Looking back, and catching up, on 2014-2015




By Faith Oakes

Staff Writer





The University News takes a look back at some of our biggest stories and what has happened since their publications. 


“LGBT students of UD recount struggles for acceptance” 

This story on how LGBT students experience the University of Dallas became the most commented upon articles ever published by The University News.  It even beat out the infamous “Leggings” article. The online comment section quickly became a passionate debate on many topics surrounding homosexuality. One user wrote in response to the article, “UD does not need a student group focused on sexual confusions. My prayer is that UD students with SSA (same-sex attractions) discover the truth, about themselves and about their Creator, during their time at this wonderful university. They are not ‘gay’; they are sons and daughters of God.” One reader replied, “We ARE gay; we aren’t some afflicted population with SSA making it sound like a disease.” Another added, “Yes, UD should have a Gay/Straight alliance, and no this type of discrimination should not be tolerated.” The popularity of both the article and comment section indicated that the tension remains amongst UD students and alumni on this topic.

“Students, administration at odds over jail”

Upon reading this article, many readers learned for the first time that the Charity Week jail would have a new “hands-off policy.” After negative reactions to the new policies, Dr. Plotts seemed open to changes for next year. “I wouldn’t change the jail, if it’s me, but it’s not,” he said. “I talked to Dore and Miquela and said maybe we should get the junior leadership together when this is over for an evaluation and see what we may be able to change for next year to enhance the experience yet keep everybody safe. “

When asked this past week about the administration’s plans for the jail last year, Plotts seemed non-committal.

“I look forward to working with the Charity Week Student Leaders and the OSL to provide a fun and safe week that renews our focus on the purpose of the week which is to raise money and awareness for selected charitable organizations…one goal will be to restore a balance to the week that conjoins fun and charitable focus,” Plotts said. Residence Coordinator and Charity Week Advisor Catherine Duplant declined to comment, saying only that the new committee chairs (Rachel Parkey and Katie Spellmeyer) have not yet convened with administration about next year.

“Spring Mainstage to tackle controversial play”

Rave reviews from the University News Arts and Culture section aside, it seemed that, upon its opening, the UD community reacted positively to this spring’s Mainstage production. The play gained attention for its potentially controversial nature, including critiques of the Catholic Church. After finishing his work as the title character in “Candide”, Simon Lemaire said in an email statement, “After a long semester, Candide has grown up a lot. While the whole cast had to figure out how Candide grows through the show, I think we all grew with him as we went…the controversy forced us to discern and challenge the show, and in the process we discovered that, as UD students, we’re the perfect group to take on this challenge. I did my research and now find that this show has strengthened my faith.” Whether it was despite or because of the controversy, “Candide” performed to sold-out audiences and even had to open the final dress rehearsal to the public in order to accommodate the demand for seats.

“Groundhog sludges on despite rain, mud”

This year, students and alumni waited in line for one to three hours to get to Groundhog Party in the Park. The University is taking precautions to ensure that the school does not repeat this year’s transportation disaster. Buildings & Grounds Manager Jim McGovern has been given complete responsibility for preparing the park for next year and the administration has given him the resources to do the job, director of CSO Charles Steadman said.

“Jim is fantastic. His innovative technical skill combined with his dedicated hardworking crew will solve the problems,” Steadman stated.

Yet Steadman believes this year was a success despite the bus setbacks.

“I have been to 17 groundhogs, and I guarantee last year’s party is going to be legendary,” he said. “Ten and twenty years from now, the participants will be bragging about dancing and partying in 6 feet of mud.”

“The Guadalupe shrine: a promise being fulfilled”

The story surrounding the brand new shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe has finally been brought to completion on the side of the hill that slopes down the East side of campus towards Madonna Hall. There Our Lady rests, and many students have already stopped by to admire the new shrine. Mary stands six feet tall, plated in bronze. Directly behind her a seven foot tall metal mesquite tree pays tribute to both Texas and Mexico, since mesquite trees are common in both places. Behind the tree will stand a 13 foot tall cross with Mary symbolically positioned within the arms of the cross. She is also positioned in such a way that, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the sun will rise directly behind her.

“Lengthy Texas abortion law battle takes new turn”

In October of this past year, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Louisiana stayed a lower court’s ruling that had prevented the implementation of the last part of House Bill 2 (HB2), the Texas legislature’s abortion bill of June 2013. As a result, 13 abortion clinics around the state of Texas were required to close their doors, including Abortion Advantage, a local clinic run by Dr. Lamar Robinson. Crusaders for Life (CFL) has been praying at his clinic for years. In January, the building was torn down. CFL has now moved its “prayerful presence” to a Planned Parenthood clinic in south Dallas.

“Old Cowboys stadium site, new opportunities”

When asked about progress on the contracting process for the land by the old Cowboy Stadium, Doug Janeway, Interim Director at the City of Irving said that investment in local infrastructure, especially the recent expansion of the DART Orange Line, has led to the decision to go ahead with a multi-use development involving corporate, retail, hospitality and even residential elements. Janeway also noted that “the City of Irving is working with the University of Dallas and [other affected parties] to make sure that this is an attractive development for everyone concerned”.

“Ebola scare comes to Dallas”

Ebola became a domestic threat when Thomas Duncan became the first person ever diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization (WHO), and international partners took steps to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Two imported cases, including one death, and two locally acquired cases in healthcare workers were reported in the United States. CDC and partners took precautions to prevent additional Ebola cases here, in addition to response activities abroad. Airport screenings and similar preventative measures were an integral part of this response program. The total number of deaths counted (probable, confirmed and suspected) by the WHO is 10,907. According to the same organization, efforts to tackle Ebola have been hindered by fierce resistance from local communities with a history of suspicion toward outside intervention. There was a slight increase in cases at the beginning of February, after they began to fall in January. The WHO said the number of confirmed cases now being reported is the lowest since May 2014.

“Murder and the real ‘Price of Honor’”

Since the release of this article, Yaser Said, who is the primary suspect in the murder of his daughters Amina Said, 18, and Sarah Said, 17, has been placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. However, no further progress seems to have been made in this particular case. The documentary film about the Saids received positive reviews from the media, including Business Insider, The Huffington Post and The Dallas Morning News.

“Back in the black: University of Dallas ends year with  surplus”

For the first time in years, all four colleges of the University experienced profit, and for the last three years, the University has not lost any money.

When asked if UD could expect similar results after this school year, Plotts stated simply “Our budget year ends on May 31, 2015, so all revenues and expenditures are not yet reconciled”. However, with the AACSB accreditation and the new investment in the Business school, UD is getting more attention and recognition across the nation, and more students are interested in attending. Increased college recruitment is bringing in more students. With all these efforts to bring in more capital, it seems hopeful that the University of Dallas will stay in the black this year.


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