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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Campus Voices: Aggie news

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Photo by Photo by Hannah Bradicich

A&M students commuting on campus outside of the MSC on Feb. 7, 2023, at 11:01 a.m.

From a bill in the Texas Legislature to legalize sports betting to how prepared Aggies feel to render emergency aid, reporters from JOUR 203 interviewed people around the Memorial Student Center, or MSC, and Rudder Complex on Feb. 9 about how news making national headlines affects Texas A&M. Different reporters asked Aggies to respond to Gov. Greg Abbott’s state ban on TikTok while others posed the question, “Is work from home the new ‘9 to 5’ in careers?” 

The result is Campus Voices: Aggie news.

 

The legalization of sport betting in Texas: An Aggie perspective

By Zoe May, Eli Meschko, Hunter Mitchell

After learning that Texas legislators had introduced a bill to legalize sports betting in Texas, one Aggie said sports betting is a revenue pull for major corporations, one said it will increase sports engagement and another said the income can help improve life in Texas.

As of January, Washington D.C. and 36 states have legalized sports betting in some form, according to Forbes.com. Texas is not one of those states. 

On Feb. 6, The Texas Tribune reported that state legislators returned to the Texas Legislature with a revised bill to try to legalize sports betting in the state of Texas. The original bill, proposed in 2021, fought to legalize sports betting both online and in person. The new bill, now authored by Sen. Lois W. Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, in the Senate; and Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, in the House focused only on the legalization of mobile sports betting.

The fight for legalization has resulted in two major points that stand on opposite sides of the floor. Those for the bill believe that the taxation of sports betting will bring necessary revenue to the state and protect users from data mining on illegal apps, according to The Texas Tribune. Those against the bill argue that sports betting is dangerous to the well-being and financial stability of the people of Texas.

Leach is an ally of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. According to TexasTribune.org, Patrick serves as the greatest obstacle to the legalization of sports betting in Texas.

The loss percentage for sports bettors is between 45-47%, according to PlayMA.com. Youth rates for being at risk of problem gambling are two to three times higher than adult rates, according to NCPGambling.org. The National Council on Problem Gambling, or NCP, also states that 75% of college students gambled during the 2011-2012 period, whether legally or illegally.

Jacob Cervantes, an entry-level barber at 4.0 Cuts, said the dangers of sports betting lie not in the betting itself, but in the individual.

“Just like everything it can be abused,” Cervantes said, adding that it is always a personal decision to bet. “Is someone really willing to put their life on the line? Most people are.”

An estimated 56 million players participate in fantasy sports leagues, which generates an annual revenue of $1.5 billion, according to 407Bankrupt.com. One sports social media site, BleacherReport.com, says there is a growing concern that sports betting and Fantasy Sports are deteriorating the team dynamics of sports watching. 

Their basis? In 2009, a year after the inception of Yahoo! fantasy leagues, during a football game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New York Jets, Jaguar running back Maurice Jones-Drew took a knee before the endzone to run out time on the game clock and secure a game-winning field goal, according to Bleacher Report. It sparked outrage among fans, especially those involved in fantasy sports.

Cervantes said that now, years after fantasy sports first started, he feels sports betting and gambling brings more watchers together and actually brings more overall engagement to the sports industry. 

“If all I have to do is watch sports and then I can win some more money, it’s going to cause a lot more people to be connected to sports,” Cervantes said.

Sam Patel, a biomedical science sophomore, said that if the money from sports betting is going to public education or public infrastructure it can be beneficial. Since 1997, the Texas Lottery has sent $30.3 billion to the Foundation School Fund, according to TexasLottery.com.

“At the end of the day, it’s money from other people that they were willing to lose and the lost money can go towards bettering society,” Patel said.

The bill circulating both the State House and Senate is also being backed by the Texas Sports Betting Alliance. The Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Astros and professional betting corporations like DraftKings and Fanduel make up the The Texas Sports Betting Alliance. Their mission is to legalize and regulate sports betting so Americans have the “freedom and safety” to further enjoy the experience of watching sports.

Patel said that the athletic industry’s involvement in sports betting functions as a separate identity from the betting companies themselves. 

“I still feel like it comes down to the consumer itself,” said Patel. “Bud Light is also the official beer of the NFL; you could see that as pushing the agenda to drink, but that comes down to the consumer.”

The NFL also sponsors a running campaign that promotes the message “Stick to your game plan,” according to ResponsiblePlay.org. Senior mechatronics major Alan Garcia said he believes the dichotomy of athletic associations’ simultaneous denouncement and promotion of sports betting is just to “look good.”

“At the end of the day, I think with a company that big, with an industry that big, [the NFL is] more focused on earning as much money as they can,” Garcia said. “Even through means that aren’t as moral.”

 

How prepared are A&M students for an emergency?

By Emelia Gamez, Ashley Acuna, Abby Jarrett

After Damar Hamlin collapsed on national television during the Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals game on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, the importance of emergency first aid made headlines. When four Aggies were asked if they knew what to do in the event of an emergency only one said yes.  

People with knowledge of CPR and access to automated external defibrillators, often referred to as AEDs, were credited with Hamlin’s survival and recovery. Only 54% of Americans know how to do CPR, according to a Cleveland Clinic survey. Every 40 seconds, a person in the U.S. has a heart attack and 16.3% of cardiac arrests happen in a public setting, according to the American Heart Association. 

There has been a 29.9% increase in adults ages 25-44 who have died from an unexpected heart attack since the pandemic started in 2020, according to a recent study by Cedars-Sinai.org. While the study showed unexpected heart attacks have increased across all age groups due to COVID-19 infections, the largest increase was in the 25-44 age group.

To raise awareness, Damar Hamlin has partnered with the American Heart Association to discuss how important CPR and first aid training really is, according to a Jan. 2 article in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services. 

The fast intervention and professional medical assistance nearby dramatically increased Hamlin’s survival, according to a Jan. 3 article in The Washington Post. The survival rate decreases by 10% each minute CPR is not done, according to the American Red Cross. 

Three out of the four A&M students who were interviewed said they do not feel adequately prepared in the event of an emergency. With some training in high school, international studies sophomore Bradley Stutzman said he was never certified in CPR and does not know where a defibrillator on campus is located. He added that he thinks A&M should require students to have a first aid course.

“I think from what I remember is you make sure the airway is clear, you point at someone to call 911, and I think the acronym is MARCH or something like that,” Stutzman said. “You’re looking for massive bleeding, checking arteries, respiratory, circulation, and then head trauma or something like that.”

Sneha Manoharan said she does not have official first aid or CPR training but she learned CPR a couple years ago. She added that she would not know what to do if someone fell unconscious on campus. 
“Honestly not at the moment, no,” said Manoharan, a biomedical science senior. “But I would probably go get someone that could help.”

Mass shootings continue to make national headlines, and in Texas, response time has been under scrutiny since Salvador Ramos killed 19 students and two teachers at the Robb Elementary school in Uvalde on May 24, 2022. Officers breached the door 77 minutes after the shooter went into the elementary school in Uvalde in what was the deadliest school shooting in Texas, according to a December 2022 article from The Texas Tribune. 
The 376 law enforcement officers at Robb did not have adequate leadership skills and enough emergency preparedness to take down the gunman, according to the Texas House committee report, as reported by The Texas Tribune. 

When asked if they knew what to do in the event of a shooter on campus, two students said that they wouldn’t know what to do, Manoharan she would go into the tunnels between main campus and west campus, and one had adequate training for an emergency situation.

Gabriella Lieto, a psychology sophomore who works at the MSC, said she only knows what to do in an active shooter situation because of her job. Lieto was working at the time of the interview and was unable to elaborate on her answer. 

 

TikTok ban may move to personal devices in Texas 

By Kaci Williams, Mary Howard, Laura McClintock, Kylie Stoner, Jonathan Chung, Emma Neuman, Mitchell Hasenpflug

In response to a directive by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banning TikTok on state-owned devices and networks, of 11 Aggies interviewed, three said they didn’t use the app, one person said they were more attentive in class after the ban and one person said the ban could interfere with his First Amendment rights.
The state-wide ban that will go into effect on Feb. 15 includes universities, according to a directive issued by Gov. Greg Abbott on Dec. 7, 2022. All state agencies will ban the use and downloading of the app on their networks and devices, and Abbott has requested the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Department of Information Resources create a plan for dealing with the app on personal devices. 

In recent weeks, Abbott has amplified his motives to expand the ban, according to a Feb. 6 tweet.

“Texans, especially our state agencies and employees, must be protected from having sensitive information shared with the Chinese Communist Party,” the tweet reads. “We cannot ignore this security threat.” 
With 65.9 million users in the United States per month, TikTok is one of the leading social media platforms with 18 to 24-year-olds making up 38.9% of the monthly users, according to data trend analyst and statistic group ThinkImpact.

Greg Hartman, vice chancellor for Strategic Initiatives for the A&M University System, announced the impending ban of TikTok on Wi-Fi on Dec. 18, 2022. A&M blocked TikTok on Wi-Fi on Jan. 18, according to university technology services. 

The ban on personal devices is a question of legality, said telecommunications sophomore Sophie Villarreal.

“Personally speaking, I don’t understand the ban on personal devices,” Villarreal said. “Government devices, sure, you can do whatever you want. They don’t pay for our phones. I don’t think he has the jurisdiction to make that call.” 

According to ​​the governor’s press release, every state agency is required to follow the state-wide ban on TikTok and enforce their own policies to do so by Feb. 15. 
“I think I’ve become more aware in class, and I’m not on TikTok as much,” Villarreal said. “But at the end of the day, it’s the simple button of turning off your Wi-Fi.”

The state government has a right to ban the app on its devices and network, said Matthew Henderson, an engineering freshman, but a total ban is a “gateway” to more infringement on personal rights, added the Corps of Cadets member.

“That’s, in my view, an invasion of private property because you’re going in, and you’re essentially controlling what people are being able to be exposed to,” Henderson said. “And that sort of infringes on First Amendment rights, freedom of press, freedom of speech and all of that stuff.”

Communication senior Mary-Helen Schuriecht credited the campus Wi-Fi ban to her and her peers using TikTok less, adding that this might be a good thing for time management. 
“In one of my social media classes, we have been talking about it, and I do think it is very interesting that they are taking those precautions now because they’re so worried about it being a threat,” Schuriecht said.

The Firewall Times, a website “dedicated to helping people protect against cyberattacks,” shows there have been previous concerns about data privacy with the app. According to BuzzFeed News, audio was leaked from a TikTok employee meeting over the course of at least five months in 2022 discussing Chinese access to U.S. data. Abbott’s press release placed this threat to national security as the top concern for prohibiting the app in Texas.

“To be frank, every app does that, including social media, not just TikTok,” Villarreal said. “When you hit ‘allow certain interactions’ on your phone, you’re automatically allowing them to do whatever you want with your information.”

The platform has been integrated into some course curriculums to submit assignments. In the past, chemistry 119 students have been required to submit final projects through TikTok, so the ban is not limited to affecting only communication and media-related students.

“Thankfully, last semester, I got to take a multimedia class and work in TikTok to learn about it a lot,” Villarreal said. “I think it’s a major disservice to learning about social media for the future. Because TikTok is not going away.”

Although the app is blocked on campus Wi-Fi, it doesn’t stop some students from accessing it, said Bryan Blowers, a environmental design freshman. It’s just a matter of switching to their cellular data, noted the Corps of Cadets member.

“If there’s a will there’s a way,” said Blowers. “It’s just the campus technology. Same way if I gave you my phone, and I didn’t want you to do certain things on it. Like [if] I just showed you a picture I don’t want you swiping through my camera roll. The university is doing the same thing.”

 

Students React to Remote vs Office 9-5

By Hannah Bradicich and Cara Hudson

Employers nationwide have shifted toward remote work, according to a Feb. 4 article by the Washington Post. Three Aggie agricultural economics students all offered different opinions on the new trend.

Office occupancy dipped below 15% in 2020 when states introduced stay-at-home measures due to COVID-19, but those numbers have now risen to 50%, according to a study by Kastle Systems. Now, according to the Washington Post, those numbers are expected to plateau, meaning 50% office capacity may be the new normal.

Inspired by her two parents with hands-on, in-person jobs, Keely Mikolajchak, agricultural economics freshman, said she has always hoped for a similar path pursuing a career out of the office. 

“I never wanted a nine-to-five job where I’m sitting in the same building for long,” Mikolajchak said. “I want to be able to work in policy and lobbying work with the agricultural industry, going out and meeting with consumers and producers.”
LinkedIn data shows 2.2% of listings were fully remote in 2020 compared to 15.9% of listings being remote in 2022. Other companies are pushing back against the trend, like Apple who enforced strict commands for a widespread return-to-office in September 2022, according to an Aug. 15, 2022 article by Bloomberg News. 

For the sake of his own productivity, agricultural economics sophomore Thomas Hooton said he hopes the in-office work structure isn’t permanently left behind. 

“Personally, I want to work in-office,” said Hooton. “If I’m at home, there’s a bunch of distractions, but [hybrid and virtual work] give more options for everyone, which I think is good.”

While agreeing that the 40-hour week is inevitable for some, Kennedy Hobbs, an agricultural economics freshman, said she thinks companies and employees alike will be reluctant to return to the pre-pandemic workplace structure. Hobbs said she hopes to pursue a remote career that involves travel. 

“I feel like people are being more efficient when they go home,” Hobbs said. “So I think that people will not want to go back to the nine-to-five job from a business standpoint. I don’t ever think I will be a nine-to-five person though.

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