Staff Editorial: World citizens need religious education

It is unfortunate that it took an event as devastating as the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 for many Americans, as well as University students, to become more than marginally aware of Islam, one of the largest and fastest growing religions in the world.  Students should not allow another catastrophe to be the impetus for their increased awareness of other world religions.  Rather, they should take advantage of the opportunities they have – specifically those made available by the University – to learn about the various world religions.

No matter the reasons voiced, college students – by virtue of their presence in college – are claiming that they want to be better-educated citizens of the world.  If this was not at least one of their goals, they would not be paying to attend an institution of higher education which has as its purpose to teach them more about their world.

An important aspect of becoming a well-educated citizen of the world is being aware of centuries-old religious worldviews and their continued importance today.  Few factors have the potential to influence a person’s life so thoroughly as his or her religion.  It affects one’s view of self and others so deeply that one’s religion is often inextricable entwined with that person’s sense of self-identity.  According to Judith N.  Martin and Thomas K. Nakayama, in “Experiencing Intercultural Communication,” religious identity is an important dimension of many people’s identities and is also a common source of intercultural conflict.  Also, religion is one of the most significant lenses through which people view world issues. Hindus, Muslims and Christians, for example, may perceive the topic of world hunger in different lights, primarily because of their religious beliefs.  A person who is educated about religion’s effect on a person’s worldview has an infinitely better chance of interacting and communicating effectively with followers of other religions.

As an institution of higher education, HBU offers students an adequate number of opportunities to learn about other religions.  There are at least three classes offered by the university – within either the CHRI or PHIL rubrics – that students may take to learn more about one or more of the major world religions.  The only prerequisites for those classes, if any, are the Christianity classes required for Smith College.  Also, the Spiritual Life Office has, at least within the last year, arranged programs and forums that allow students an opportunity to better understand the views of other religions.  One such event is the World Religions Forum held Tuesday night, where representatives of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism discussed in a forum setting, their respective religions’ views on a number of theological issues.  These opportunities, and others like them, should not be ignored or dismissed lightly.  Only if they are used to their fullest extent will they be effective.

Consequently, HBU students have no excuse for being ignorant of world religions, except for their own lack of initiative or concern.  The University offers opportunities for students to educate themselves about the world religions, and they should take full advantage of those opportunities so that can become more aware, better-educated citizens of the world.

This is the editorial, in-situ, from the tear-sheet.

This is the editorial, in-situ, from the tear-sheet.

Meningitis outbreak under control, health officials encourage precautions

By Dale Peacock, Editorial Editor

Three weeks since Texas’ Department of Health began monitoring meningitis cases in the Houston area, concerns continue to surface about the spread of the disease, what officials are doing about it and what precautions should be taken to prevent the disease.

Since Oct. 1, according to information from TDH, 41 cases of meningitis have been confirmed in Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Jefferson, Liberty and Montgomery counties, with the bulk of the cases in Harris and Montgomery counties.

All of this may cause students to be concerned that this year’s meningitis outbreak is reaching epidemic proportions, but that is not the case, according to Mark Guidry, M.D., TDH regional director, Houston.  Despite the increased attention to the recent cases, Guidry sad the number of cases, relative to the number of people in the Houston area, is still low.

“We’ve had 41 cases in counties with a combined population of at least 4 mission,” Guidry said.  “I would urge everyone to remember that this is still a very rare illness.”

Other health officials have cautioned communities not to be in too much of a hurry to receive vaccinations.  Dr. Ralph D. Feigin, president of Baylor College of Medicine, said that it might not be in the best interest of a person to get a vaccine if they are not living in an affected area.

“Outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis are confined to certain communities in the Houston area.  People living outside of those specific areas are at no greater risk to acquire the disease than anyone else in the general population.”

In lieu of a vaccine, there are precautions that can be taken to prevent the contraction of the disease, like practicing good hygiene.  According to the Texas Children’s Hospital Web site, people are encouraged to not share utensils, toothbrushes, cigarettes, drinking containers or food.

Getting information about meningitis and methods of prevention to the public, and more specifically to college students, has become a priority for one state senator.  Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, has introduced a bill that would require all universities in the state to educate new students about symptoms, transmission, vaccinations and sources of additional information regarding meningitis.  The bill in the Texas senate is SB 31 and a similar bill introduced into the Texas house is HB 1151.

For more information regarding meningitis and the bills, visit the following Web sites for meningitis: www.tdh.state.tx.us or www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/meningococcal_g.html; for SB 31, visit www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlo/billnbr.htm

This is the story in-situ on the tear-sheet.

Freshmen a target for Meningitis outbreak; students encouraged to be aware of symptoms, precautions

By Dale Peacock, Editorial Editor

All it takes is 24 hours for a healthy, thriving college student to become a bedridden medical emergency; the culprit: bacterial meningitis.

There have been at least 34 cases of bacterial meningitis documented in Houston and the surrounding counties within the last three months, according to Doug McBride, public information officer for the Texas Department of Health. 

College students, especially freshmen and those living in campus housing, have been identified as an at-risk group.  It is important that they become educated about how to prevent and recognize the disease, said Kathy Barton, chief of public affairs for the City of Houston’s Health and Human Services Epidemiology Department.  She said the reason college students are at a higher risk level than the general public is simple. 

“Any group of people who are in a new congregate setting, especially with close quarters, like a college dormitory, are at a higher risk.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Web site describes meningitis as an infection of the fluid of a person’s spinal cord and the fluid surrounding the brain.  It is also referred to as spinal meningitis.  The disease is caused by either a virus or bacterium and the infection may be very different depending on which is the cause.  While viral meningitis is usually not as severe as bacterial meningitis and resolves without specific treatment, bacterial meningitis can be very severe and can result in a number of permanent consequences like brain damage or hearing loss.

Meningitis can be spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions, according to the CDC.  Although none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are spread by casual contact or breathing the air where a person infected with meningitis has been, people in the same household or anyone with direct contact with a patient’s oral secretions (such as a boyfriend or girlfriend) would be considered at increased risk of contracting the disease.

Students primarily need to know good prevention habits, said Director of Student Health Services Deb Berry.  She suggested that students pay increased attention to practicing good hygiene.  Berry said students should do this by using precautions similar to those used to prevent the cold or flu, especially by washing hands thoroughly and disinfecting door handles and telephone receivers, areas of high traffic. 

Barton agreed, saying students should be cautious about sharing food, drinks or even cigarettes, and suggested that they try to maintain their personal space.

In addition to precautions, students should be aware of the symptoms of the disease and be able to easily recognize them, as early detection is of utmost importance in treating meningitis, said Jack Purcell, vice-president for student affairs.

“The first 24 hours are the most important.  We want students to know what to do.  The main thing is to get immediate help if someone shows symptoms.”

These symptoms include high fever, headache and stiffness in the neck, according to the CDC.  Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, discomfort while looking into bright lights, confusion and sleepiness.  Berry said a simple test for one of the most significant symptoms, stiffness in the neck, is whether or not a student can touch his or her chin to their chest.  If this is too painful or the person cannot do it, then they may have a meningitis infection.

At the first signs of these symptoms, especially the first three, students should take it seriously and immediately seek medical attention, Berry said.

“If a person came up to you and said ‘Gee, I don’t feel so well, I have a sore throat, I have a fever and my neck is stiff,’ I’d send them right off to the E.R.,” Berry said.  “They need to initiate therapy right away.”

Many students may not realize the importance of an outbreak 45 miles away, but for one University student, the reality of the disease became very real.  Sophomore Daniella Tiller witnessed firsthand the effects of the disease as her younger brother, Trace, 13, contracted and was treated for meningitis last week.

Tiller said Trace got sick Monday night with a fever and nausea, but his parents thought he had the flu.  By the next night, his temperature rose to 105 degrees.  When his parents noticed a rash on his feet, they took him to Texas Children’s Hospital where he was immediately admitted to the ICU.  Shortly after he was admitted to the ICU, his vital signs dropped.

Tiller said the worst part of the ordeal was waiting to find out if he would recover.

“It’s hard to sit there and wait for a phone call.  You don’t want to think the worst, but you do – to prepare yourself – because it could go either way.”

However, Tiller said her brother has gotten better and is on his way to recovery. 

Vaccinations are available in the nursing office located inside the Office of Student Affairs.

For more information about meningitis, visit the following Web site of the CDC: www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/meningococcal_g.htm

This is the first part of the story, before the jump, on the front page.

This is the first part of the story, before the jump, on the front page.

This is the second-half of the story, after the jump, on page 2.

This is the second-half of the story, after the jump, on page 2.

Jean-e-ology: Tracing the role of the riveted work pant

By Dale Peacock, Photography Editor

Genes determine what a person looks like, but jeans determine a person’s image.

One hundred and twenty-six years ago jeans entered the clothing scene, little more than a lackluster necessity for the hard-working miner.  Today, jeans are one of the most popular pieces of clothing in the average college student’s wardrobe.

Past

The story of the jean is as American as it gets.  It begins in the West, during the days of the gold rush and the frontier.  A Latvian immigrant by the name of Jacob Davis made his living as a tailor in Reno, Nevada.  Davis had a customer who had a habit of ripping the pockets out of his trousers.  As a remedy, Davis put metal fasteners called rivets in the stress points of the trousers and thus the riveted work pant was born.

Worried about others taking his idea, Davis needed a patent.  He approached a business partner, Levi Strauss, about sharing the cost of the patent, as Davis could not afford the $68 that was required to file the patent papers.  Strauss agreed, applied for the patent and they formed Levi Strauss & Co.

On May 20, 1873, Levi Strauss & Co. received the patent for riveted pants.  During this year the first pair of the new riveted trousers was sold.  The exact price for that pair is unknown because all records up to the year 1906 were destroyed in the double-jeopardy fire and earthquake in San Francisco.

Denim work pants existed before this date, but the act of placing rivets in these traditional pants for the first time created what we now call jeans, according to Lynn Downey, a historian for Levi Strauss & Co.

Present

From designer jeans to no-name-brand jeans at the local chain discounter, jeans have finally come into their own.  There are as many different styles, fits, colors, brands and sizes of jeans as there are people in most University classes.  The average number of pairs of jeans that University students own is five, although there are some who own up to 12 pairs, according to a recent survey of University students. 

University students wear jeans for a variety of reasons, the most common being comfort.  Jeans are comfortable, easy to keep, you can wash and dry them without having to iron them, and they can fade and still be functional, said senior Toni Benson. 

Many students have a preferred brand of jeans, and many have a specific pair that has earned the title of favorite.  Freshman Angela Allen’s favorite pair of jeans is a three-year-old Mossimo pair. 

“They are broken in like a horse, they fit just right and are loose enough.”

Dr. Connie Michalos, assistant professor in English, recalls her favorite pair of jeans, a 12-year-old pair of Wranglers that she still wears. 

“My favorite pair of jeans belonged to my daughter.  She grew.  I didn’t.”

Jeans have stood the test of time and wear and tear.  Kim Shelby, freshman, has had a pair of jeans for six years.

“I’ve had them since the eighth grade and they are tattered and worn.  They are awesome.”

There are a variety of places students shop for jeans – from department stores and clothing retailers to outlet malls and second-hand or resale shops.  Some students prefer, however, to partake of other peoples’ clothing.

“My favorite place to ‘shop’ for jeans is in my brother’s roommate’s closet,” said junior Michelle Cavazos.

Students, however fond they may be of jeans, know there are some places they just should not wear them.  The most common places students listed as places that they would not wear jeans were church, work, formal occasions, weddings and job interviews.  Students most often noted that it was just inappropriate, or that it was the way that they were raised.

Dr. Renata Nero, associate professor in psychology, echoed the idea that there is a specific time and place for jeans. 

“I would not wear jeans to work.  I’m old-fashioned in that regard.  If it was a designated casual day I would wear jeans.  Otherwise, no.”

Future

No one knows what the future will hold for jeans, but some students have a bit of insight as to what it might look like.  Bell-bottoms, variations in fit, embossed and embroidered jeans, more colors, even tight-rolled jeans (again) are among some of the predictions for the future of jeans. 

“Jeans change from generation to generation but I hope they are always available in a variety of styles,” said freshman Lisa Reed.

Others said they believe no matter what the future of fashion holds for jeans they will never go out of style, and they will remain as timeless in the future as they have for the past 125 years.

This is the story in its page-layout, with info-graphic, photo illustration, and quote-outs.

This is the story in its page-layout, with info-graphic, photo illustration, and quote-outs.