10 Festive Christmas Activities in San Antonio

Sylvia Patterson

As far as Texas goes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and what better way to get in the holiday spirit than to get off campus and do something festive? There’s something about the holiday season, with its festivity, anticipation, and sense of joy, that makes it the perfect excuse to do something fun with your friends or significant other. Even so, with finals approaching, it’s extra important to set aside time to reconnect with those closest to us as the semester comes to a close. 

In San Antonio, there are many ways to celebrate the season and get in the Christmas spirit. With decorations, lights, and nostalgic music everywhere we go, Christmas allows us to see the world in a more optimistic light. Make the most of the opportunities that Christmas has to offer and create some amazing holiday memories here in San Antonio. 

  1. Go Ice Skating

Ice skating is one of the most quintessential holiday activities and San Antonio has a downtown outdoor skating rink at this time of year. Getting out on the ice truly embraces wintertime, and modern technology makes this possible even in South Texas. There are rental skates available, so you don’t have to worry about bringing your own. No matter your skill level, you’ll have a great time learning to skate or showing off your skills. Be sure to grab some cocoa to warm up afterwards!

  1. See a Movie

Watch a holiday movie to get in a Christmas mindset. There are usually a lot of movies that come out during the holiday season, so you could book tickets to see something new at the movie theater. Alternatively, you can rewatch a classic Christmas movie at home cozied up with blankets and snacks in your dorm.

  1. Lightscape

The San Antonio Botanic Garden offers an on-site light show every holiday season. Known as “Lightscape,” the event involves illuminating the garden with stunning Christmas lights when the sun goes down (on my side of town). Purchase tickets online, and you’ll be in for a magical night of festivity, lights, and music all in the dynamic setting of a Botanic Garden. 

  1. Visit a Christmas Market

Christmas markets can be found all around the world and are a fail-proof way to get in the Christmas spirit. San Antonio has a few, including the Christmas Market and the Christmas Market in the Park. You’ll be sure to find handmade goods, gift ideas, and a number of holiday snacks and treats.

  1. Italian Dinner Night

You can’t go wrong with the classic dinner date. Braza Brava has a classically romantic atmosphere and Barbaro is on the lively side. Both have great quality Italian food for a reasonable price. Order a pasta dish or share a wood oven fired pizza and antipasti, whether you go with friends or as a date night.

  1. Check out the River Walk

The city of San Antonio is famous for its River Walk and in the holiday season, it only gets better. From Downtown to the Pearl, the trees are strung with Christmas lights, and the river itself is illuminated in some places. Not only is walking good for your health, but it’s also the perfect time to econnect with friends and have a great conversation as you walk. There’s also a holiday boat show on the river, which is sure to be a magical experience.

  1. Look at Christmas Lights

Christmas lights are one of the surest signs that the holiday season has arrived. We’re all thankful for the people who go all-out with their Christmas decorations! The suburb of Windcrest is the perfect place to see over-the-top holiday decorations in the area. In fact, the neighborhood has a Christmas lights contest every year and people come from all around the San Antonio area to see the displays. For the ultimate San Antonio experience, the Alamo itself has a Christmas lights event if you want to see the famous mission in its holiday splendor.

  1. Bake Christmas Cookies

Baking something together is a great bonding experience. Make use of the communal dorm kitchen, go grocery shopping, and bake a batch of delicious and festive holiday sugar cookies. The scent of baking cookies is amazing, even if they’re frozen or from a mix. 

  1. Go Christmas Shopping

Get your Christmas shopping done on a weekend here in San Antonio. Visit the Quarry shopping center down the road or drive out to La Cantera for even more store variety. What’s more iconic than looking at the holiday decor and displays, shopping bags in tow, and Christmas music playing overhead?

  1. Get Festive Drinks at a Cafe

Find a quaint cafe or bakery, like Bakery Lorraine at the Pearl or Summer Moon Coffee on St. Mary’s Street. Order hot drinks, whether you prefer a latte, hot chocolate, or herbal tea and maybe a pastry too. Be sure to get something seasonal. You can go for a walk afterwards or bring a book and read.

To Conclude

Christmas is a season of joy and a time to show appreciation for those we love. Celebrate with your friends or significant other by exploring the Christmas-themed activities that San Antonio has to offer. Embrace the Christmas spirit and create lasting memories by doing one or more of these festive holiday activities. 

Best Off-Campus Dining Picks

Jenna Lee

One can only tolerate so much dining hall food! Whether you need a break from the same-old, want to save on meal swipes and dining dollars, or just want to explore San Antonio’s diverse cuisine, here’s a couple of the best restaurants around Trinity University. 

  1. El Milagrito Cafe ($)

El Milagrito, lovingly nicknamed “El Mil,” is less than a 5 minute drive from campus. It is best known for its authentic Mexican dishes and friendly staff. By far, the star of the show at El Mil is its breakfast tacos! With hot, fresh tortillas made in-house, fluffy scrambled eggs, and bacon and sausage hot off the griddle, you can’t find a better start to your morning. Some notable favorites include the taco feo, ham and egg taco, and the carne guisada taco. 

  1. Tacos El Regio ($)

Another off-campus favorite for Mexican food is the St. Mary’s food truck, Tacos El Regio. Just up the street from El Mil, El Regio is the perfect place if you need a late night snack. The truck is usually open until 3AM. Their delicious street-style tacos are an excellent way to wrap up a memorable night out. The mini tacos, quesadillas, and 3 taco plates are all must-tries. 

  1. Main Street Pizza and Pasta ($)

Main Street is a stellar pick for some quality Italian food at a great price. Main Street has a plethora of pasta dishes as well as different types of pizza. Each large pasta plate comes with a protein, like chicken parmesan, a salad, and garlic bread for $11! The pizzas are also fairly priced for each size. The cozy restaurant is an 8 minute drive south of Trinity. Main Street is the perfect place to visit if you are craving some comfort food!

  1. Pizza Classics ($$)

Heading down south of campus leads you to Trinity’s favorite pizza place, Pizza Classics. Only a 5 minute drive away, Pizza Classics offers a great BOGO deal on their pizzas. Their pizzas are quite large and can feed big groups of stressed-out students looking for consolation in pepperoni and cheese. Not only is the pizza to die for, their calzones are the best in San Antonio. Pizza Classic’s portions definitely live up to the motto, “Everything’s bigger in Texas!” 

  1. Ming’s  ($$)

Located on the outskirts of Downtown, Ming’s is a great option for Asian cuisine that is only a 7 minute drive from campus. Ming’s is a great sit-down option, as the service and ambience are very pleasant. The restaurant offers a large variety of pick-your-protein noodle bowls, bao buns, and teriyaki-style bowls. Ming’s combines healthy dining with delicious Asian flavors, there is truly something for everybody! Some of the best buns are the sloopy bun, bulgogi bun, and the pork belly bun. For noodles, try the Nuoc Cham bowl with Korean sweet-potato noodles! 

  1. Pho Kim Long ($$)

 Pho Kim offers the best Vietnamese cuisine in the city. In fact, it was chosen as a finalist    in The Top San Antonio Restaurants. Nothing beats a bowl of noodle soup on a cold fall night, as a reward for midterm week, or as a pick-me-up if you are under the weather. Also, Pho Kim is quite inexpensive to DoorDash compared to other restaurants nearby, so it is a great option for ordering in! However, if you choose to dine-in, the restaurant is about a 4 minute drive away from Trinity. Fan favorites include the grilled chicken pho, shrimp spring rolls, and stir fry.

  1. Chela’s Tacos ($$)

Chela’s Tacos is another well-recognized pick in San Antonio with glowing reviews from food reviewers. Chela’s has been called one of the best taco restaurants that the city has to offer. Not only does Chela’s offer a delicious wide variety of tacos and other Mexican cuisine classics, but their service is superb. Chela’s is the perfect pick for brunch, and even if you start your day on the later side, the breakfast items are available all day! Chela’s has multiple locations, one near Pizza Classics and one near UIW around 10 minutes away. Try the huevos divorciados, the taco plates, nachos, and the tortilla soup!

  1. Demo’s Greek Food ($$)

Nothing beats a hearty gyro wrap after a day of class. Demo’s is located on St. Mary’s Street, a bit south of Tacos El Regio. Demo’s Greek Food offers large portions of Mediterranean cuisine at fair prices. Demo’s is another joint with very low DoorDash costs, but do check out the inside as it is very uniquely decorated like a Greek villa. They offer customizable pitas, fresh salads, and large shared plates with fresh hummus. If you come at lunch time, they have a special lunch plate for $11 served with an entree, fries, salad, and a drink. Try the deluxe gyro or chicken wrap, hummus plates, and Greek Salad.

  1. SP Cafe ($$)

SP is another great pick for Vietnamese 15 minutes away from campus. The cafe has it all, from larger dishes like pho or banh mi to smaller appetizers and snacks. SP also offers traditional Asian pastries as well as macaroons. One of SP’s stars is their boba tea; they have tons of teas and smoothies to choose from and, the best part, the drink sizes are much larger than other boba chains with the same price. SP is the perfect place to grab a bite and get some reading or homework done as it is very quiet and cozy. Some stellar menu picks are their beef pho, grilled pork banh mi, and pork vermicelli. 

  1. Piranha Izakaya ($-$$)

If you’re in the mood for Japanese cuisine, give Piranha a try! Piranha Izakaya is located in the Quarry, roughly an 8 minute drive from campus. Although the restaurant can get busy, it is worth the wait. Piranha’s menu features a plethora of sushi rolls and sashimi along with ramen. They also serve mouth-watering appetizers you and your party will be sure to fight over as to who gets the last bite! Be sure to check out Piranha at happy hour for special deals. Getting quality sushi shouldn’t have to break the bank! The chicken or shoyu ramen, specialty sushi rolls, karaage fried chicken, and dumplings never disappoint.

  1. Tong’s Thai Restaurant ($$)

Continuing with another fantastic option for Asian cuisine, Tong’s features generous portions of fresh, healthy Thai food. Tong’s has all your favorite Thai classics like pad woon sen, pad thai, pad kee mao, and tons of curries and soups. Occasionally, they offer sushi on a special menu! Tong’s has a great atmosphere, with a large koi pond on their outdoor terrace and gorgeous decor inside the restaurant. Tong’s is 10 minutes away from campus on Austin Highway right across the street from Target; check it out the next time you work up an appetite from grocery shopping!

  1. Chas Market and Kitchen ($$)

Saving perhaps the best for the last, Chas is by far the best option for Korean barbecue near Trinity. Chas is right on the outskirts of downtown, roughly an 8 minute drive away. The restaurant on the outside is quite unassuming, as it occupies a convenience store. However, upon walking in, you will see state of the art electric grills and fans. If you are new to Korean barbecue, you cook your own meat accompanied by various side dishes. They have a $25 all you can eat menu as well as Korean staples that are already cooked like bibimbap. Their all you can eat deal is for a minimum of two diners, so be sure to bring friends!

Our city has an incredible variety of dining options. You name a cuisine, you can find it in San Antonio at various price points. We hope you enjoy our picks!

15 San Antonio Date Ideas for Trinity Students

There are so many date opportunities in and around San Antonio. If you are looking for engaging date ideas to get away from your routine, look no further than this list. College is a once in a lifetime experience with so many opportunities at our fingertips, often in a brand new city away from home. So, go out and make the most of the college experience by spending some of it getting to know your girlfriend or boyfriend better. 

From casual and low effort outings to ideas that require a bit more planning, these are some creative date ideas for every situation, schedule, and relationship stage in college. 

Get dinner at a food truck

This is a perfect way to grab a meal after a busy day and get off campus without the time commitment and expense of a sit-down restaurant. At the same time, an authentic food truck is better quality than fast-food. You can bring the food back to eat in a study room or find a picnic table outdoors if the weather is nice. One of our favorite places is Tacos El Regio on St. Mary’s Street.

Go for a hike

It’s always a good idea to get outside and be in nature, and a hike also presents a great opportunity to get to know each other as you talk while looking at scenic sights. Research city and state parks nearby to visit and experience the natural landscape of the region. Some recommendations include: Government Canyon State Park, San Antonio Missions State Park, and Denman Estate Park. There’s sure to be some great photo opportunities in these parks. 

Go Two-Steppin’

Go country dancing at a dancehall. Cowboys Dancehall plays the most popular new country songs and is just down the highway (it’s free if you get there before 8:30). Or, if you want a more authentic experience, plan a visit to the historic Gruene Hall or the famous Luckenbach, Texas for live music and a more laid-back atmosphere. It’s also the perfect occasion to get dressed up western-style. If you don’t know how to dance already, look into on-campus dance classes or clubs as a free way to learn how.

Go on a daytrip to Fredericksburg, Texas

Find a weekend when you’re both free and plan a trip to the historic German town of Fredericksburg located in the heart of Texas Hill Country. Spend the day trying the local cuisine, browsing the boutiques, and just exploring a new location. You can even visit Enchanted Rock State Park nearby. You’ll be sure to come back with incredible memories and photos of your adventure.

Go grocery shopping and cook a meal together 

Instead of going out to eat, plan and cook a meal together. Even going to the grocery store is exciting with someone you love. Make use of the communal dorm kitchen and follow a simple recipe. Creating and sharing food together is a true bonding experience. 

Go tubing on the San Marcos

Spending time on the water is an amazing way to get outdoors and change up your routine.  Rent innertubes and drift down the San Marcos River for a relaxing afternoon out on the water and under the sun. 

Get dinner at the Pearl and then go for a stroll on the Riverwalk

One of San Antonio’s best offerings is the Pearl, a revived historic brewery that’s now a center for dining and shopping. Get dinner at the food hall, which offers many different cuisines, and afterwards, buy ice cream and go for a stroll down the riverwalk. 

Go to brunch off campus

Often, we think of dining dates as just for dinner. For something new, on a Saturday morning, put on a pretty dress and go out to brunch with your date at a cute cafe or diner. Some great places to check out include Snooze Eatery, NOLA cafe, and Commonwealth.

Take a walk in a historic neighborhood

Find the historic neighborhoods in San Antonio for a walk to admire the mansions and upscale homes. Consider Monte Vista, Dignowity Hill, Tobin Hill, and Government Hill. Discuss the architecture and landscaping and pick out your favorite houses. What would it be like to live there?

Visit the botanic garden

Walk hand in hand amongst the beautiful flowers and plants of a botanic garden for a classically romantic date. Around Christmas time, the garden offers a lightshow every year, so be sure to check the garden out in wintertime, too.

Go to a play, concert, or talk on campus

Want to do something intellectual? Go to one of Trinity’s plays, musicals, or symphonies put on by the University’s own students. The University also has many guest speakers for different fields of study, so if one seems interesting, go together. Make use out of being in college and enjoy classical entertainment for free.

Go stargazing

Go stargazing with your significant other. Drive out past the city limits one evening, where the sky is clear and unpolluted from city lights. Pull over into a field or park to admire the stars. It’s a great time to ask each other thought-provoking questions, admire the constellations, and be amazed by the infinity of the universe.

Plan a picnic

Picnics are a timelessly romantic date idea. You get to share a meal outdoors, in nature, with someone you love. Plan and put together a meal that’s transportable, locate a picnic blanket, and find a pretty park to enjoy your picnic in. Other fun picnic ideas include listening to music, painting pictures, and petting dogs you see in the park.

Go thrifting 

Whether you need new clothes for an event or just in general, visit a thrift store and see if you can snag any finds. Create outfit ideas for each other just for fun. Buffalo Outlet is a good place to start and tends to have a good selection.

Visit the farmer’s market

A farmers’ market is always a great date idea. Visit the farmer’s market at the Pearl on Saturday or Sunday. It’s a great way to support local businesses while also enjoying quality produce and goods. Be sure to check out the Texas BBQ stand and the lemonade stand!

Closing thoughts

Dating in college is the perfect remedy to the busy school year. However, it’s all too easy to overlook creative ideas and opportunities. It’s crucial to take time off and make the time to spend one-on-one with your boyfriend or girlfriend. If all goes well, you’ll cherish memories from these first four years together for years to come. 

Christian Watson Criticizes Critical Race Theory

When Christian Watson, spokesperson for Color Us United, came to Trinity University to talk about critical race theory (CRT), it was evident that the event would be controversial. Color Us United is an organization that advocates for a “race-blind America.”  The audience gathered in Chapman Great Hall was composed of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) members, a table of liberal students, and a handful of other students interested in hearing Watson’s take on CRT. When asked how he decided to come to Trinity, he replied, “It wasn’t hard at all. I was invited, and I came.” 

Watson was raised by a liberal single mother, but as he grew older, he was exposed to alternative perspectives and started attending seminars that sparked his interest. When asked how he became interested in critical race theory, Watson explained that as an African American man, he interacted with CRT in his personal life and tended to have conversations about it, which led to “a deeper intellectual interest.”  Watson says he approaches his viewpoints from the perspective of  “philosophy, reason, and debate.”

Watson’s thesis is that the so-called diversity that is popular in America does not reflect true diversity. Today’s idea of diversity is limited to identity, a superficial way to sum up an individual. Judging someone simply on external criteria, as many institutions are prone to do for diversity action programs, ultimately gives an incomplete picture of a nuanced human being. He explained that diversity is naturally all around us, in our skills, abilities, personal beliefs, and interests. “Everyone has unique abilities and certain gifts which they must identify.” The problem is that society tries to push people away from their natural gifts and make them conform to a stereotype of what they’re supposed to be and how they’re supposed to behave. Watson concluded with a statement echoing the transcendentalists of time gone by: “Knowing yourself is the most important tool that you could possibly have in this life.”  

After he finished his lecture, a question and answer session followed. As mentioned before, a group of liberal students came to question him. They asked him about the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, to which he replied that Biden nominated her based on race alone, rather than qualification, a perfect subversion of how it should be. When questioned about police brutality against African Americans, Watson countered, “What police brutality?” He said that the idea of systematic racism in the police force was a myth contrived by the leftist media and that the police were inherently good people. Another question came up about intentional inclusivity in the workplace, and he said it was absolutely not a good idea; people should be hired based on abilities rather than identity. This all goes back to the concept of the color-blind system Watson promotes, to ultimately treat everyone equally. 

Christian Watson’s key takeaway is to judge people based on their ideas and what they have to offer, rather than based on external criteria, a lesson that the world desperately needs to hear. His personal experience as an African American in a world distorted by critical race theory drives home the true significance of his message. Watson was an excellent speaker, convicted in his beliefs, which he explained clearly and concisely. Christian Watson delivered a refreshing and thought-provoking critique of critical race theory to the Trinity University students who gathered to hear him and his ideas.

Cover photo taken by Ellis Jacoby.

University of the Incarnate Word Relaxes Mask Mandate Policies

On March 18, 2022, the University of the Incarnate Word finally allowed students and faculty to choose whether to wear a mask indoors on campus regardless of their vaccination status when the university updated its mask policy.

This updated policy gives students and faculty the ability to decide whether to wear their masks inside campus facilities. Some may see this as an issue because it could cause students to look down upon one another regarding their choice to wear or not wear a mask. 

Dr. Trey Guinn, Associate Professor and the Director of Communication Arts, highly respects the university administration’s ability to navigate the situation regarding COVID-19 protocols said that “I really have a lot of utmost respect and appreciation for administrators who are navigating unknown waters and the university’s ability to take information, process it, synthesize it, and help be guided by information coming from medical professionals and experts. I really commend and applaud.” Guinn expresses his hopes for the university moving forward. “My greatest hope is sort-of how people treat and respect one another. So, for instance, if the person next to you is wearing a mask and you are not or vice versa, how do we respond to one another? Do we still see them as our brother and our sister? Or do we now start seeing like, ‘Well, I’m this way, and you’re that way’? You know, the way sort-of people can create partisan lines around things like politics and a person’s choice to wear a mask or not wear a mask should not create partisan type lines.” Guinn concludes, “…if we are going to be in a community where some people are, and some people aren’t, that people love each other all the same.” Respecting each other’s opinions, choices, and values is prevalent in today’s society, specifically concerning COVID-19. 

Melanie Calimag Gonzalez, a Communication Arts student, concentrating in Media and Culture, expresses her thoughts on the updated mask policy. “I’m surprised that way more people took their masks off… I just hope that with this policy that COVID-19 cases don’t rise.” From the beginning of the pandemic until now, students and faculty were required to wear facial masks indoors in all campus facilities. Calimag Gonzalez says she feels a sense of nostalgia when seeing individuals not wearing masks. “It’s giving me nostalgia from before 2020 and a sense of normality that I had missed. I’m still wearing my mask because it doesn’t really bother me. I’m used to it.” Although Calimag Gonzalez will continue to wear her mask inside campus facilities, she does not want to impose on those who choose not to wear a mask. “Plus, I am still seeing people getting [COVID-19], so I don’t want to have it nor spread it. But I’m not going to fight or go off on anybody because it’s their own choice. I’m just going to respect it and continue doing what I think is good. Whether my peers wear their masks or not is their own opinion.” The sense of normalcy has been altered since the start of the pandemic, with publications with headlines reading “the new normal.” However, with this shift back to the “old normal,” students and faculty may have been feeling hesitant about their choice of whether to wear a mask.  

Since the start of the pandemic, it has been unusual to see our classmates and faculty without masks. However, hopefully with the new mask policy in place, we can start respecting one another’s opinions and know that we can only control what we do, and we can’t control how someone will react to what we do. 

Cover photo taken by Marisa Allen.

UTSA is Not Just Trying to Erase Texas History

The “Come and Take It” flag denounces tyranny, and only tyrants want to be rid of this important symbol.

UTSA announced on Sep. 7 2021 that it would end the tradition of unfurling a large “Come and Take It” flag before home football games and would remove any trace of the phrase from the school’s campus and website. This comes after an online petition that garnered less than 1,000 signatures argued that the flag was racist, pro-slavery and “anti-Mexican.”

When those without backbones, who either sympathize with or openly support anti-historicists, control institutions like universities in our society, they eventually wage war against history and tradition in the name of “wokeness” and “inclusivity.”

This is the most recent of a long war against our history and traditions that has been waged by the left, and shows that they are showing no signs of letting up. When those without backbones, who either sympathize with or openly support anti-historicists, control institutions like universities in our society, they eventually wage war against history and tradition in the name of “wokeness” and “inclusivity.” Some, like Kevin P. Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, have stood up against UTSA’s decision by calling it the “abandoning [of our] traditions and history.

Ian De Koster, Class of 2024 at Trinity University, doesn’t see any problems with the flag. “As a Mexican-American and a Texan I can attest on my own account that it is not a point of grievance for the Mexican-American community. I don’t know anyone in the Mexican-American community who has felt attacked by the flag. Mexican-Americans today who understand what the flag means, are not provoked by it. I understand it can be used in negative contexts, but strictly in regards to the present day Mexican-American community, I don’t see the open wound they refer to.”

The [“Come and Take It”] flag was created in support of a cause, the cause of freedom and liberty.

But in this specific situation, what makes the “Come and Take It” flag so offensive? What makes it politically incorrect in this day and age? According to the left-wing activists it has anti-Mexican connotations. Yet what it was originally created for and what it still stands for are not in any way related to racist, anti-Mexican sentiments. Texas was about to launch a revolution against Mexican dictatorship and used the flag as a rallying cry against the tyrannical government of Santa Anna. The flag was created in support of a cause, the cause of freedom and liberty. It was not created to target a specific group. This is as ridiculous as if someone accused the Gadsen flag or the Betsy Ross flag of being insulting to British people today. These banners stand for something far greater than the narrow definitions that the Left uses to try and take them down. Or tries to “Come and Take It” down, if you will. 

The “Come and Take It” flag represents a direct challenge to tyranny. The words “come and take it” are eternal from when they were uttered by Spartan King Leonidas I as “molon labe” at Thermopylae, to when Texans flew them on that white flag over the battlefield at Gonzales. They represent far more than a single battle, war, or cause. They stand for every patriot who stands against a tyrannical government trying to infringe upon his life, liberty, or the pursuit of his happiness. Throughout history, the heroes we celebrate today like William Wallace, William Tell, and Spartacus refused to bend the knee to a tyrant. Instead they proudly cried the words “come and take it.” We can not allow such an important phrase to be ripped from public display by those who do not understand, or are actually against, what it symbolizes.

The “Come and Take It” flag denounces tyranny, and only tyrants want to be rid of this important symbol.

The Darsch Report: July 26 to August 1

Bexar County Mental Health

On Mon. July 26, Bexar County officials announced that a pilot program that brings mental health professionals together with Bexar County sheriff’s deputies will expand less than a year after its formation.

    In October, the Bexar County Commissioner’s Office allocated $1.5 million toward the Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team (SMART). Under SMART, dispatchers who identify a mental health call send a clinician and trained paramedic to the scene. Deputies will respond to the scene if they’re needed, but the goal is to keep people suffering from mental health crises out of jail.

Initially, the group was operating on a limited basis, but they will now operate for longer hours after refining the process.

    Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar stated that the program has “surpassed expectations” and that “working with our other partners, it just fell together.”

The full briefing can be watched here.

Texas Bans Mask Mandates

    On Thurs., July 29, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines, saying that protection against the virus should be a matter of personal responsibility, not forced by a government mandate.

    “To further ensure that no governmental entity can mandate masks, the following requirement shall continue to apply: No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face-covering or to mandate that other person wear a covering,” the executive order read.

    Local government entities that institute mask mandates may be fined up to $1,000.

    The order also specifies that government entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Governmental agencies, public entities, and private entities that receive public funding cannot require people to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of receiving services.

The order, however, does not stop nursing homes or living facilities from requiring residents to be inoculated.

Abbott defended the move in a statement, arguing, “Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19. The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

Biden, Congress Allow Eviction Moratorium to Lapse

A nationwide moratorium on residential evictions expired on Saturday, July 31, after a last-minute effort by the Biden administration to win an extension failed, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while tens of billions in federal funding intended to pay their back rent sit untapped.

    Unable to fight the Supreme Court on further extending the moratorium, the Biden Administration gave the responsibility to Congress on Thursday. However, after an unsuccessful rally by Democrats on Friday, the House of Representatives went into Recess and could not draft any quick legislation.

    The Senate, meanwhile, has been focusing its efforts on finishing the bipartisan infrastructure plan.

    Efforts to bring relief to renters and homeowners have been further struggling. To date, only $3 billion of the $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program has been disbursed.

“Really, we only learned about this yesterday,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had publicly and privately urged senior Biden Administration officials to deal with the problem themselves.

Many Democrats are still voicing anger and frustration, though, with Democratic leadership.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Sunday, Aug. 1, that Democrats have to “call a spade a spade” after the deadline expired.

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the chair of the Financial Services Committee, said Saturday on CNN: “We thought that the White House was in charge.”

“We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a floor speech in a rare Saturday session as senators labored over an infrastructure package.

“We have the tools, and we have the funding,” Warren said. “What we need is the time.”

US Economy

The stock market did not do well over the past week. The Dow Jones decreased to 34,935.47 on Friday, decreasing by -126.08 points, or -0.36 percent over its July 23 close of 35,061.55. The S&P 500 increased by -16.53 points or -0.37 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -1.11 percent.

DOJ vs. Texas

    The U.S. Justice Department, on Friday, July 30, filed a lawsuit against Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott over an order the Republican governor signed barring ground transportation of migrants who could be carrying COVID-19.  

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District in El Paso, the Justice Department said Abbott’s order interferes with the federal government’s ability to deal with immigration.

“In our constitutional system, a State has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations,” the DOJ argued in a motion asking the judge to block Abbott’s order, adding “this restriction on the transportation of noncitizens would severely disrupt federal immigration operations.”

Governor Abbott argued that the order was necessary to counter the rise in illegal immigration under the Biden administration and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 across the US Southern border, going so far as to accuse the Biden administration of being complicit in the spread of COVID-19 across the southern border.

“The Biden administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” Abbott said in response to Garland’s lawsuit. 

He also said he would not back down because his “duty remains to the people of Texas, and [he has] no intention of abdicating that.”

San Antonio Urgent Care Reaching Capacity

In San Antonio, both hospitals and local clinics are feeling the effects of increasing COVID-19 cases, with some local urgent care clinics reaching near capacity.

    “We are up about 30% in terms of patient visits from the last week of June, first week of July,” said Dr. David Gude, Texas MedClinic chief operating officer, and practicing physician.

Gude said they are seeing more COVID-19 patients, more COVID-19 testing, and even an increase in vaccinations.

The wait times on their website show just how busy they are.

“We’ve never let go of social distancing. So we either get people into an exam room, or if we’re full, we may ask them to wait in the car, or we may ask them to come back in an hour so,” Gude said.

Gude said staff members are also feeling the pressure. According to Gude, one staff member recently told him it felt like he is “going through the stages of grief right now.”

“He can’t believe that we’re back at the point that we were at. We were just at this point a few months ago and certainly last year,” Gude said.

The Darsch Report: March 8 to 14

San Antonio Restaurant Vandalized

Early Mar. 14,  a San Antonio man’s ramen restaurant was vandalized with anti-Asian slurs and death threats following a CNN interview in which the man spoke out against Gov. Greg Abbott’s rollback of the mask requirement in Texas.

After the interview, Mike Nguyen, owner of Noodle Tree, was prepared for plenty of online hate comments but not for something like this.

“I’m still a little shocked that this would actually happen,” Nguyen said Sunday. “When I got here, that’s when it actually sunk in.”

Nguyen moved to San Antonio 5 years ago and started off with a food truck that eventually turned into a restaurant staple of UTSA Boulevard. He has made headlines before for refusing to open his business despite loosening COVID-19 restrictions because as he says the “money was not worth losing lives over.”

Nguyen, who is currently battling lymphoma, lost his grandmother recently after she contracted COVID-19 and he refuses to put any of his customers or employees at risk.

Nguyen says he believes that the Governor’s decision to repeal the mask mandate hurts business owners who now have to bear the burden of enforcing rules and the backlash that may follow.

“I will say that the governor doesn’t have us Texans’ interest at play at this point. I think it’s more of a personal interest,” Nguyen said Wednesday on CNN. “I think the decision to drop the mask mandate is selfish and cowardly, and there’s no reason to do it.”

Crisis at The Texan Border and FEMA Deployed

According to the Daily Mail, ICE is requesting additional personnel to be deployed to the US-Mexico border as a south Texas migrant complex is seven times overcapacity and reports are surfacing of children being forced to sleep on floors of detention centers. 

More than 3,500 unaccompanied teens and children have been held in Customs Border Patrol (CBP) detention centers with reports that many are spending an average of 108 hours in the facilities when they are only allowed to be there for 72 hours. 

Children at one facility in south Texas were reportedly going hungry and were only able to shower once every seven days as the center was at 729% of its legal capacity.

In response to the crisis, the Biden administration is mobilizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help take some of the pressure off of CBP, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Saturday evening.

The FEMA deployment will support what DHS called a 90-day government-wide effort at the border, where the Biden administration is struggling to care for a record number of minors arriving without their parents.

“The federal government is responding to the arrival of record numbers of individuals, including unaccompanied children, at the southwest border,” DHS said in a statement.

Soon after taking office, the Biden Administration quickly ended many of the Trump administration’s border policies put in place to deter illegal immigration and has relaunched the Obama-era policy of “Catch and Release.” However, the administration has not responded to questions concerning why they did not anticipate or better prepare for the unprecedented surge that has occurred since then in the Rio Grande Valley.

AstraZeneca Vaccine

As early as this month or early April, AstraZeneca will be filing for U.S. emergency use authorization (EUA) for its COVID-19 vaccine according to sources who informed Reuters on Friday. This vaccine has already been authorized for use in the European Union and many countries but not yet by U.S. regulators.

The British drugmaker completed enrollment in its trial of more than 32,000 volunteers in January and now has data on at least 150 cases of Covid-19, two sources familiar with the trial told Reuters.

“The U.S. Phase III study results are necessary for the FDA’s evaluation of an EUA request for our vaccine,” a company spokeswoman said, without confirming trial details being reported by Reuters. “We expect data from our U.S. Phase III trial to be available soon, in the coming weeks, and we plan to file for emergency use authorization shortly thereafter.”

There are safety concerns, however, regarding reports of serious blood clots in some vaccine recipients that have led several nations to pause administering the vaccine.

AstraZeneca is defending the vaccine, saying in a Sunday statement that more than 17 million doses have been administered in Europe and U.K., with no evidence that the shot increased the risk of blood clots.

The number of blood-clotting events are lower than what would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of that size, AstraZeneca’s Chief Medical Officer Ann Taylor said. In studies, participants getting the vaccine had fewer clots than those given placebo.

The UK Takes a Stand to China?

At the end of February, the Hong Kong government charged 47 democracy activists and protestors under a new national security law that prohibits “conspiracy to commit subversion.” The law criminalizes four types of activity: secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, and collusion with foreign entities. In practice, it severely curtails whatever autonomy that Hong Kong had previously enjoyed under Chinese rule.

Many of those arrested were Hong Kong’s most vocal democracy activists and if convicted could face up to life in prison.

In response, the UK government sent out a press release on Mar. 13 stating that China is in “a state of ongoing non-compliance with the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

“Beijing’s decision to impose radical changes to restrict participation in Hong Kong’s electoral system constitutes a further clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in the statement.

The statement does not indicate what actions the United Kingdom will take against the People’s Republic but does come a day after a joint statement from the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., the U.S., and the European Union denouncing the undermining of Hong Kong’s autonomy by the Chinese government.

The US Economy

Over the course of the past week, the US stock market has been doing very well. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by +976.20 points, +3.07%, and closed at a record high on Friday, March 12th, of 32,778.64. The S&P 500 Index, not wanting to be outdone but just barely falling short, increased by +121.99 points, +3.19%, over the course of the week and closed at a new record high of 3,943.34 on Friday. The NASDAQ, having been on a decline over the past month made, increased to 13,319.86 making a remarkable gain of +710.71 points, +5.64%, but still way below its Feb 12th high of 14,095.47.

Gas prices in the US also continue to see rapid price increases with the current national average according to AAA at $2.859 for a gallon of regular gas. This is a near 10 cents, ~3.2%, increase over last week’s average of $2.768 and a 35 cents, ~14%, increase over the national average from a month ago. This is likely due to a combination of three factors all at once; Saudi Arabia cutting oil production in February, increasing gas and oil demand as more vaccinations are leading to more people traveling, and Biden canceling the Keystone pipeline which would have allowed for more domestic oil refining.

New Covid Relief Bill

On Thurs., Mar. 11, President Joe Biden signed a new covid relief bill totaling $1.9 trillion in spending.

In the plan are some major spending changes, including:

  • Extending a $300 per week jobless aid supplement and programs making millions more people eligible for unemployment insurance until Sept. 6
  • $1,400 stimulus checks to most Americans and their dependents with checks starting to phase out at $75,000 in income for individuals and are capped at people who make $80,000. However, these checks are not protected from debt-collection agencies.
  • Expanding the child tax credit for one year and increasing it to $3,600 for children under 6 and to $3,000 for kids between 6 and 17.
  • $350 billion in relief to state, local and tribal governments and more than $120 billion to K-12 schools.

The bill passed the House by a 220-211 margin without a Republican vote and Democrats also approved the plan on their own in the Senate through the special budget reconciliation process.

Biden celebrated the passing of the bill in a Wednesday statement stating “This legislation is about giving the backbone of this nation – the essential workers, the working people who built this country, the people who keep this country going – a fighting chance.”

Republicans are arguing though that with this massive increase in spending we may see rising inflation, especially with an economy on the road to recovery with vaccines rolling out and many states now reopening.

“There is a real risk here, of this kind of massive stimulus overheating the economy. … I just think it’s sad because we could’ve done, I think something much more targeted and focused on Covid-19,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) told CNBC on Wednesday morning.

Texas Tax-Payer Funded Lobbying

As of Mon., Mar. 15, there are 77 days left in the Texas legislative session, and 10 Texas State Senators, led by State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–7), chair of the Local Government Committee, have joint authored Senate Bill 10 to stop Texas cities’ and counties’ use of public funds to lobby the state Legislature.

SB 10 joint authors include State Sens. Brian Birdwell (R-22), Donna Campbell (R-25), Charles Creighton (R-4), Bob Hall (R-2), Kelly Hancock (R-9), Bryan Hughes (R-1), Angela Paxton (R-8), Charles Perry (R-28), and Drew Springer (R-30).

“Taxpayer-funded lobbying diverts funding from local governments’ ability to provide local needs and results in money being used to advocate for policies not always in Texans’ best interest,” said Bettencourt. “The Texas Ethics Commission data showed that an estimated $32 million was spent on lobbyist compensation in 2018, a non-session year. We can’t have tax dollars being used to advocate for greater spending, more taxing authority, and increased regulatory power at the local government level without taxpayers’ consent.”

SB 10 does not prohibit city or county elected officials, officers, or employees from providing information to members of the Legislature, appearing before committee hearings at the request of a member, or advocating on legislation while acting in their official capacities.

The vast majority of Texans support this policy, and it is a legislative priority for Texan Republicans and conservative groups like the Young Conservatives of Texas. Because of staunch support for the policy, it has a high chance of passing the Senate. But it could also end up like similar legislation from the last session that was proposed and passed in the State Senate but was ultimately voted down in the House.

CPS Energy vs San Antonio Family

Following the death of San Antonio resident Esequiel Mendoza during the February winter storm, the man’s family is suing CPS Energy over his death.

The wrongful death suit, filed Mon., Mar. 8, in the 166th District Court, accused the San Antonio utility company of negligence that caused his death.

In the week before his death, Mendoza was not able to receive his usual life-saving dialysis treatment due to controlled outages imposed by CPS Energy at the request of the state grid, which is run by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. Instead of receiving between four and five hours of treatment, Mendoza only received two, according to the lawsuit.

It is at least the second wrongful death suit filed against CPS Energy related to the winter storm. The first lawsuit was brought by the husband of a woman who is believed to have died of hypothermia.

According to the lawsuit, the family is seeking financial compensation for their loss, and as of Friday morning, attorneys for CPS Energy declined to address the pending litigation.

“Unfortunately, these types of deaths require a thorough investigation into the relevant environmental conditions as well as assessment of the individual’s underlying health conditions, often including additional laboratory testing,” according to a statement from the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office. “Therefore, these deaths take several weeks to adequately investigate and determine. Thus, the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office does not currently have an accurate count of these types of deaths and may not for some time.”

The Darsch Report: January 25 to 31

Ken Paxton Goes After San Antonio Mayor

According to KSAT, in an amended petition regarding an ongoing lawsuit on San Antonio’s sanctuary city’s status, Mayor Ron Nirenburg has been implicated for the first time in the case. The lawsuit accuses the city of defying a state law requiring local governments to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

In the petition Attorney General Ken Paxton accuses Nirenburg of instructing city staff not to contact federal authorities after 12 people believed to be immigrants without documentation were found inside a tractor-trailer in Dec. 2017.

The claims made in the petition state that the mayor told high-ranking officials that he “does not want ICE called,” and that releasing them without being handed over to federal immigration officials as a “Christmas gift” for their families.

This decision to release the suspected illegal immigrants by SAPD Chief William McManus’ has been described by Paxton as in violation of Senate Bill 4. Nirenburg called the criticism of the release as “nothing more than political theater based on a fictitious narrative.”

Texas vs Biden

On Tues., Jan. 26, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared “Victory” on Twitter after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop President Joe Biden’s deportation freeze.

According to U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton in the Southern District Court of Texas, the Biden Administration will not be allowed to pause deportations of illegal immigrants. Biden had tried to do so on his first day in office, but Paxton sued the administration, arguing the president’s move was “unlawful and perilous.”

In the order, Tipton wrote that the Biden Administration had failed to “provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”

“*This* [sic] was a seditious left-wing insurrection. And my team and I stopped it.” Paxton stated on Twitter.

This executive order was one of many the Biden Administration has signed attempting to overturn many Trump Administration policies. Other orders include stopping funding for border wall construction, reentering the Paris Climate Accord, and canceling the Keystone XL pipeline project.

After Tipton’s order, Paxton celebrated the decision to “prioritize the law and safety of our citizens.”

“The Court’s decision to stop the Biden Administration from casting aside congressionally enacted immigration laws is a much-needed remedy for DHS’s unlawful action. A near-complete suspension of deportations would only serve to endanger Texans and undermine federal law,” Paxton said in a press release.

Reddit Takes on the Stock Market

Over the past week, the internet and the stock market have both been on fire as thousands upon thousands of Reddit users from r/WallStreetBets (WSB) have decided to take on hedge fund Melvin Capital and save GameStop.

Investors from the Reddit page noticed that Melvin Capital was attempting to heavily drop the price of GameStop stock ($GME) by shorting around 140% of the $GME stock that they owned. In response, they gathered as many WSB users they could and told them to buy the stock as a meme with the potential of the rise in price hurting Melvin and leaving them with some capital gains in the end. This meme has now spread to all corners of the internet and $GME as of Friday closed at a price of $328.34 compared to the price from a month ago of around $17.

Short-selling hedge funds have suffered heavily from this buying of $GME with a year-to-date mark-to-market loss on the stock of around $19.75 billion, according to data from S3 Partners

In response to the dramatic increase in stock price, brokerage apps such as E*Trade, RobinHood, TD Ameritrade, etc halted and/or limited trading of dozens of different stocks with the heaviest limitations placed on stocks being targeted by WSB like $GME, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. ($AMC), Blackberry Ltd ($BB), Nokia ($NOK), etc.

Still, though, short-sellers are holding onto their bearing positions or are being bought by other short sellers willing to take the bet. However, WSB is still claiming to hold or buying more of the stock and will refuse to sell.

This new week may prove who has the greater resolve, who is more stubborn, or both.

US Economy

The stock market has not been responding well to the news of Reddit taking on hedge funds as over the week the Dow Jones decreased to 29,982.62 on Friday, decreasing by -977.38 points, or -3.16 percent over its Jan. 25 close of 30,960.00. The S&P 500 decreased by -141.12 points or -3.66 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -4.15 percent.

Military Coup in Myanmar

As of this moment, a military coup is taking place in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Myanmar’s military has detained Aung San Suu Kyi and other elected leaders of the country and has declared a one-year state of emergency.

The move follows a landslide win by Suu Kyi’s party in an election the army claims was marred by fraud.

In a letter written in preparation for her impending detention, she said the military’s actions would put the country back under a dictatorship and has urged supporters to not accept this coup and to protest against it.

Aung San Suu Kyi was one of the leading voices pushing for democratic reforms in Myanmar during the military rule that ended in 2011. She was internationally hailed as a beacon of democracy and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. However, her reputation heavily suffered after an army crackdown on the mostly Muslim Rohingya minority that some have described as a genocide.

Time will tell how this will change Myanmar but for now, the military has replaced all of the ministers, arrested many leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and have installed former vice-president and retired Gen. Myint Swe as the temporary president.

Trinity University Threatens to Suspend Students Who Don’t Social Distance

On Thursday, the 13th, at approximately 4 in the afternoon, Dean of Students, David Tuttle, sent out an email that caused concern amongst many in the student body. Dean Tuttle informed the student population, especially those living on/near campus, how some of Trinity’s new health guidelines will affect the student body.

    The email starts innocently enough with Tuttle reiterating some of the general guidelines such as the TU Health Pledge, who is responsible for enforcing these guidelines, and where to find general procedures and policies. But in this first section, Tuttle also mentions a new way for students to report each other if they are violating the guidelines. The COVID Violation Report will allow students to report other students to the administration anonymously about any “persistent or egregious violations of the policy.” A system that will enable students to snitch on their fellow students, whether genuine or not, would be bad enough, but the system would also make it so the accused would not even be able to know who their accuser is. In an environment of rampant cancel culture, it is more important than ever to allow students not only to know who their accuser is but also to be innocent until proven guilty. The email only gets worse for students and organizations from here. 

    For those in the residence halls and in City Vista, Trinity is installing draconian policies in an effort “to limit exposure.” Students will only be able to “have one guest at a time per room… [and] only guests from the same residence hall are permitted.” In City Vista, it is one guest per apartment unit, and “only guests from within City Vista are permitted.” Trinity is actively telling its students that they are not allowed to hang out with the friends they make outside of their residence halls (where most of their friends would typically come from), and they must have minimal interaction with other students, whom Trinity is inviting back onto campus. 

    Trinity is also applying these very same rules to those having to lease an apartment off-campus, telling them that they must “avoid gatherings that pose a risk” and that the only gatherings permitted are those with the “same guests or house/apartment residents.” This isolation will only make the rates of depression and anxiety plaguing college-age students worse. Depression and anxiety rates in the US have already increased with people being near family, but once students go to Trinity, they will have even less social and physical interaction with those around them. First-year students who have known nothing except living with their family will now be thrust into a world where they will feel the most alone and during one of the most vulnerable periods of their lives. 

    But to make it even worse, Tuttle also states what kind of sanctions there will be for those found in violation of these policies. Students can expect 1 of 3 general punishments: “removal from the residence halls… barring from campus… [and/or] immediate suspension from the university for a minimum for one semester.” A system that will end up punishing students (possibly kicking them off campus) for the egregious crime of wanting to be with their friends. 

    When pressed as to how these new guidelines will affect struggling student organizations on campus, Trinity provided no comment. With this in mind, only the worst can be assumed with the nature of this email. Such an email has sent a message to the students and the student organizations that there will be no social life on campus. Clubs that rely on human interaction to keep members engaged will no longer be able to provide the services they offered to the campus community. These guidelines are telling the Trinity community that they are sacrificing the reason students feel happy and loved at Trinity in order for them to “learn” at Trinity.

    But the worst offense of all would have to be against those living off-campus. With school only a few days away, many students already have leases and are preparing to move or have already moved into their new apartments. With these rule changes, students who would have usually stayed home under the current guidelines are now stuck with having to live with them. Trinity could have announced guidelines such as these months ago and possibly loosened them as time went on, but no, they wanted until the very last minute when many had no other choice but to live with it. Trinity University created stricter guidelines even though San Antonio is no longer the hot spot it once was back in the spring and has flattened the curve enough so that daily new case averages continue to go down.

When pressed for comment and clarification on how these policies will be applied in specific scenarios, Trinity University also provided no comment. Examples included: attending off-campus religious services, attending off-campus social events, giving another student a ride, how will these guidelines affect Greek Life, etc.

It appears to the Trinity University administration, the only way to ensure a “successful” semester is to kill the social life on and around campus and to enforce this through highly authoritarian means. Even going so far as to encourage students to report those they ordinarily would have become friends with. There is still no mention of what will happen if students refuse to report each other, but one thing is for certain, Orwell must be rolling over in his grave.