*Sound of phone dialtone*
That is the tone students hear if they try calling 805-S-W-A-T, the phone number for the Students With Alternative Driving program. Until recently, program provided a safe ride home --- no questions asked --- for intoxicated Texas State students on weekends. It is no longer operational at Texas State, but some members of the Student Government are working to change that.
ASG Rep SOUNDBITE
According to Director of the Alcohol and Drug Resource Center, Judy Row, the program had been running well since its creation in 2001, but during the past two years, a lack of student leadership and volunteers created a strain for the program. Row says the service suffered especially on Friday and Saturday nights because few volunteers were willing to participate. Senior Justin Payne says SWAT was a beneficial program, though he never took the time to volunteer.
SOUNDBITE FROM JUSTIN PAYNE
Other options are being looked into at the community and city level, like changing a downtown taxi ordinance or creating a late night bus route. For Bobcat Update, I'm Mitch Shubert.
The festivities kicked off September 16th and will continue until October 30th.
Hispanics make up 25 percent of the student population at Texas State.
Organizations are participating by hosting such events as a quesadilla sale in the quad.
Students can check out a variety of films on Hispanic Heritage at Centennial Hall, and those who would like to try can learn to salsa at the Salsa Del Rio event at George's.
Minority and women business owners from across the state are considering the opportunities that Texas State University offers following a business forum hosted by the university last week. Jesse Moloney has more in this Bobcat Update.
Historically-UnderUtilized-Businesses, also known as HUBs, gathered last week at the Embassy Suites Conference Center in San Marcos to discuss business opportunities with government-funded agencies, including Texas State University.
HUB Coordinator Rob Moerke (Murky) says businesses need to apply with the state to be considered HUB-certified, which qualifies them for many opportunities.
HUB Supporter and San Marcos Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Leonard Cantu says last week's event was very informative.
University HUB Specialist Yolanda Strey (streye) says Texas State University is required to employ minority and women-owned businesses whenever possible.
For more information about business opportunities for HUBs, contact Yolanda Strey (streye) at H-U-B-at-T-X-state-dot-e-d-u. For Bobcat Update, I'm Jesse Moloney.
To park on campus, you have to pay a registration fee. But registering your car offers no assurance that you can find parking once you get here. Some students grow frustrated looking for spaces in the student parking lots, so they go to the L-B-J parking garage instead. But L-B-J is officially a visitor's garage, which means you have to pay even more to park. Texas State Junior Paul Valle says he doesn't think it's fair that he has to pay for a parking sticker but is not guaranteed a spot.
Sound Bite: "I park here because really there isn't anywhere else to park…"
The first hour of parking at the L-B-J garage costs two dollars and caps off at ten dollars per day. This can cost a student attending two days of classes a week at least eighty dollars per month.
The garage has peak hours from 11 to 3 Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The capacity of the garage is 500 spots, and once it's full the only way to gain entrance is if another leaves. Texas State Accounting Major Chris Johnson says he has experienced being late when the garage was full.
Sound Bite: "I was late to class about 40 mins…"
There are commuter parking lots for students who don't mind using the bus system, but that can be risky because the trams are often full. For Bobcat Update I'm Claudia Mickle.
Current law prohibits taxicabs from parking and waiting for customers on the square, but the city is considering a possible change in hopes of providing a way home for patrons of the downtown bar scene. Texas State grad student Warren Keldsen says allowing more taxi-cabs downtown is a great idea.
SB (Keldsen, 6…)
Due to funding cuts at Texas State, a service called SWAT or Students with Alternative Transportation is no longer operating. Many students had previously used the service instead of catching a cab.
Hays County Constable David Peterson says bars in San Marcos are now open longer and drawing larger crowds. Peterson says the taxicab service would be beneficial.
SB (Peterson, 5…)
A City Council meeting will take place in October at which the proposed change will be considered. For Bobcat Update, I'm Lianne Thomas.
Students looking for something to do this fall won't have to look far to find it. Texas State has 240 student organizations, and new ones spring up every semester. Caitlin Weekley is the member coordinator for the Association for Women in Communications, a new organization that's already gained footing among students.
But with the economic downturn, many organizations are struggling to fund their events. The university allocates 24-thousand dollars to student organizations every year.
The university also offers students orgs educational programs, advising sessions, and workshops. SB
Last year, leaders from 95 student organizations attended the university's advising session for presidents, which was best the turnout ever for the annual event. For Bobcat Update, I'm Hannah Miller.
The Texas State library has new hours of operation. Timothy Ladusky has more in this Bobcat Update.
Library officials say the extended hours are due to the great success of a trial run last spring. Alkek Library will remain open until three in the morning Sunday through Wednesday. Reference Librarian Jan Tidwell says students are already taking advantage of the new schedule.
The three a-m closing time affects the reserve desk on the third floor and the circulation desk on the second floor, but the computer lab on the fourth floor will only remain open until 12:45 which is 45 minutes longer than previously. Freshman Heidi Kucera says the later hours are great for students who live off campus.
Not affected by the revised schedule is SLAC -- the Student Assistance Learning Center. Those who seek tutoring will find that the hours have not changed. For Bobcat Update I'm Timothy Ladusky.
Many students who use the bus system to get to class have reason to complain. At peak times on campus, the buses are very crowded, often filled to capacity. Road Supervisor Kevin Sturdivant says [AVOID THE HANGING LEAD-IN...PROVIDE THE ESSENCE OF WHAT HE SAID SO THAT IT FLOWS INTO THE BITE WITH ECHOING IT.]
Texas State students pay nearly 80-dollars a semester for the tram services. The buses run from 7 a.m. to 10:45 p.m., but students often have to wait for two or three buses to come by before they can board. Crowding is a huge problem.
SB Caitlin McWeeney
The tram service offers six different routes that run through the city. Soon a G-P-S tracking system will be installed on each bus to provide real-time information. It will show students exactly where the buses are via the Web. For Bobcat Update, I'm Nick Loftis
The University's Information Technology Division has installed monitors and swiping systems in the Alkek Teaching Theater as well as the L-B-J Student Center.
Using the program, students are supposed to swipe their I-D cards when entering or leaving classrooms at those locations.
If students don't have their I-D cards, they can instead enter their identification numbers on a keypad.
SB: I would think that it would be easy to have someone else swipe in for you but I don't have any classes that require us to do that.
As an extra precaution, pictures are taken when students enter a classroom to prevent manipulation of the system.
Other methods of tracking attendance are sign-in sheets, or, in some cases, the use of a transponder device.
Media Technician Ken Smith says tracking students will benefit the university.
SB: I see that as positive. The only drawback is crowds going in and out.
Many students agree that a downside of the system is that they are often rushed to get to class on time.
One goal of the system is to transfer the collected data to TRACS, so that students and faculty members are aware of attendance records.
For Bobcat Update, I'm Kristy Hoerig.
Recruiting Coordinator Elizabeth Buchta says this is the first such event this month, but there are many more to come.
Texas State has been offering influenza vaccines to students who want to reduce their chances of getting seasonal flu.
Health Education Coordinator Ashlee Dozier (Doz-e-air) says there is a greater demand for flu shots this season.
The student population this fall is over 30 thousand and maintaining good health is a major concern because germs and viruses can spread easily on a college campus. While they had the opportunity, students lined up for shots to reduce their chances of getting sick and missing class.
Communication Disorders Grad Student Elizabeth Saenz (Sigh-inz) says it's important to get vaccinated.
Besides getting a shot, students can reduce the risk of infection by following a few easy guidelines. For example, after using computers keyboards or opening doors, students should wash their hands or use sanitizer to kill harmful bacteria and reduce the spread germs. Also, students should make sure they have tissues handy in the event of coughing or sneezing. If no tissues are available, they ought to sneeze into their shirtsleeves rather than their hands.
It is important to note that annual flu shots are different from the prevention efforts underway to stop the H1-N1 virus from spreading. H1-N1 shots will be offered later this fall.
For Bobcat Update, I'm Nathan Estrada.
College costs a lot of money. Tuition rates seem to rise every year. Room and board cost more. And students are also expected to shell out a few hundred bucks each semester for textbooks. Graduate student Nammy Lynch says textbook prices are too high.
Paying for textbooks is a burden for many students, especially now when the nation is in the grips of a recession.
COLBY STAND UP
Some students use the Internet to save a couple dollars. Other ways to save money include buying used books or borrowing books from classmates.
An interesting thing to note: The most expensive text at the bookstore was for a course in cost management.
For Bobcat Update, I'm Colby Howell.
Graffiti is becoming increasingly visible in San Marcos. You can see it on windows, meters and the sides of buildings.
Business owner Mike Patterson says his building was targeted recently. He says the graffiti is a nuisance.
A new city ordinance was drafted recently aimed at curbing vandalism in San Marcos. If enacted, the ordinance would require offenders to restore the vandalized property themselves. The city's Beautification Commission had a public forum Monday night to discuss the proposed ordinance with residents.
The forum gave residents a chance to offer criticism of the graffiti ordinance and to provide further explanation to residents.
But the proposed ordinance would apply only to public property, such as this culvert on Sessom, which was recently cleaned of graffiti.
One provision of the ordinance has stirred controversy. Some people think the prohibition against having felt pens or spray cans in and around public property may be going too far.
Resident Silas Parker says he doubts the ordinance will prevent vandalism.
With a lot of feedback to consider the commission will use the September 21st forum to make a recommendation to the city council within 60 days. For the Bobcat Update, I'm Ansel Hildebrand.
Students at Texas State University may have noticed more bottles of hand sanitizer on campus, or perhaps they've seen flu shot announcements. There's a constant buzz about this year's flu season with the H-1-N-1 virus generating a lot of fear. Some, though, say the concerns are a bit much, that it's just hype:
Health Education Coordinator at the Student Health Center, Ashlee Dozier, says it's important to educate students to avoid the spread of flu.
Some Texas State students are unaware of the resources available on campus and are seeking alternative methods to acquire their flu shots.
The university has also sent e-mails to students warning them about the H-1-N-1 virus and how they should prepare in the event that they come down with flu-like symptoms. Many students are simply dismissing these important messages because they're too distracted by homework and extracurricular activities:
SB- Gabriel Schmidt
These posters displayed around campus, are another example of the methods the university is taking to warn students. Some of these signs urge students to buy a thermometer. The Student Health Center is offering thermometers for five dollars.
If you are experiencing any flu-like symptoms, such as fever, aches, chills or fatigue, you are encouraged to stay home from class and avoid crowded areas.
If you have questions or concerns, contact the Student Health Center at 512-245-2161 or visit their website at www-dot-healthcenter-dot-t-x-state-dot-e-d-u. For Bobcat Update, I'm Amanda Dugan.
Because of recent problems with rodents in the building, the university is hiring a private contractor to exterminate and seal the building. According to a news release issued by the university officials, sanitary conditions at Commons were not breached.
Some students are disappointed by the closure.
The extermination work at Commons is anticipated to last 30 to 60 days. To accommodate increased traffic at other dining halls, the university has expanded the number of hours the other halls are open. For more information, be sure to check the Texas State Web site.
For Bobcat Update, I'm Rena Iglehart.
The new additions to the campus are an appealing way to attract prospective students and to serve current students. Mass Communication senior Jessica Elmore says that the benefits seem to be outweighing the costs at this point.
Mass Communication Senior Nathan Estrada says he agrees that the changes on campus will be beneficial.
In the past few years new buildings like the McCoy college of business, the Recreation Center, and renovations to several older buildings have benefited the university. For Bobcat Update, I'm Jonathan Wachsmann
Dead grass, water shortages and high temperatures are taking a toll on farming and ranching in Texas.
Temperatures have reached as high as 104 degrees in San Marcos.
No wind, no rain and not a cloud in the sky. The heat makes central Texas feel like a desert.
Many students are wishing they were in a cooler area.
Texas State Senior, Claudia Mickle says staying cool is a must during these extreme weather conditions.
SB: "I stay in the shade when possible, go to all the pools in San Marcos and visit the river with my friends."
Others are trying to beat the heat under shade trees by staying hydrated and by putting sun shades in their vehicles to lessen the heat.
Squeaking filp-flops and splashing water can be heard at Sewell Park in San Marcos. Students play Frisbee and catch the rays, but the numbers have decreased since the temperatures have risen.
Many are trying to stay cool by frequently swimming or tubing in the San Marcos River.
People need to be extremely careful to avoid harmful U-V Rays and limit their time in the sun.
Texas State Senior, Bret Taylor says the sun can be dangerous.
SB: "We came out here for five by five basketball and four of my homies got second-degree burns."
According to the Lower Colorado River Authority, July was the hottest month ever for Austin and San Antonio. Drought conditions are at their worst since the 1950s and don't look like they will improve anytime soon.
For Bobcat Update, I'm Kristy Hoerig.
As the fall semester begins many seniors have more on their minds than their weekend plans. Graduating and getting a good job are their main focus. Senior Denise Mamo says her biggest fear is not only having to pay back student loans, but also just finding work in her field.
SB: I have a degree but there may not be a job waiting for me. I have interned at three different places but nothings really promising now.
Mamo says job opportunities are limited and work is hard to come by during the economic recession. Another concerned senior, Brian Sevier says he is worried about not knowing what his future holds after graduation.
SB: I'm a little concerned. I mean I've been going to Texas State for five years. I just don't know if I'm prepared for what's out there.
Many students seek help from advisors, and they beef up their resumes with internships, as they wait for the economy to improve. For Bobcat Update, I'm Summer Ratliff.
Whether it's by bus, car, skateboard, or just walking; Texas State offers a wide variety of options for commuters. But how do students make their decision? Some students prefer the conventional method, by parking on campus with a parking permit. Others take advantage of the campus bus system, which runs from morning 'til night.
"10sec SB-something about preferring the bus"
For Texas State students looking for an alternative, biking has become a growing trend. It may also be a great way to add a little exercise to the morning routine.
"6 sec SB –riding the bike instead"
If you find yourself short on gas, bike chains, or a bus stop, the traditional walk to campus might be just what you need. And for Texas State students, that means tackling those notorious San Marcos hills. With Bobcat Update, I'm Mitch Shubert.