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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 15, 1998)
Diversity Players’ skits
play out minority issues
Students experience life in others' shoes
By Lindsay Young
For about 30 students last week, the
front of 116 Henzlik Hall served as a
It was a stage to act out situations
some students on campus face every
But most of the students in the
class had never been forced to deal
with the situations presented - which
involved racist or homophobic
remarks - and what many students feel
are harmless stereotypes.
Students in the audience replaced
the actors in the skits whenever they
felt the actors did not deal with the sim
ulated experiences effectively.
And if no one was jumping in, the
actors’ voices would shout things like,
“No one sees anything wrong with
this?” Soon after, someone, like Billy
Gabel, sophomore physical education
and health major, would give one of the
actor’s positions a shot
And that shot gave Gabel a differ
ent outlook on things he experiences
every day, he said.
The UNL Diversity Players pre
sented three skits - “Little Brown
Brother,” “Latina Sorority” and
“Fairyland” - to a multicultural educa
tion class in the Teachers’ College
April 7. The players have performed
more than 20 times to classes and uni
versity groups since their inception last
fall. . .
In “Little Brown Brother,” Gabel
jumped in to replace the actor who was
When you ask (the audience) to rewrite the
skits they write them in very weird ways - but
very effective ways.”
Diversity Players coordinator
playing the position of a character
named Manuel, a Mexican-American.
Manuel was called several names,
such as “little brown brother,” by his
friend, who was white.
The actor playing Manuel didn’t
respond. But Gabel decided the things
Manuel’s friend did were wrong and
fed his own ideas into the skit.
Eventually he told the friend,
“Well, I’m not your friend anymore!”
The crowd roared with laughter and
“I got defensive. I felt I should stick
up for me,” Gabel said in an interview
after the skit.
When he was watching the plays,
they didn’t affect him as much, Gabel
But, he said, “When I was in that
position, I just had a total 180.”
Candace Cain, a sophomore mid
dle school education major, said
although she didn’t participate in the
skits, they still made her think.
“It just made me think, ‘What
would I say if something like that hap
pened?”’ she said.
The actors posed many questions
to the class throughout the presenta
tions such as, “How many of you just
ignore it and just keep on going?” and,
“Would you honestly say something to
English Professor Anne Whitney
said she felt some students thought the
presentations were too confrontational.
Whitney had the group perform for
three of her composition classes and
had the students write about it in a jour
But maybe the confrontational
style was good for the students, she
“So suddenly they said something
they really believed, and half the class
room take offense at what they said,”
“I think this is hard. This is really
Deanna Zaffke, Diversity Players
coordinator, said the experience is new
for the players every time they per
“When you ask (the audience) to
rewrite the skits they write them in
very weird ways - but very effective
ways,” she said.
The group hopes to grow from the
24 students it has now to 100 by the end
of next year.
Zaffke said the group is still look
ing for more minorities and men.
People interested in joining can contact
Zaffke at (402) 472-1880.
Whitney said the presentations
were worth it, and her students’ reac
tions proved it
Project to aid low-income housing
By Brian Carlson
Habitat for Humanity members
hope to make life a little easier for a few
low-income homeowners in Lincoln
Saturday when they tackle a home
repair project with helping hands arid
•:£~- For the Hand and Heart project,
Sponsored by the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln chapter of Habitat
for Humanity, a group of volunteers
will spend Saturday Working on home
repairs at 13 local houses. Event orga
nizers hope to attract 100 volunteers for
work such as painting, light construc
tion work and fixing odds and ends like
windows and smoke alarms.
“The whole goal is to make houses
more livable for low-income families,”
said Chris Stone, a sophomore dietetics
major and event coordinator.
Stone said a house’s problems often
aren’t evident from the outside. But
inside, houses may suffer from prob
lems such as collapsed staircases or
leaky roofs. Cold drafts let in by broken
windows and the presence of lead paint
can cause illnesses.
Hand and Heart volunteers aren’t
expected to have construction skills,
Stone said. An adult supervisor and a
student supervisor will be stationed at
each work site, and anyone may volun
Stone said the group hopes to gain a
better understanding of substandard
housing problems in Lincoln and do its
part to help the situation.
“I think this is a very worthy pro
ject,” she said. “I don’t know of a better
way to spend your Saturday than help
Jason Dubs, president of UNL
Habitat for Humanity, said without pro
jects like Hand and Heart, many low
income families wouldn’t be able to
“One of the most important things
is that you get a sense of empowerment
and an idea of how an individual can
make a difference,” he said.
I don’t know of a
better way to spend
Hand and Heart home repairs are
provided at no charge to low-income
families. The UNL Habitat for
Humanity chapter purchased its con
struction supplies from Payless
Cashways at wholesale price.
Travis Fisher, a junior who will
serve as a student site supervisor, said
although the problem of substandard
housing in Lincoln is larger than what
volunteers will be exposed to Saturday,
volunteer efforts are a good start.
“It comes down to helping people
who need help,” he said. “It’s one of the
ways we can feel like we’re accomplish
ing something that needs to be done.
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comes to close
Nelson bids adieu
By Todd Anderson
After summing up the work his
administration has done in the past
eight years during a speech before
the Legislature, Gov. Ben Nelson
signed into law two more tax reduc
Following the close of this year’s
legislative session, Nelson gave his
last sine die speech in the Capitol
Nelson, who will leave office in
January because of a law limiting
him to two terms as governor, high
lighted the success of his eight-year
administration at fostering econom
ic growth and cutting taxes.
“Nebraskans asked us to down
size government without downsiz
ing the good life,” Nelson said.
“The past seven years-plus have
been a building process toward that
goal. We’ve tried to get better every
year, to build on our success.”
Nelson said he hopes
Nebraska’s new governor and next
year’s Legislature continue to build
on his success.
“The leaders of the future must
continue to be careful with taxpayer
dollars and with our quality of life,”
Nelson finished by saying he
will be leaving a job he loved and
said his administration had worked
to renew hope for Nebraska.
“If we have been successful in
doing that, we truly have laid a solid
foundation for future generations,”
After shaking hands with sena
tors on his way out of the chamber,
Nelson headed to his press confer
ence room to sign the tax cuts
passed by the Legislature earlier in
Though he was critical of the
budget increases approved by the
Legislature this year, Nelson com
mended senators on their hard work.
“The Legislature gets high
marks when it comes to tax cutting,”
Nelson said, “but their marks aren’t
as high on the spending side.”
Nelson signed LB1104, a bill
sponsored by Sen. Ray Janssen of
While Janssen was away from
the Legislature because of illness,
Beatrice Sen. Dave Maurstad and
Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers
worked together to rally support for
the tax cut, Janssen said.
The new law lowers the state
sales tax from 5 percent to 4.5 per
cent for one year, totaling almost
$92 million in savings.
Nelson also signed LB 1028,
which will extend a two-year, 5 per
cent tax cut into the future, as well as
the $10 increase in the personal
exemption and the 100 percent
exemption of health insurance costs
for the self-employed.
The bill also increases the limits
on child care income tax credits.
The two bills together will
change the way Nebraskans think of
April 15, a day normally associated
with tax payment deadlines, Nelson
“(Today) is the day a lot of
Nebraskans don’t look forward to,”
Nelson said. “But this is a good day
“The hard-working people of
Nebraska are getting well-deserved
cuts in their state sales and income
Omaha Sen. Deb Suttle, one of
the sponsors of the bill, said return
ing dollars to taxpayers would pre
vent the state from spending more
“We can’t spend it if we don’t
have it,” Suttle said.
Sen. Shelley Keil of Omaha said
the bill would help women who
want to start their own businesses.
6 senators bid farewell
in final legislative day
By Joy Ludwig
Laughter and tears filled the
Nebraska Legislature Chambers
Tuesday afternoon after a few
hours of heated debate and tension
earlier in the day.
The last day of the 95th legisla
tive session also signaled the end
of an era for six senators who have
served a combined total of 68
Retiring Sens. Dave Maurstad
of Beatrice, Eric Will of Omaha, C.
N. “Bud” Robinson of Blair, Owen
Elmer of Indianola, Chris Abboud '
of Omaha and Don Wesely of
Lincoln, among others, were hon
.ored for their dedication and hard
work after the last bill had been
voted on and passed for 1998.
Speaker of the Legislature
Doug Kristensen of Minden began
the series of speeches that fol
lowed. He said he wanted to thank
all the senators for doing such a
“Don’t let anyone criticize you
of the effort and desire of this
Legislature this year,” he said.
“Each and every one of you made
this session work.”
Lieutenant Gov. Kim Robak
also considered the session a suc
cess. She said she has enjoyed pre:
siding over the legislative sessions
and working with the senators.
This year marks her last because
she is not seeking re-election.
“I wish the public could see
what I see,” she said. “I see sena
tors who care about people and the
state of Nebraska.”
Robak also attributed her suc
cess to her mother Sen. Jennie
Robak of Columbus.
Each of the outgoing senators
gave a short speech to the body,
including Elmer, who choked back
tears when he said, “You are all my
Longevity marked the career of
Wesely, who in his 20 years as sen
ator has passed more than 300
Sen. David Landis o£ Lincoln
said Wesely would best be remem
bered as one who “would not turn a
blind eye” because of his efforts in
the health and human services
Wesely, who had served the
longest of any of the outgoing sen
ators, said he has made great times
and had great times in the
But being a senator is about
more than just fiscal notes because
senators have the responsibility to
decide the present and future of the
state, Wesely said.
“People - that’s what it’s all
' ' . i
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