Tag Archives: University of Houston

The Green Party Brings Its Mission to Houston

Even as it continues to urbanize and become increasingly diverse, it’s doubtful that anyone familiar with American politics considers Texas to be a harbinger of Progressivism.  Thanks to many factors like voter suppression and mis-education, the Lone Star state is expected to once again skew Conservative for the upcoming election.

Though the constraints of America’s often challenging two-party system would want voters to think otherwise, the terms “Progressive” and “Conservative” do not belong to exclusively to Democrats or Republicans.  In fact 2016’s two major party candidates are causing many American voters to look outside of the traditional “big tent” status quo.

This week, a major player in a Progressive politics is taking over Houston, as Mihir Zaveri of the Houston Chronicle reports…

The odds seem long for the Green Party of the United States. In a presidential election, it never has won more than 2.7 percent of the popular vote.

Right now, its presumptive candidate is slated to be on the ballot in only two dozen states.

Still, members say the November election could provide a unique opportunity for the progressive party, now in its fourth decade, to capture voters who will not vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump.

That will be one of the central themes as the Green Party kicks off its three-day national convention Thursday at the University of Houston, where delegates are expected for the second straight election cycle to nominate Jill Stein, a Lexington, Mass., physician, author and environmental advocate, for president.

“I think we’re trying to take advantage of something this year,” said party spokesman Scott McLarty. “That is the widespread realization by a lot of people, among non-voters, among independents, and, interestingly this year, among a lot of Democrats and Republicans, that the two-party status quo is failing us.”

It’s been something of a ‘Powerhouse’ Political year for the University of Houston, whom not only welcomes the Green Party this week, but also played host to a Republican Debate earlier this year.

Spoiler Alert:  at this point it is unlikely that Dr. Jill Stein, or her running mate Ajamu Baraka will win this years election.  At present, they have reached the General Election ballot in 24 states and the District of Columbia.  But that situation in the Presidential race doesn’t discount the real successes that its membership has garnered elsewhere.   The party currently has 134 elected officials serving in 15 states, including Arkansas, Mississippi, and yes, Texas.

Per the schedule of events, convention activities begin today August 4th, with the highlights of Keynote speaker Dr. Cornel West, the roll call of states, and the official Presidential Candidate nomination and acceptance all slated for August 6th.  There’s even a special welcome for Bernie Sanders supporters.

Will the Green Party’s mission be advanced by their time in Houston?  At this point it is uncertain.  But Texas Leftist plans to find out.  Look for more Green Party Convention coverage right here.

Green Party Houston

Before the University of Houston GOP Debate

In February of 2016, It’s no surprise that the political world is at a frenzy right now.  But what is different for those in the University of Houston community?  That frenzy has taken over the campus this week.  Set for Thursday, February 25th, the Republican Party’s Super Tuesday’ Debate will be held at UH’s Moores Opera House. Even before the candidates arrive, the debate has caused a firestorm across Houston as party faithful, students and media all try to land coveted tickets into the 800-seat venue.  With the race cut down from an historic 17 candidates to just 5 remaining, this week’s debate could prove a pivotal turning point in the GOP contest.

So the Republican candidates we be at the University of Houston.  But, will the candidates have an opportunity to actually see the University of Houston?  If so, maybe they would be quite surprised by what is going on around them.  The institution is much more than a stage… it’s a window into America’s future.

Perhaps they would see that, as the Number 2 most racially/ethnically diverse university in the nation, people of different races, ethnicities, backgrounds and faiths really can live, work and play together without fear or suspicion of what they don’t always understand.  Maybe, instead of calling for a wall on our Southern border, or a ban of all Muslims into the country, they would see that diversity forms an important asset to the UH community.

Perhaps they would see an institution that not only educates, but supports undocumented students and families.  One that believes “all Texas high school graduates should enjoy equal access to our state universities and the opportunity to obtain a college education, becoming better informed and more productive contributors to our community,”.

Maybe they would even see a campus that not only supports the LGBT community, but stands up for full equality even when it’s not convenient.

UH Before Debate

Make no mistake… it’s a distinct honor for UH to become just the third site in Texas to host any form of Presidential debate.  But even better would be if the university’s value could have some role as well.

In any event, Texas will be watching.


Houston: Get Ready For More B-Cycle

Just 5 years ago, the thought of a city like car-centric Houston having a bike sharing program was still something of a fantasy.  Even those working to start such an endeavor were unsure whether or not it would catch on.

But since it’s commencement in 2012, Houston B-Cycle has grown at a consistently higher rate than anyone could have expected.  And would you believe that some of the highest months of ridership are in the midst of the area’s most oppressive heat?

With these facts in mind, the program has announced plans for a big expansion.

Here’s the info, via City press release…

Houston’s Bike Share Program is growing!

Today, the Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) approved $3.484 million of Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) dollars to expand bike sharing in Houston. The funding will enable the bike share program to increase three fold over the next 18 to 24 months, expanding from 29 stations to 100 stations and nearly 800 bikes when the phases are completed. The program will stretch from south of the Texas Medical Center to the north up into the Heights and from the west to Memorial Park to the Greater East End.

“Following on the heels of our METRORail expansion and METRO’s New Bus Network launch, this is a great day for transportation in Houston. Bike Share is an extremely successful and sustainable transportation initiative, and with the support of our regional and federal partners, we are able to expand the system into a large and thriving bike network, providing a real commuter and recreational transportation option for workers, residents and visitors while also improving health and quality of life,” said Mayor Annise Parker.

The expansion will be divided into three phases, with community input. The first phase will populate the Texas Medical Center, Rice University and Rice Village. Phase II will focus on creating greater station density; primarily in the Museum District, Midtown, Montrose and Downtown. Phase III will broaden the footprint into the East Side, SE around Texas Southern University and University of Houston Main campus, up into the Heights and west of Downtown.

The expansion will also create the largest bike share program in Texas and the Southwest.

Students at the University of Houston and Texas Southern University have been eyeing the B-Cycle program for a while.  For those that live on campus without a car, it will make for much-improved trips to places like the closest grocery stores and pharmacies to those campuses.  The only question so far would seem to be around the station densification plans for places like Montrose and Downtown.  As a casual observer, it seems that after Phase I, the most logical route would actually be to implement Phase III before working to fill in the already established areas.  But that assumption is made without looking at the proper data of which stations are most heavily-used.

In any event, this is great news for Houston’s growing bike culture, and overall transportation needs.  Let’s hope they can continue the expansion effort and bring all the benefits of bike sharing to places outside the loop as well.  The Energy Corridor, with rapid trail expansion and it’s new Portsmouth Street Woonerfis ready to go.

Have you tried B-Cycle?  What are your thoughts on the expansion plans?  Leave them below in the comments.



University of Houston Receives Accolades for LGBTQ Inclusion

For those that attend, college can be a pivotal time in young adulthood.  During those years, people work to formulate their identity for the first time away from the shadow of their parents, and many of the ideas they may have known as “truth” may be challenged.  In the case of LGBTQ students, college can often be the time when they not only learn who they are, but learn that it is ok to be who they are.  Studies at a supportive, LGBTQ-inclusive university can make all the difference in the world to someone taking this life journey.

Luckily the city of Houston has a pioneer institution when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion, and they have been nationally recognized as such. The University of Houston was recently named one of ‘7 Brave LGBT Campuses in the South’ by The Advocate magazine.  Here’s more from The Advocate on why they chose to highlight UH…

This past year the University of Houston student senate passed the Josephine Tittsworth Act. The student bill is an attempt to address the safety concerns of transgender people on campus. The bill allows transgender students to use their proper name, title, and gender when completing official university documents.

Today the university boasts a full-service LGBT Resource Center with a program director, student staff, a large selection of annual programming, and an LGBT studies program. As stated, the mission of the center is “to launch the next generation of healthy, proud, academically successful LGBTQ citizens, leaders and advocates.” Some of the center’s key programs include a Peer Mentoring Program to help assist newly LGBTQ-identifying students, a speakers bureau, and a brown bag social lunch to help foster relationships between students and faculty. Programs for faculty and staff include the Cougar Ally Training on LGBTQ issues as well as multiple Cougar Ally Lunch ‘N’ Learns, which provide discussions on select LGBTQ issues.

When informed of the news, UH Student Senator James Mateo Lee had this comment…

I’m happy that the work of the University of Houston Student Government Association has been recognized and I think it really shows the impact a small group of students can have. Many of the reasons UH has become more inclusive and welcoming of the LGBT community have been because of small groups of students who have pushed for action from our leaders. It’s a clear indication that even in the South, we can make change happen.

Furthermore, I think this really shows the type of impact student government can have if we work hard and act professionally. This is what student government should aim to do, we shouldn’t be starting public fights with our allies in the Texas Senate like the current SGA president has done.

Lee, along with other University of Houston student leaders and alumni, also played an integral role in the recent passage of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance by giving testimony at Houston City Council, lobbying Council Members before the vote, and organizing support within the community.

In 2008, UH became the first university in Texas to offer an LGBT studies minor, and the program has remained popular ever since.  With support from all levels of the campus community, students can definitely find a place to belong at UH.

No More ‘Daily’ for University of Houston’s Newspaper

Yesterday for the 87th time, the Houston metropolitan area’s largest institution of higher education began a new school year.  Some traditions remained constant, like the sea of students swarming between campus buildings, the long lines snaking around the campus bookstore and the confused look of new, disoriented faces trying to navigate an unfamiliar maze of learning.

But at the university’s main student publication, there is a sign of the times.  The University of Houston’s Daily Cougar has reformed itself into The Cougar, and has fully transitioned to daily digital publication, and will appear weekly in print.  Here’s more from Cara Smith, Editor-In-Chief

In 1928, The Cougar became Houston Junior College’s  student publication, to later become a daily publication. After roughly 50 years of tirelessly serving the UH community, The Daily Cougar is no more, as you’ll notice our masthead is 33 percent smaller and 100 percent different. It’s 2014, and there’s a new tradition to get excited about—the return of The Cougar, and the first year of what this has all been building up to.


The switch from operating as a daily print paper to a print weekly, digital daily publication has been in the pipeline for a couple years now. In large part, it’s a result of changing trends in how readers gather and process news. We’ve completely overhauled both our print and web products, both of which will report on the news as well as the kind of news you care about in creative and compelling formats. Be sure to bookmark thedailycougar.com on your browser, as we’ll still be delivering high-quality content seven days a week.

As the Houston Chronicle points out, this transfiguration of newspapers shouldn’t be a surprise, as it is taking place across the country at all levels of publication.  These are students after all… one has to assume that their experience with news is already more in line with The Cougar than its past predecessor.  If you are reading this, the same can probably be said for you.

Change is always difficult, but as long as there is an outlet to foster good journalism and writing at the University of Houston, the community will soldier forth. I for one will continue to hold The Cougar as a predominant news source for UH, and the Alumni network.

University of Houston Building Special 9/11 Memorial

For those of us alive in 2001, September 11th is a day that few Americans will probably ever forget. I’m someone that misplaces my keys and phone on a regular basis, but the events of 9/11 are still crystal clear in my mind. In the span of a few short hours, our country would never be the same.

Houston is over a thousand miles away from Shanksville, Washington or New York City, but some University of Houston students took it upon themselves to create a special 9/11 memorial for the campus. Here’s more from Laura Gillespie of the Daily Cougar

“Back in 2009, the president at the time was Kenneth Fomunung. A student came up to him from the Student Video Network and said, ‘Hey, I heard we can get a piece of the World Trade Center. I heard that they’re giving them out to different organizations and things of that nature. You should look in to it,’” said SGA President Cedric Bandoh.

“Long story short, they applied for a piece in the New Jersey Port Authority, and after going through a series of paperwork and other things, they got the assistance of the then-vice president of Student Affairs, Dr. Elwyn Lee. And we were eventually approved for a piece of the World Trade Center, which was very, very exciting news.”

The artifact, a large piece of steel that was broken off during the September 11 attacks, will be raised and lighted and turned into a memorial at the New UC.

“The Student Government Association really led the effort. They wanted to have it as a site of history, of the country, and also they wanted it to take place adjacent to a large student traffic area so that it’s just a memorial of sorts that represents the history of our country,” said Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Keith Kowalka.

In the midst of a rapidly changing campus, it’s welcomed news that UH students took the initiative to honor such an important event in our history. Sounds like this will be worth a visit.

(photo credit: Keith Kowalka)