HLC Gets Wet Lab Funding

Story by Jessica Youssefi, Reporter
Joseph Lee, Photo Editor

Austin Community College is the first two-year institution to receive funding from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. The $485 million fund was created by the Texas Legislature in 2005.

The Highland Campus will receive $4.9 million to build an 8,400-square- foot, advanced biotechnology research lab.

Funding for the project will give ACC the means to offer students a state-of-the-art facility equipped with the necessary tools for testing products and furthering their studies in science, biology and medicine.

The Lab will also provide opportunities for jobs, and the space for future companies to conduct research.

ACC President and CEO Dr. Richard Rhodes said “ACC has a long history of providing Central Texas industries the workforce and tools they need to prosper. This lab will take that commitment to a new level.”

New Perspectives Shed Light on Old Stereotypes

Story by Kyle August, Reporter

Increased scrutiny of Islam and Muslim culture have caused unease for both Muslims and non Muslims in America as many struggle with issues of identity and acceptance

Many American Muslims are frustrated.

The events of 9/11 and the actions of extremist groups have brought Islam and Muslim culture under fire.

Stereotypes abound, and some non Muslims seem to question whether a person can be both Muslim and a patriotic American.

During Texas Capitol Muslim Day on Jan. 29, protesters yelled insults at Muslims participating in the rally. House Rep. Molly White, left an Israeli flag on her desk and instructed her staff to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and proclaim allegiance to America.

“There is absolutely no conflict between being an American and a Muslim,” Fahim Idais, an Arabic and Math professor at ACC, said. “Being an American is a nationality, and I’m proud of that. Being a Muslim is a religion, and I’m proud of that. America is about freedom of religion.”

Idais said that he is disappointed with the extremes portrayed in the media and the perceptions of Muslims that result.

Psychology major Jeremy Winters said he often thinks of 9/11 before cultural tradition when he sees a woman wearing a hijab (the traditional head covering worn by Muslim women). Although cultural tradition comes to mind, Winters said he knows very little about what the hijab symbolizes.

While she has never experienced blatant discrimination, ACC Journalism major Manal El Haj said that people are often reluctant to approach her.

“It’s like they don’t know how to act around me. Maybe they think I don’t speak English.”

El Haj recently started wearing a hijab in public. She said that negative views of women who wear the hijab are based on misconception.

“They’re looked upon like they’re oppressed, when really it’s 100% their choice,” El Haj said.

She pointed out that Muslim women are not the only women to wear head coverings. Women of many religions and cultures have at one time covered their heads – the Virgin Mary included.

“Protecting my modesty makes me feel more like a woman. I am not an object,” El Haj said.

Perception is often a matter of per- spective. Maria Moreno, an early childhood education major, said that after living in Morocco for four-and- a-half years, her view of Muslims is not dictated by what she sees in the media.

“If I didn’t go to Morocco I would be prejudice,” Moreno said. “I know that wherever I go, I will find extremists, and not just Muslims. They can be Christians, Catholics — it doesn’t matter what religion.”

Explosions and violence tend to capture the media’s attention more than peaceful coexistence. The actions of groups like ISIS give the impression that Islam is a violent religion and often color public opinion.

“ISIS is a terrorist group, and honestly, I don’t even know what they represent. They do not represent Islam and they definitely do not represent me as a Muslim.” El Haj said.

“I’m a proud American, and I’m a hell of a lot bigger Texan than a lot of people here”, El Haj said. “The beautiful thing about America is that we’re a melting pot. That’s the beauty of living here.”

Brides’ Commitment Outshines Conflict

For better and for worse, in sickness and in health, devoted couple focus on health and family as the issue of same-sex marriage engages Texans in social debate

Story by Ryan Fontenette-Mitchell, Reporter

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant’s relationship is more than a sensational news blurb.

Before becoming the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Texas, the two shared a 30-year relationship.

Goodfriend and Bryant met during their undergraduate program at the University of North Carolina.

“I’ve always considered Suzanne my life partner and she feels the same way,” Goodfriend said.

The couple’s relationship has seen many developments over the years including the adoption of two daughters.

Dawn Goodfriend, 18, and Ting Goodfriend, 13, are biological sisters and were adopted from China. Both girls came to United States when they were about 2-years- old. Dawn arrived in 1999 and Ting arrived in 2003.

“I really cannot describe what it is like to travel to China and finally — after the paperwork, the waiting, and having a little tiny picture — to finally have the human being you have been waiting for placed in your hands and under your care,” Goodfriend said.

As in any relationship, happy times are tempered by trials.

Goodfriend was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer last May. Although the couple had considered marriage over the past 30 years, the cancer diagnosis created a new sense of urgency to get married. Bryant and Goodfriend felt it was important to have protections in place that would give Bryant rights to the couple’s children if Goodfriend died. They then filed for a Texas marriage license.

The court order granting their marriage license was directed specifically to Goodfriend and Bryant because of Goodfriend’s cancer.

Responses of the marriage varied, but were mostly favorable, Goodfriend said.

“Our mailman man left us a card with two wedding rings saying congrats and about time,” Goodfriend said.

“I would love to see [same sex marriage] become more acceptable in our society,” ACC mass communications major Megan Hall said. “I believe discrimination against same-sex marriage is unfair. Society needs to be more open minded to change nowadays.”

The marriage also generated disapproval.

“The reason I don’t support the marriage is because of my religious views,” John Thomas Baize, radiation therapist major, said. ”I wouldn’t call it a marriage. A marriage is between a man and woman.”

The varying public reactions and media attention taught the couple the importance of having a good sense of humor. Goodfriend said millennials are more accept- ing of same-sex marriage and hopes that in the future it won’t be an issue.

Hours after Goodfriend and Bryant received their marriage license, Texas Attorney General declared the license void. However, Travis County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir holds the license as valid.

Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide whether gay marriage bans nationwide are unconstitutional.

With media attention waning, the couple would like to finally go on their honeymoon.

Goodfriend said that she is six months away from her last chemotherapy treatment and that everything looks good so far.

Courtesy picture of The Austin American Satesmen