VIDEO: Will Dallas Follow Other Cities by Issuing a Smoking Ban in Public Parks?

May 11, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Video and editing by Meredith Carlton

For decades, smoking has been a controversial issue and the subject of a number of laws throughout the country.

In Texas, smoking has been prohibited in a number of places since 1997 from elevators to hospitals. But in 2008, Dallas County passed their own set of smoking bans extending them into all enclosed workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

After the new mayoral election on May 14, Dallas County could see a new smoking ban in place for public parks.

“A park is by definition a public place,” Joe Kobylka, SMU political science professor, said. “You have a right to be in a park and you don’t have to be licensed to be in a park…so it’s a different kettle of fish.”

Although this ban might seem strange to residents of Dallas, a number of other cities have issued the bans in parks. Raleigh, North Carolina and New York City are just two cities in the United States that passed the measure.

However, smokers in Dallas are not fond of the possibility.

“I’d probably smoke anyways,” Daniel Garza, Dallas resident, said. “I don’t think that (the bans) would stop people from smoking, it would just make controversy.”

If the new Mayor of Dallas does try to implement the ban, officials said it would be hard to monitor it. Currently, Dallas County already has an ordinance that is said to be difficult to enforce—drinking in public parks.

“Finding a way to percent anyone from smoking or drinking in our parks just isn’t going to happen,” Dave Strueber assistant director of the West region for Dallas Park and Recreation Dept. said.

In addition to enforcing the law, many are skeptical if a smoking ban in parks would have any effect at all.

“If people do continue to smoke in parks, they will realize it’s largely a toothless law and more of a symbolic statement than anything else,” Kobylka said.

Some believe the new ban would be beneficial and the new mayor should consider the possible ban.

“Parks are suppose to be clean, fresh air, a chance to run around and that sort of a thing,” Mandy Trexel, SMU freshman, said. “If you go over there (to a park) and someone’s smoking it kind of ruins it for you.”

Garza disagrees.

“I feel that as Americans we have the right to smoke,” he said. “I believe it’s one of our freedoms and it’s upsetting to me the government is trying to hold us back from our rights and what we want to do.”

Dallas County residents will not know if the ban is a possibility until the new mayor is elected.

McDonald’s Corp. Holds National Hiring Day

May 9, 2011 by · Comments Off 


By Meredith Carlton

Juan Hernandez seems like a typical McDonald’s employee. He knows the fast paced environment of the company, interacts well with others and has memorized the regulars’ orders. However, this wasn’t always the case.

“I’m not a fast food person,” Hernandez, who works for a McDonald’s in Irving, said. “I just knew the basics, McDonald’s and the happy meal.”

Hernandez applied for a job at the fast food giant in Irving in July 2010, but within four months, he had worked his way up to a crew trainer position. Now thousands of other people may get the same shot.

McDonald’s Corp. held its first national hiring day on April 19, hoping to hire 50,000 new employees across the United States. In an effort to keep up with increased business and new menu additions that require more employees, they felt this was the perfect opportunity.

Behind the counter at McDonald's. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

“The reason we’re doing this is because we want to staff our restaurants,” Mike Ray, the director of operations for the greater Southwest and Houston regions, said. “To be able to continue to grow the business, we need great people in our restaurants.”

The Dallas/Fort-Worth area McDonald’s were hoping to hire between 1,200-1,400 new employees, officials said. Although specific numbers on the area are not yet available, Nicole Neal, McDonald’s communications manager for the Greater Southwest Region, said the region, comprised of North Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and parts of Northwest Arkansas, received more than 31,000 applications, conducted more than 23,000 interviews and hired 2,979 new managers and crew.

However, the number of hires per store would be based on each store’s staffing needs analysis, which tells owners how many employees they need to hire based on their turnover and the current number of staff members.

Ray started his employment at McDonald’s 25 years ago as a security manager for the Southeast United States and the Caribbean. Since then, he’s had the opportunity to go into an accelerated management program and ended in the position he holds today.

The McDonald’s at 8435 North Belt Line Road in Irving was just one of many McDonald’s across the country that held a special hiring day.

Hernandez, a crew trainer at the restaurant, and his black-shirted counterparts across the nation are responsible for making sure new crewmembers know the proper protocol and procedures of the restaurant. These positions are vital to McDonald’s success, teaching employees things such as how to keep the kitchen clean and deliver a fresh meal in less than 90 seconds.

As summer approaches, Hernandez and other crew trainers typically have a handful of employees to take under their wing. This usually happens at different times throughout the country, but this year things have changed because of the hiring day.

Texas has kept its unemployment rate at or below the national rate for the last few years, during the worst of the recession, and the economy appears to be slowly recovering. In March, the state’s unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, down .1 percent from February and .7 percent below the national rate. Because of this, McDonald’s jobs are believed to be beneficial to the area.

“We have such a diverse and competent work force,” Herbert Gears, mayor of Irving, said in an interview. He visited the Irving McDonalds on the national hiring day to promote the hiring and to give the restaurant an award. “We’re known for that, which is part of the reason why we’re the fastest growing metropolitan area in the country.”

However, according to Dr. Dale Boisso, SMU adjunct economics professor, unemployment is especially high for persons with less than a college education and those older (40+) who have been laid off. He believes the jobs are a double-edged sword.

“Some jobs are better than none,” he said. “However, it is unfortunate our economy seems to be generating low-skill work, regression into a service-oriented verses a manufacturing economy.”

Others believe the jobs are marketed to a certain group of people.

“Most of these jobs will go to people who are just starting in the labor force,” Dr. Nathan Balke, SMU professor of economics, said. “This is a very important time in their labor market careers.”

According to, the average salary for these 50,000 jobs is $8.30, a little above the federal minimum wage of $7.25. If all 50,000 people were hired as fulltime positions, it would put about $863 million into the hands of people that may be currently making less or, nothing at all.

“Just based on those raw numbers, that’s an additional billion dollars into the economy on an annual basis, and that’s just McDonald’s,” said Simon Mak, SMU adjunct lecturer and assoc. director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship.

“I anticipate that employment growth will start picking up,” Balke said. “Maybe this is a signal of what’s happening.”

Stories like Ray’s and Hernandez’s of working up the hiring ladder aren’t uncommon. Officials said 75 percent of managers and 50 percent of all owner/operators at McDonald’s started as crew members. Even Jan Fields, McDonald’s own president, started as a crewmember.

Critics have said hiring 50,000 people in one day could only mean one thing—a publicity stunt—but Jeffrey Smith, owner and operator of four Texas locations, said the sales tell it all.

“Our sales dictate that for us to be able to meet the needs of our customers, we have to hire more people.”

Although some might believe a potential job for these 50,000 people, will be just that, Hernandez knows it ends up to be more.

“Some people think I do it just because I need the money,” he said. “But I just like it.”

The Daily Update

May 2, 2011 by · Comments Off 

North Texans gather outside President George W. Bush’s home to celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden and Texas prisoners may be getting a new kind of health care. A mustang football player is taking on some new skin and Texas high school football is getting a bigger area, literally. All this and more on your Daily Update.

SMU Relay for Life Benefits American Cancer Society

April 18, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Relay for Life participants watch as Dennis Stanley opens the evening. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

By Meredith Carlton

“Cancer never sleeps.” Southern Methodist University students, faculty, staff and members of the DFW community experienced the same feeling this weekend.

From 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 15 to 5:30 a.m. Saturday, April 16 over 800 people participated in SMU’s 8th annual Relay for Life to benefit The American Cancer Society (ACS). People from around the Metroplex gathered on Bishop Boulevard to celebrate loved ones who fought or continue to fight the disease and remember those who have passed away.

“Everything you do tonight is going to touch someone’s life whether you know it or not,” Dennis Stanley, SMU junior and member of Lamda Chi Alpha said in the opening ceremony. “In March of 2000, five days after my tenth birthday, my family found out my dad was diagnosed with cancer.”

Stanley went on to describe the specifics of his father’s disease and the road that he traveled through the disease. Stanley’s father passed away on Nov. 11, 2001.

The opening ceremony was followed by a lap for the survivors and a caregivers’ lap.

According to, the tradition began in 1985, when one individual ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the ACS. Since then, more than 3.5 million people take part in the event across the United States each year.

Although SMU’s Relay for Life lasts only 12 hours, as of Friday evening they had raised over $76,000 online and that total continued to build throughout the night.

“I believe it’s a great cause because my grandma had cancer, she actually died from it,” Ramon Trespalacios, SMU freshman and participant, said. “And if all the people around the world actually did something to gain funds to help people that really need to be better and that have cancer, the world would be better.”

Forty-five teams signed up and participated in this year’s Relay for Life at SMU. Teams had a number of on-site fundraisers ranging from food sales, including baked goods, Boba tea, chicken tacos and Raising Cane’s, to ‘Car Bash for the Cure,’ where participants took their turn hammering a car spray painted with the word cancer.

“It makes people more aware that you’re not invincible and it can happen to anybody,” Caitlin Keen, SMU freshman and participant, said. “It’s really important to make people aware that it’s out there so that other people can help out and be encouraging and know that there’s things you can do to help other people.”

Other events took place throughout the evening including a frozen t-shirt lap, where participants were asked to remove a t-shirt from a block of ice and take a lap, and a wing-eating contest.

Eric Kinser, an outside participant in this year’s Relay, enjoyed the atmosphere.

“It’s a real nice family atmosphere and it’s been kind of emotional too,” Kinser said. “You feel real touched.”

Kinser relayed because of his wife, who battled breast cancer about two years ago, and his brother, Scott, an SMU alumni.

According to the ACS website, males have a 44 percent risk of being diagnosed with some form of cancer while females have a 37 percent risk. Of those people diagnosed, males have a one in four chance of dying from the disease while females have a one in five chance.

Maillil Acosta, Kappa Delta Chi’s president, has participated in Relay for Life all four years she’s attended SMU and relays for two specific reasons.

“Relay for Life supports the American Cancer Society and that’s actually our national philanthropy for our sorority,” she said. “ Second, one of our sisters, her mom died of cancer when she was 10, so it’s really important for her to have the support of us.”

Entertainment was provided throughout the evening ranging from Trigg the Magician and the Mustang Mavericks, to musical acts by Tiffany Houghton and Treble Creek.

Those who participated felt inspired.

“I think that helping others in the community is the best way to be help about yourself because every time you give you get satisfaction,” Trespalacios said.

Stanly agreed.

“This is how we touch lives,” Stanly said. “You can make a difference.”

Photos By Nick Cains

Linking-In: The Power of Online Networking

April 13, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Meredith Carlton

Katherine Bradford discusses the importance of connections on LinkedIn during an event hosted by PRSSA on Tuesday, April 12. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Most college students know the ins and outs of social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace but many have questions when it comes to the specific content of a more professional site—LinkedIn.

That is one of the reasons why Southern Methodist University’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chose Katherine Bradford, PRSSA advisory board member and vice president of development at NOVO 1, a company that aims to help businesses grow their brand and build customer relationships, to speak on Tuesday, April 12.

Students from all majors were invited to attend the event where Bradford discussed and answered questions about the business-networking site.

Bradford formally started the evening by explaining to the audience, of about 30 students, how she differs from others on the PRSSA advisory board.

“I’m not corporate communications and public affairs,” Bradford said. “I’m that tech head.”

As a ‘tech head,’ Bradford first talked about the importance of having a road map.

One component of a road map, according to Bradford, consists of creating a professional brand for oneself, which she claimed is important whether the end goal is finding another contact or finding a job.

“Most of you all know, with the way our economy is going, we are always in a job search mode,” she said. “The reason you’re in a job search mode is because you need to be networking all the time.”

Once a ‘brand’ has been established, the person will then have to make sure everything on their profile matches the brand they are putting forward. Content, including one’s picture, must be professional.

“Dress is always going to be an issue,” Bradford said. “You have to decide in your industry what’s acceptable.”

Bradford then segmented the talk into recommendations and networking. She suggested students e-mail or call rather than go through LinkedIn.

However, recommendations are one part of the bigger networking triangle Bradford said. If someone is recommended but doesn’t follow through, the triangle is then broken.

Although gaining connections by way of recommendations is important on LinkedIn, Bradford reminded students that it is important to not become a LION (Linked In On Network), meaning a person who accepts every invitation they receive.

“It used to be get as many connections as you can, and it’s really not that way anymore,” she said. “You need to scrutinize the connections and get those who are going to be of value to you.”

In addition to not becoming a LION, Bradford suggested keeping Facebook as a social site and LinkedIn as a professional site while being professional in all conversations on the web.

Bradford took a detour from her discussion on LinkedIn and informed students about interviews. The most unique point she addressed pertained to color and how a specific color of clothing can give off a certain impression.

Some of the colors she addressed were black, meaning power, navy blue, meaning team player, and yellow, meaning friendly.

Although Bradford addressed a number of points, she wanted the audience to know what to take away.

“Be professional,” she said. “Don’t put anything out on LinkedIn or anywhere else that you wouldn’t show to your own mother or English teacher.”

Tashika Varma, SMU sophomore and PRSSA president for the 2011-2012 school year, said she learned the most from Bradford’s points on recommendations.

“I didn’t know that you shouldn’t just get introduced on LinkedIn and that you should go professionally through e-mail or phone,” she said. “LinkedIn is more professional than I originally thought.”

Tareen Rahman, SMU sophomore and PRSSA vice president of membership for the 2011-2012 school year, couldn’t wait to incorporate what she learned from the presentation.

“I plan on going home tonight and fixing up my LinkedIn and I’m considering all my wardrobe options,” she said. “I definitely want to implement all those tips into my life.”


Daily Update: Wednesday, April 13

April 13, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Why did the SMU student senate voted against the minority seat? What is the future of print journalism? And what emotional goodbye took place yesterday? Find out all this and more on your Daily Update!

Daily Update: Wednesday, April 13 from on Vimeo.

The Daily Update: Wednesday, April 6

April 6, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Find out what Southwest is doing with their fleet. What are Dallas nonprofits doing in Japan? And find out how a man was saved from a gator attack in a very unusual matter. All this and more on your Daily Update!

Daily Update: Wednesday, April 6 from on Vimeo.

The Rise Of Cupcakes: More Than a Birthday Treat

February 14, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Meredith Carlton

Cupcakes, like these from the Cupcakery in Dallas, are now a hot dish for any occasion. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

What was once the standard for children’s birthday parties, the cupcake has risen to become a celebrated high-class dessert.

The little cake mounds date back to the 19th century and are not credited to any one inventor. Although cupcake baking tins did not surface until the 20th century, people used clay mugs or small ramekins to create the individual treats.

Most cupcakes use the standard cake ingredients of flour, butter, sugar and eggs, but bakers have gotten creative over the years and started incorporating ingredients from fruit to alcohol.

Within the last decade, cupcake stores have opened around the country in what appears to be the latest fad.

Candace Nelson, founder of Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills, claims their store was the first in the world to have a bakery entirely devoted to cupcakes. Since then, countless stores have opened their doors in cities to patrons demanding these decadent treats and Dallas is no exception.

Below is a sampling of the many places in Dallas where this cupcake phenomenon has made an impact.

Creme de la Cookie takes the cake with their cake balls, but the cupcakes are tasty too. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Crème de la Cookie:

With two locations in Dallas, one in Snider Plaza and one in Preston Hollow, Crème de la Cookie has been in business since June 2009. Owner Toni Rivard started the bakery after competing in various baking competitions in Orange County, Calif. (In one competition, Toni’s cookie won the title of “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in Orange County.”)

Although Crème de la Cookie offers a variety of baked goods ranging from Toni’s award winning cookies to Screamin’ O’s, an individual fudge brownie tower dipped in chocolate ganache, Rivard said their specialty is their cakeballs ($1.75).

“Many bakeries make them in the area, but none surpass us in flavor, quality, texture or the taste of our European Chocolate,” she said.

Cupcakes are another baked good that may be purchased at both locations for $2.75. The Scarlet O’Hara (red velvet) is their most popular flavor followed by chocolate/chocolate and tuxedo (chocolate cake with a vanilla bean buttercream frosting).

Crème de la Cookie has experimented in the past with unique flavors such as s’mores and chai spice, but their originals are what truly makes customers come back.

An array of treats from Society Bakery where cupcakes are just one of their specialties. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Society Bakery:

Voted “Top 10 Cupcakes” by “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Society Bakery has been open since 2003 and giving back ever since.

Society Bakery donates to over 100 schools, non-profits and charities throughout the year while catering to stars like P. Diddy and The Black Eyed Peas.

They feature a variety of sweet treats from cookies to whoopee pies but many patrons visit for their cupcakes.

With over twenty varieties, Society Bakery has the ordinary—vanilla and chocolate—to the extraordinary—pink champagne and pecan praline.

P. Diddy requested his cupcakes be filled with alcohol and that they were! White chocolate cocotini, lemon drop and choco cherry bomb all contained alcohol for this celebrity’s Super Bowl Party.

Although there are many flavors from which to choose, red velvet is said to be the most popular.

Society Bakery has two locations, one on Greenville Avenue and a recently opened shop on Forest Lane. Cupcakes run from $2.95- $3.25.

Sprinkles Cupcakes:

Based in Beverly Hills, Sprinkles Cupcakes opened their third store in Dallas in 2007. Candace Nelson started the company in 2004 with her husband Charles, in hopes of continuing her great grandmother’s tradition.

Now with ten operating locations and more on the way, Sprinkles has become a well-known store.

Nicole Schwartz, a marketing assistant for Sprinkles, said their most popular flavor is red velvet. However, Schwartz also commented that, “Sprinkles’ addicts will oftentimes point to our more unique flavors like chai latte or ginger lemon.”

Chai latte and ginger lemon are just two of the unique flavors Sprinkles has to offer. Special for Valentine’s Day, Sprinkles has a raspberry chocolate chip cupcake (Belgian dark chocolate cake with raspberry frosting) and a red HOT velvet cupcake (red velvet cake with a spicy cinnamon cream cheese frosting).

They also offer gluten free red velvet and vegan red velvet cupcakes at the same price as all other cupcakes, $3.50.

Since their first store opening, Sprinkles has donated over $2 million to charities and donates their leftover cupcakes to local food banks and community centers.

In Dallas, the leftover cupcakes are donated to Metrocare Services.

The Cupcakery's Red Velvet Cupcake may make you crave the cake breakfast, lunch and dinner. (PHOTO BY MEREDITH CARLTON / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

The Cupcakery:

Located on McKinney Avenue, The Cupcakery in Dallas has been open since June 2009. Mini ($1.75) or original ($3.25), their cupcakes come in a variety of flavors that are sure to appeal to the cupcake lover.

Owner Pamela Jenkins opened the first store in Las Vegas in 2005 and with the help of her uncle, Ricky Perritt, has expanded to five stores in Texas and Nevada with a sixth coming soon.

The Dallas location’s most popular flavor is Southern Bell—red velvet. Flavors usually stay consistent, but every month, two or three new flavors grace the display cases.

One special flavor for February is the raspberry devil consisting of chipotle devils food cake with a chocolate raspberry cream cheese frosting.

Other unique flavors such as kir royal (raspberry cake with champagne frosting) or banana cream bomb (white pound cake filled with banana pudding and topped with a heavy cream frosting,) come as a surprise to some customers.

In addition, cakebites are sold for $9 for a box of ten.

The Daily Update: Friday, Feb. 11

February 11, 2011 by · Comments Off 

SMU Journalism talks to an Egyptian student to find out her take on the current political protests. Also a summary of the recent box office hits. And is Donald Trump considering a run for president? All this and more coming up on your Daily Update.

The Daily Update: Friday, Feb. 11 from on Vimeo.


February 9, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Meredith Carlton and Natalie Blankenship

Food Quality:

Taco lovers—no longer do you have to cross Central Expressway to reach the nearest taco joint. The newest neighbor on the block: Digg’s Taco Shop.

Digg's Taco serves up style and flavor. (PHOTO BY NATALIE BLANKENSHIP / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Located on Hillcrest Avenue between Asbury and McFarlin Boulevard, Digg’s serves up tex-mex, burgers and now…(drum roll please) margarita popsicles.

As you step inside what once was Stromboli’s, you are greeted with warm colors, booths, friendly staff and trendy music. After making your way to the front counter, you choose from a variety of tex-mex options ranging from burrito bowls to green chile-cheese burgers. Once you’ve ordered, you are handed a buzzer and can then grab your appetizer (chips and salsa, queso, guacamole) and the beverage of your choice. Once you hear the buzzer, you know it’s time to digg in.

The chicken and veggie taco platter. (PHOTO BY NATALIE BLANKENSHIP / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

The taco combo plate allows diners to mix and match two tacos with fillings like shredded beef, braised free-range chicken, roast pork carnitas and fried or grilled mahi mahi. The combo comes with a side of cilantro rice and a cup of (spicy) black beans. Although there is no warning, if you’re a wimp when it comes to spicy foods, we would advise you to steer clear of the black beans. The cilantro rice was filling and delicious. As far as the fillings go, the chicken was tender and flavorful, but the mahi mahi knocked it out of the ballpark. With a tangy cream sauce and melt in your mouth mahi mahi, we will definitely be coming back for more. The chicken burrito roll-up is a good option for hungry Mustangs, but even if you’re not so hungry, it’s worth the take-home box.

Margaritas come on the rocks or frozen and are available in a variety of flavors including mango, strawberry or pomegranate. If you’re looking for a steal, these won’t break the bank account. Soda, wine and beer are also available at reasonable prices.

Mahi Mahi tacos leave you wanting more. (PHOTO BY NATALIE BLANKENSHIP / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Although customers are not served at the table, Digg’s employees are amiable and energetic. When picking up meals, employees address diners by their first names and always offer smiles. When one of us asked for their “amped up sauce” on the side, an employee gladly brought it to us. Upon finishing our meals, an employee was quick to clear the table.

Whether you’re coming to dine in with friends or just grab a meal to go, Digg’s will not leave you disappointed. With great prices and a comfortable atmosphere, not to mention the close proximity to SMU, what’s not to love?

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