The semester in review

As the semester winds down, here are The Housonian staff’s picks for the top five stories of the semester.

1. Bearkat Basketball

The 2003 basketball season turned out to be one for the ages.

The Sam Houston State Bearkats won their first ever Southland Conference Tournament championship and earned a ticket to the granddaddy of them all, the NCAA Tournament.

Although the dance did not turn out the way the Bearkats would have wanted, it helped establish the program on the national stage.

To get to the tournament, in front of a packed house at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum, the SHSU Bearkats made history when they beat the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks 69-66 in overtime. Donald Cole hit a three-pointer with 13 seconds left in overtime and then sank one of two free throws with two seconds left to give them a three-point victory.

With the national attention the Kats got by making it to the tournament, we chose this as the biggest story of the year for Sam Houston State.

2. Budget cuts

The Texas State Legislature is trying to correct a $1.9 billion budget deficit, which is now causing Sam Houston State University to cut $2,587,00 from the university budget.

SHSU President James Gaertner sent a memo to the campus community explaining that the governor’s office is requesting the university reduce its budget between now and Aug. 31.

However, the memo stated no jobs at the university would be eliminated because of the budget reduction and SHSU would be fine financially.

The memo also requested that the university have a plan for the budget cut by Feb. 4. No new budget positions from any fund source would be approved until the final plan was submitted in early February.

With the attention this story drew from all parts of the campus, we voted this the No. 2 story of the year

3. Name change

After almost four years of debate there is still a heated controversy bubbling over the idea to change the name of Southwest Texas State University to Texas State University.

The Texas State University System Board of Regents unanimously voted to postpone changing Southwest Texas State University’s name to Texas State University at the Board of Regents meeting in 2002.

Frank Parker, associate vice president for Student Services and dean of Student Life, said there were several oppositions to the proposed name change, mainly from alumni.

“There were several bodies of student representatives that spoke against the proposal,” Parker said. “Some of their own alumni at Southwest Texas spoke against the proposal and someone from Texas Southern spoke against the proposal because it would become Texas State University.”

The SHSU community wanted nothing to do with a name change. With the recent decision to keep our name the way it is, Sam Houston State University is safe. The name change caused emotions to run high which warrented the No. 3 spot.

4. Construction continues

The construction of the Bearkat Village apartments is expected to be completed for the fall semester.

The new apartment buildings, named Bearkat Village I and Bearkat Village II, will be located at the intersection of Montgomery Road and Bowers Boulevard across from Bowers Stadium.

When finished, the apartments will be the first new residence halls constructed on campus since 1962. The new apartments will replace the living space lost after several residence halls were demolished over the past several years.

Residents in the White Hall dormitory received a form letter from the Department of Residence Life on Feb. 18 stating that upperclassmen would be required to move out of White Hall and into Bearkat Village I and II for the 2003-2004 academic year.

Bearkat Village I and II is Sam Houston State University’s newest housing facility located on the corner of Montgomery Road and Bowers Boulevard.

Kim Baechtel, assistant director for Residence Life operations, said the upper administration made the decision to offer the White Hall housing facility to freshmen who are required to live on campus.

The brand new parking garage scheduled for construction behind Smith-Kirkley will provide more than twice the parking space when finished, but students will have to wait until fall to experience the convenience.

It seems like an ongoing story at SHSU, but the work being done is going to make the school a better place. Although many students get upset while searching for a place to park, future Bearkats will reap the benefits of the work.

5. Controversial speakers

Frank Meeink delivered his message of tolerance to about 500 Sam Houston State University students Feb. 18 as a testament that people can change their lifestyle, but only if they want to see a higher truth.

SHSU’s Program Council and Hillel, the Jewish student organization, organized the presentation.

Also on Feb. 18, presented by Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, Quanell X presented his views on reparations, and said that white people owe black people more than they have given them in the past.

Quanell X said reparations should be used for people coming out of prison without jobs, helping to find a cure for AIDS and ensuring proper health care for black people.

Both speakers spoke to packed audiences.

Many people thought there would be trouble on campus because of the “contoversial” speakers, but both engagements went off without a hitch. The Houstonian newsroom was flooded for weeks with letters about the speakers which is why we voted this as the No. 5 story of the semester.

Other top stories from this semester:

The war in Iraq

U. S. Forces began Operation Iraqi Freedom mid-March, with a series of laser and satellite guided surgical strikes against military targets in Baghdad as part of the “Shock and Awe” campaign. The strikes coincided with the landing of U. S. Army and Marine Corps soldiers and British troops.

Meanwhile, citizens in America remain divided on the issue of the war.

Space shuttle explosion

At least three government investigations will probe the Columbia disaster and NASA’s shuttle program director vowed to find the answers so America can continue sending people into space.

The investigations will review all the information NASA collected as the spaceship began its descent Saturday morning, then started breaking up more than 200,000 feet over Texas.

That includes transmissions from the crew, as well as records from the shuttle’s sensors, analysis of the debris and data from military, government and commercial satellites.

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