needs, the Counseling and Mental Health Center provides both individual counseling and workshops that work on diminishing stress levels.

From 2013 to 2014 the CMHC held 95 one-hour workshops that about 3,200 participants attended. According to their records, the students who attended the workshops found them very helpful, as 95 percent of participants said the workshops would “help them succeed academically.”



Redd, one of the assistant directors at CMHC, said that focus on additional aspects other than grades was important for the success of the workshops.

“We try to really focus on the process of learning and the process of growth as a human being. Outcomes are important markers but we try to de-emphasize those and emphasize the process,” Redd said.

Mental Health Students

During this high-stress time for students, Redd wants students to know that the Counseling and Mental Health Center is here to help.

“We’re here. We have a service for you,” Redd said. “I think whether that service is a group … or we might feel like you particular needs might be met or better met by someone in the community… we want CMHC to be the landing point and help figure out what service is best for you.”

Reliving HERstory

Gym Changes Highlight Legacy of UT Women

By: Shadan Larki, Marisa Martinez, and Brianna Walker

Tucked away in the courtyard of the Neural Molecular Science building on Speedway is the Anna Hiss Gymnasium. Just by looking at it one couldn’t tell that famous dancers and bands used to warm up and perform in its dance studio when they were in town. Or visualize the hundreds of students who fill Room 136 on the first day of class as they attempt to snag a spot in the ever-popular social dance class taught by Campbell Miller. By the end of this semester, all faculty and staff offices as well as classes and student organizations that meet in the Anna Hiss gym will be gone.

Classes that took place in Anna Hiss will be moved to Bellmont Hall inside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. However, Bellmont does not have as many rooms to make up for the loss of facility in Anna Hiss.

“We won’t have the space that we were accustomed to,” Anna Hiss building manager Tere Ramirez said. “We have three gyms; when we move over there we’ll only have one.”

One program that utilizes the dance rooms heavily is the social dance class, which enrolls approximately 400 students every semester at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced level. Miller estimates she will need to cut down enrollment by 40 percent for the spring semester since the class will be moved to a smaller room. ”

Anna had women’s physical education in mind and, being a female teacher, to me it’s very meaningful to be teaching in that building,” Miller said. “…it’s just disappointing on so many levels.”

Hiss served as the women’s director of physical education from 1921-56. During her time at the university, she helped start the physical education teaching degree program at UT and co-founded the Orange Jackets with Distinguished Alumna Margaret C. Berry.

Hiss also played an integral role in the construction of the women’s gymnasium, which would later be re-named in her memory.

According to Ramirez and Spirduso, Hiss was highly passionate about physical education and health for young women and was very determined to make the women’s gymnasium a reality.

“She was the one who traveled around the U.S. at her own expense looking for the best gyms and then coming together to make this facility,” Ramirez said.

In 1931 the gym was completed for $400,000 during the first years of the Great Depression in 1931. That’s the equivalent of $634,920 today.

Professor emeritus Waneen Spirduso, who took a class taught by Anna Hiss and later worked alongside her, said that Hiss was very set on focusing on health rather than competition. According to Spirduso, Hiss didn’t want the women getting into athletics competitively because it wasn’t fit for a lady at the time.

“This was during a time when people thought that if you ran back and forth down the basketball court a certain amount of times your uterus would fall out,” Spirduso said.

Classes in the theater and dance department have also had to adjust their schedules for next semester since they will all be sharing the same space in Bellmont instead of the various studios between Bellmont and Anna Hiss.

David Ray, associate vice president of campus planning and project management, said that while the possibility of re-purposing Anna Hiss has been discussed, nothing concrete is planned for the building at this time. Rumors of the Dell Medical School taking over the space have also been shot down by the school’s spokesperson, Steven Scheibal.

“The idea of repurposing Anna Hiss for the use of the science buildings around it has been discussed but that’s all,” Ray said.

Despite no plans being set, the Anna Hiss Gym will no longer be available for use after December 4, 2015. It is the only existing commemoration to Hiss’ life and legacy at the University of Texas at Austin.

MANy Perspectives: Can men on campus recall buildings named after women? Click play to find out!

On the roof overlooking the courtyard, is a stretch of concrete that was once used for sunbathing. The brick wall on the roof features a sign cautioning the women not to sit out in the sun too long.

On the roof overlooking the courtyard, is a stretch of concrete that was once used for sunbathing. The brick wall on the roof features a sign cautioning the women not to sit out in the sun too long.

After Title Nine came into effect, it was required the gym provide lockers for men and women. The drawers held their locker assignments.

After Title Nine came into effect, it was required the gym provide lockers for men and women. The drawers held their locker assignments.

In Ramirez's office a ballroom dancing competition trophy that student participated in overlooks the courtyard from her window. Ramirez's office is Anna Hiss' original office.

In Ramirez’s office a ballroom dancing competition trophy that student participated in overlooks the courtyard from her window. Ramirez’s office is Anna Hiss’ original office.

On the window sill of Ramirez's office lies a brick from the building and a trophy from 1985.

On the window sill of Ramirez’s office lies a brick from the building and a trophy from 1985.

The mail room for Kinesiology and Health department staff and faculty like Campbell Miller is also located on the second floor.

The mail room for Kinesiology and Health department staff and faculty like Campbell Miller is also located on the second floor.

The Anna Hiss basketball court -- If you look closely the sidelines of the basketball court at Anna Hiss are close to the wall. It is these specific measurements that prohibited the gym from being used for competition.

The Anna Hiss basketball court — If you look closely the sidelines of the basketball court at Anna Hiss are close to the wall. It is these specific measurements that prohibited the gym from being used for competition.

A view from the front of a classroom where a health education class was once held. Now it is used occasionally for the golf class to meet up before heading out.

A view from the front of a classroom where a health education class was once held. Now it is used occasionally for the golf class to meet up before heading out.

An old classroom in the basement of Anna Hiss. While it is no longer in use, it is still fully furnished.

An old classroom in the basement of Anna Hiss. While it is no longer in use, it is still fully furnished.

As you walk up to the Anna Hiss Gym from Speedway you see the main courtyard which features trees and benches for napping, studying or simply sitting and admiring nature.

As you walk up to the Anna Hiss Gym from Speedway you see the main courtyard which features trees and benches for napping, studying or simply sitting and admiring nature.

On the second floor is Room 134, the dance studio. Several famous dancers and performers have warmed up or performed here. Now it is used as a classroom and rehearsal space for students and organizations.

On the second floor is Room 134, the dance studio. Several famous dancers and performers have warmed up or performed here. Now it is used as a classroom and rehearsal space for students and organizations.

The Wurst Festival in Texas

It was the best of times, it was the wurst of times at this year’s 52nd annual Wurstfest, a celebration of all things German.

A group of friends joins in with the rest of the crowd by holding their cups in the air to make a toast while singing along to the traditional “Ein Prosit” song. Photo by: Erin MacInerney

A group of friends joins in with the rest of the crowd by holding their cups in the air to make a toast while singing along to the traditional “Ein Prosit” song. Photo by: Erin MacInerney

By: Morgan Bridges, Erin Griffin, Erin MacInerney, Jamie Pross

(Click to listen to the Chardon Polka Band perform live in the Stelzenplatz Biergarten at Wurstfest)

(Click to watch a first-person view of the festival)

NEW BRAUNFELS- Sprechen sie fun? Hint: say yes!

Don’t worry, you needn’t speak German to enjoy the revelry of Wurstfest, the 10-day salute to sausage.

But if you really want to delve into the culture that makes up this Oktoberfest- inspired event, knowing a few phrases will help you to fit in among the lederhosen clad festival-goers.

The small town of New Braunfels, Texas welcomes over 100,000 visitors to the festival each November.

Wurstfest Lingo-FinalThe smell of kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), strudel, schnitzel, and other dishes you may have a hard time pronouncing, waft throughout the tents of the festival grounds.

For people like Sammi Guerrero, Wurstfest is an annual family tradition.

“I have been going every year since I was born,” says Guerrero. “My whole family goes at least three days out of the ten days it is held each year.”

Guerrero’s 21-year streak (or 22 if you count the time she was still in her mother’s belly) is nothing compared to her father, Roland, who has been going every year since the early 1970’s.

Roland’s father, Larry Guerrero, has been joining the family for as long as he can remember. Larry may use a walker but the minute Grammy Award-winning polka artist Jimmy Sturr and his Orchestra start playing, Guerrero can’t help but get up and dance.

“Everyone loves my grandpa and when they see him dancing, they can’t help but join,” says Sammi Guerrero. “I love getting to come with him each year and watch him make people smile.”

One of the Guerrero’s favorite parts of the festival is sharing a pitcher of German lager. Roland recounts when a pitcher of beer was a dollar compared to the now almost 30 dollar pitchers being sold.

While grandpa dances to the polka music, the rest of the family heads to the biergarten, part of the newly renovated Stelzenplatz hall.

With more than 30 craft beers from all over the nation and a few specialty German beers, Wurstfest is known for drinking.

Guests make it a point to collect as many plastic beer pitchers as they can down, and that crashing sound you just heard? It was a pyramid of pitchers stacked up falling to the ground, a common sight among the beer hall.

Despite the vast alcohol consumption, Wurstfest Associations members make sure that the fest is centered around good family fun.

Another important part of the festival are the traditional German clothes, lederhosen worn by men and dirndl’s worn by women.

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Click here to learn more about the history of Wurstfest


“A lot of people want to be dressed up for the event,” says Paula Kater, owner of the Kuckuck’s Nest in Fredericksburg, Texas. “Every year, sales pick up and people want to get more and more into it. Even the younger generations want to dress up.”

Kater emphasizes that the outfits she dresses her customers in are not costumes, but authentic clothing of her heritage.

“Every one is an original straight from Germany,” says Kater.

Kater was impressed to find such a large German influence in the Texas Hill Country when she arrived here from Ludwigshafen, Germany 15 years ago.

She travels all over the nation providing outfits for people attending Okterberfest events but says Wurstfest has always been her favorite.

“Wurstfest is one of the biggest,” says Kater. “It is the elite of all of them, even the ones up north.”

Lederhosen & Dirndl-Final


(A supplementary video from Wurstfest. How to sing one of the favorite songs, Ein Prosit!)



Tiny Homes, Big Dreams

How hundreds of people used small spaces to bring their big dreams to life

Follow this link to view the full story.

Texas Triathlon


















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Feet the Streets provides local homeless youth with socks


By Danielle Vabner, Alexandra Cannon, Erika Sauceda, Danielle Lopez

AUSTIN, Tex. — A little help goes a long way, especially in a rapidly expanding city like Austin. That is precisely the idea behind Feet the Streets!, an annual sock drive hosted by the Longhorn Legislative Aides at the University of Texas at Austin.

The sock drive, which runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 1 each academic year, aims to provide as many socks as possible for homeless youth in the Austin area. Boxes are provided outside of residence halls, and students can add any of their leftover socks, which will go to homeless youth between the ages of seven and 24.

Homeless Youth (2)

UT freshman and LLA member Garrett Mireles said the organization wanted the event to be as accessible as possible for students, and they wanted college students on a budget to be able to participate.

“We wanted to find a way that students could get involved with helping the community in a way that was simple and easy for people to understand,” Mireles said. “We figured it was simple, it would be pretty direct, people could take a pair of socks out of their drawer at home and donate them without much else commitment or strings attached.”

Attempts to help homeless youth go beyond just the UT campus. Street Youth Ministry of Austin aims to provide help from a primarily religious standpoint. According to the Street Youth Ministry website, this includes Bible studies, prayer times, and fellowship events. They also provide referrals for education, jobs, drug counseling, and mental health to those who need it.

Terry Cole, Missionary and Founder of Street Youth Ministry, said the partnership with Longhorn Legislative Aides for Feet the Streets! originated after they approached Cole about the issue of youth homelessness. He said he is incredibly happy about the initiative.

“Socks are very valuable to a homeless person,” Cole said. “You’ve got to be able to move around 24/7 in the city to take care of yourself and that involves being on your feet a lot. If every student gave one pair of socks we could probably give [a pair to] every homeless person.”

Mireles said participation has been low despite their efforts to promote the event on social media. However, he said he thinks UT students do have a duty to participate.

“I think reaching out across that street, literally and figuratively, is a necessity and a responsibility of UT students,” Mireles said.

Though the sock drive may seem like a small gesture, Mireles said LLA wants to stay involved in the issue and take hands-on approach.

“We’re definitely projected to [work with homeless youth],” Mireles said. “We want to get out and hand out those socks individually to people on the street to show this isn’t just a removed process or removed initiative. We want to get our hands in there into West Campus, The Drag, surrounding areas, to show that this isn’t just something we’re doing for ourselves, to feel good about starting an initiative.”

Austin Powwow Showcases American Indian Heritage

By: Estefania de Leon, Estephanie Gomez, Karla Pulido and Raylee Elder

Tucked inside the heart of the Sunset Valley, Tex. in South Austin a group of American Indians have gathered from all over the country to tap their feet and chant to the beat of the drum on the blue gym floor in front of a crowd for the Austin Powwow.

This year marks the 24th year for the powwow which includes performances known as grand entries, as well as dancing competitions. American Indians participating came from Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas, Colorado, and Minnesota.

The Austin Powwow is hosted by Great Promise for American Indians, a local organization founded in 1991. The powwow is a place for different tribes to gather and socialize keep the tradition alive.

“The organization really started out as a way to hopefully influence the independent school districts in the area and get better treatment for American Indian children,” said Lois Duncan, the director of the Great American Promise for American Indians, “One of the school districts then [suggested] that if we do a powwow that that might be a great way to pass on the culture.”

Since the Austin Powwow began in 1992, it outgrew its location and is now hosted in at an Austin Independent School District facility.

“The powwow got started because of our American Indian students,” said Diane Tigges, American Indian Education Program (AIEP) coordinator. “Almost 25 years ago they decided that they needed to do something in the urban areas to help students get reconnected with their tribal blood and so they started a powwow and it’s been a great partnership since then.”

To keep the tradition alive in such a small community, Duncan is trying to bring the younger generations of American Indians into Great Promise to pass down the legacy.

“They have not suffered under a reservation regime where basically, the indians lost everything and they were forced to live on the outskirts of usually forts and things like that and accept commodities from the army,” Duncan said. “But now I see these younger generations taking a great pride in their heritage, learning their languages again, learning about who their ancestors were.”

Today, the powwow includes a platform to spread awareness about the American Indian community in the nation.

“I think it’s just good communication and trying to work with each other and trying to understand the other parties what they’re talking about so they also understand what we’re talking about,” Great Promise chairman Lee Walter said. “’I’ve always seen the government, the military reach out to us, and they want to know more about diversity. It seems like there’s more interest of trying to get us to participate so that we can educate others on what we do.”

With a local population of 0.3 percent and a 0.9 percent nationally according to the 2010 U.S. Census, it is challenging to find American Indians let alone members of the same tribe. According to Duncan, most of the American Indians living in Austin are not from the original tribe that lived here.

“When a family moves to town, because unless there is an organization like us they don’t know where to find other Indian families to come together as a group,” Duncan said. “We’re what’s known as an urban Indian population. In other words, we’re many, many, many different tribes, but we all come together around that one heritage of being the first peoples.”

AIEP serves the Austin, Bastrop, Leander, and Round Rock school districts. It is mainly funded through the office of education.

Tigges says graduation rates among American Indian and Alaskan Native students are the lowest among any other racial or ethnic group (according to Education Weekly –

“Typically about 25 percent of our students will drop out of high school,” Tigges said. “On reservations it’s even higher. It’s about 50 percent.”

Funds raised at the Austin Powwow have helped AIEP increase the graduation rate in the school districts it serves to 90 percent through services like help finding tutoring, coverage of college entrance exam fees, scholarship information, and workshops.

One of the main challenges Tigges says she faces is finding time to publicize the program and let people know it exists. Delaney Quinn, a senior at McNeil High School, is one of the students recruited into the program by Tigges.

“I had a counselor [Tigges] who was Native American and she kind of like found us since I’m registered as a Native American on my transcript,” Quinn said. “She kind of like pinpointed us and asked us to like join.”

For Tigges a barrier that impedes her from finding more students is that many American Indians are not aware of their tribe, and many don’t even know.

“There are so many students and families that are removed from the reservations and even from the areas that they get their actual blood from, they may be papered so to speak but they have no clue about their nationality at all,” Tigges said. “The program gives them some insight into it. That’s the whole goal.”

Photos by: Estefania de Leon, Estephanie Gomez and Karla Pulido. Editing by: Raylee Elder

Infographics by: Estephanie Gomez

Defund Planned Parenthood bill awaits Senate

Bill to defund Planned Parenthood awaits Senate’s 2015 calendar

By Haley Cavazos, Kyle Cavazos, Daniel Goodwin & Danielle Haberly

The Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 (H. R. 3134) was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on July 21, and passed on Sept. 18 with 241 votes for, 187 votes against, one vote present, or “soft-no,” and five votes were neutral as “not voting”.

Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in federal funding each year, according to the Washington Post.

This all came about due to the Internet release of a video clip on July 14 showing Deborah Nucatola, senior medical director at Planned Parenthood since 2009, discussing fetal tissue donations. The full length video was later released, and can be viewed on Youtube.

Nucatola is seen discussing how she uses an ultrasound to check the condition of the fetus or organs that are of value, before she removes them. According to 18 U.S. Code 1531, performing partial-birth abortions, meaning the fetus is killed with further action outside the womb, is illegal.

This raises a huge issue with conservatives against abortion, lawmakers and many citizens with various moral standpoints. Nine more videos were released on the Internet, each has footage of Planned Parenthood officials allegedly discussing the sales of baby body parts.

Shortly after, Planned Parenthood released a statement. “A well-funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services has promoted heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research,” said Eric Ferrero, the Vice President of Communication of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, is co-signing the bill.

“The recent allegations against Planned Parenthood are morally reprehensible,” said Williams. “There is no justification for the American people to finance an organization that has such disregard for human life,” Williams said in a press release.

Richelle King, Co-chair of Planned Parenthood’s Leadership and Advocacy Council in Texas, says her goal is to debunk myths and misinformation about the organization that the public has latched onto.

“The myth that Planned Parenthood sells baby body parts is a manipulation of language used to confuse people that aren’t aware of how fetal tissue donation works.” King says that women who consent to an abortion can also consent to donating fetal tissue for scientific research in the curing of diseases.

She describes the effect the defunding would have on the people of Texas.

“That would be a devastating blow considering a lot of the people Planned Parenthood serves don’t have health insurance or are low income families dependent on Medicaid.”

King says she is not worried because of President Obama’s speech on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Obama threatened legislators with a veto if the Defund Planned Parenthood Act is pushed through the Senate.

Joseph Trahan, University of Texas Austin sophomore PR major and Campus Director of the University Democrats, was deeply bothered by the news of the government’s plan to strip Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood.

In response, he started a petition raising awareness and encouraging citizens to sign in support of the organization.

“The petition is also intended to give credibility to the claim that Texans do really care about Planned Parenthood, because there’s strength in numbers,” Trahan said.

As of the second week in circulation, the petition has gathered approximately 450 signatures, including former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis.

“There has been so much misinformation released to the public with the highly edited videos, with baseless allegations of fraud or tampering with abortion procedures that go against federal law. All these claims bear no fruit. No hardcore evidence can support these claims,” Trahan said.

Allison Peregory, Young Conservatives of Texas UT chapter chairman, weighs in on the debate.

“It’s been a major controversy because it questions the integrity of the organization, and it’s illegal to sell baby body parts.”

Peregory says YCT is in favor, along with Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, of the defunding act “based upon the fact that Planned Parenthood has now created doubt and has now created this question of character.”

Peregory backs her chapter saying that for her the issue is more about preserving the moral integrity of the state of Texas.

“Do we really want our money going to an organization that is involved in these kinds of practices?” Peregory said.

Peregory says that Planned Parenthood’s statement after-the-fact was just a PR crisis management stunt to hush the public.

In response to Trahan’s petition, Peregory says “it’s too little too late…this is the law, this is what’s happening and if you didn’t want that law to happen then you should have been protesting and should have been more active about it before.”