San Antonio

Jordan Rudner served as managing editor in the spring. Previously, she worked as a news editor, associate news editor, senior reporter, general reporter, podcast host and special ventures writer. She is a little bit in love with every part of The Daily Texan.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: A 30 column is a chance for departing senior staffers to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (–30–) to denote the end of a line.

Boom. Boom. Slam.

That was the sound we heard in the basement as a troop of reporters, photographers and videographers descended down the stairwell, exhausted and triumphant and newly-returned from San Antonio.

It had been a long night. Every night at the Texan is long in its own way, but this one had been particularly demanding. Just 48 hours earlier, our delusionally cheerful managing editor had sent us scrambling, asking us to send seven reporting teams to four different cities to cover the midterm elections.And somehow, fueled by coffee and desperation and a few pounds of jelly beans, we’d made it happen. 

The Texan’s election night coverage rivaled — and in some cases, bested — that of major publications statewide. The night was a success. The paper, already on its way to the printer, looked great. It was well past midnight. After all that effort, the day’s work was finally finished.

Except … it wasn’t. Because when we rose to greet the last team as they crashed down the stairs, Madlin Mekelburg got out of the car and greeted us thusly: “Did you see the guy getting arrested down the street?”

We all paused. Julia Brouillette, the semester’s indefatigable cops reporter, gave me a knowing look. Behind me, someone groaned. The design editor laughed — and then we took off into the night to do it all over again.

It isn’t always easy to care about things. Caring too much can be, at times, a bit of a hazard. I will always remember the time Nicole Cobler and I worked on one Student Government story for six hours, only to find a typo in the first sentence the next morning. When I found it, I started crying in the middle of the West Mall. 

But that depth of emotion, the cost of caring, is one I would gladly pay 100 times over. That’s what the Texan has taught me. 

The copy editors stay until 3:00 a.m., making sure every en-dash and em-dash adheres to AP style, even though most readers wouldn’t notice the difference. The designers spend hours waiting for edits to make sure every stroke is just the right weight, instead of leaving early. Every single one of the 200-odd people who work here give their all each time the Texan beckons. And at the end of this especially exhausting night, just as we thought we were finished, we learned there was a new story to be told. And so we decided to tell it.

People come to the Texan for any number of reasons — to make friends, to take photos, to tell stories that matter — but they stay for just two. They care for the work, and they care for each other.

To love any community this much is difficult. To leave this place is near impossible. I am luckier than I’ll ever be able to express for learning what it means to care and be cared for in my time at The Daily Texan. 


Economics junior Ryan Camarillo is a member of the Texas Running Club. He was a member of the men’s track team at UT-Tyler and hopes to walk on to the UT track and field team.
Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Ryan Camarillo, economics junior and San Antonio native, never expected to be running competitively, but when a middle school coach asked him to try out for the track team, he decided to give it a shot. So far, it has proved to be a decision worthwhile, as he is now in his eighth year of competitive running.

Originally, Camarillo agreed to try out for the club running team for the satisfaction he received from running.

“Seeing how hard I can push myself mentally and physically and the runner’s high you get afterwards were some of the reasons that pulled me into running early on,” Camarillo said.

Camarillo, who also ran for UT-Tyler’s men’s track team before transferring to UT-Austin for his sophomore year, has made a big impact on the growth of the Texas Running Club.

“Through my two-and-a-half years with the team, our numbers have definitely expanded, bringing in both talent and speed,” Texas
Running Club President Sarah Escobedo said. “With more numbers, we have also become closer with one another, not just as teammates but as friends and roommates as well.”

Over the years, his love for running has evolved, becoming less of a competitive endeavor and more of a social outlet.

“Joining Texas Running Club really showed me running competitively isn’t the most important thing about running, but the amazing friendships you make through the club,” Camarillo said.

While Camarillo enjoys the fun, friendly environment of the Texas Running Club, his preparation habits for meets ultimately show that he takes this sport and its responsibilities very seriously.

“I like to get to the meet at least two hours early to check things out, find a place to lie down and prep for my warm-up,” Camarillo said. “When I step onto the starting line, I just tell myself to stay focused and run my race.”

Camarillo said he is focused on improving as a runner and makes sure to keep track of his progress.

“The main event I run is the 800-meter run,” Camarillo said. “This year, I was fifth in my heat with a time of 1:59 while being boxed in, so I’m hopeful I can improve on this mark in races to come this summer. Right now, I’m focusing on just trying to run fast, trying to get my 800-meter time under 1:55.”

Although trimming his time is currently one of his more important goals, Camarillo also has aspirations to try to become a member of the Texas track and field team.

“Next season, if I can cut my time, I would like to try to walk-on here on the UT track team,” Camarillo said.

After Blue Bell ice cream’s recent recall because of listeria contaminations, the University Divi- sion of Housing and Food Services is looking to replenish the campus ice cream supply. DHFS is contacting interested vendors about expanding their ice cream brands across campus.
Photo Credit: Xintong Guo | Daily Texan Staff

The bacteria listeria caused one of the worst events on campus in 2015 — the removal of Blue Bell ice cream from UT shelves. However, not everyone is avoiding the bacteria. Researchers at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio are using listeria to make breakthroughs in colon cancer research.

Listeria monocytogenes is the species of bacteria found in the contaminated Blue Bell ice cream. Listeria monocytogenes triggers the foodborne illness listeriosis, which can lead to diarrhea and other stomach problems, and then fever and muscle aches. The most dangerous symptom of listeriosis is sepsis, an infection throughout the entire body, and meningitis, the swelling of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. About a third of the babies who had mothers with listeriosis die. 

 But the presence of listeria in the intestines is not a death sentence. The symptoms of listeriosis only show if the immune system fails to stop the bacteria from reaching the blood and nervous system. About 70 percent of adults have listeria as part of their microbiome — the natural community of tiny organisms that live on and in the body. In the gut microbiome, there are trillions of bacteria with more than 3 million different genes.

Listeria flourishes in the gut, making it useful to researchers dealing with problems relating to the intestines. Tyrel Curiel and Peter Dube, researchers at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, received a grant to research how listeria could fight diseases such as colitis and colon cancer.

Curiel’s research focuses on B7 homologue 1 (B7-H1), a molecule that modulates, or influences, the microbiome. Curiel and his team were researching the effect of B7-H1 on mice tumors when they realized mice lacking B7-H1 were more likely to develop colon cancer. 

Dobe said when B7-H1 is not expressed in the human gut, patients suffer from an imbalance of the microorganisms that live there. This microbiome imbalance is
called dysbiosis.

“Gut bacteria affects your health generally,” Curiel said. “Good gut health could make you potentially age more slowly as well as help you fight Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

Curiel and Dobe have joined forces to create listeria, which carries genes that express molecules that interact with B7-H1 in order to maximize its effectiveness.

“The idea is to see whether we can improve gut health by modulating B7-H1 levels,” Dobe said. 

Scientists have devoted many resources to studying the human microbiome in recent years. In the Human Microbiome Project, a five-year initiative the U.S. National Institutes of Health launched in 2008, scientists tested how changes in the human microbiome relate to human health. 

Dobe said the modified listeria would not lead to listeriosis. Ironically, Curiel and Dobe plan to put the modified listeria in ice cream for easy and delicious patient consumption.

“These strains of listeria have proved safe in a variety of trials, so they would be safe to use on people,” Dobe said. 

Blue Bell removed its ice cream from shelves because listeriosis is a miserable and, at worst, deadly disease. With this research, there is hope that the same bacteria will someday help, rather than harm, the human body.

On Thursday, for the eighth season in a row, the Texas women’s golf team will be headed to the three-day NCAA Regional Championship. The Longhorns enter the competition at Briggs Ranch in San Antonio, Texas, as the No. 11 seed. 

The 54-hole regional tournament features three top-10 teams  in Golfweek’s rankings: No. 1 Washington, No. 2 UCLA and No. 9 Texas A&M. The Longhorns will also be competing against three Big 12 Conference members Texas Tech, Oklahoma and conference champion Baylor.

Just two weeks ago at the Big 12 Championship, the Longhorns were in San Antonio, where they had a disappointing sixth-place finish. 

While junior Tezira Abe had her best finish of the season, a tie for 10th place, the next closest Longhorn was senior Bertine Strauss in 20th. In addition, three of the five Longhorns that competed had individual rounds that exceeded their average by three or more strokes.

At the NCAA Regional Championship, Texas will have a chance to rectify that mediocre performance. Texas has the talent to do so, as every member of the prospective lineup — which includes Strauss, Abe, junior Natalie Karcher, and sophomores Julia Beck and Anne Hakula — has had success this season and all have set personal records.

If Texas is able to finish in the top six, it will advance to play at the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship in Bradenton, Florida, May 22–27. 

Rep. Chris Paddie, author of the bill discussed Thursday, asks speakers about their arguments for and against legislation to regulate ride-sharing companies such as Lyft and Uber.

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Uber and Lyft, ride-sharing companies popular with many UT students, may soon be regulated on a state level in a shift from the current policy.

Lawmakers on the House transportation committee heard a bill Thursday that would allow the state, rather than individual cities, to set operation guidelines for Transportation Networking Companies. The debate centered on whether cities should be able to regulate background check policies for Lyft and Uber drivers. 

If passed, HB 2440 would allow the state to implement certain standardized operation guideline and require a yearly $115,000 operation fee and background checks conducted by the transportation network company or a third party. The bill was left pending in committee.

“The needs for this bill became apparent after the TNC were met with a patchwork of regulations in each of the cities they’ve attempted to operate in,” said Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), primary author of the bill.

Uber spokesperson Sally Kay said ride-sharing companies should be regulated by the state and should be allowed to conduct their own background checks.

“What we are seeing now on a national scale is that this issue is going to state jurisdiction,” Kay said.

The hearing followed recent controversy regarding driver background checks by ride-sharing companies operating in San Antonio and Houston.

Last week, an Uber driver  in Houston was accused of sexually assaulting a passenger, a crime city officials said could have been prevented if the ride-sharing service used city background checks, according to an article by the Houston Chronicle. 

In San Antonio, city representatives issued an ordinance giving the city oversight in driver background checks and requiring fingerprint tests for Lyft and Uber drivers. These tests are required for cab drivers.

Both Uber and Lyft said they would leave San Antonio if the new regulations are enforced.

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo spoke at the hearing in opposition to the bill.

“Cities such as Austin should be able to embrace these new transportation options on their own terms — and to adopt regulations we believe offer the best protection for both our residents, but also our many welcomed visitors to Austin,” Tovo said.

Currently, Austin regulates TNCs under temporary ordinances. The city’s regulations require more than Uber and Lyft standard operation measures do, and mandate drivers hold additional insurance. The city also requires Lyft and Uber to allow city audits of their background checks.

“Together, we created an ordinance that really works well for TNCs, but also works well for the city of Austin,” Tovo said.

Victor Gabriel Encarnacion, undeclared junior and a Lyft and Uber driver, said he went through thorough vetting before getting hired He said he thinks cities should maintain control of ride-share regulations.

“For a city like Austin, which is a lot more concentrated in population, it would make sense for us to have city regulation instead simply because if it was a state-regulated issue, it would be irrelevant for cities that don’t have it,” Encarnacion said.

Pharmacy senior Brandi Rodriguez, who said she uses Uber regularly, said states should have jurisdiction.

“I think anything having to deal with safety and stuff — it should be on more of a state level,” Rodriguez said. 

PGA Tour makes stops in Texas

As is usual, the PGA Tour will make a couple of stops in Texas before the highly coveted Masters Championship gets underway later this month.

The first tournament of the Texas swing was the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, which was played late last month. It was played at the five-year-old TPC San Antonio.

The two courses of TPC San Antonio, the AT&T Oaks and AT&T Canyons Course, are consistently rated as two of the hardest courses on the PGA Tour by scoring average. Their long distance and brutal winds make birdies a lot harder to come by than most PGA Tour venues.

Texas native Jimmy Walker won the event with a 11-under-par 277. Other notables in the field included 2014 FedEx Cup Champion Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Harris English and Jimmy Walker. Former Longhorns Jordan Spieth, Justin Leonard, Jhonattan Vegas and Lance Lopez also competed.

Notably, this was be Lopez’ first PGA Tour start. After a successful college career, he has struggled to translate his game to the professional level. That changed when he shot a 6-under 66 at the Monday qualifier to make the field for the tournament. Lopez looked to take advantage of the opportunity to help him gain access to even more PGA tournaments.

Spieth came into the event fresh off of his win at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida two weeks ago. Before the event, he was ranked ninth in the FedEx Cup rankings and was a favorite to win. However, he finished four strokes behind Walker for second place. 

Leonard is the veteran of the Longhorn trio as his 21-year career and 12 PGA Tour wins show. His season has gotten off to a slow start with only one top-10 finish and he has been cut from five of the ten tournaments he has played in.

Next, PGA Tour will head to the Golf Club of Houston for the Shell Houston Open.

The course has traditionally served as a warm-up for the Masters with the golf course set up to emulate many of the same features as Augusta National.

Last year, Matt Jones won the event, which was his first win on the PGA Tour. His 15-under-par total forced him into a playoff with Matt Kuchar whom he would eventually defeat.

Notables in the field include Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth, all of who are ranked in the top-10 in the World Golf Rankings.

Play will get underway on Thursday, April 2. It will be televised on the Golf Channel.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) submitted an amendment to the House budget which would place university organizations, including fraternities, under close watch. 

The amendment — which applies to all student groups but singles out sororities, fraternities and athletic teams — would require universities to report on- and off-campus cases of gender, ethnic or racial discrimination to the Higher Education Coordinating Board, a multi-faceted state board that oversees state university operations.  

The Board would collect any information regarding occurrences of discrimination universities report and relay the findings to the legislature. 

The amendment is a response to nationwide cases of racial discrimination by fraternities, according to a report by The Texas Tribune.

The House is set to start their discussion on the proposed House budget Tuesday. 

Although the University cannot comment on specific pieces of legislation, University spokesperson Gary Susswein said officials support a welcoming campus.

“As with all legislation that could impact the University, we will review it closely,” Susswein said. “And I just also want to emphasize that, in general, the University works to make the campus as welcoming and supportive of an environment for all of our students as it can be.” 

Lee Lueder, Interfraternity Council president, said he does not know how effective the amendment will be. He said its impact would depend on what it does with the collected information after universities have reported it. 

Nationally, fraternities have been facing scrutiny for racial discrimination in the past months. 

UT’s chapter of Phi Gamma Delta, known as “FIJI,” hosted a “border control” themed party at an off-campus fraternity house in January. At the party, many attendees donned sombreros and ponchos. The University did not penalize the fraternity. 

“While the behavior doesn’t mirror UT core values, it’s within students’ right to freedom of speech at private off-campus event,” the University tweeted from the official UT-Austin Twitter account in February.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon stirred national controversy when members were recorded participating in chants containing racial slurs while traveling on a bus.  

Lueder said he thinks it is fair that the policy be enforced both on- or off-campus. 

“All of these organizations are registered with the University — are University organizations, so at least pertaining to sororities and fraternities,”Lueder said. “So I think it’s only fair that [the policy] be for all registered student organizations, whether it be … on- or off-campus.”

Rep. Martinez Fischer could not be reached for a comment.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas Senate gained a new member Wednesday as Sen. José Menéndez took over Leticia Van de Putte‘s seat representing San Antonio.

Menéndez, a House member representing San Antonio since 2001, took his oath of office surrounded by members of the Senate, his family and constituents in the Senate chamber. In a speech following his oath, Menéndez touted public education for Texas children, especially immigrants, and cooperation between parties.

Menéndez won Van de Putte’s seat in a runoff election against state Rep. Trey Martinez Fisher (D-San Antonio) last month.  

As the son of immigrant parents, Menéndez said he has faced the issues of public education and immigration firsthand.

“For a young man that went to his first day of kindergarten not knowing how to speak English, many of the issues that we talk about — these laws and how we are going to do public education — these are issues I lived,” Menéndez said.

Potential laws and issues that impact children need to be prominent in policy discussion this session, Menéndez said.

“We need to take into consideration that every child in every classroom in this great state deserves the opportunity to serve with us, or to be a teacher, or to be a doctor, or whatever they want to be,” Menéndez said. “Their education should not be defined by their zip code.”

Menéndez said he has little interest in the party identifications of his fellow legislators.

“If someone wants to work, I’m there to work side by side whoever wants to get the job done,” Menéndez said.

This session, senators must make tough decisions for “the right reason” in order to implement effective policies for Texans, Menéndez said in his speech.

“Sometimes it’s easier for us to make votes that are politically correct [and] say things that are politically correct, and that’s why, sometimes, I think that people lose faith in what we do and don’t do,” Menéndez said.

At the oath of office ceremony, Sen. John Whitmire (D- Houston) said celebrations such as Menéndez’s swearing-in make the Senate’s process debates and struggles during the legislative session more rewarding.

“An event like today, where we are going to celebrate his public service and this historical occasion, makes all the door knocking very worthwhile,” Whitmire said.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio and lieutenant governor candidate, talked about her goals to reform educational policy, veteran services and other issues at a primary election party at Mi Tierra Cafe and Panaderia in San Antonio on Tuesday night.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) stepped down Friday after 24 years in the senate.

Van de Putte announced she would leave the Capitol in January, after loosing the race for lieutenant governor to Dan Patrick in November. The now former San Antonio senator said she plans to run for mayor of San Antonio.

In an emotional farewell on the Senate floor, Van de Putte thanked members of the legislature, their staffs and the press for their work at the Capitol.  

“We are all so very blessed to be part of a legacy blazed long ago in this most deliberative body,” Van de Putte said. “The Texas Senate is a place where you work hard, and you work hard to find common ground despite the political differences.”

In the speech, Van de Putte said her stay as senator would not have been possible without her constituents.

“I thank my fellow San Antonians for allowing me the privilege and the honor of being their voice here at the state Capitol for almost a quarter of a century,” Van de Putte said.

Senator elect José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) will succeed Van de Putte. His swearing-in will take place next Wednesday.

The University Lutheran Student Center undergoes construction Tuesday evening. On 21st and San Antonio Streets, the center will be relocated underneath new “University House” apartment complexes.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

Next summer, more than 500 students will be able to move into a new 20-story apartment complex at 21st and San Antonio streets. 

The complex, “University House,” will include 188 rooms, 504 beds and a five-story parking garage. 

The property is under the joint administration of two Lutheran campus ministry organizations, which agreed to lease the space to Inland American Communities, a national student housing company. Inland signed a 75-year lease with the ministry organizations to develop and manage the property. On its ground floor, the complex will house facilities for the ministries’ student center. 

Michael Newman, a reverend in Texas District of the Lutheran Campus-Missouri Synod, helped Lutheran Campus Ministry initiate the partnership with Inland. Newman said he believes additional housing in West Campus will benefit the UT community.

“We wanted to go with a developer that served students well and we could work with well,” Newman said.

Paul Collinson-Streng, pastor at Lutheran Campus Ministry, said students in the ministry were involved in building-developer selection process.

“Students really lead in the ministry and can make important decisions,” Collinson-Streng said. “It’s not that often you have college juniors and seniors getting to sign off on a multi-million dollar development project.”

Jordan Connell, English senior and president of the ministry council, said students worked with members of the ministry’s property board to determine which developer would best serve the ministry’s needs.

“We saw a few presentations, and Inland was the one that I felt was most willing to work with us and most understanding of our situation — that we wanted to stay on the bottom floor and maintain a presence,” Connell said.

David Pierce, senior vice president of development at Inland, said pre-leasing will begin this summer, and the building will be open for move-in by summer 2016.