1 in 12 North Texans Go Hungry

April 27, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Emily Kogan
ekogan@smu.edu

Seven-year-old Miracle sits patiently in a chair in the front room of the Cedar Hill Food Pantry, chewing on a candy and telling the men around her how much fun she had in the snow this weekend, but how scary it was when the electricity in her house went out.

Her mother, who does not want to give her name, is nervous and her eyes are downcast. She is about to apply for emergency food and electricity help at the pantry, located at 403 Houston St. Cedar Hill, TX.

Larry Miney, President of the board at Cedar Hill Food Pantry, said new families like Miracle’s come in all the time needing emergency food and sometimes help with electricity as well. They can get food for one time, even if they don’t have the proper documentation.

“If someone is hungry they can come here no questions asked and get food,” said Miney.

The Cedar Hill Food Pantry is just one of the 290 agencies The North Texas Food Bank distributes food to. The NTFB provides emergency assistance to approximately 64,000 people a week, an 80 percent increase from 2006.

Colleen Brinkman, Chief Philanthropy Officer of the NTFB said a major misconception is that the hungry and the homeless are the same. In reality, the homeless are only nine percent of the population the NTFB serves.

“The majority of the people in America and in North Texas are the working hungry,” said Brinkman.

She describes the face of the hungry as not much different from the rest of the community. They are people who work, or used to work until the economic downturn. They could be a neighbor, a relative, or someone who makes seven, eight, nine dollars an hour and has a family to support.

“These are people with college degrees, that have worked, that pay taxes, that follow all the rules of society but have been laid off and they have run out of resources,” said Brinkman.

In the 13 North Texas counties served by the NTFB, households with children who are going hungry have increased by four percent since 2006. Teachers in suburban elementary schools have told Brinkman that students will peel the paper off crayons so they can eat.

“There are kids that eat the food off the floor of the cafeteria because they are hungry,” said Brinkman.

Teachers have told Brinkman that some children come to school on Monday mornings having not eaten anything since Friday, at least not anything of substance. The NTFB distributes 9,000 backpacks filled with highly nutritious food to these chronically hungry kids every Friday afternoon in over 20 school districts.

“Volunteers come here and fill the backpacks,” said Brinkman “it’s a great sign of hope.”

Jean Sims, Executive Director at the Cedar Hill Food Pantry works with ministers from around the community to send families in need over to the pantry and make sure they receive the proper amount of food.

Junnie Suggs has been coming to the Cedar Hill Food Pantry since August of 2009. The Suggs family moved from Kansas City to Dallas in late July. Suggs said she had a steady job as a banker for eight years but has not been able to find work in Texas.

“I guess a bunch of people need a bunch of jobs so it’s been real difficult,” said Suggs.

Suggs’ daughter works in the thrift store, Second Chance, which helps fund the Cedar Hill Food Pantry. Suggs said she feels like she is able to give back to the place that has helped her family in their time of need.

“My kids haven’t known a hungry night because of the Cedar Hill Food Pantry. They are wonderful, truly,” said Suggs, who has two children.

Brinkman said 10 years ago people came into a food pantry looking for one time emergency aid and in most cases they were back on their feet within 30 days. But hunger has now turned into a chronic issue.

“Do we need to tell Austin? Do we need to tell Washington? What do we need to do to raise our voices and say hunger should not exist here,” said Brinkman.

Brinkman said that $1 provides four meals. She added that, for instance if the 10,000 students at SMU all gave $5 that would add up to $50,000. With $50,000 the NTFB could provide 200,000 meals.

Money isn’t the only option. There are soup kitchens and food pantries all over North Texas who welcome volunteers. SMU junior Ellen Stapleton has found her way helping the community while feeling good herself.

“I like to volunteer because it is important to give yourself, especially to those less fortunate. But I also like to volunteer because I enjoy witnessing acts of selflessness and kindness,” said Stapleton.

“Fitness” Shoes Start Exercise Craze

April 20, 2010 by · Comments Off 

by Katherine Bruce
kbruce@smu.edu

Drenched in perspiration, a woman reaches for ten-pound weights with a fresh look of determination. Across from her at the Equinox Fitness Club on Oak Lawn Ave., another walks on the treadmill. Next to her, a woman finishes her treadmill run with a sigh and embarks on a cool-down walk.

One thing these women have in common?

Their shoes.

Since the first pair of muscle-activating “fitness” shoes hit the market six or seven years ago, they have become must-haves for exercisers. Eager for instant gratification, customers are flocking to shoe stores all over the country in search of them.

“I had a hard time tracking them down,” said SMU senior Kelly Curtis.

Swedish scientist Karl Muller developed the original fitness shoes: MBT shoes, which stand for Masai Balance Technology. Muller developed the shoe after studying the Masai tribe in Africa. The members of the tribe run barefoot. Muller observed the tribe for long periods of time noting how their bare feet gives them superior posture and toned muscles.

He developed the shoe using a rounded midsole with what he called a “Masai pivot,” which is a wedge material in the heel designed to engage more muscles than regular walking shoes. The shoes force the wearer to use core and lower-back muscles, which firm up abdominal, leg and buttock muscles while burning more calories, say shoe experts.

Carter Latham, a senior sales worker at the Dallas shoe store Luke’s Locker, says the MBT shoes are geared towards a market dominated by women. Similar to the diet pill craze, women eat up any idea that promises results without the work, he said.

“They want to do things to help their physiology without really thinking about it,” Latham said.

While the shoes appear to be an easy solution for improving some muscles, fitness trainer Phillip Grau at Equinox gym still stresses the importance of good, old-fashion diet and exercise. Grau says the best way to improve your figure is through resistance training. He puts his clients on a three-day-a-week resistance program with cardiovascular exercise on two other days.

“If you’re looking to tone legs and build lean muscle mass it’s going to give you that,” Grau said.

Grau also advises clients to focus on nutrition in addition to their gym workouts. Diet alone can affect 50 to 80 percent of your results. He says clients should see real physical improvement and toning in just six to eight weeks.

The MBT shoes run about $200-250. Other shoe companies have been quick to capitalize on the success of the MBT brand, making products that are less expensive.

This past October, Sketchers came out with Shape-Ups, a shoe designed similar to the MBT’s and promising to target the same areas. Shape-Ups run about $110 and come with a DVD explaining how to use the shoes for the best results.

In November, Reebok came out with the Easytones, which run about $100 and come with a manual explaining how to get the most out of the walking shoes. The shoes are designed with “balance pods” to force the wearer to engage more muscles.

Harry Gibson, store manager at Finish Line in North Park, said the Reebok Easytones are more popular than the Sketcher Shape-Ups. Finish Line was completely out of the Easytones during the holiday season because the demand for the shoe was so high.

“Reebok couldn’t keep us stocked,” Gibson said.

A recent study by the University of Delaware claimed the Reebok Easytones provide 28 percent more gluteus maximus muscle activation and 11 percent more calf and hamstring activation. However, only five people were included in the study.

There are definite downsides to the fitness shoes. MBT’s, Shape-Ups and Easytones are designed for walking, and because of the instability of the design, wearers are discouraged from running, jumping or engaging in other athletic activities while wearing them. The real effect of the shoe may come from the simple fact that they are a muscle-activating shoe.

Like many buyers around the country, SMU students were eager to see what all the hype was about. SMU senior Cassie Gill purchased a pair of Easytones to help her get in better shape while she went on walks. Just wearing them twice a week or on the way to class Gill has already noticed a difference.

“They make me feel sorer than regular running shoes,” she said.

Curtis hasn’t seen any results, though she would still recommend the shoes to girlfriends.

“They at least make you feel like you’re helping yourself,” she said.

While it remains unproven whether the shoes are delivering results, the idea of the shoes is promoting overall health. Wearers are likely increasing their daily activity in the shoes, thus increasing their levels of exercise and physical fitness.

MBT has already begun to make improvements on the shoe by coming out with a lighter and more stylish design. Reebok also keeps coming out with different colors of Easytones, even adding flip-flops to the Easytone brand.

The Monarch Butterfly May Be Endangered

April 20, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

A butterfly in its habitat at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park. (PHOTO BY GLORIA SALINAS / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

A butterfly in its habitat at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park. (PHOTO BY GLORIA SALINAS / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

By Gloria Salinas
gosalinas@smu.edu

Nestled in the heart of Dallas, Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park is host to tropical plants, flowers and trees from around the globe. This flora makes up the home and serves as food for hundreds of butterflies. Streaks of blue, green, red and yellow pass in a flutter through the trees and ponds but there is one type of butterfly missing; perhaps the most popular of all of the butterflies for its gracefulness and beauty— the Monarch.

Monarch butterflies arrive in North Texas during the second or third week of March. However, the number of returning monarchs has dwindled over the few past years because many are dying in Mexican forests from lack of heat. Deforestation mixed with climate changes have impacted the monarch’s migration and habitat. Today the monarch butterfly is the smallest and most delicate creature on the World Wildlife Fund’s endangered species list.

“The world’s most spectacular insect migration happens in our backyards and we as humans should try to protect it because it teaches us how the world works,” said Dr. Orley R. Taylor, an ecologist, and director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas,

Dr. Taylor conducts the world’s largest tagging project on monarchs to track their fall migration. The tags, which are nine millimeters in diameter, are placed on the large mitten shaped cell on the underside of the hind wing of the monarch and have no effect on their flying abilities or travel. Dr. Taylor’s Web site, Monarch Watch, has a database of sequential seasons for tag recoveries and provides the location where the monarch over-wintered in Mexico.

The monarch butterfly completes an incredible fall migration annually from parts of northern Canada and the United States to the Oyamel fir forests of the Sierra Madre in Mexico. The monarch travels to the tropical forests of Mexico since its existence and the ancient ancestors of today’s Mexican population welcome them with rituals.

The migration of the monarch is considered one of nature’s most amazing phenomena. Nearing the end of February, millions of monarchs in their overwintering locations in Mexico will begin to make their journey back to the north as temperatures begin to warm up.

It is a quiet day at the front desk of the Butterfly House at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park where Susan Arnold greets guests and many school children on a typical day. Arnold is well versed on the Butterfly House, and continues to be fascinated by the creatures.

“Butterflies are creatures of beauty and the school children learn a lot about the world from these delicate creatures,” Arnold said.

There are currently no monarchs in the Butterfly House because they are over-wintering in Mexico. However, Arnold said they do stop by the Texas Discovery Gardens backyard on their trip north because they maintain flowers and plants that the monarchs like.

According to their Web site, the Texas Discovery Gardens mission is to have a constructive impact on the future of Texas by teaching people helpful ways to “restore, conserve and preserve nature in the urban environment through the use of native and adapted plants that illustrate the interrelationship of Butterflies, Bugs and Botany.”

“I can’t imagine a Texas spring without the monarch butterflies beautiful presence, to go out in the gardens and not see them fluttering around would be so unusual,” Arnold said.

Angie Case, a pre-kindergarten teacher at First Presbyterian Dallas, recently visited the Texas Discovery Gardens with her class of four and five year olds. The pre-kindergarten curriculum at the time of the field trip was “My Family, My Community,” which focused on animal families and communities.

“We continue to visit the Gardens each year because it is a field trip that encompasses a variety of lessons: we learn about sequence-of-events through the story of the life cycle of the butterfly,” Case said.

In his studies of monarchs, Dr. Taylor is most interested in monarch conservation. “We’re losing a lot of habitat, nearly two million acres a year due to habitat and climate change,” Dr. Taylor said.

The loss of the monarch butterfly, like many endangered species, would have no obvious impact on the ecosystem but the circle of life is the obvious indicator that if the monarch were lost it would change other insect interactions.

“We do know that on their trip back north female monarchs lay up to 300 to 400 larvae apiece and many are eaten by other organisms so if that food source is pulled from an environment things will surely be affected and change for many other creatures,” Dr. Taylor said.

Dr. Taylor’s life work to save the monarch and its habitat is gaining the interest of the three governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico. The countries are creating national committees that are committed to saving the monarch and its habitat by reviewing deforestation policies, but there is still much work to be done before the monarch is safe.

“Imagine sipping your glass of sweet tea on the front porch in the spring and there are no orange wings of the monarch fluttering by. I can’t imagine my childhood without the monarch,” Arnold said.

Case, who spoke through an e-mail interview, said the Butterfly Gardens is one of the most popular field trips because of the beauty and playful interaction the children encounter in the garden while learning a variety of lessons.

“At this age, children learn through play, and the Butterfly Garden does an excellent job of incorporating play into their educational activities,” Case said.

Acupuncture is Going Mainstream

April 7, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

by Lesley Isaacs
lisaacs@smu.edu

An acupuncture treatment room is meant to have a calming ambience with the dim lights, muted colors and soft music. But it is hard to be calm when you know what lies ahead. The idea of having fifteen needles inserted for thirty minutes hardly seems like an easy way to relax. Before the doctor inserts the needles, the patient tenses in anticipation for pain but it unexpectedly it feels like a tiny poke. Surprisingly, it actually is a soothing and calm experience.

The traditional Chinese medicinal treatment of acupuncture is becoming more popular among conservative doctors who practice Western medicine. Acupuncture is used to help relieve symptoms from many different conditions, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and more general things like headaches, depression and stress.

In a room much like a doctor’s office, the patient lies down on a table while a doctor inserts the needles. The patient is left alone to relax and focus while the needles work their magic. In a standard first session, there are usually three to 15 needles used.

Dr. Kathleen Bynum, a Dallas doctor who used to work in family medicine, is now working solely with acupuncture. More traditional doctors like Bynum, say they are beginning to take the first steps in learning acupuncture and the different f treatment options to benefit a person’s health.

Dr. Bynum completed her medical training in osteopathic medicine at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth. She then received her initial acupuncture training at the UCLA Acupuncture Program for Physicians. After discovering that acupuncture was something she wanted to pursue, she decided to complete the four-year training in Advanced Traditional Chinese Acupuncture Program for Physicians.

“I definitely think more doctors should be open to it. I think that it’s part education and part seeing the results after,” said Dr. Bynum.

Many doctors, however, are unsure if acupuncture actually works and many people have a negative perception of alternative medicines like acupuncture. One of the biggest concerns is its safety and the germs or diseases that could be spread through the use of needles.

Yoli Ramirez, a Special Education Data Specialist in the Midland Independent School District, is a believer in traditional western medicine. She believes that doctors should protect one’s body and an alternative medicine like acupuncture should not be an option.

“I don’t think I could ever do it. I would consider it harmful to my body,” said Ramirez.

These are the types of negative perceptions that many doctors are trying to break. However, a trained and licensed acupuncturist would be able to provide the safest environment for acupuncture.

Samantha Weinstein, a SMU dance major and journalism minor, first tried acupuncture in a class. She was always skeptical of alternative medicine and believed that with all of the science and medical education in the United States, American medicine must be superior to other countries. After trying acupuncture she is much more open now.

“Actually, I think I’d explore alternative medicine before opting for American drugs or surgery,” said Samantha.

According to a study first published by Canadian Family Physicians in February 2009, acupuncture is one of several complementary and alternative therapies that can be recommended to provide patients with satisfactory relief and improve the therapeutic alliance.

Dallas’ ManiAACs are the Original Male NBA Dance Squad

March 26, 2010 by · Comments Off 

(PHOTO BY KATIE SIMON / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

(PHOTO BY KATIE SIMON / THE DAILY MUSTANG)

Katie Simon
katies@smu.edu

It’s hard to look away when these dancers storm out onto the American Airline Center’s basketball court. Some Dallas Mavericks’ fans stare in awe, others glow green with envy. Their skin-tight tops are enough to turn heads, as are their sensual dance moves and provocative wiggling.

They’re hot, they’re hip, they’re…large sweaty men.

These rowdy, big-bellied, shredded-t-shirt wearing dancers are known as the Mavs ManiAACs, and they are the first male dance squad of the NBA.

Unlike the tiny bombshell Mavs Dancers, the ManiAACs (AAC stands for American Airlines Center) are a group of heavyset men wearing very tiny shirts. Attire includes a midriff, shredded “MANIAACS: Gettin’ Jiggly Wit It” t-shirt, sweatbands, baseball caps, warm-up pants and crazy attitudes—along with their protruding bellies.

However, Their outfits may not be as outrageous as their nicknames. Big Rob (the captain), Boy Ain’t Right, Wonderbread and Chunky D make up four of the 19 members, all of whom have dubbed themselves with goofy names.

The ManiACCs first began their crowd-pleasing hip-hop routines during the 2002 playoffs season. Mark Cuban wanted to put together a one-time out-of-the-ordinary dance routine for a playoff game. He imagined a dance team that would consist of the typical male Mavs fans: large, beer-drinking and rambunctious. He turned to Shella Sattler, the coach of the Mavs Dancers and founder of Dallas Powerhouse of Dance.

“He said, ‘I want you to get these…huge Mavericks’ guy fans, and I want you to do a dance-off spoof and just see what happens,’” said Sattler. “And I just thought, ‘No way, there’s no way. Well, I can try and if I fail, I fail.’”

But failure was not the result. Instead, around 100 men showed up to try out for the squad, and 20 were picked to be the official ManiAACs.

Some of the auditioners, like Rob “Big Rob” Maiden, an accountant for the Dallas Cowboys, had no idea what they were in for.

“They ran an ad saying that they were looking for beefy guys, so one of my co-workers filled out an application for me without my knowledge, and I got a letter that said I had been invited to an audition,” Big Rob said.

Others, like Daniel “Boy Ain’t Right” Jacob, an SMU alumnus, were ecstatic when they heard about the tryouts.

“I just looked at it going, ‘Hey, I can get free tickets!’” Boy Ain’t Right said.

Big Rob says Sattler, who had only really worked with female dancers before that day, was not used to being in the presence of so many large men, and was especially not used to training them.

However, the confusion over how to handle Mark Cuban’s request soon turned into a long-lasting relationship between Sattler and the ManiAACs.

“We all just fell in love at the same time,” Big Rob said. “She thought we were all just cute and cuddly.”

When the ManiAACs hit the court for their big playoff game debut, the crowd didn’t know what to expect. They lined up on the court wearing yellow raincoats and holding red and blue umbrellas. Seconds later, “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls filled the speakers, the raincoats flew off, and the rest, as Big Rob said, was history.

Sattler says they received a standing ovation. From that point on, the ManiAACs knew they were not going to be just a one-hit wonder.

“We just said, ‘Man, I can see myself doing this for a long time,” Big Rob remembers.

Their instant-hit status didn’t stay local for long, however. Other NBA teams quickly caught on and began forming male dance teams of their own.

“Every single team in the league copied us. Some succeeded and some failed. I think we are the only ones that are still around,” Sattler said.

Now in their eighth season, the ManiAACs have a large fan base.

Yadira Moreno, who moved from Juarez, Mexico to Dallas two and a half years ago and regularly attends Mavs games, is already a die-hard fan.

“I really like them, and I really like the way they don’t have any inhibitions,” Moreno said at an NBA event for the recent Allstar games.

Part of their success, believes Sattler, comes from the fact that she only allows them to dance at one game per month, and each performance is themed. This leaves the crowd wanting more, resulting in a bigger response when they finally do stomp onto the court.

Despite their rare performances, however, the ManiAACs are present at every game. They boogie in unison, often swaying left and right at the top of section 112 above their “ManiAACs” banner.

They have also been known to mingle through the halls outside of the arena, chatting with fans grabbing a beer or hotdog.
Brad Edwards, the assistant manager at the Dallas Mavericks Ultimate Fan Shop at Northpark Mall, says he runs across the ManiAACs every time he attends a game and is good friends with Randy, also known as Wild Dog.

“I’ve known him for a few years,” Edwards said. “He’s a crazy guy.

So how does one qualify to become a ManiAAC? Being crazy like Wild Dog is only part of the criteria. The squad, which holds tryouts at the beginning of every season, looks for large men with even larger personalities.

“And big people who can keep a beat,” Shella said.

SMU freshman Parth Sheth, a Dallas local and long-time ManiAACs fan, jokingly admits to wanting to join the squad someday.

“I actually kind of want to be one, but I’m not big enough I guess,” said Sheth.

Click here to check out the ManiAACs in action during the Spurs’ game.

SMU Students Raised More Than $20,000 for Haiti

March 4, 2010 by · Comments Off 

by Anthony Sowe
asowe@smu.edu

Serge Elizee, an SMU senior from Haiti, is heartbroken. His beloved country is in ruins, devastated by the January earthquake that leveled much of the tiny nation’s capital. Elizee spends many hours in his one-bedroom apartment near campus glued to the television, watching the pictures and stories from the earthquake zone and thinking about how the lives of his family have changed.

But Elizee, a 22 year-old economics major and finance minor, also appreciates the efforts that he sees by people around the world and at SMU to raise money to help his struggling nation.

“I feel good and bad about what’s being done for my home country,” said Elizee. “I feel good seeing all of the different countries setting out to help Haiti, but at the same time I feel bad seeing that it had to take a tragedy for everyone to see all of the problems that Haiti has been having for years.”

So far, SMU has raised about $20,000, not including the donations through individual P.O.N.Y accounts, through about ten different fundraising events. Official fundraising went on through Feb. 15, but according to Student Body President Patrick Kobler, people can still make donations. Many organizations are still hosting fundraising events.

“Pretty much the goal is to raise as much money as we [SMU] can in a three week period,” said Kobler.

“SMU’s Heart Beats for Haiti” is a combined effort of the SMU body. Various fraternities and sororities are helping by donating. For example, Delta Delta Delta sorority gave a $1,000 donation and Pi Kappa Alpha held a date auction with all of the proceeds going to the Haiti relief fund.

There were many other organizations that have gotten into the mix as well, from 200 Jay-Z tickets sold at $40 each to pins being sold for $3 each. Some students donated money to help with the relief efforts while others gave their time helping to run the booths outside Hughes-Trigg.

“It doesn’t have to be much,” said Blaine Fulmer, a junior political science major. “Just give what you can because it’s for Haiti.”

Serge and his family moved to the United States when he was just 9 years-old. His family made the move after several kidnapping threats had been made against him and his brother. When Serge moved to America, he traded in his soccer ball for a football. After several stops in his college career he eventually made it to the Hilltop.  While at SMU he became a standout athlete as well as a good student. However he never thought that Haiti and SMU would become so intertwined.

“I felt helpless, it was hard to watch all these people suffer, and knowing it could have been me,” Elizee said.

He does appreciate the idea that he has been blessed enough to escape Haiti, but still hurts for his country.

“I feel happy seeing that my own school way down in Texas is making an effort to help out with the crisis in Haiti.”

While many of the students at SMU have no personal ties to the small country, Elizee has family and friends who still live in Haiti.

“At first we were in disbelief until it actually soaked in and we realized the gravity of the disaster,” said Elizee as he was watching the news coverage from his home.

On Jan. 12, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti approximately 10 miles from the capital of Porte-au-Prince. It is expected that the death toll will climb to 200,000.

“Luckily all of my family members made it out safely,” said Elizee.

Although his father was in Haiti at the time of the earthquake, he was not injured. The same could not be said for some of the Elizee’s family friends.

“As a family we know well over 30 people that were killed in the earthquake,” he said.

The funds that were raised via P.O.N.Y. on the SMU student identification card are not known for sure, however Kobler does expect them to be well within the thousand dollar range.  National organizations have made contributions to the relief efforts as well such as American Red Cross which raised $153 million and Habitat for Humanity which raised $1.4 million.

Donations are still open and many organizations are still holding fundraising events. For more information, check out Student Senate’s SMU Heart Beats for Haiti Web site.

“I think that SMU has done a good job of raising money, I gave as much as I could,” said Taylor Bon, a senior economics major.  “It was not that much, but I believe it helps.”

Donations will still be open throughout this entire week and many organizations are still holding fundraising events.

Hundreds of Petty Thefts Go Unnoticed on College Campuses

March 4, 2010 by · Comments Off 

by Aida Ahmed
aahmed@smu.edu

Zemanuel Araya walked out of his afternoon class at the University of Texas at Dallas and headed to his car. The Texas summer heat was in full effect and all he wanted to do was crank up the air-conditioning and head home.

As he reached his faded maroon 1997 Camry, he noticed that something was missing besides the fuel tank cover that had fallen off on Interstate 635 last week. For the second time in one week, some jokester thought it would be funny to make matters worse by stealing the screw-on gas cap.

“The first time was kind of funny, and then I was just mad,” said the senior math major. “I had to go buy a cap with a lock and key.”

Hundreds of thefts from chicken salads to license plates go unaccounted for at universities around the country, often because they are so minor people do not want to report them. Typically these thefts go unnoticed or are forgiven if the property is returned.

Lt. Jerry Norris of the Southern Methodist University Police Department said most thefts of public property on campus are pranks and usually involve alcohol. He has seen an array of strange items stolen on campus over the years.

“With a little liquid courage, students sometimes even feel brave enough to steal in plain sight,” Norris said.

He remembers a few months ago when some intoxicated students stole rolling chairs, posters and office supplies from the common area of a residential house and ran across the main quad with the loot.

“If they had returned the items then maybe they would have just gotten a ticket,” Norris said.

The students decided to make a run for it instead, and in the process of chasing them an officer was injured, taking the crime from petty theft to felony evading, resisting arrest and injuring a police officer.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s campus security data, robberies of public property on college campuses in Texas doubled in 2008 compared to 2006 or 2007. All other on campus robberies increased as well.

The cost of theft on campuses can add up. According to SMU PD, the university has lost nearly $265,000 to theft in the past six months, with 130 reported burglaries, robberies and larceny theft.

David Hayden, assistant director of Hughes-Trigg Student Center, said Hughes-Trigg is a target of “campus collectors” because they have two entrances open 24 hours a day. He has worked in the student center for 12 years and says thefts seem to come in a rash, with a few stolen items at a time, then nothing for a while.

Last semester a young man came in the middle of the day and cut down one of the Hawaii Bowl banners hanging in the main commons and just walked out with it. A couple of years ago, someone stole an imitation Oscar statue during an Oscar watch party in Hughes-Trigg Theater. It was later recovered by SMU PD.

Among one of the recent stolen items from the student center is an $800 red and blue SMU rug someone rolled up and walked out with a couple of weeks ago. Hayden said he doesn’t know why people steal from Hughes-Trigg because most of the things they take cannot be shown off in public.

Still, the majority of campus theft around the country is comprised of more common items, say law enforcement officials.

Christina Kirchner, a junior at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., said her roommate regularly steals toilet paper on her way to her 8:30 a.m. class. She grabs it out of the custodial closet every couple weeks and stuffs several rolls in her backpack.

According to the Web site collegestudentsafety.com, iPods, bicycles, laptops, credit and debit cards and cell phones are on the list of the top ten items stolen on college campuses. Other high traffic areas where students congregate are also susceptible to on-campus crime, like residential halls. Many students become victims of crime as a result of having their dorm rooms burglarized for cash, books and class related supplies.

The SMU police department advises students to never leave valuables unattended or in plain view in their car. Also, never let strangers without a card follow you into a residential hall or the library.

The student center, which is in the process of getting cameras in four locations around the building, is not taking any chances.

“When we get cameras, we’ll start talking about replacing the stolen items,” Hayden said.

More Fast Food Restaurants Catering to Vegans

March 4, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

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