Winning Ugly

Don't ask how, but the city made a good move

Wearing jeans to a school that requires standardized dress? We can imagine the pressure the kids put on Mom and Dad. Rumors began swirling that the district would take down the names of all who voted that night, and if a kid showed up in jeans and his parents' names weren't on the list, it was detention time.

"You can't give people goodies to get them to vote," says Alvin resident Michael Payne, who protested the event.

Scott Haywood of Texas's Secretary of State office agrees. "It could be considered bribery," he says.

Alvin school district spokesperson Shirley Brothers says the plan "got nipped" before it got started. "It was a little overzealousness on the principal who thought she was going to do that," Brothers says.

A parent notified the administration of the flyer. "I was like, 'Pick me up off the floor,' " Brothers says. "My exact words were 'How stupid is that?' "

Administrators attended Fall Academic Night to assure parents the offer was no longer valid.

"Everyone got to wear jeans the next day," Brothers says.

And, maybe not coincidentally, the district's bond proposal passed. Early voters supported it by 2-1.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Mostly P

Everyone needs a cause, and Timothy O'Brien, a grad student at the University of Houston, has his. It's bathrooms.

Or the lack of them, to be specific. O'Brien is steamed that most of the bathrooms at UH's Agnes Arnold Hall are available only to "funded grad students," meaning those working as teaching assistants. Regular ol' grad students like O'Brien have to go all the way down to the first floor to relieve themselves.

You think O'Brien is taking this sitting down? Think again. He's filed Freedom of Information Act requests trying to get to the bottom of the policy.

He's as serious as only a history grad student can be: "They're continuing to give [bathroom] keys to a favored class," he says. "When people put barricades in front of me to get my education, I will knock that barricade down." And piss on it for good measure, if he could.

UH officials say it's a security issue. O'Brien says it's "totally humiliating" to have to ask for a bathroom key when he attends grad seminars on the upper floors.

"I'm studying African-American history about people getting hung and all that injustice, and they're doing the same thing, even though it's minor," he says.

Yikes. At least he threw in that "even though it's minor." You gotta have some perspective.

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