Syeda Hasan


Syeda Hasan is an intern for KUT News. She is currently a senior studying journalism and French at the University of Texas at Austin. Previously, she has served as a news reporter for the Daily Texan, the student newspaper at UT.

Ways to Connect

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

The Texas Civil Rights Project is calling on local authorities to investigate a string of suspicious housing deals that could cause seniors to lose their homes.

A company called Castro has been approaching Montopolis residents to see if they qualify for free home repairs paid for by the government. According to homeowners, the solicitors urged them to sign contracts granting Castro full legal rights over their homes.

Texas Civil Rights Project attorney Brian McGiverin says the Travis County District Attorney and the Texas Attorney General must investigate immediately.

The Texas House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations wraps up its investigation this week that could lead to the impeachment of UT Regent Wallace Hall. 

University of Texas President William Powers Jr. and UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa will testify in hearings today and Thursday. Hall is not expected to testify this week.

Leander ISD is on track to open its newest high school in 2016. Designed with flexibility in mind, the school will be ready to incorporate the high school curriculum changes brought on by House Bill 5.

The new legislation creates a "foundation" plan of classes that all students must complete to graduate, but it also allows students to earn an endorsement in one of five fields including business and industry, art and humanities, science and technology. 

When it comes to Leander ISD's sixth high school, Brad Pfluger of Pfluger Architects, the firm designing the new school, says the academic houses specialized by subject are an important feature.

For students at Manor New Technology High School, lectures and homework assignments are a foreign concept. Tablets take the place of textbooks, and many classes are taught by a team of instructors.

This fall, a group of students is working to bring their school’s innovative learning system abroad.

The school exclusively utilizes project-based learning, a process that teaches course concepts through hands-on projects and presentations which students design themselves. Steve Zipkes, Manor New Tech’s principal, says it's a more engaging and up-to-date learning system. 

"Student these days are digital natives," Zipkes says. "We’re using technology as the invisible tool. It’s not what makes teaching and learning, but it certainly enhances it. With our students today, it’s almost a necessity."

African-American men make up only 1.8 percent of the University of Texas’ student body – but they comprise 68 percent of the university’s basketball and football players.

That’s one of the findings in a University of Pennsylvania study [PDF], “Black Male Student-Athletes and Racial Inequities in NCAA Division I College Sports.”

The study finds that 43 percent of black male student athletes graduate from UT within six years. That compares to 62 percent of all student athletes, and 79 percent of all students.

In a comparison of universities where black male students are most over-represented in sports, UT ranks 14th out of 25.  

Matthew Alvarez for KUT News

Since 2008, the University of Texas has been ensnared in a legal battle  – Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin – over its use of race in admissions.

The university says when it comes to deciding whether to accept or reject a student, race is considered as a factor within a factor. But once a student is accepted, what impact does diversity have on the students' learning on campus and in the classroom?

The controversial policy of allowing armed marshals at public schools could soon be a reality for some Texas school districts. Under a new law passed during the most recent legislative session, school administrators may designate a trained employee to act as school marshal, authorized to carry a concealed handgun to respond in emergency situations.

Gov. Rick Perry signed House Bill 1009, also known as the Protection of Children Act, into law this June. Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, penned the bill in response to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

Mose Buchele, KUT News

The University of Texas Police Department sees a drop in crime rates over the summer as many students leave Austin. Now that students are back on campus, UTPD advises  students to be aware of their surroundings, have a game plan when going out at night and to report all suspicious activity.

That's according to UTPD Officer Layne Brewster, who regularly sends Campus Watch emails to the UT community recapping reports of crime at the university.

KUT News

The Austin Lawyers Guild wants Austin schools to end disciplinary policy of ticketing students for minor misbehaviors – a practice it says creates a “school-to-prison pipeline” for troubled students.  

They want the school district to changes its policies for the upcoming school year. Last year, Texas schools issued over 300,000 non-traffic tickets to students with the most common offenses being truancy, disorderly conduct and simple assault.

Minza Khan for KUT News

During the Islamic month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world fast from dawn to dusk. Austin's Nueces Mosque in West Campus hosts free iftar dinners, a communal feast where Muslims break their day’s fast after sunset. The iftars are open to all members of the community, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Sabrina Khwaja, a University of Texas senior, said she frequents Nueces Mosque during Ramadan to engage with the local Muslim community. The location makes it easy for her to stop by. When she first heard about Nueces, Khwaja was relieved to find out she no longer had to break her fast alone.

In 2008, the City of Austin's demographer Ryan Robinson compiled a list of the Top 10 trends in Austin’s dynamic demographic makeup. Five years later, he says each of those trends has continued to play out.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

Texas high schools are preparing for major changes to graduation requirements. Under a new law, schools will have less standardized testing. But when it comes to implementing the new legislation, many questions are yet to be answered. 

The State Board of Education hashed out the details today of how to enforce the new high school graduation requirements that go into effect in the 2014-15 school year. Monica Martinez, managing director of curriculum for the Texas Education Agency, noted the challenges of implementing standards consistently statewide. 


Sometimes, what people are searching for on Google is as revealing as the results themselves. 

If you’ve used Google, you’re familiar with its autocomplete function – suggestions the search engine makes when you begin entering a search term. According to Google, the autocomplete suggestions reflect the search activity of its users – the terms and questions they are Googling – plus the content of web pages themselves. And what people are searching for often times says a lot about the subject.

After an unprecedented outbreak of West Nile virus in Texas last year, the state has seen half of the reported cases compared to this time last year.

But, despite the decrease, the Department of State Health Services says environmental factors and the disease's unpredictability don't necessarily guarantee a safe summer for Texans.

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the nation. About 75 percent of Americans will contract the virus during their lifetime, and younger populations face the greatest risk.

Research indicates that almost three quarters of new HPV infections occur in people between 15 and 24 years old. But a recent study conducted by researchers at Texas State University found that many college students are unaware of or misinformed about the risks posed by HPV.

The City of Austin has established its new Citizen’s Redistricting Commission, a group of 14 citizens who will draw the city's first boundaries for city council districts.

In selecting candidates, city officials drew at random from a pool of qualified volunteers. Thursday night, the commissioners met to select candidates who would join them in the task of redistricting.

Calling all big shots: University of Texas administrators have begun the search for the inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School, hoping to fill the office by early next year.

UT released a 21-page document Monday detailing the necessary qualifications for applicants. The document describes the ideal candidate as an inspiring “leader among leaders,” comfortable with serving in the public eye and representing the school to local media and community leaders.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Today marks the anniversary of Austin’s first 100-degree day in 2012, but Austinites have yet to face temperatures in the triple digits this year.

If current weather patterns continue, Austin may only experience a few 100-degree days this summer. That’s according to Cory Van Pelt, a forecaster with the National Weather Service for Austin/San Antonio.

Courtesy of the City of Austin and Michael Van Valkenburgh

The Austin City Council got a look at the final version of a plan to redevelop the land along Waller Creek into a chain of three parks at its Thursday meeting.

The multi-million dollar public-private partnership, designed by architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, includes hike and bike trails, playgrounds, a pavilion for hosting live music and theater events and even a pontoon bridge that could connect the north and south shores of Lady Bird Lake.