Hilltopper News is an online project of the Journalism Department
of St. Edward's University School of Humanities

SEU Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

by Melissa Martinez
Hilltopper News


(SEU News - Sept. 17) — Students at St. Edward’s indulged in free Mexican food and a performance by SEU’s Ballet Folkorico at this year’s Diez y Seis de Septiembre celebration Tuesday.

This celebration is only one of several events that the Hispanic Heritage Committee planned for Hispanic Heritage month, which began September 15 and ends October 15. These events reflect the large Hispanic student presence on campus.

During the 2007-2008 school year, almost 30 percent of students were Hispanic, according to the St. Edward’s University Office of Institutional Research.

SEU enjoys the official designation of “Hispanic Serving Instituion,” or HSI. This federal regulation title five designation makes St. Edward’s eligible for more federal grants. The criteria for consideration are complicated, but basically boil down to an undergraduate population that is at least 25 percent Hispanic and a high percentage of students that are eligible for federal money. These criteria mean that HSIs focus not only on Hispanic students, but also on disadvantaged students from different backgrounds, Tracy Manier, associate vice president of admissions, says.

The history of St. Edward’s as an institution that serves many Hispanic students makes it easy for the recruitment officials to maintain this HSI status, Manier says. However, recruiters do focus on what Manier called “priority areas” such as high schools in the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio and El Paso that have a larger Hispanic population.

Political Websites Difficult to Navigate True Information

by Kelsey Ann Downey
Hilltopper News

Websites like try to sift political facts from untruths.

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — With literally hundreds of political websites on the internet, keeping track of credible and reliable political information on the Presidential candidates can be a challenge, say many college students.

The credibility of a website is becoming an increasingly important area to understand, says a report conducted by Stanford University. There are many websites set up to help the voters learn as much information about the candidate as possible, as well as learn past voting records.

Websites dedicated to informing citizens on facts, like Project Vote Smart, and, have a lot of information about the candidate’s stances on political issues, as well as personal history. Project Vote Smart does not accept funding from organizations that support or oppose candidates, says the Project Vote Smart’s executive board. Fact Check is a non-profit organization dedicated to informing the public, according to’s staff.

It is important to know where the site got their information, rather than taking their word for it. Anna Stewart, an SEU librarian, says that the most important thing when recognizing credibility, is understanding the purpose of the website. “Is it trying to persuade, inform, or entertain? These are all important questions to ask yourself.”

Private Citizen to Renovate Grotto on-Campus

by Geoff West
Hilltopper News

The grotto on the hill north of the Main building was
originally built in the 1930s.

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — Tucked away from view and not featured on the university’s website, a small spiritual cavern rests on the hill between the main building and soccer field at St. Edward’s University. Shaded by trees, the grotto is adorned with a withered statue of the Virgin Mary. Inside, a large cross hangs near a chipped, stone altar.

Pat Liddy, a seventy-six-year-old part-time St. Edward’s student, visits the grotto every morning. Everyday at 5 a.m., holding his McDonald’s coffee, he takes the slow walk downhill to the grotto to light candles decorated with the image of the Virgin Mary and to pray.

“Students could spend four years here and never know it’s here,” he said, looking at it on a rare weekday afternoon.

But the grotto is old and needs repair—the preserve was built in the 1930’s. The tiles and stones are cracking. The landscape needs trimming.

And so, after gaining the approval of the university, Liddy has decided to repair it with his own money. The project will require new tiles and stone masonry, but Liddy says he will buy the materials himself and expects the project to begin in the coming weeks.

PETA Leads Weekly S. Austin Protest

by Amanda Odgers
Hilltopper News

Online petition against Petland in South Austin.

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — The local chapter of the animal rights group known as PETA leads a weekly protest at Austin’s Petland.

One of the issues PETA, or “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”, struggles to eliminate is “puppy mills” or the mass production of puppies for profit, something Petland is accused of supporting.

Though PETA organizers were unable to be reached their website highlights the opinion of the organization. “Puppies who are shipped from mill to broker to pet store can travel hundreds of miles in pickup trucks, tractor trailers, and/or airplanes, often without adequate food, water, ventilation, or shelter” only to be placed in “cramped, crude, filthy conditions”.

Petland, located off of Slaughter Lane and Interstate 35, says that PETA is protesting something that is untrue.

“I feel sorry for them,” says Daxa Bhakta, an employee at Petland. “They’re misinformed.”

Petland assures that all dogs must be licensed and USDA approved in order to be sold at their location.

Not that Petland is complaining of the protests. PETA protesting actually improved the local business.

“People want to see what they’re protesting. They’re surprised by how clean it is,” says Bhakta.

Cult-Film Festival Opens Fourth Year

by Caroline Wallace
Hilltopper News

The new Kevin Smith film Zack and Miri Make a Porno opens this years Fantastic Fest.

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — Austin’s annual film festival, Fantastic Fest, returns for its fourth year at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar beginning September 18th. The weeklong festival, sponsored by Aint it Cool News, and the Alamo Drafthouse is considered one of the largest genre festivals in the country.

This year, over 100 specialty genre, fantasy, cult, science fiction, horror, Asian, animation, and crime films will be shown. The films come from over 30 different countries.

The new comedy from director Kevin Smith, titled Zack and Miri Make a Porno, will be the opening night film, and Smith will be present to conduct a question and answer session with the audience after the screening.

One category of films being showcased this year is the Ozpolitation genre, a distinctively Australian genre of exploitation films that cropped up in the 70’s and 80’s. The genre gained fame with the Mel Gibson films Mad Max and Road Warrior. A variety of these films, and the documentary titled Not Quite Hollywood, which documents the Ozpolitation movement will be shown.

This year, Fantastic Fest will be taking the festival experience out of the theater by streaming ten festival films and shorts online for free. Festival director Tim Leagure says, “Fantastic Fest Online may very well be paving the way to redefining what the term 'film festival' means in the future."

Festival badges have already sold out, but tickets to individual shows are sold where space permits.

Computerized Game Seeded With Controversy

by Proctor Anderson
Hilltopper News

A new computer game is causing controversy.

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — This month popular video game developer Will Wright released his new life simulation game Spore. Wright is best known for his other popular simulation games SimCity and The Sims.

Wright’s newest game has been in development for several years and now that it has hit store shelves the game has started to cause some controversy.

According to the game’s developer, Maxis, Spore lets you create a species at the cellular level and then play as that species as it evolves into bigger more powerful organisms until it eventually ascends into space and travels the galaxy. So far the game has received high marks by game reviewers, many applauding its ability to simplify evolution into an enjoyable game experience.

The game however is surrounded in controversy due to several issues. One of the biggest issues is that of DRM, or Digital Rights Management. The game’s publisher decided to use DRM to protect the game from being pirated. It allows each copy of the game to be installed on one single computer. According to this decision angered customers who feel that by purchasing the game they should be able to use it on however many computers they want.

The game faces other criticisms for its promotion of evolution as well as it giving players to ability to create anything they want in the game including creatures with inappropriate looking body parts.

Regardless of these issues the game is selling tremendously and is already the best selling game of September in the UK and is well on its way to making it to the top of the US charts as well.

Collegiate Sports Criticized Over Money

by Anthony Spagnolo
Hilltopper News

Large football programs like the UT Longhorns generate
millions of dollars in revenue

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — Spread the wealth, or help more athletes graduate. That’s the criticism raised in a recent Sports Illustrated article about collegiate sports.

The U.S. Department of Education says Texas and Ohio State’s 2006-2007 athletics revenue rank in the highest among colleges, collecting over 90 million dollars from its athletic programs with football accounting for over 60 million dollars. A former player said, “Everyone gets paid except for the athletes whose talent puts the fans in the seats. Our success brings better athletes here and every year we contribute to the school’s prestige, popularity, and revenue.”

However, not all athletes go pro or even graduate. Ohio State’s Director of Student-Athlete Support Services David Grahm tells Sports Illustrated football graduation rates from 2001 to 2006 were slightly above 50 percent.

Student athletes, if not drafted, enter into society without a college degree despite their college tuition being paid because of their sports scholarship.

Collegiate coaches have some athletes taking easy courses and courses not inline with their majors so they will be eligible to play. For example, Sports Illustrated reports former college basketball player Greg Oden, planned to declare a Finance major. However, because of basketball he was advised to take two courses, Sociology 101 and History of Rock and Roll, and declare his major as undecided.

Missouri athletic department employee, Adrian McBride, puts it best, “The coaches see the problems. They realize there is a need, but this is small potatoes compared to the big picture of an athletic department. The name of the game is to win, sell tickets, and make money.”

Longhorns Home Football Game Rescheduled

by Josh McBride
Hilltopper News

UT Athletic Director Deloss Dodds.

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — With Hurricane Ike barreling down on the Texas coast The University of Texas decided to postpone their September 13 football home game against The University of Arkansas.

Forecasters predicted the Hurricane would slam into the coast of Galveston, Texas on Friday evening with maximum sustained winds of nearly 120 miles per hour. The storm track estimated it would reach the Austin area early Saturday morning and carry on through the afternoon, affecting Saturday’s 2:30 kick off. Both schools, which share a bye week in late September, agreed to move the game to Saturday, September 27.

The rescheduling forces both teams to finish the season with a nine game stretch.

Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds says school officials monitored the situation all week and believe they made the right move. "A football game becomes less important when you are dealing with the safety of the people of Texas," Dodds says.

Out of towners planning on attending the rescheduled game will now be competing for shelter with the 75,000 plus people that are expected to attend the annual Austin City Limits music festival, which will be going on that same weekend.

Students Dealing With Students

by Andromeda Brown
Hilltopper News

SEU Student Laura Sandoval helps other students
as a Resident Assistant.

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — Between photo lab and classes, dealing with freshmen can be difficult, but the responsibilities are even greater when one is a student as well.

Laura Sandoval is a sophomore Psychology and Spanish major as well as a first year resident assistant. A resident assistant is a trained student leader who supervises students living in a residence hall.

Sandoval sets the tone of her floor in the beginning of the semester. "I'm not the mom," she says. "They should know right from wrong, they have responsibilities. If they have emotional issues, need guidance with classes or with life in general, I am here to help. But ultimately, it's time for them to be adults."

Sophomore Colleen White understands the pressures of the job. "Her job as an RA is definitely time consuming, but I think that we both make a conscious effort to still hang out," she says.

Sandoval wants to set a good example. "I can still go out and have a good time, but I cannot afford to put myself in situations that would compromise my relationship with residents."

Non-Citizens Follow Presidential Election

by Marloes Lemsom
Hilltopper News

SEU Student Bianca Fernandes can't vote because
she's from Brazil but she follows politics.

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — Citizens from Non-US countries tend to be well aware of the political situation in the United States. Also foreign students at St. Edward’s University know exactly what is happening in the United States regarding the presidential elections.

St. Edward’s University professor in Political Communications Inness Mitchell is a citizen of Scotland. He says “ almost every foreign country covers important political happenings in the United States. Inhabitants of non-US countries are anxious about the Republican Party winning the elections.”

Bianca Fernandes is from Brazil. She says “ the Brazilian press covers every important event in American politics on public television.”

According to exchange student from France, Charles Mazeau, the news about American politics in France is unbiased.

Exchange student from Germany, Manuel Noras, says, “ The news about American politics in Germany is covered two-sided.”

Though, Mitchell says, “ It depends on which newspaper you read. Some newspapers or television programs are either conservative or liberal and cover the news according to their own convictions. That is why, for example the British press has a bias towards the democrats. Obama is more open to cooperation with foreign countries.”

Food Supplier Abuses Animales, says PETA

by Celeste Diaz
Hilltopper News

Hormel Foods makes products such as Spam through subsidiary companies.

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — Hidden-camera footage obtained by undercover investigators with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, has one of Hormel Foods’ suppliers under investigation by Iowa law enforcement as well as the federal government.

From June to September, the animal rights group recorded numerous employees repeatedly striking, kicking, and throwing pigs at an Iowa farm owned by Mowmar LLP. PETA believes the video depicts clear violations of state livestock abuse and neglect laws and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The footage shows workers repeatedly using metal rods to beat pregnant pigs and kicking the animals in order to get them to move. Piglets thought to be too small for consumption were thrown forcefully against the ground in order to kill them.

A spokesman for Mowmar LLP has called the actions “intolerable and reprehensible.”

According to PETA, this type of animal abuse is widespread, and with the release of this footage, the animal rights organization urges Hormel Foods to become more aware of the abuse. The video evidence has been turned over to Iowa law enforcement for further investigation and potential prosecution.

Hormel Foods, which produces pork products like Spam, has responded to the abuse by issuing a statement ensuring the public that they are, in fact, working with the supplier to ensure this treatment does not continue.

The graphic video footage can be seen at, which also offers additional information about their mission.

US Media Treat Morals and Politics Differently From other Nations

by Lorenzo Magnavacca
Hilltopper News

The Monica Lewinsky scandal nearly toppled
the Presidency of Bill Clinton.

(SEU News - Sept. 17) — Political morality is not the same all over the world, especially when comparing American-style politics with European media coverage.

Italian government Spokesman Silvio Sircana was photographed with a transexual during a previous government administration. While this caused embarrassment and was the subject of intense media scrutiny for about a week, the incident, in fact, did not cause lingering political fallout.

On the other hand President Bill Clinton after the famous scandal with Monica Lewinski was heavily criticized and even impeached as a consequence of his sexual affairs and subsequent lies about it.

By contrast, the Parliamentarian of the Italian Christian Party (UDC), Cosimo Mele , was recently involved in a scandal involving a "cocaine party" in company of a prostitute. Mele was married and has three sons.

In this case, again, the news was in the journals for a week and there weren't serious political consequences for this immoral conduct.

To Italian political observers, it seems Americans pay much more attention to the moral life-style of their politicians. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, possible U.S. Vice-President if republican presidential candidate John McCain should win, is strongly criticized for her personal lifestyle. The tabloid National Enquirer reported that Sarah Palin had a relation with a partner of her husband and this indiscretion had consequences in polls.

All these are examples of how the Italian mentality is different from the American one.

In America voters are interested not only in a candidates politics but they also want to be informed about their private lives which may reflect their morals. In Italy voters are barely concerned about politicians private life.