UM Debater Rates the Candidates

By Renee Reneau
UM News

UM debate team member on her way to the debate, which she critiqued for UM News.

UM debate team member Renee Reneau heads to the GOP debate, which she critiqued for UM News.

Editor’s note: Senior Renee Reneau is a member of the UM Debate Team, and works in University Communications. Here’s how she saw the debate.

Live debate is a skill unrivaled by any other. Good debaters know how to craft arguments featuring tag lines with a punch. Great debaters know how to back up these arguments with substance.

The 12th (yes, 12th) debate of the 2016 election cycle presented by CNN and hosted by the University of Miami at its BankUnited Center Thursday was the last Republican debate before the critical March 15 primaries in Florida and Ohio.

The four remaining candidates, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, and UM alumnus Marco Rubio, surprised all of us with the amount of substance they brought to the table. Below is my account of how each of them measured up:

Cruz — A

Tagline: “This is a job interview. We are here pledging our support to you!”

Cruz remained on the offensive Thursday night, with direct challenges to Trump’s rhetoric. He spoke of going beyond the rhetoric that just says “China bad,” or “Muslims bad” and challenged the audience at home to ask, “How is this helping you?” The trained debater from Princeton University earns a grade A because of the amount of specifics he referenced, raising his credibility.

The debate overall had better quality answers because candidates had a full 1 minute and 15 seconds to answer questions and 45 seconds to respond to other candidates’ answers. Cruz took advantage of this, name-dropping political figures in the Middle East, such as Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt. I think many in the audience shared my relief in thinking – finally we are actually talking about the Middle East.

Rubio — A-

Tagline: “I’m not interested in being politically correct… I’m interested in being correct.”

Rubio was the hometown favorite, and probably won the most political capital out of the debate. His answers on Cuba made most of the audience want to scream out Libertad! and there was even a small “Marco, Marco” chant from the student section. Rubio knew his live audience, and he also knew his audience watching at home, such as Florida’s large senior citizen population. Another standout moment was his answer on Social Security, in which he gave specifics and had a logical progression of increasing the retirement age and adjusting benefits on an incremental scale based on wealth.

Rubio would have won the entire debate in my opinion, had he given better opening and closing remarks. I would have liked to hear something else besides our generation is building a new American century.

Kasich — B

Tagline: “This is not a theory I’m talking about; it’s the reality I’ve already accomplished.”

This election cycle, Kasich has billed himself as the adult on the stage, and the only candidate with real bipartisan accomplishments under his belt. Thursday he again mentioned that he was the chief architect of balancing the federal budget “for the first time since man walked on the moon,” and that he remains the candidate with the strongest chance of beating Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Kasich took the only strategy he really could in a state where he is polling at just 4 percent. He stuck to his guns, got in as many points as the moderator allowed, and finished strong by saying, “I want to turn power, money, and influence back to you, the American people.” Will it be enough to win him delegates Tuesday in other states? When he is touting renewable energy and vocational programs in schools, he isn’t exactly hitting on the buzzwords of the race (not to say those things are bad, we just always forget about Kasich perhaps because he is too substantive).

Trump — B

Tagline: “I’ll get us the really, really good deals!”

One of the most important skills during a debate round is thinking on your feet. Trump has proved his ability to do this time and again. His greatest strength is that he sounds like your conservative uncle talking to you at the dinner table. But what stood out Thursday was his notable change in tone, literally. Trump spoke in a much softer and less aggressive manner, only speaking over Marco Rubio once.

Unfortunately for Trump, it didn’t escape the audience in Miami that he was flip-flopping on the issues of H1B high-skilled worker visas and Israel. Contradictory advocacy is a cardinal sin in debate, and this isn’t the first time Trump has changed his position. Thus he earns a B.


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Compliance Corner: Background on Reinstating Student-Athlete Eligibility

Special to UM News

It is not unusual to read in the news that a student-athlete at a NCAA institution has been declared ineligible for competition due to involvement in a violation of NCAA rules, such as accepting a benefit not available to others. Although this is often interesting and sometimes “scandalous” to the media, it is not an infrequent occurrence for collegiate athletic departments, which declare many student-athletes ineligible for play every year.

So, how does a compliance administrator handle a NCAA violation that requires declaring a student-athlete ineligible for competition?

First, they must report violations of NCAA rules that affect a student-athlete’s eligibility to the NCAA National Office. That triggers a reinstatement process, which includes a review and assessment of the student-athlete’s or prospective student-athlete’s responsibility and determines appropriate conditions for reinstatement of eligibility under the NCAA’s standards.

The following is a summary of the reinstatement process:

  • Institution determines that a prospective or enrolled student-athlete was involved in a violation that affects eligibility;
  • Institution declares student-athletes/prospective student-athlete ineligible;
  • Institution investigates situation and gathers facts;
  • Institution submits eligibility reinstatement request to student-athlete reinstatement staff.
  • NCAA staff reviews request, focusing on the student-athlete’s/prospective student-athlete’s responsibility;
  • NCAA staff reviews precedent and reviews cases with similar facts to determine what conditions for reinstatement should be imposed, if any.
  • NCAA staff, on behalf of Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committees, can do one of three things:
  1. Reinstate eligibility without conditions.
  2. Reinstate eligibility with conditions, such as repayment, return of benefit, withheld from one or more contests, lose one or more years of eligibility.
  3. Not reinstate eligibility at that institution or at any institution

If a NCAA institution does not agree with the action by the Reinstatement Staff, the institution can appeal that decision to the Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee. This committee is composed of athletic administrators from various NCAA institutions. The action by the committee is final and cannot be appealed to any other committee.

During the entire review process (from gathering the facts, writing the report, complying with the reinstatement conditions, etc.) a student-athlete is generally eligible to practice with his or her team, but cannot travel or compete with the team. As a result, there is often a great deal of pressure to work quickly and efficiently on student-athlete reinstatement cases.

The UM Athletics Department asks all University of Miami staff, alumni, boosters and supporters to contact the compliance office with any questions concerning student-athlete eligibility, extra benefits or any other questions they may have. As always, your efforts to help the University of Miami maintain a culture of compliance are greatly appreciated.

For more compliance information, follow the UM Athletics Department on Twitter (@UCompliance), like them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/UCompliance), or contact them via email, [email protected].


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Piccolo Player Rachel Schueller Pumps Pep Into Game Day

Special to UM News

Rachel Schueller

Rachel Schueller

Game day at the BankUnited Center is a lively atmosphere of student-athletes, coaches, referees, fans, mascots, cheerleaders, dancers, house music, and the incomparable Frost Band of the Hour Pep Band. A 2016 Retale.com online blog commented that the college pep band “is basically the best part of the basketball game,” where “young and vibrant kids are open to dancing, laughing, and cheering on the team with abandon.”

At UM, one band member consistently attracts the attention of spectators, not only for her musicianship but also for her genuine enthusiasm and unbridled spirit. Rachel Schueller, a double major in math and marine science, plays piccolo and holds a student leadership position in the Band of the Hour marching and pep bands. She is also a Hurricanes super fan, leading the crowd in spirit chants while dancing in the stands. Rachel is also known as ‘The Hair’ for spinning her long brown locks like a pinwheel, pumping up the crowd with her dizzying antics while elevating the energy in arenas across the ACC.

“If I’m cheering up the crowd and making them feel peppier, that’s my job,” says Schueller. “The best way to raise the level of a crowd is to help others raise their own level of excitement.”

Schueller grew up in a musical family. Her hair dance began when her dad played in a band. “He was a head banger,” she explains, “but my hair was 12 inches longer than his so I thought, ‘Let’s see what this looks like.’ ” Her favorite dance song is “Turn Down For What” by DJ Snake and Lil John. “That drop really gets me going,” she says.

In 2013 online sports site SB Nation named Ram Boy (Colorado State University), and One-Man Dance Party (University of Arizona) as their “Best Fans of March Madness.” Schueller, aka the Hair, embodies the same passion and physical commitment for University of Miami basketball. She is often recognized in the student dining hall weeks after a game, and UM athletics personnel are taking note.

“Every time she’s put on the videoboard, it makes it hard for us to take the camera off her,” says Lindy Sparby, UM athletics director of marketing. “Her enthusiasm is so contagious, it makes other fans want to get up and dance along with her. She raises the energy in the building and brings excitement to our fan environment.”

Through music, Schueller supports her Hurricane teams wholeheartedly. She comes from a small town in the state of Washington, about as far northwest from Miami as you can get. She grew up playing flute and viola, and specifically chose UM for its marine science and marching band programs.

She is a committed fan, but also a musician who commends the Frost Band of the Hour for providing academic undergrads like herself with a creative outlet that includes developing fundamental life skills and making new friends. “Being in the athletic bands is an opportunity to connect with other students in a way that doesn’t happen as easily in the lecture hall,” she says.

The Frost Band of the Hour Pep Band includes 50 student members. Members dedicate one night per week to rehearsal, in addition to performing at UM men’s and women’s home basketball games, select volleyball games, and traveling to post-season away games. The group performs cutting-edge jazz and rock repertoire custom arranged by Frost Director of Athletic Bands/Professor of Music Jay Rees.


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Engineers Week Explores Diversity in STEM Disciplines

Hundreds of students attend a week of events to learn more about engineering and change the perception that it’s not for women or minorities.

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (February 25, 2016) — When College of Engineering senior Kyrah Williams got up to speak during Tuesday’s A Force for Change, Diversity in STEM forum, she voiced a concern many of her fellow students have on their minds.

“When you look at me what do you see?” posed Williams, president of the University of Miami chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, which co-sponsored the event. “My outer appearance shows that I am an African-American woman. What you cannot see are my passions and plans to become a successful engineer. Due to first impressions of me, society will label me as a minority in the workplace and in life.”

Being stereotyped and feeling isolated were two of the many issues that were brought to light during the forum, which featured UM President Julio Frenk, College of Engineering Dean Jean-Pierre Bardet, and Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Whitely.

The forum, which drew about 50 students, faculty, and staff members to the UM Faculty Club, was part of Engineers Week, an annual weeklong celebration that calls attention to the contributions engineers make to society and emphasizes the importance of learning math, science, and technical skills. Other events included a duct tape competition, a demonstration of a concrete canoe built by UM engineering students, and the “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” which welcomed more than 150 girls from South Florida high schools to the University to stimulate their interest in the world of engineering through lectures and activities.

“How can we foster issues of diversity in the workplace if we don’t start in our school?” Williams asked at last Tuesday’s diversity forum.

Frenk said he was pleased to join the conversation because the meeting was a confluence of two of his aspirations for the future of the University. UM strives to be an “excellent university” and thus be strong in the fields of applied sciences and engineering. A $100 million gift from longtime UM benefactors Phillip and Patricia Frost towards those academic areas makes that goal more attainable.

The president added that, as “an exemplary university,” UM has a responsibility to provide a model for the larger society through the values and behaviors it embraces. “The value of diversity is at the core of an exemplary university,” he said. “Diversity is the right thing to do because we value every life equally. Every human being deserves the same opportunity.”

Beyond diversity, Frenk said, the University has to develop a “sense of belonging” so that every individual feels like they are welcomed into the institution. “Stereotyping and assigning certain characteristics to a group of people corrodes that sense of belonging,” he said.

Reading from a letter that he co-signed with other deans from the American Society of Engineering Education, Bardet said he was committed to bringing in more Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans to STEM education and to the College of Engineering. As part of this commitment, Bardet said the college would create partnerships with more diverse institutions, such as Miami Dade College and Florida A&M University, with the goal of increasing underrepresented minorities at UM.

Also, the college will commit to hiring more minority faculty members. Bardet recognized Professor Vincent Omachonu, who was at the gathering and is the only African-American professor at the college, which has 57 full-time faculty members.

“The fact that we are having this conversation is a great step in a very positive direction,” Whitely said.

She also agreed that recruiting minority faculty had to be a priority since many could become mentors to students. “When you have those mentors, things are easier simply because somebody else has gone down the very same path and will be with you,” Whitely said.

During the question-and-answer period, students brought up concerns about their schools – which included lack of diversity in the faculty, lack of financial resources, and lack of support from the faculty, as well as curriculums that occasionally did not directly serve their needs.

Engineering senior Natasha Koermer said some of her female peers had been told not to pursue the engineering field because “it was not for women.”

Bardet committed to hearing more about their concerns, and said he would set up focus groups as a way to address and resolve them.

The UM chapters of Minority Women in Medicine and the National Association of Black Accountants also sponsored the forum.

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Researcher Fights Cancer in the Lab and on the Run

Special to UM News

Pierre-Jacques Hamard

Pierre-Jacques Hamard

“Being a cancer researcher is not only a job, it’s also a commitment to patients and the community,” says Pierre-Jacques Hamard, Ph.D., an associate scientist in the laboratory of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Director Stephen D. Nimer, M.D. “That is why I am doing the 5k run at this year’s Dolphins Cancer Challenge.”

On a regular day in the lab, Hamard is studying the mechanisms driving leukemias, which are blood cancers. He’s particularly interested in a gene called PRMT5, what role it plays under normal conditions, and what it does in cancer cells. Eventually, he and his colleagues want to use PRMT5 as a target for new precision therapies because the gene has been shown to be over-expressed in a number of cancers. “The idea is, if we inhibit PRMT5 or the resulting protein with a small molecule, perhaps we can kill the cancer cells that depend on that gene to function,” he said.

The laboratory Hamard works in collaborates with a number of biotech companies to identify compounds that target this protein. “We already have small molecules that we can test in the lab on different systems and we have preliminary data showing that these compounds can slow down the proliferation of cancer cells,” he said. “Obviously, this is very preliminary and we need to confirm our findings in different systems, but it is very encouraging.”

Hamard is a co-author of a 2015 scientific paper that described the role of PRMT5 in normal, non-cancerous cells. “We found that PRMT5 is a very important gene for blood production in the body,” he said. “The question now is how can we treat leukemia patients without affecting the role PRMT5 plays in normal blood production?” Since PRMT5 is over-expressed in leukemia, scientists believe that cancer cells could be more dependent on this gene than normal cells, which might render them more sensitive to PRMT5 inhibitors, offering the clinicians a therapeutic window for targeting PRMT5.

This kind of research taking place at Sylvester is possible partly because of the funds received from the DCC. “I’m doing what I’m doing because of the patients and I want to discover new and better cures and therapies,” said Hamard, who also rode in last year’s DCC. “I love to show people that even we scientists, who have dedicated our lives to research, are also involved in events like the DCC. We are not only ‘lab rats;’ we are also passionate community members and we want to tackle cancer once and for all.”

To register for the DCC, which will take place on Saturday, February 20, please visit TeamHurricanes.org.

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