Right to the First Amendment

While the freedom of speech is one major medium for students to actively use their voice, they can also consider their freedom of the press, a road that seems to be less traveled on. Student journalism is something that students might want to keep an eye out for or get involved in.

Written, photos & video by Ruben Hernadez

Throughout history, many people have taken a stand for their beliefs. Peaceful protests, assemblies, and petitions are all examples of ways that people have made the first steps towards starting a movement in favor of a change. We are able to take these steps because of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“There are many key areas that we can benefit from within the first amendment,” Journalism Professor Paul Brown said. “As somebody involved in journalism, I’m focused on freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Of course, you also have freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and the right to petition.”

While most citizens of the United States know the amendment itself, there seem to be some misconceptions on some of its entitlements. In regards to freedom of speech, some envision the cliché protest yells and chants.

“You can certainly go to the south steps of the Capital or be in front of a government building and be a part of a grand assembly,” Brown said. “You can chant and express yourself with signs, but with the use of social media you can utilize this right in an easier manner. Just by having a Twitter or Facebook account with X amount of followers, you have the potential to spread your message even further.”

The internet has evolved into our lives, more so now than ever before. Since the early 2000s, net neutrality has grown into a heated topic that is now in the government’s hands. Net neutrality raises many concerns among the American people, one is having an “open” or “closed” internet. This past December, Congress was set to vote on the Congressional Review Act, which could overturn the FCC’s repeal of the net neutrality rules set in 2015.

Utilization of the first amendment doesn’t have to be exclusive towards people outside of universities and colleges. We learn about our basic civil rights through the education system in our history and government classes, to know and understand them as we grow. These teach us the boundaries that we, as Americans, can legally live our lives in the U.S.

Student Government Association Director of Communications Lauren Ashlee said, “students need to know that if we don’t like something – if it’s negatively affecting us and [we] need help with a situation – we need to be able to use our voice. This applies to when we need to protest something, write news articles, or when we need to use media to get out the information when we feel like we’re being ignored.”

Freedom of speech often extends to freedom of the press. In the current political climate, media has taken heat for certain publications and questions. Fake news has been on the rise, according to President Donald Trump. However, according to Yahoo’s Daily Digit, trust in the American media by its citizens has seen an increase since 2016. It also states that 84% of Americans believe media to be “critical” for our democracy.  Student journalism is something that students might want to keep an eye out for or get involved in.

“We’re the boss of the government, the government is not the boss of us,” Brown said. “We want to make sure they’re doing the right thing we feel is the right thing for them to do. So, we need young people, especially in today’s digital age, where it is easy to get lost in the sea of journalism from all directions, to be the future leaders in this industry. Understanding the concepts of journalism now will help the industry thrive, but it all starts with student journalism.”

Since 2016, the amount of journalism degrees being earned is on the decline. However, students continue to be involved in their high school and college media outlets,f they exist, to share the opinions and views of other students.

The reason I think it is important for students to study journalism is because it’s the future of journalism,” Brown said. “We need to have journalists to conduct our democracy. That’s what the founding fathers envisioned; essentially an unofficial fourth branch of government to make sure that those who are in power are always beholden to us.”

There also may be students who want to voice their own thoughts and take action. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to do that; and it can start with those around you.

“Listen to your peers,” says Ashlee. “If you have a concern, get two or three of your peers and see what they have to say about it, especially if you don’t want to join an organization and don’t know where to start. Talk to a professor, for example, and see if they can lead you to a higher power.”

When it comes to issues at ACC, the Student Government Association (SGA) can act as a voice for the student body. Many may think that SGA is strictly political, that is not the case.

“SGA is the border between the student body and the board of trustees,” Ashlee said. “We are the middleman, we see the struggles and needs of the students and see how we can make our school better. We always try to see how the student council can better serve the students.”

The first amendment has stayed constant through different time periods since the passing of the U.S. Constitution. While times have changed, through a variety of eras and development of technology, the first amendment has never failed to be consistent.

“The first amendment is there for us to fall back on regardless of what era we’re in,” Brown said. “Of course, we’re in the digital era with smartphones and social media. The founding fathers could have never envisioned this, but they did envision the idea of the government’s ability to be flexible in letting the people express themselves in a democracy.”

While the first amendment is an outlet for many people to express themselves, we can also vote to have our voices heard. In the midterm 2018 elections, people were encouraged to vote for the change they wanted; whether it’s a vote or a speech given, there’s no one way to have your voice heard.

“If you don’t vote as a millennial in 2018, it’s not a big issue,” Ashlee said. “Just know that there is an older person that has different political views than you do that is going to vote. They will be your voice because you didn’t vote. If you don’t vote, someone else will do it for you. If you want your voice heard, do your research.”

While voting is separate from the first amendment and your freedom of speech, that is not to say that they don’t work hand in hand. Your voice can be in the form of anything from standing in front of a crowd to putting in a ballot.

“Voting and the freedom of speech should go hand in hand,” Ashlee said. “You voting is your freedom of speech. It is your right, and no one has the right to tell you who to vote for, or why. Do your research, and see who you like based on their ethics and what their stance is. You can also use your freedom of speech to get other people on the same boat as you when it comes to voting for candidates.”

Everyone has a duty to those around them to understand what issues are currently happening and seeing how it affects them. Understanding how to work with those around you, however, is also something to think about.

“You need to be a voice for the people,” Ashlee said. “If you see a problem, you need to stand up and not be afraid what other people think of you or how you’ll be taken. Two is always better than one, and 1,000 is better than ten. You need to unite with people who you think are fighting for the same things you’re fighting for.”

Fighting for change is something we see often, especially with the amount of reform that citizens of this country are calling for. Whether you want to join that cause is your right as an American citizen, even if it means no action.

“Take what life gives you, and change it,” Ashlee said. “Go on the path you think you should be going on. Don’t sit there and accept it because it’s the easier thing to do. People’s lives don’t change because they think they’re doing it easy. People’s lives change based off of work, ethics, and how much they’re willing to put in.”

Understanding Diversity

Settling into a mix of people.

Written, photos & video by Martay Whitfield

Diversity refers to the difference among individuals, although many assume it focuses on only race and ethnicity. Those differences also include economic status, sexual orientation and age. College is one place that you can find diversity through a mix of people working together to improve their community by receiving a higher education. Many come from all over to live in the Austin area and attend ACC with aspirations to transfer into The University of Texas at Austin.

Adrian Fierro, general studies student, moved to Austin from West Texas. “[At ACC] I’m meeting people, I wouldn’t have normally met. Coming to a big city like this and having an open mindset, floating around is interesting.”

At ACC Fierro experiences a safe and cultured environment. “I have never had a problem at ACC, I think that it has a very [open-minded] faculty as well as the student body.” Fierro feels that ACC does everything in their power to make everyone feel accepted and at home.

One thing about college is it can help you to discover yourself.  Through the growth of diversity at ACC, there is sensitivity to certain subjects. “ACC is culturally sensitive,” says philosophy and psychology student, Grant Loveless. “ACC is all about making it comfortable to succeed and develop success.”

Education at ACC is about challenging and finding your beliefs. The school has programs and organizations for almost anyone. And if a student can’t find a suitable place at ACC, Student Life offers the opportunity to create an organization for those enrolled in classes. Student organizations like Onward to Interpreting, First Generation Students of ACC and Gender & Sexuality Alliance are offered to students for an inclusive community.

The Male Leadership Program (MLP), began in the Office of Student Life. The program is known for providing institutional support to encourage success for first-year male students, by providing a network of resources. This program is inclusive of men, women and non-binary students.

There is one student organization currently in the works by a few students. Similar to the Black Student Association, this organization will be Black Minds Empowered. Their mission will be focused on providing resources and a safe space to minority students.

Alexis Carr, psychology student, is one of the creators of Black Minds Empowered. “We see the lack of community in the African American culture as black students. We don’t really speak to each other, like when we walk by each other – there’s lack of communication. So we just want to have a space for students to come and express how they feel as a minority student, as a black student.”

Carr believes that the ethnic diversity at ACC can improve, so she is working to help this community. Austin, known for being “weird” or “the blue dot in the red state,” portrays a sense of liberalism.

“In Texas, specifically, we do see a lot of cultural insensitivities going on in different cities where we have injustice and inequality around minorities,” Loveless says. “[At ACC,] we have a large array of students with various cultures, students, backgrounds and nationalities. So the diversity at ACC, here, is number one.”

Fierro oversees diversity and inclusion for the Student Government Association. My experience here at ACC has been life-changing. Where I’m from you don’t really get to experience half the things you get to, we don’t have the conversations we have here. Especially being in the middle of not only political issues, but scientific advancements. Austin is basically Silicon Valley, so it’s amazing to have it all combined.”

As a community college in an open-minded city, ACC embodies the “weirdness” of Austin. There are 11 campuses in the Austin area, making ACC the sixth largest community college in the United States, and the fourth largest college in Texas. ACC works to represent diversity while making every campus feel safe and welcoming. These values embody ACC’s slogan, “Start Here. Get There.”

 

Climbing the College Ladder

Two Austin Community College Alumni from different walks of life, share their stories in hopes to change the stigma of junior colleges.

Written, Photo & Video by Marissa Greene

Once one has come to the point of receiving their high school diploma or completing their GED, what’s next? Well, that may look different for some people. It could be taking a gap year, entering the workforce or attending a college.

“Not going to college was never an option,” says ACC Alumni Network Council President, Lynn Kindler. Like many, Kindler was encouraged to take, at least, one year at ACC by her father. So, she began her educational journey in 1980 at the Rio Grande campus.

Decades later, a first-generation student, Jose Sosa, began his college education at ACC in 2002. “It was a big challenge, to be honest,” he says. “I never thought I would be able to accomplish my associate’s degree.”

Sosa was able to further his education through ESL and math classes to better his GPA at ACC before transferring to a four-year university.

Many pursue community college to make the transfer to a four-year college. However, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, this past fall approximately 13.3 million first-year students enrolled in a four-year university, while 6.7 million students attended a two-year college. That’s nearly twice as many students paying more for the basic courses. What causes this gap – is there a stigma related to attending a community college?

“I had a lot of shame going on…it’s like everybody knew I was going to a community college instead of UT or St. Edwards,” says Kindler. “But I knew I was getting the education I needed because the classrooms were smaller and I was getting the attention I needed from the professors.”

As some may feel a lack of clout at a community college, others feel the stress of juggling daily tasks.

“I had to meet deadlines, go to work, study for my tests, and travel between campuses because I didn’t have transportation at the time,” Sosa says.

Prioritizing these tasks can be difficult for some. ACC works to create a variety of resources provided to its enrolled students, from financial readiness with Student Money Management to goal setting with academic coaches to networking with the Alumni Council.

“I was very disciplined to take my tests,” Sosa says as he took advantage of ACC resources in order to comb through all that he had to accomplish. Once he completed his associate’s, he wasn’t done just quite yet. Sosa took it to the next level by attending Texas State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2013.

“I truly believe in education, it is very important,” Sosa says. “It can open so many doors professionally in so many ways.”

After looking back at all of her accomplishments and her start at ACC, Kindler recommends trying a two-year college before anything else. “It has taken a progression of many years for me to get to the place where it’s not a shame thing to go to community college. In fact, as a career coach…if you don’t know exactly what you want to do and where to get it, why wouldn’t you go to a community college to get the first two years knocked out?”

Kindler completed so many of her classes at ACC that she only had to earn 30 credit hours after transferring to UT. She claims to have a passion for helping others, “when I’m working with somebody and they’re really struggling with something or looking at something in their life, I can help them unlock the knowledge and gifts that they already had in them and wow that’s awesome.”

As members of the ACC Alumni Network Council, Kindler and Sosa show thanks to ACC for being their first steps to where they are today.

“I would like to give back to all that ACC has given me,” Sosa says. “What I tell students is that when I came to ACC I was not very fluent in the language. So if I could do it anybody else could do it.”

Whether you are looking to go back to school or beginning your first semester of community college, think about Jose Sosa and think about Lynn Kindler and think to yourself if community college is really all that bad?

Jose Sosa is a Lead Safety Coordinator at Workers Defence Project and owner of Sosa Income Tax and Adela’s Cleaning Services. He also earned OSHA Safety Certification to educate construction workers and nonprofit organizations about safety in the workplace.

After college, Lynn Kindler had a variety of careers such as an Executive Assistant to the Publisher of Texas Monthly, a mentor coach, Producer and host for Blog Talk radio, a career coach, amongst many others.

 

The Rise of Vaping

The JUUL: Is it the cause for the rise in nicotine addiction across young adults?

Written & Photos by Sheridan Smith
Video by Ruben Hernandez

Juul Smoke GirlThe 1988 Surgeon General’s Report discovered that cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are addicting, the pharmacologic and behavioral processes that determine nicotine addiction are similar to those that determine addiction to drugs such as heroin and cocaine. Cigarettes were finally deemed

harmful as many began fighting nicotine addiction. In 2006, electronic cigarettes were introduced to the U.S. to wean people off combustible ones.

“I smoked cigarettes at first, and then I went to vaping,” says student, Axel Anderson.

“Since it was so portable and so easy to change the cartridge, I decided I’d just go to [the Juul].”

A Juul is a specific kind of e-cigarette released in 2015. However, on Nov. 13, 2018 Juul CEO, Kevin Burns, released a statement about stopping flavored Juul pod sales to all 90,000 + retailers, as well as ceasing their social media presence.

The Truth Initiative states Juul accounts for 71.2 percent of e-cigarette sales since Aug. 2018. In Sept. 2018, the Federal Drug Administration stated that e-cigarette use among youths has hit record highs. This called for the largest enforcement effort in the FDA’s history to issue warnings and fines to retailers – online and brick and mortar – illegally selling JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors.

“I would say [I switched to the Juul] honestly because more people had the Juul,” says student, Kelsey Cantu. “It was like a thing, so I was like why not? It was more expensive, but it hits better.”

Juul versus a pack of cigarettes

The difference between the Juul and other vapes is the use of pods instead of a refillable tank. One Juul pod consists of about 5% nicotine, equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. But in vapes, the person may choose how much nicotine they would like in their refill juice.

Like other e-cigarettes, Juul’s intention is to help people who struggle with nicotine addiction – which it can – but it mainly attracts young adults and teenagers. The device has definitely made appearances on several school campuses, where it’s illegal to use. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, in 2017 over 2.1 million high school and middle school students used e-cigarettes. Another study from last year found that one-fifth of students have seen Juuls in their schools.

“At my [high] school, a good amount of people in my grade used them,” says Cantu. “We would all go in the bathrooms during class and hit them. Especially if we had study hall and out [of class], we would all go in the bathroom and stay there for like a good hour or two and just Juul in the stalls,” says Cantu.

Teenagers and young adults seem to be attracted to the JUUL because of its design, easy access, fruity flavors and lack of scent. These assets allow the device to be easy to hide when in plain sight – such as in a classroom setting.

“It’s definitely easy to hide because you just keep the smoke in, and they don’t smell. It’s discreet, and you can hide it easily like I always had it on me at school,” says Cantu.

The Juul’s accessibility and design is a concern of numerous health associations, including Truth Initiative. The effect nicotine has on an adolescent’s mind is also a concern of theirs. People are aware of the effects of cigarettes, but the effects of Juuls and vaping have never really been unmasked to the consumer.Juul pack of cigarettes

“I’m a coach for a living, so I run a lot and stuff. Because I vape so much, [the vape] would kind of affect me after a while because I was inhaling so much vapor. I [would feel it physically], and I don’t want to vape anymore, at least not as much, so I went to a different mod that I can actually regulate the [nicotine],” says Anderson.

Since so many people are attracted to the Juul, it’s also causing an increase in nicotine addiction across a generation that was supposed to be nicotine-free.

Cantu says, “Yes [I would say I’m addicted] because if I run out of pods, I always have to go get more because I feel the need to hit it more if I run out. I’ve tried to stop for like short periods of time, but then I’ll be like whatever and just do it again and buy more.”

Anderson says he switched from a Juul after three months after noticing he was going through a pod every few weeks.

“You can almost feel it because you’re inhaling all that juice, which is just vapor, and you can kind of feel it weigh you down for a little bit,” says Anderson. “It makes you take a break for a while, but then it’s super hard because of all the nicotine.”

There has been no concrete evidence as to the long-term effects e-cigarettes have on the human body. Individuals should be more educated on what they’re inhaling, to understand how it affects their body.

 

Midterm Votes 2018

Eyes watching, heart racing and nail-biting occurred during the panic-inflicted midterm elections. The thought of Texas classified as a “toss-up state,” according to the New York Times, only amplified the tension. Now that the dust has settled, here is a summary of the 2018 elections.

Written & Video by Nalani Nuylan

Beto v. Cruz

Beto caught Texas by storm. Nobody knew that the El Paso Democrat, Beto O’Rourke, could give the Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, a run for his money.

Originally a businessman, O’Rourke began his career as a politician in the El Paso City Council in 2005. After gaining popularity in El Paso, O’Rourke was elected to join the House of Representatives in 2011.

During the 2018 elections, O’Rourke used social media to gain traction for his campaigns, gaining popularity among youth voters. Also, for the first time in Texas history, O’Rourke visited every county in the state. O’Rourke was advertising a progressive agenda with universal health care, education reform, dream citizen statuses, criminal justice reform and legalizing marijuana.    

On the other side of the ballot, Cruz was originally was elected into the United States Senate in 2012. As a former professor at the University of Texas in Austin, Cruz ran for the Senate to replace Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison.

For this past season, Cruz campaigned to Republican voters of older generations, promoting conservative ideologies as well as President Trump, a strong economy, and increased border security.

During the first debate in Dallas on Sept. 22, the two candidates disagreed on every topic asked by the monitor. Cruz dominated most of the debate, providing lengthy opinions on controversial topics while O’Rourke, mostly, remained within the allotted timeframe.

At the end of the debate, the monitor asked the candidates to vocalize what they admired about each other. Both candidates expressed the amount of commitment they had towards their families and for the greater good of the State of Texas.    

The Election

As Nov. 6 drew near, early voting opened on Oct. 22 in Texas. More Americans took the early voting advantage this election season. Out of all 28 states that permitted early voting, nearly 36 million people cast their vote. According to the Elections Project, there was an estimate of 116 million voters in the 2018 midterm elections – making it the highest turnout since 1914.

This year’s voter turnout set new records, especially in Texas. Over four million ballots were cast in early voting in the Lone Star State, surpassing the 2014 turnout by three percent, according to The New York Times.

On Election Day, Cruz won against Beto by 2.6 percent for the Senate. Out of the nine elected Representatives for the House, five were Republican. Greg Abbott was elected governor. The majority of the state results came out Republican.

On the national level, Republicans fill the Senate 52 to 47. The House of Representatives is now controlled by Democrats 232 to 201. The Supreme Court leans Republican while the Court of Appeals leans Democrat. In theory, the current political status is purple.

Young Voters

Record numbers of young adults showed up to vote in this year’s midterm elections. “Young People,” by definition, refers to voters from the age 18 to 29: college students, recent college graduates, people trying to establish the career that fits their major. Why the high correlation?

First of all, there’s a reason that voting organizations advertise to young voters burning this past election season. On Sept. 24, a video titled Dear Young People, Don’t Vote was published on YouTube. The video criticized young people not voting by having older generations question and mock a young voters’ reasons for not voting. Currently, the video has over 650,000 views.

Likewise, famous Youtube star Lizza Koshy posted a video encouraging her viewers to vote, regardless of their political views. The video gained over two million views on her channel. Google also encouraged voter registration via a Google Doodle published on google.com.

Why is it that young people don’t vote? According to ACC’s Student Government Association President, Emmanuel Cuevas, the voting system is rigged against university students.

“For one thing, students weren’t taught how to vote,” Cuevas said. “Whenever you are asked ‘What do you think about the Republican or Democratic parties?’ at the age of 18, you think, ‘I don’t really know because I was never taught to think about those kinds of things.’”

Another obstacle is residency. Many young people move from their registered home county to attend a four-year university. This can be difficult, being that some students may not want to travel back to their registered county. However, the government provides free online guidance to registering, checking or changing your voter registration, state by state at usa.gov/register-to-vote.

It’s important to note that young people are the future. This past election, young people in Williamson and Hays counties, which were red, became blue mostly due to the university students living those counties.

“To the students who don’t vote because they don’t want to, or it’s an inconvenience, or because they feel like their votes won’t count, I will have to tell you that you’re wrong,” Cuevas said. “Students have a big voice. If they expressed their opinion, they will see a lot of things change.”

Vote. Make a difference. You have the power to shape the government to better the future.     

 

Prop G Break Down

Austin leaders have plans for various projects, and upgrades among the propositions that were passed during the midterm elections. The city will put $160 million towards improving transportation and infrastructure since Proposition G is one that received a green light. Many residents hope their money is going towards safer roads, as others wonder how the budget is being spent.

Written & video by Melina Madrigal

$50 Million

It is very clear that Austin, like all major cities, could always use renovation and this proposition is dealing with some improvements that have been long put off, especially Emmett Shelton Bridge. This is the bridge built over Lady Bird Lake near Red Bud Trail, known for being the site of a copious amount of motor vehicle accidents. It’s expected that $50 million will go towards the reconstruction of this and other bridges and structures that experience heavy, daily traffic.

$66.5 Million

Construction to improve streets near local schools and businesses, as well as curb ramps and drainage areas, will receive $66.5 million.

Previous ACC student and Austinite, Kristen Gallegos says her walk to UT in the mornings can be dangerous. “There are some areas where there are no sidewalks, so I have to cross really busy roads.”

$20 Million

Sidewalk construction and improvements have been allotted $20 million. The city has emphasized that the first to be renovated are those marked as a top priority of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Transition Plan.

Remaining Funds

The city also has plans to enhance the lives of residents who use means of transportation other than motor vehicles. There will be $15 million going to pedestrian safety improvements at certain city intersections; $4.5 million spent on signals, technology and communication systems; and $3 million towards urban trails.

$1 Million

Allowing the city to have a say, $1 million will be used for the Neighborhood Partnering Program. This program gives local residents the opportunity to propose projects on property owned by the city.

Gallegos says she understands the need of her money going to this proposition. “There is a lot of wear and tear on [the roads] and with more people moving to Austin I think that construction is the best thing to do.”

It is apparent that while voters are being asked for a somewhat large amount of money, most understand the increasing need for renovation.

 

Student of the Year: Amber Rodriguez

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Starting Classes

“I recommend bringing a planner or creating some type of schedule. It could be as simple as writing down your class schedule for a week and whatever you work. For me, I have to have hours down in the day like ‘what am I doing this hour?’ It helps remind myself that I do have time here and not there”

Staying Strong

“‘Don’t be a fool, stay in school’ is a  motto in my household. I love going to school, it’s inspired me to want to learn more. I’ve always been kind of the odd ball in class.”

Working in Student Life

“I networked so much and was able to create a lot here at my time in Student Life… I did come out a much stronger and much more confident person because of it. I don’t know how to thank everybody for how much I’ve learned here.”

Future Self

“I want to be in the Computer Science field, because that’s the future and I want to be part of it. My one goal is to find a job I do really love and do enjoy.”

Why School?

“ACC is cheaper to take classes. Higher education is the key to success. I know from my parents, they didn’t get past high school and they had dreamed of going to college…I hope students see there is a lot of opportunity getting a higher education.”

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Animation Biz

Written and Filmed by Nathaniel Torres[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

These days access to our favorite shows is easier than ever. With a few clicks or taps you can open your preferred streaming service to binge your favorite shows.  Some may remember the days of on demand shows, back when DVR was spelled VCR. In order to find out what your favorite tv show characters were doing, viewers had to wake up for saturday morning cartoons.

Now, you might have an animated character dancing around your head, bringing back some childhood joy. Our favorite childhood characters were there to make us smile, but have you ever considered the hands that drew them?

This past Spring, ACC GDAMG & 2Design hosted a workshop on character design with guest animator, Stephen Silver, at the Northridge campus. Five minutes after the printed start time of his lecture he stated that anyone who was not there at that point was already not taking themselves seriously enough. He, then, pointed up at the collage of pictures that had been projected on the screen and reveals that it, in fact, was a test. Did anyone pick up their pencils and start drawing? Did anyone find inspiration from the peculiar human faces that were a part of the collage? Was the opportunity to fill in the blank areas of the sketchpad taken? One may not expect an animation creator to be so adamant, but as Silver continues he cuts through the mounted apprehension with direction. “If this is going to be your life’s work then you should always be refining your craft.”

Silver has contributed to series such as Histeria!, Kim Possible, Danny Phantom, The Penguins of Madagascar, and more recently the revamped version of Scooby-Doo “Be Cool Scooby-Doo.” Despite that many of these works are targeted towards children, animation itself is growing and becoming a much more regular part of adult lives.

In 2017 TV By the Numbers reported that more cable viewers, ages 18-49, were tuning in to Adult Swim programming than most late-night shows. According to a report by the Entertainment Software Association the average gamer is 34-years-old with 72 percent of the market made up of gamers that are 18 and older. The video game industry shows no signs of slowing. With the developments in VR and AR games it’s predicted there will be steady growth in the industry through 2020.

As it goes, the workforce is seeing an ever-increasing amount of technology involved with their work and the animation sector is no stranger to this. “Honestly, I can’t believe how much has changed in such a short time,” says animator Cindy Crowell.

Crowell has been animating since 1992.  She started at StarToons, an animation studio open from 1988-2001, working on Warner Bros. produced series such as Tazmania, Tiny Toons and the Animaniacs. “It was pretty amazing, this was back in the glory days of pencil and paper.  I’d get a stack of key animation drawings from the lead animators and sit there on the light table and flip the pages, do all the in-betweens and clean up. I absolutely loved it, I miss those days.”

Technology has changed the business since then. Computer animation has been a part of cinematography for over 40 years. Since the premiere of Toy
Story
(1995), the industry began receiving  major investments and returns on Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) movies. Animation light tables, discs and paper have all been shelved in place of computers loaded with programs that allow the artists to explore their work on a screen.

As technology booms and the free market flexes, artists are finding themselves needing to be familiar with multiple software programs for various projects. Adaptability seems to be a fundamental requirement of artists right from the get go. Silver says, “The most important thing is versatility.  You want to show a range. You can’t just have apples and oranges and pears in your portfolio because all of a sudden they go, ‘Oh, he can do that but he can’t draw strawberries.’  You really want to make sure to show that range because the more versatile you are, the more opportunities you’ll get.” 

This point could not be stressed enough by both Silver and Crowell. Turns out, there are dozens upon dozens of ambitious students, eager to only show off their anime illustrations. “Everyone can draw anime these days,” says Crowell. “The call is really for people who can do it all.”  ce.

Finding a steady job in the animation business isn’t easy. The Animation Guild in California offers benefits, only to those working at a union member studio. Union members must accrue 600 hours (approx. 3 months) to qualify for a period of six-month benefits – if they continue to work at least 400 hours in one of those studios. Their benefits continue to cover them even if they are laid off.  The artist can also bank their hours in case of a prolonged period without work follows. This goes to show that in the state employing the densest number of animators, one of the largest unions takes into account that getting hired at a studio does not mean you get to stay there.

“A lot of times [a project] will start out with just a few people,” Crowell says. “Then, they hire on a bunch of people determined, flexible and familiar with rejection. “It’s so important to attend local conventions,” Silver says. “It’s like an artist’s market. It’s the effort. It’s knocking on one door after another. There’s going to be a lot rejection and you have to be prepared for it.”

Crowell has been at Powerhouse Animations for 17 years. She acknowledges it’s unusual for a studio to be around this long, but also knows there the mindset to have in order to work at a continuing business. “One thing that I really wished they would have taught me more of when I was in animation and in art school is that when you are a commercial artist you really have to have the ability to follow directions from your supervisors and make changes that they want or that the client has requested even if they seem dumb or pointless. You have to not take it personally.”

Animation is more than creating art. There is rejection, deadlines and the tedious details that are required to create the work seen on screen for a limited amount of time.

For those who are willing to endure such real job requirements and are lucky enough to land desk space in a studio know that there are perks of the job. Studios, like Powerhouse Animations have activities for their employees like arcade games, a big screen TV, couches, countless artwork on the walls and life size cutouts of video game characters. And there’s the seemingly obvious reward of seeing your artwork come to life in front of hundreds, thousands, potentially, millions of viewers.

Spongebob Squarepants singing “Sweet Victory” has millions of views on YouTube despite copyright. Peter Griffin fighting the Ernie the Giant Chicken has gone on to create posters, mugs, and action figures. There are countless cars with the Hyrule Crest stickered on their back windshields and bumpers.

It is all about knowing what you want to do in the industry whether it be background design, character design, storyboarding and being honest with yourself, according to Silver. Do you have the skill to do it and making sure you are getting opinions from more than just your family. “You have to not let things offend you or upset you and that’s the bottom line. You can’t be too sensitive.”

Silver also suggests that individuals be as plugged in as possible in order to benefit from networking.  Follow your favorite artists on social media to see where they will be exhibiting their work or offering critiques and check in to AWN.com (Animation World Network) for information and job listings.  Make sure to take initiative and reach out to your local studios to find out what programs they are using but do not get hung up on them.  Both Silver and Crowell both say the programs do not fully rid the need of skill with paper and pencil.

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Transtastic

Written and Edited by Halie Davis
Filmed by Taylor Kokas

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Blue, pink and white flags were printed on posters that hung up around various campuses this past spring. These colors sandwiched together, horizontally are the Transgender flag. Text on the posters promoted the premiere of a student-made documentary, Transtastic, supported by an LGBTQ resource fair.

Transtastic is the creation of ACC student, Margo De Alva. As a transgender person, she felt the urge to create something that further explains transgender than the textbook definition.

“Coming into the school semester, I was asked several times ‘why do you dress like this?’ ‘Why do you act like this?’” says De Alva. “I just wanted ACC to have a better understanding and I wanted to reach out to people who were in my situation, or are in my situation.”

After graduating from high school, De Alva attempted attending college. But, the timing was off.

“I was very, very sad for several years because I was scared to tell everybody. I didn’t even know what Transgender was. I knew I wanted to be a woman, but I didn’t know the term…I had to venture off to YouTube to even know what transgender meant.”

In recent years, the public has seen more videos, articles and events, regarding transgender people. In 2014, Laverne Cox is the first transgender person on the cover of Time Magazine. Making her public debut at the 2015 ESPYs, Caitlyn Jenner spoke for transgender children and people. That same year and the following, Jeffrey Tambor brought home an Emmy for Leading Actor in Comedy Series, Transparent. In 2016, NPR reported that 1.4 million adults identify as transgender, according to a study done by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. The highest number of reported deaths among Transgender people, occurred in 2017.
This year Cox poses for the cover of Cosmopolitan
Magazine
, Scarlett Johansson apologizes and announces her withdraw from the transgender project, Rub
&
Tug
, and Wisconsin is covering two of its residents’ gender confirmation surgeries.

Transgender may be a term that is confusing for the general public to understand, let alone an individual. This past summer, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that in 2019 being transgender will no longer be considered a mental illness. Often, a fake identity is created by a transgender person to try and fit into society’s standards of male and female roles.

“Dorothy [Alexander] is one of the friends who helped start everything,” De Alva says. “She met me when I was, I guess a boy. She met me and could tell something was up because of the way I acted and stuff. Like she said in [Transtastic], I would joke around about getting my nails done and she’d be like, ‘if you want to get your nails done, I’ll go with you, it’s not a big deal.’ There were times I’d try to act masculine and she’d look at me and and be like, ‘I don’t really feel like this suits you.’ She was just reminding me that ‘I think you’re a different person,’ so when I finally told her, she was like ‘I knew it all along.’”

Some of De Alva’s friends and family were accepting, but not eveyone. At 12-years-old she knew she wanted to be considered a female, but was still unsure about the ways to express herself. “I had no choice but to put on this persona of what I felt like a man or teenage boy was supposed to be, because it was very rough. I was getting picked on in school from the other boys and I remember them telling me ‘you’re such a girl, man up.’”

In her early adolescence, De Alva was living with her dad in the Rundberg area of Austin. This neighborhood is known as a rougher one to many Austinites.

From 2012-2016 Restore Rundberg was a grant received to revitalize the area. Since the funding closed, the Austin Police Department has continued extension programs throughout the area, like Summer in Rundberg to keep the neighborhood children safe when not in school. Restore Rundberg decreased property crime in the area and the city itself.

Crime rates are higher in lower income areas than high-income households, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Some neighborhoods in Austin with a median household income ranging from $7,000 to $38,000 are St. Johns (Rundberg area), North Lamar and East Riverside. Neighborhoods in Austin with a median household income range of $130,000 to $217,000 are Bee Cliffs, Bella Mar and Avery Ranch.

Like many cities, the public education provided to its residents depends on their neighborhood. According to the U.S. News & World Report’s list of Best High Schools in America, Westlake (EISD) ranked 213. Westwood (RRISD) followed up at 221 with a graduation rate of 99 and college readiness score of 72. Vandegrift (LIST) land at 339 while the top ranking AISD school is Anderson at 1,038. Schools like Lanier, Reagan and Eastside Memorial did not place in the national or state rankings. Students at the non-ranking schools live in neighborhoods like East Riverside, North Lamar and St. Johns.

“LGBTQ people are not just on the North side or by Highland.”

DeAlva attended Wooldridge Elementary School, which filters into Lanier High School. These are some of the schools associated with the Rundberg area.
“Rundberg, from my experience, wasn’t necessarily the best place to live at,” De Alva says. “The boys needed to have this role of being tough. In middle school, they were running around, talking about sports…In 2006, I remember being in middle school and LGBT was picked on. Nobody said it was ok.”

De Alva lived with a boy persona until 2015, when she became a junior in high school. At this time, De Alva has moved to the Lakeline area with her grandma. At Westwood High School she was noticing LGBT was more accepted than her previous schools. She was making friends who were openly gay or lesbian. “Their friends weren’t mean about it and they still liked them.”
De Alva was noticing a different world, where people were more accepting and open about being gay. Moreover, she did not feel the urge to live in her previous identity; the one that would mock or ignore people from the LGBT community. “If I had met [an LGBT person] when I was in Rundberg, I would have no choice but to pick on them if I had friends around…my grandma lived in this place where I could listen to how [an LGBT person] felt.”

After taking a break from school, Margo De Alva discovered acceptance in the LGBT community, friends and family. Although hesitant to begin college, Margo found a home in Student Life.

Northridge’s Student Life Coordinator, Tim Prata, assisted Margo with the creation of Transtastic. After listening to her thoughts and hopes, Prata introduced De Alva to ACC’s LGBT eQ Committee and Student Life’s YouTube series, Life4U. From there, the group took De Alva’s documentary idea and created Transtastic. Last March, Transtastic premiered after its resource fair concluded. A Q&A session was held after the documentary premiere with Margo De Alva and others featured in the Transtastic.
“My friends are accepting, so I’ve reached out to several and they have my back with things like ‘hey, I feel uncomfortable going to the bathroom, would you go with me?’ and they will.”

In the 2019 legislative session, many Texans are hoping to continue the discussion about the Bathroom Bill. This bill, defines access to public restrooms by transgender people. In 2015 the Austin City Council passed an ordinance stating that all businesses with a single-use restroom must provide gender-neutral bathrooms. Every ACC campus, with the exception of Riverside, has a family bathroom for its transgender students, faculty and staff. However, having only one single-use bathroom on a  campus can be difficult for transgender people – especially if it’s in use.

“LGBTQ people are not just on the north side or by the Highland campus  – we’re everywhere,” says De Alva. “There should just be more family bathrooms in general. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to hold going to the bathroom because [some business] doesn’t have it.”

Although De Alva’s goal is to live a life as Margo, she chooses not to use the women’s bathroom, even if it’s the only option. “I don’t want to go into the women’s bathroom because I don’t want to alarm females. I’m totally understanding that it can alarm everybody, so I just try to stick to the family bathrooms”

Austin businesses like Alamo Drafthouse at Mueller, Hillside Farmacy and Cheer Up Charlies offer gender-neutral bathrooms. These areas have closed-off stalls for private business and sinks to wash. CEO of Alamo Drafthouse, Tim League, says there are “no complaints at all” in an article from the Austin American Statesman.
De Alva is knowledgeable about which businesses have a restroom for her to use due to personal experience. Fortunately, her support system is able to accompany her to the restroom, if needed. “I’ve had my grandpa tell me ‘if you have to go, I’ll go in there with you and make sure no one says anything…As sweet as that is, it’s humiliating to have to go with my grandfather.”

De Alva says she doesn’t expect sweet gestures, but is thankful for the support. After revealing herself as a transgender person, she’s lost relationships  but stays positive. “You’re going to have people that don’t like you no matter what, so you might as well be who you are.”

Margo De Alva plans to transform Transtastic into an event at ACC. She also hopes to open a safe area for the LGBT community to talk and relate with one another. “You know I still have not met someone who is transgender at the school, that I can reach out to. At the event, I started to see more people and they were talking to me and it was great to know that I’m not alone.”

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Dreaming of an American Education

Written and Filmed by Ruben Hernandez[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Living the American dream is something that many people have chased for years.  For those living in the United States, it can be achieved with a great amount of effort and relentlessness. However, those who have found their way into the states from another country have a few extra obstacles to overcome. Alex Albino, a Dreamer and DACA recipient, is one of these people.

“I was born in Celaya, Mexico,” Albino said. “More specifically in the state of Guanajuato. My family and I moved to a smaller town, but at the age of eight we relocated to the United States because my parents were having legal issues with a small business that we had. We came to the States to support ourselves and live a better life.”

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Act protects young immigrants from the risk of deportation. With the potential repeal of this act currently being discussed among political and governmental entities, Dreamers, like Albino, have to be aware now more than ever.

“While I have four siblings, my older brother, my twin brother and I are the ones protected by DACA,” Albino said. “There are some things you have to do in order to be eligible to be protected, which some people don’t know about. I’m not sure how much trouble a 16 year-old can get into, but part of the process was me having to undergo a background screening. My older brother was also drug-tested.”

Albino is one of thousands of immigrants with protection under DACA. However, that is only a first step towards the end goal of American citizenship.

“They checked if we were going to school or not at that time,” Albino said. “They also checked things like what year we came into this country and how old we were. In the end, they gave us what is similar to an ID, but instead is basically a work permit. It lets me work anywhere in the United States.”
  Albino says that there is plenty to the process of becoming protected and keeping his DACA status, especially in the legal sense. However, when it comes to daily life in the U.S., Albino and his family want to live their American dream.

“We try not to stand out as much,” Albino said. “That’s especially due to the current administration, and because we aren’t from here. We just live life; we pay our taxes, work day-by-day, and strive. We also try to stay out of trouble, simply because we are trying to become good citizens of this country.”

  In his time since moving here, Albino believes that he has found a good place to start and make something of himself. He’s found many opportunities that he says wouldn’t have been presented in Mexico.

  “Socially, I think I’m striving,” Albino said. “I try to be as social of a person as I can. Also, some people think that it is difficult learning English, but I will say that English is one of my strongest subjects. Growing up here – for the most part – I’ve grown culturally attached to the language.”
Many DACA recipients have the common goal of wanting to live a normal, American life. While the political side of the DACA discussion may be a constant debate, no words are necessary to understand the peace that many immigrants are wanting to obtain for themselves.

“I’m personally appreciative,” Albino said. “I’m appreciative for every day I’m here, and I would not trade it for a moment in Mexico. In general, I think we’re all living for the American dream. I love being able to stay in the country and being able to enjoy the opportunities that others have.”

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