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Monday, September 28, 2009

Student Spotlight: Jared Flanagan, UNO Marching Mavericks

The following responses were given by UNO freshman Jared Flanagan, a music technology major.

UNO freshman Jared Flanagan sits with the UNO Marching Mavs during the football game. (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

What sparked your interest in music? It all started when my older brother started playing trumpet in elementary school, I though it looked fun so I though I would try it. I started out trumpet first and couldn't really play it. Then my mom thought I should try the trombone since we had one from when she played in band, that also failed. Finally, I just asked myself which would I rather play guitar or drums? I picked drums when I was eight and the rest is history.

What instrument do you play and what triggered your interest in playing this particular instrument? I play the drum and really all types of percussion instruments from the drum set to marimba. It was a lack of ability to play wind intruments that triggered my interest in percussion, basically.

What are you involved in on campus and how has it benefited your music career so far? So, I'm involved in marching band, percussion ensemble, and Pep Band. They each present their own unique challenges. With marching band, it's force me to learn how to sight-read and memorize music much faster than I've had to before. Percussion ensemble has been good for by exposing me to new types of music I wouldn't otherwise play on my own. Pep Band isn't so much challenging as just an opportunity to get more performance time and it allows to experiment more on the drum set.

What do you plan to do when you get out of college? I am hoping to get a job with a production company running soundboards. I would also not mind doing tech work within the theatre community. Maybe one day I could become a technical director, which would entail designing sets, light shows and other technical aspect of productions.

Being a true musician, what are you thoughts on games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero? I do enjoy playing the games, however annoying and frustrating they may be. Certain songs on the drums in Rock Band that they tend to sometimes make the parts ridiculously hard to play on the game, when on a real drum set, they are actually fairly simple to play. If I was going to rate the realism of the games, I would give them an eight out of 10.

Maverick Solutions raises awareness on intimate partner violence

Females who are 20 to 24 years of age are at the greatest risk for intimate partner violence, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime.

One in every four of these women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The members of the UNO Voices Against Violence Task Force, in partnership with the Omaha YWCA, have teamed up with Maverick Solutions to educate the campus on intimate partner violence.

Maverick Solutions, UNO's student-run public relations firm, hosted a back-to-school barbecue on Sept. 10  to raise awareness on this matter.

Members of the UNO Voices Against Violence Task Force enjoy the film "Waitress." (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

The event - which was held at Maverick Village from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. - featured an outdoor viewing of the romantic comedy "Waitress." Free hot dogs, soda and pie were be served to carry out theme of the film.

Students from lecturer Karen Weber's Critical Writing for the Mass Media course watch the film "Waitress." 
(Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

"Waitress," directed by Adrienne Shelly, hones in on the unhappy marriage of Jenna, a waitress who is trying to escape from her controlling and abusive husband. Jenna - played by "Felicity" star Keri Russell - bakes pies, which are named after the unfortunate happenings in her life. Jenna attempts to enter a pie-baking contest, which offers a $25,000 grand prize, so she can earn enough money to leave her husband.

Jill Sauser, Maverick Solutions co-director and event coordinator, said the film was chosen because it's an example of how a problematic relationship can transform into physical abuse.

Event coordinator Jill Sauser and Maverick PR President Cassie Prestia socialize before "Waitress" begins. 
(Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

"We chose the film 'Waitress' because it demonstrates how quickly emotional abuse can quickly turn into physical violence," Sauser said. "It is also a clear example of how crucial a role friends and family play in providing the victim with the courage to escape an abusive relationship."

Sauser said students need to understand that not all violence is physical in nature.

"Emotional abuse and mental abuse are forms of intimate partner violence, as well," she said. "Often, these can cause even more long-term damage."

A YWCA staff member moderated a brief discussion regarding intimate partner violence after the film. A drawing for a free iPod and other prizes concluded the event.

Sauser said that it was an honor to represent an organization who delves into the issues of intimate partner violence and alcohol abuse.

"It's an amazing experience to play a role in providing students with the knowledge and tools to prevent any type of violent relationship they or their loved ones may find themselves in," she said.

The idea of one in four college students being subjected to an intimate partner relationship is a "scary reality."

"Whether its date rape or verbal abuse, chances are high that at some point in our lives we will be faced with it in some form," Sauser said. "I want students and faculty to leave with the ability to recognize the warning signs of abuse and learn how to safely and successfully speak up for those who can't speak for themselves."

Public affairs students sit in on city council meeting

In an effort to “stop the bleeding” city budget from impacting the community, the Omaha City Council approved a 10-percent property tax increase with a 4-2 vote on Tuesday.

Employees from DirectTV look on as city council members converse. (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

Students from lecturer Karen Weber's public affairs reporting class were present at the meeting.

 Public affairs students Tim Kucera and Lisa Dirks take notes at the city council meeting. (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

If the council did not uphold Mayor Jim Suttle’s veto, the tax increase would have jumped to 6.4 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

Council member Jean Stothert was one of the two votes opposing the property-tax increase. Council member Pete Festersen also opposed the increase.

“If I felt strong enough about it two weeks ago, I will still feel strong enough about it today,” Stothert said. “My position has been and it always will be, and I ran my race on a set of pledges and a set of promises that a tax increase would be the last resort.”

She said there are still concerns circulating throughout the Omaha community.

“There are many people out there on the verge of losing their homes, there’s many people out there that can’t pay their bills,” Stothert said.

Stothert also addressed the 1.5-cent tax increase implemented by the Omaha Public Schools and Metropolitan Community College’s 26-percent tax increase. Other items included the need to raise taxes for the city’s sewer separation project and the further development of the city’s bridges and roads.

“And it adds up, and it adds up and it adds up,” she said.

Stothert doesn’t feel the city is prepared to move forward with this increase.

“I feel like there is still a lot of work we can still do to reduce spending before I support a property-tax increase, especially during these times,” she said. “This is not our money we are spending, this is the community spending.”

Council member Franklin Thompson voted to uphold the mayor’s veto for the budget.

City council members Franklin Thompson (left) and Chris Jerram speak before the meeting. (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

“In all of that time, I’ve always said that taxes are a last option, but I have never said that taxes will never ever be raised,” Thompson said.

Before coming to a solution, Thompson wanted assurance of Suttle’s dedication to “stop the bleeding” budget.

“I think the thing that is wrong with city government is sometimes we want to just pidgeon hole or just separate these things and only talk about them in isolation, but everyone that comes in person doesn’t see it that way,” Thompson said.

He said upholding the tax increase is a more responsible decision.

“We’re faced with a certain reality and we’re going to have a property-tax increase,” Thompson said. “I think it’s more responsible to go with the lower rate than the higher rate.”

Before coming to a decision, Thompson said he had to weigh many different aspects of Suttle’s proposal.

“In the end, I have a job to do and the job is to make sure the city does not shut down,” Thompson said. “One of the things I definitely don’t want to do is saddle citizens with a 6.4 percent property tax, when at least we can get away with something that’s small.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Public affairs students participate in media training

Five public-affairs reporting students from the University of Nebraska at Omaha participated in media training exercises for the Nebraska Department of Human and Health Services on Sept. 22.

Emily Johnson, Zak Davis, Mark McDonald, Andrea Ciurej, Holly Fredrickson and Tim Kucera (left to right) are pictured at the Eastern Nebraska Veteran's Home in Bellevue, where the media training was held.

Students Emily Johnson, Zak Davis, Andrea Ciurej, Holly Fredrickson and Tim Kucera participated in the media training exercise, which was held at the Eastern Nebraska Veteran's Home in Bellevue. Each student represented an Omaha publication or TV station to prepare the department's CEO and other colleagues for real media scenarios. The students participated in three press conferences and TV interviews for the training.
Mark McDonald - director of Vox Optima Public Relations, Western Region - organized the media training.
He said a colleague directed his attention to Maverick PR adviser Karen Weber and the work of the UNO Public Relations Student Society of America chapter.

McDonald said the media training is beneficial to both the trainees and the students involved.

"For a journalism student or a PR student...we like them to see a realistic scenario with the type of people that would be involved in a press conference or a media interview and give them some hands-on experience that will be valuable to them as they progress...," McDonald said.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Maverick PR hosts ethics advocacy event

University and other Omaha-area professionals gathered to discuss ethical behavior with more than a dozen students at the Thompson Alumni Center's Centennial Hall on Sept. 21.

Professionals Scott Darling (far left) and Kevin Langin (left) gather their materials as students prepare for their small-group discussion. (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

The event titled "Ethics &;\ Bad Behavior: It's All About Choices" was hosted by Maverick PR, the University of Nebraska at Omaha chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.

 Maverick PR hosted the Ethics Advocacy Event with the teamwork of members Andrea Ciurej, Shannon Stawniak, Stephanie Bonnett, lecturer Karen Weber and Jessica Legg (left to right). (Photo by: Erin Redemske)

Students were divided into small groups and assigned an ethical case study to analyze with two local professionals.

Professionals include:
Gail Baker, dean of the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media
Allen Cooper, vice president of internal audit, ConAgra Foods
Scott Darling, former vice president of communication, Woodmen of the World Life Insurance Society
Susan Eustice, president of PRSA Nebraska and public relations director, The Salvation Army
Kent Grisham, director of corporate affairs, Kiewit Corporation
Jim Hegarty, president and CEO, Better Business Bureau
Eileen Kenney, ethics compliance officer and Web content manager, Union Pacific
Kevin Langin, public relations director, First National Bank
Teresa Paulsen, vice president of corporate communications, ConAgra Foods
Michelle Perone, Career Center director, UNO
Louis Pol, dean of the College of Business Administration
Erin Redemske, public affairs specialist, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City-Omaha branch
Sarah Waldman, vice president of ethical practices, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
Sherrie Wilson, associate professor, UNO School of Communication.

Students and professionals had the opportunity to analyze ethical scenarios, such as corporate blogging, employee privacy and academic honesty, in small groups. The results of each discussion were shared in a large-group discussion toward the end of the event.

Dean Louis Pol (left) reviews UNO's Student Code of Conduct with another student before their small-group discussion.
 (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)

Darling facilitated the large-group discussion and began with an overall definiton of ethics.

"What I say when I think of ethics is, "What is good, right and proper?" Darling said.
Professionals from larger corporations mentioned the potential difficulties involved when hiring and firing employees.

"It comes down to facts and circumstances," Cooper said.

Grisham addressed the hardships of knowing when to draw the line.

"You have to understand everything that is at stake," he said.

Hegarty discussed the difficulities of working for a smaller, more family-like organization.

"You develop these deep relationships...but the right decision must be made," he said. "They need to be subjected to a litmus test."

Professionals Jim Hegarty (top) and Kent Grisham (bottom right) engage in conversation before the Ethics Advocacy Event.
 (Andrea Ciurej/UNO)