PHOTO SLIDESHOW: Students Begin Preparing for Finals

May 3, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Photos By Elizabeth Erickson

Finals week is upon us and students can be seen in Fondren Library cramming. With classes ending May 2 and no reading days, students started studying for their finals which start May 4. Check out what Fondren, and most of campus, will be looking like for the rest of the week.

The Daily Update: Tuesday, May 3

May 3, 2011 by · Comments Off 

The Daily Update: Tuesday, May 3 from on Vimeo.

The Dallas Love Field airport is getting a face lift. Education budget cuts may cause more students to apply for student loans, and The Daily Campus and The Daily Mustang are merging. Find out all this and more on your Daily Update.

SMU Budget at Work

May 2, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Jonathan Richter

Over the past five years, SMU’s allotted spending plan has increased 24.4 percent despite investment declines occurring from the financial crisis that hit the nation in 2008.

The university has shown a steady rise in spending since the crisis, currently boasting an operating budget for 2010-2011 of $474.7 million compared to $381.5 million in 2006-2007. However, due to a drastic decrease in investment income, SMU’s expenses exceeded its revenues by $52.7 million during 2008 as opposed to a gain of $163.1 million in 2007, according to its Form 990 tax return. More recent returns were not available.

“The financial crisis caused SMU to reduce budgets to absorb reductions in payout from the endowment fund as well as other investment revenue declines,” Chris Casey, SMU’s vice president for Business and Finance said in an e-mail interview.

The biggest challenge related to the financial crisis came from the loss to SMU’s investments. In 2007 SMU showed investment revenues of $125.1 million, representing more than 20 percent of total revenue. By contrast in 2008, the university recorded losses of $43.3 million. The endowment fund had a balance of $1.4 billion in 2007, but fell 23.7 percent to an end balance of $1.032 billion in 2008.

“Academic areas were responsible for reducing their budgets to absorb endowment declines while administrative areas were asked to take percentage reductions over several years to balance the budget,” Casey said.

A majority of the revenue SMU receives stems from tuition and fees, endowment income, auxiliary income, athletic income and other sources.

According to SMU’s Statement of Revenue for 2008, revenue totaled $416.7, down from $627.1 million in 2007. Of that tuition and fees accounted for 66.6 percent, while auxiliary activities came in second making up 8.6 percent. Sponsored research totaled 5.2 percent, other student fees were 2.4 percent and organized activities came to 1.9 percent of the university’s revenue.

“Overall, revenue has increased during the current year mainly due to tuition, fees, and room and board increases,” Casey said. “Budget reductions have occurred across campus and in all other areas to balance the university’s budget in light of investment declines and lower tuition increases.”

Over the past five years tuition increases have averaged 6.74 percent, with the highest increase occurring in 2007-2008 at 7.9 percent. However, in light of the financial crisis SMU tuition rose this year at just 5.9 percent.

“Tuition and fee increases we kept as low as possible to be sensitive to the financial pressures faced by many of our students and their families, limiting the ability of SMU to fund various initiatives,” Casey said.

Students are positively reacting to this reduction in tuition increases. SMU senior Blythe Bumstead said: “I’m glad SMU decided upon a lower tuition increase. It reassures me and my parents that we don’t have to pay as much in this financially stressful time. Hopefully we won’t see drastic increases in tuition once the country is fully recovered from the financial crisis.”

Grants and salaries are the two largest areas of expenditure for the university. Of total expenses at $514.4 million in 2008, over $104.3 million or 20.3 percent was spent on scholarships and other assistance to individuals. Salaries and wages, not including compensation or benefits, accounted for 34.6 percent expenses. These numbers are continuing to rise.

“With this budget SMU provides financial aid to students,” said Ernie Barry, university budget director. “The budget schedule reflects an overall increase in spending and our major areas of spending include compensation to university employees, debt services, and auxiliaries.”

Not only are students happy that tuition is rising less quickly, but they are also excited to see how the university is spending its money to create a better campus.

According to SMU’s Form 990, the five highest-paid contractors in 2008 were all construction companies, which received a total of $26.4 million. With the help of independent contractors like Hunt Construction Group Inc. and Turner Construction Co Inc., compensated $7.9 million and $7.7 million respectively, SMU maintains buildings and makes improvements around campus.

“I feel the university does a great job of creating the best educational environment for us,” said SMU senior Matt Gormly. “Look around at all the construction and improvements being made on campus and you can tell SMU is spending tuition dollars appropriately.”

SMU Students Speak Out On Bin Laden’s Death

May 2, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Shana Ray

With a 24-hour period to let the shocking news of Osama Bin Laden’s death resonate with the SMU student body, various opinions arise.

Freshman Parminder Deo was behind his computer when he first got the news.

“I felt an immediate sense of relief and happiness for the innocent families who will finally receive some sense of closure,” Deo said.

Deo also said he understood that our battle with terrorism was not over, but showed no signs of nervousness.

“It’s America and we can handle it, when we set our minds to something we do it,” Deo said.

The death of Bin Laden marks a historic time. Many people are elated with the news and some seem to take a different approach to the situation.

Senior Darren Baucham who was not fond of the idea of rejoicing over someone’s death.

“I would be more comfortable if they arrested him and had a trial, that is more justifiable than murder,” said Baucham. “Regardless of what he did it is not our right to judge.”

Baucham felt it was not just for the life of another person to be taken away and it certainly is wrong to celebrate.

“I value life more than anything,” he said.

Freshman Chris Chung agreed with Baucham on disapproving of the idea of celebrating death.

“I don’t think death is the best solution for anything, Bin Laden killed thousands of people, but he has family too,” Chung said.

He was definitely not sad and even glad that another terrorist threat is gone and unable to do anymore harm. He believes the U.S will handle any difficulties relating to an aftermath but there is a need for greater security.

Sophomore Erica Murphy, however, reveals that she was shocked and in complete disbelief.

“America had to do what was best for our country, however, I don’t feel like we can kill him and terrorism is all over,” Murphy said.

Whether you believe the killing of Bin Laden was justified, or you are strongly against America’s decision, we cannot ignore the future implications this has for our country. We are definitly headed on an unknown journey and the end did not come with the killing of one man. We have a much bigger battle ahead of us, and whether we want to or not America has to be ready.

Shana Ray is a communications student at Southern Methodist University.

Tina Brown’s Tate Lecture Cancelled

May 2, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

By Aida Ahmed

UPDATED: MAY 4 10:05 A.M.

The Tina Brown Tate Lacerte Family Lecture has been rescheduled for May 11. It will be the final event for the 2010-2011 Tate Lecture Series.

The lecture will begin at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium and tickets for the May 3 lecture will be honored.

The Tate Lecture schedule for 2011-2012 will also be announced.

SMU News and Communications announced Monday that the Tate Lecture scheduled for May 3 has been cancelled.

Tina Brown, editor of Newsweek and founder of The Daily Beast, is unable to travel to Dallas for the lecture because of breaking news on the death of Osama bin Laden. The lecture will be rescheduled and announced soon.

Tickets for the May 3 lecture will be honored on the rescheduled date.

For more information visit the Tate website.

Locals Gather at Former President Bush’s Home to Celebrate Bin Laden’s Death

May 1, 2011 by · 134 Comments 

By Daily Mustang Staff

SMU students and other Dallasites held posters Sunday night in front of former President George W. Bush’s home in Dallas thanking him for his dedication to the country after news of Osama bin Laden’s death hit the news.

The home on Daria Place in Preston Hollow, about a mile north of SMU, was a meeting place for Bush fans and those celebrating the death of man who the U.S. government holds responsible for the worst terrorist act on American soil.

Visitors waved American flags and held signs like one that read “President Obama forgot to say…’Thank You President Bush!’” Others began to chant “U.S.A.” and some even brought red and blue balloons to hang on the gate of the residence.

Dallasites celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden in front of the residence of former President George W. Bush Sunday night. (PHOTO BY STUART PALLEY / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

In an e-mail statement released by the office of President George W. Bush he said:

“Earlier this evening, President Obama called to inform me that American forces killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of the al Qaeda network that attacked America on September 11, 2001. I congratulated him and the men and women of our military and intelligence communities who devoted their lives to this mission. They have our everlasting gratitude. This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”

Check the Daily Mustang for updates and follow us on Twitter.

Robinson Selected in NFL Draft

May 1, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Marissa Belske

SMU’s Aldrick Robinson was drafted by the Washington Redskins this weekend in the 2011 NFL draft. The Texas native was the 178th selection overall, going 13th in the sixth round.

While at SMU Robinson was a constant force on offense. As wide receiver he caught a school record 14 touchdowns with 1,301 receiving yards in last season alone.

Robinson is the third Mustang in three years to make it to the NFL level. He joins the likes of New Orleans Saint punter Thomas Morstead and Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

VIDEO: Students Gather at Mane Event

April 30, 2011 by · Comments Off 

Video and editing by Sydney Giesey

Students gathered on the main quad Friday to take a break before finals and enjoy the food and fun at this year’s fiesta themed Mane Event. From bounce houses and a mechanical bull to henna tattoos and caricatures, students had plenty of activities to choose from. Even Peruna made an appearance at the event.

Tight Budget? Ways to Save on Gas and Transportation

April 29, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Felicia Logan

The economic downturn has hit just about everybody in the pocket, and college students already have plenty of things to be concerned with as far as their studies go. As gas prices continue to balloon, students are looking for ways to save money. Riding the DART, walking, carpooling, bicycling and using websites that provide information about where to find the cheapest gas are a few options that may help students pinch their pennies.

DART is the Dallas Area Rapid Transit system, which operates buses, light rail commuter rails and on-call shuttle services, throughout Dallas and 12 of the city’s suburbs. An annual pass costs between $650 and $1,200, depending on what type of pass is required for commutes. However, SMU gives students a helpful and hefty discount.

“The contract between SMU and DART states that if you are an enrolled student, you are entitled to purchase a DART pass for a one time fee of $5,” says SMU’s Park ‘N Pony office supervisor Rita Zech. Although she could not provide specific numbers, “The number of students riding DART this year is definitely up,” she says. Shana Ray, a sophomore majoring in communications, says riding the DART is cheaper and more convenient than having her parents chauffer her. Living off campus makes it necessary for her to commute.

Many students live on campus, though. Sean Casa, a senior majoring in advertising and English, has a car, but prefers to walk. “I live on campus, and generally, I avoid driving unless I have to, just to save a little green.” Casa enjoys the walk from campus to Snyder Plaza and back. Eve Hay also lives on campus and has a car, but the junior advertising and psychology major shares rides with her friends. When she and her
friends want to go somewhere, they “pile up together” and carpool, says Hay. She says it’s an easy way to save on gas. Of course, riding a bicycle everywhere is also an efficient gas saver. SMU junior Emmanuel Van Hulst rides just about everywhere. It’s not only cost efficient, but a fun leisure activity, as well.

The average price of gas in Dallas is $3.83 per gallon today. Utilizing Websites like,, and can help students find the cheapest gas available in their immediate area, follow trends, changes in price, and compare prices to the national average. Searches can be refined by mileage, zip code, and gas grades, too.

With the current economic downturn, its pays to find ways to save. Look for alternatives, instead of breaking the bank. As it’s often said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Most students already know that every penny counts.

SMU Rides: On the Road to Success

April 29, 2011 by · Comments Off 

By Katie Simpson

After a major shift in management last June, SMU Rides has undergone substantial changes.

Originally the program was run by members of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) service fraternity. It was created on a volunteer basis and was funded by the Student Senate. The idea was that any student could call the SMU Rides hotline on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and would be provided with transportation back to campus, entirely paid for by the university. Student volunteers would take ride requests from callers and then forward the information to SMU Rides’ partner company, Executive Taxi.

“The idea of SMU Rides is great,” said former volunteer Celine Haikal. “It offers a free ride back to SMU or a student’s apartment to ensure students have a way to get home safely.”

Although the idea may have been a good one, it had never been properly executed. Before undergoing the recent reconstruction of the program, SMU Rides had proven to be less than dependable. The program had three main issues that needed to be addressed.

First was the problem of understaffing of both the volunteers who received the calls and the number of cab drivers available.

“APO did not have the time SMU Rides needed, and because there is such a quick turnover from officer to officer in APO, it was hard for the SMU Rides Chair to keep up with the details about [the program],” recalled Haikal.

Sophomore Tashika Varma reported having called the service twice last year; both times no one picked up.

“I think they should maybe have more drivers. Also they need a better answering system so that even if they can’t pick up every person who calls, it doesn’t come across to students as if they’re not doing their job,” said Varma.

Staffing issues weren’t the only concern the program was experiencing. According to Mark Rhodes, the current director of SMU Rides, students had been abusing the service since day one. Instead of asking for a ride back to campus, they were using the program to hop from bar to bar and with no proper documentation, it was hard to prevent this from occurring.

Now under Park n’ Pony’s management, SMU Rides has revamped its service to ensure the program is no longer taken advantage of.

It does still uphold its guarantee that the program has no connection with the SMU police. It is completely confidential and students will never be asked any questions about their night.

However, the new rule is that upon pickup students are now required to give their names, student ID cards, as well as their drop off location. This is to ensure that the service is used for the right reasons.

“The program is not a drop cab,” Rhodes said, “It’s an emergency ride home.”

The last issue was the lack of awareness within the student body.

“I think I’ve heard the name before, but I have no idea what the service does,” said SMU junior Clare Viglione.

SMU Rides now promotes itself all over campus. Along with a banner ad posted on the Park ‘N Pony website, it also places business cards in campus mailboxes and sends out e-mails to the entire university.

“If you need to get back to campus we’ll get you here, we’ll send a cab for you and we’ll bring you home,” said Rhodes.

“On a good night we got three calls,” Haikal recalls the state of the program before the changes took place.

But with over 280 calls last fall, SMU Rides is finally on the road toward success.

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