member

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff

Hours before graduate public affairs student Gene Vela, a member of the Senate of College Councils’ Leadership Team, was involved in an armed standoff with police officers, the Senate’s Executive Board convened at his house for a scheduled meeting.

Though multiple board members referred The Daily Texan to the Senate’s faculty sponsor, Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly, for comment, Reagins-Lilly denied any knowledge of the meeting in a statement. Reagins-Lilly was unavailable for an interview.

“We are unaware of any Senate of College Councils organizational or business activity scheduled on the evening in question,” Reagins-Lilly said in a statement. “Our priority in this matter remains the safety and well-being of our students.”

Senate President Andrew Clark said Senate board meetings are regularly scheduled events and are occasionally held off campus, as the board meeting was on Nov. 10. 

“We meet every Sunday at 7 p.m., whether it be Leadership Team or the Executive Board of Senate,” Clark said. “We meet every single Sunday, and sometimes we do meet off campus, but I don’t know how often.”

Clark said Reagins-Lilly would provide information and said despite the board meeting at Vela’s house, the standoff is not a Senate issue.

“Gene was a member of Senate and obviously was a contributor to the organization, but beyond that, this is something that’s kind of transcended the scope of Senate,” Clark said. “So that’s why it’s Dean Lilly’s responsibility. In any student conduct related matters, or legal things, it’s Dean Lilly’s role to take on.”

On Nov. 10, Austin Police Department officers arrived at Vela’s North Campus apartment, close to St. David’s Medical Center, after Vela called a friend and hung up abruptly. Police said the unidentified friend was concerned enough to call 911. 

When the police arrived, Vela aimed a handgun at them through his window, according to police department Assistant Chief Raul Munguia. After officers fired bullets into the corner of the window, Vela retreated, at which point police heard what they believed to be Vela loading and discharging more firearms.

Vela returned to his apartment window and pointed his laser-equipped handgun directly at the officers’ chests, and officers Leo Cardenas and Adrien Chopin fired, Munguia said. Vela was hit in the left torso and fell back. 

Clark said he was not aware Vela, who is a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq in 2002, kept weapons in his apartment. 

“Gene is a veteran, we all knew that,” Clark said. “All I know is what’s been reported in the papers. I had no idea that he had weapons or any sort of anything else.”

Clark denied any further knowledge of what might have caused Vela to aim a handgun at officers that night. 

“I had no idea about any of the stuff that went on after the fact,” Clark said. “All I know is what’s been reported in the papers.”

In the days since the standoff, multiple members of the board have denied comment completely or referred to Clark and Reagins-Lilly for comment. 

Student Government President Horacio Villarreal said he was surprised at the seeming lack of transparency, but said he felt certain circumstances require private handling.

“This does somewhat surprise me,” Villarreal said. “In dealing with the Senate Executive Board this year, they’ve been incredibly transparent — but I trust them, they’re good people and I trust they’re making the right decision.”

Vela, who is being held in the Travis County Jail, has been charged with aggravated assault against a public servant. Currently, his bond remains set at $100,000.

Clarification: Soncia Reagins-Lilly, dean of students, was contacted for an interview but released a statement instead.

Baylor head coach Art Briles addresses media members at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas. Briles and the Bears are looking to improve on a 10-3 record from a year ago.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

The Baylor Bears may have lost their top three offensive threats from a year ago to the NFL Draft, but head coach Art Briles doesn’t see that being an issue as his team prepares for the start of a new season.

“We’ve got some holes to fill. We understand that,” Briles said. “In general I think our brand is probably as good as it’s ever been on a national level. What we have to do now is maintain it, and that’s where my inspiration, passion and drive is going to come from.”

The Bears are coming out of their best season in more than 30 years after a 10-3 finish in 2011, which included the team’s first bowl victory since 1992. But the loss of Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III as well as leading wide receiver Kendall Wright and running back Terrance Ganaway have many wondering if the Bears can duplicate their success from a season ago.

“We have to fill in the gaps because Robert created a lot of gaps,” Briles said. “We have to fill that in with a variety of different methods, schematically and personnel-wise, that will give us an opportunity to stay at the level we finished at last year.”

One of the players who will attempt to fill the massive hole left by Griffin III and others is senior quarterback Nick Florence. Florence would have two remaining years of eligibility, but he was forced to relinquish his redshirt late last season after Griffin III suffered a concussion against Texas Tech. In that game, Florence threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another score, eventually leading the Bears to a 66-42 win over the Red Raiders.

It was then that Briles knew Florence would do anything to see the Bears win.

“That’s where his drive is — being a good football player that contributes to Baylor being successful,” Briles said. “I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the passion, energy and fearlessness he’s going to bring to the table.”

Briles isn’t the only one confident in Florence’s ability to lead the Bears. Senior center Ivory Wade feels the Bears are right where they left off at the end of last season.

“We’re going to be the same offense we were last year,” Wade said. “Very explosive and hopefully rack up a lot of yards.”

Those yards will have to come from somewhere, and that’s precisely where fifth-year senior wide receiver Terrance Williams comes in.

Williams played in all 13 games last season, including 11 at receiver on his way to 957 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His receiving totals were second on the team, trailing only Wright, who is now a Tennessee Titan. At 6-foot-2, Williams provides a big target for Florence and should emerge as this year’s most reliable downfield threat.

“He’s going to blow up this year,” Wade said.

The Bears also return Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson and Levi Norwood at receiver in addition to recent Michigan transfer Darryl Stonum. The loss of Wright hurts, but there are several players who are capable of working as a unit in order to replicate Wright’s receiving totals from last year.

With all the attention paid to Griffin III and Wright a year ago, it’s easy to forget that the Bears also had a 1,500 yard rusher, Ganaway, who is now a member of the New York Jets.

Ganaway found the endzone 21 times on the ground in 2011, and his production will be greatly missed as well.

At the moment, senior Jarred Salubi is listed as the Bears’ No. 1 running back. He’s played in 38 career games, tied for the most on the team.

“Jarred is an outstanding back. He’s able to make guys miss in space and he’s big and strong enough to be powerful inside,” Briles said.

Someone will have to step up in order to replace Ganaway, and that someone could be Lache Seastrunk. A graduate of nearby Temple High School and former Oregon Duck, Seastrunk joined the Bears in 2011 but was forced to sit out the entire season per NCAA transfer regulations.

“Lache is a very dynamic player that has three years left and we’re anxious to see what he can do when there’s people in the stands hollering, because he’s got ability and that’s something that’s hard to hide,” Briles said. “We’re going to have him open up the jacket and let it show.”

It won’t be an easy task replacing the drafted players on the offensive side of the ball, but the pieces are there.

“Perceptions change and there’s still people who are going to write us off, and that’s the way it’s always going to be,” Florence said. “We want to earn some respect. We’ve won a bowl game and got to 10 wins, so now we want to win a Big 12 Championship.”

 The Baylor Bears may have lost their top three offensive threats from a year ago to the NFL Draft, but head coach Art Briles doesn’t see that being an issue as his team prepares for the start of a new season.

“We’ve got some holes to fill. We understand that,” Briles said. “In general I think our brand is probably as good as it’s ever been on a national level. What we have to do now is maintain it, and that’s where my inspiration, passion and drive is going to come from.”

The Bears are coming out of their best season in more than 30 years after a 10-3 finish in 2011, which included the team’s first bowl victory since 1992. But the loss of Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III as well as leading wide receiver Kendall Wright and running back Terrance Ganaway have many wondering if the Bears can duplicate their success from a season ago.

“We have to fill in the gaps because Robert created a lot of gaps,” Briles said. “We have to fill that in with a variety of different methods, schematically and personnel-wise, that will give us an opportunity to stay at the level we finished at last year.”

One of the players who will attempt to fill the massive hole left by Griffin III and others is senior quarterback Nick Florence. Florence would have two remaining years of eligibility, but he was forced to relinquish his redshirt late last season after Griffin III suffered a concussion against Texas Tech. In that game, Florence threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another score, eventually leading the Bears to a 66-42 win over the Red Raiders.

It was then that Briles knew Florence would do anything to see the Bears win.

“That’s where his drive is — being a good football player that contributes to Baylor being successful,” Briles said. “I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the passion, energy and fearlessness he’s going to bring to the table.”

Briles isn’t the only one confident in Florence’s ability to lead the Bears. Senior center Ivory Wade feels the Bears are right where they left off at the end of last season.

“We’re going to be the same offense we were last year,” Wade said. “Very explosive and hopefully rack up a lot of yards.”

Those yards will have to come from somewhere, and that’s precisely where fifth-year senior wide receiver Terrance Williams comes in.

Williams played in all 13 games last season, including 11 at receiver on his way to 957 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His receiving totals were second on the team, trailing only Wright, who is now a Tennessee Titan. At 6-foot-2, Williams provides a big target for Florence and should emerge as this year’s most reliable downfield threat.

“He’s going to blow up this year,” Wade said.

The Bears also return Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson and Levi Norwood at receiver in addition to recent Michigan transfer Darryl Stonum. The loss of Wright hurts, but there are several players who are capable of working as a unit in order to replicate Wright’s receiving totals from last year.

With all the attention paid to Griffin III and Wright a year ago, it’s easy to forget that the Bears also had a 1,500 yard rusher, Ganaway, who is now a member of the New York Jets.

Ganaway found the endzone 21 times on the ground in 2011, and his production will be greatly missed as well.

At the moment, senior Jarred Salubi is listed as the Bears’ No. 1 running back. He’s played in 38 career games, tied for the most on the team.

“Jarred is an outstanding back. He’s able to make guys miss in space and he’s big and strong enough to be powerful inside,” Briles said.

Someone will have to step up in order to replace Ganaway, and that someone could be Lache Seastrunk. A graduate of nearby Temple High School and former Oregon Duck, Seastrunk joined the Bears in 2011 but was forced to sit out the entire season per NCAA transfer regulations.

“Lache is a very dynamic player that has three years left and we’re anxious to see what he can do when there’s people in the stands hollering, because he’s got ability and that’s something that’s hard to hide,” Briles said. “We’re going to have him open up the jacket and let it show.”

It won’t be an easy task replacing the drafted players on the offensive side of the ball, but the pieces are there.

“Perceptions change and there’s still people who are going to write us off, and that’s the way it’s always going to be,” Florence said. “We want to earn some respect. We’ve won a bowl game and got to 10 wins, so now we want to win a Big 12 Championship.”

People remember certain odors and sights from settings where they do drugs, including alcohol, and will remember the experience if they come into contact with similar settings, according to a new study by the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research at UT.

For example, if a person is consuming alcohol in a room that smells like oranges, the smell becomes a reminder of their experience, said associate pharmacy professor Christine Duvauchelle, a member of the center. She said the smell will trigger cravings and lead to addiction over time as the person repeatedly comes in contact with it.

“The environment that the alcohol drinking occurs in gets associated with the drinking itself,” Duvauchelle said.

The study breaks ground in showing that such reminders can enhance addictions and cravings. When a person comes into contact with cues that remind them of their drug experience, their addiction may worsen, said Brian Bernier, a neuroscience graduate student who worked on the study as part of his dissertation.

Addiction is a form of learning because the parts of the brain that are involved in teaching about things that are considered rewarding, such as food, do the same for drugs, and that reward response causes addiction, Bernier said.
Bernier conducted the experiment on mice by giving them alcohol repeatedly over a week and then studying the changes in neurons in certain parts of the brain that trigger addiction.

He said the exposure to drugs makes it easier for our brains to build associations in the future. Neurons — brain cells that transmit information to different parts of the body — cause cravings when the brain experiences those associations.

It is a widely accepted notion in the neuroscience community that alcohol consumption can enhance a person’s ability to build associations at a subconscious level, said associate neurobiology professor Hitoshi Morikawa, a member of the center.

Looking forward, the study may help create anti-addiction drugs that weaken the associations in the brain and help cure addictions, Morikawa said.
“We are currently testing certain drugs on animal models of drug addiction with this idea in mind,” he said.