March 5th, 2014
The results of the 2014 Student Government Association elections were released to the student population Monday morning through Bronc Notes. Winning the election for President and Vice President were Alberto Adame and Carla Fernanda Peña, respectively.
A debate was held Feb. 18 in the Student Union Theater between Adame and Peña and the opposing executive ticket, Bianca Blanco and Johnathan Weisfeld-Hinojosa. Both tickets stated their platforms and answered questions about what they hope to accomplish during their year as president and vice president.
Some of the key points of Adame and Peña’s platform were longer library hours and healthier food options in the Student Union. They also said they are willing to adopt the platform of Blanco and Weisfeld-Hinojosa, which included moving toward a “green campus”, stating that their ideas were noteworthy.
While students learned of the election results Monday, Adame and Peña were notified of the news Saturday afternoon. Both expressed how they felt when they found out the news.
“It feels very humbling, honestly, that so many people voted for you and that they trust you in being their representative to the administration and basically representing the whole student body,” Adame, a finance major said. “It’s also very exciting.”
Peña expressed her feelings toward her and Adame being the last president and vice president under the University’s current name. UTPA will become University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in fall 2015.
“It is the last year as UTPA and we do want to leave our mark here. We don’t want people to forget about UTPA,” Peña, a junior rehabilitative services major said. “We want to lay the foundations for (students)…in the new university.”
Adame and Peña will be inaugurated into their positions April 14 in the Student Union at 1 p.m. They will be replacing incumbent SGA President Aaron Barreiro and Vice President Erik Sanchez. Their duties as president and vice president will officially begin April 15.
Results for SGA Senator positions by college
College of Arts & Humanities
- Andrea Perez
- Kathryn Brough
College of Business Administration
- Kassandra Alemán
- Marlene Sofia Ayala
- Christopher Villarreal
College of Health Sciences & Human Services
- Elizabeth Diaz
- April Martinez
- Joanna Alvarez
- Hilario Gonzalez
- Heather Nicole Gonzalez
College of Science & Mathematics
- Samantha Limón
- Rodolfo Singleterry
- Evan Schauer
College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
- Edna Pulido
- Ernest Baca
- Christina Cantu
- Yesenia Velis
- Lucero Ramirez
- Nicolas Haro
- Mauricio Lomelí- Martínez
- Everardo Ibarra
- Jonathan Salinas
- Albert Limón
The College of Education and The College of Engineering and Computer Science have no senators.
February 21st, 2014
The Student Union Theater hosted the Student Government Association’s Executive Ticket Debate Feb. 18, where the candidates running for president and vice president of SGA discussed plans, goals and the future of the University.
Alberto Adame and Carla Fernanda Peña are running against Bianca Blanco and Johnathan Weisfeld-Hinojosa on the executive ticket, which includes the president and vice president positions.
Candidates were asked a series of questions, such as their position on a campus-wide smoking ban, and their plan to keep the UTPA legacy through a transition to the new university.
The first ticket, Blanco and Weisfeld-Hinojosa, had two minutes to respond, and then the same questions were asked to the opposing presidential and vice presidential candidates. Once both sides responded to questions, the moderator moved on to the next one without the opportunity of a rebuttal.
Adame, a finance major running for SGA president, said it’s important for the organization to have the debates and that he thinks both sides did well overall.
“It’s important for people to come out here and know who they’re voting for and what ideas they have,” said Adame, who currently resides in Mission. “A lot of times we’re out there campaigning and talking to students and they give us their concerns and everything, but we can’t reach every student in the University, so by people coming here they’ll know more about us.”
While both tickets said they want to improve UTPA, their platforms differ. The Adame-Peña ticket discussed plans to focus on extended library hours, healthier food options around the University and larger parking lots, while Blanco and Weisfeld-Hinojosa placed more emphasis on increasing numbers of microwaves in the Student Union, better bike racks, and recycling.
This year marks the election of the last SGA team to serve under UTPA before the advent of The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley in 2015.
Weisfeld-Hinojosa, a political science major running for vice president, said many of the items their platform can be achieved before the transition.
“What we want to do for this upcoming year is really bring (students’) voice to action, accomplish their goals, accomplish any problems they may have, any concerns and really make the year about the students and getting the students involved and getting the students to come and participate,” said the McAllen native.
Voting begins Feb. 24 and will end Feb. 28. To vote, students use their myUTPA account. Election results will be announced March 1.
February 13th, 2014
This month marks the beginning of the Student Government Association election season. Like seasons past, it begins with candidate meetings and campaigning by students hoping to take roles of the senate and executive leaders.
The Student Union hosted the event to meet the candidates Feb. 11 at noon. This meeting comes one day after the campaigning began. In the mix of candidates were more than 30 students, the majority of them running for senate positions and four running for executive positions, which include president and vice president.
UTPA has seven colleges, which all hold senator positions through SGA. Some colleges, such as Health Sciences and Human Services, have as many as five senator positions available while other colleges, such as the College of Education, have only two senator positions. Aside from these colleges, the SGA also has a graduate senator position as well as seven senator-at-large positions, each with a set number of constituents.
After students meet with the candidates and hear their platforms, what he/she stands for and plans to do during their term, a debate will be held Feb. 18 in the Student Union Theater. Candidates running for senate positions will be given the opportunity to present and debate their platform alongside other candidates from noon – 1 p.m. Later in the afternoon, executive position candidates will be given the same opportunity from 6-8 p.m.
The executive ticket holds both the president position as well as the vice president position. One ticket lists Bianca Blanco, an English major, for president and her running mate Johnathan Weisfeld-Hinojosa, a political science major, for vice president. While both candidates said they feel honored to potentially be the last executive team under the UTPA name, their platform of campus sustainability and moving forward with a “green campus” was their main concern at Tuesday’s candidate meeting.
“We want to promote a more sustainable campus. Recycling is a big deal,” Blanco said. “We want to go green because a lot of campuses are already green, and we’re not as green as we’d like to be. We’re almost there, but we’re not there.”
In opposition, the other executive ticket holds Alberto Adame, a finance major running for SGA president, and vice presidential candidate Carla Peña, a rehabilitation services major. The platform they stand on consists of extended library hours, better parking lots and healthier food options in the Student Union.
“We want to set the foundations for the University. We don’t want to forget UTPA,” Peña said. “So many people are focused on UT-RGV already that they are forgetting that we still have a lot to do here (at UTPA).”
Once students have met the candidates, heard their platforms and seen them defend them at the debate, the voting process will begin. Starting Feb. 24, students can login to their myUTPA page and look for the elections tab. There, students will be able to vote for president, vice president and the senator for their respected college. For example, if the student’s college is Social and Behavioral Sciences, that student will only be shown senator candidates running for that position. All students will be able to view and vote for senator-at-large positions.
Students will have until Feb. 28 to vote online and the election results will be posted to the UTPA website the following day.
According to the SGA constitution, the official term ends April 13 and the new round of senators and executives will take their positions April 14. An inauguration ceremony will be held in the Student Union common area that day from 1-4 p.m., welcoming the newly elected officials and kicking off their one-year term in their respected positions. The executive team to be replaced is president Aaron Barreiro and vice president Erik Sanchez.
This year’s elected SGA team will be the last to serve a full year under the school name UTPA. With the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley coming into effect in fall 2015, next year’s elected officials for SGA will split their term between the two named schools.
Candidates spoke about what that means to them at this week’s candidates meeting.
“I think it’s very important to be the last president and vice president of the student body here at Pan Am, not only because of the legacy we are leaving behind…but also because we have the power and the ability to do things that are going to benefit the students at the new university,” said Alberto Adame, SGA president candidate and finance major.
The SGA holds meetings every Friday at 1 p.m. in the Education Complex in room 1.102. These meetings are open to all students, faculty and staff and SGA members encourage anyone to attend. Meetings are open for student discussion and debate about issues around campus.
“A lot of students don’t know too much about student government, the only main thing that they do is vote,” Blanco said. “That’s as involved as students get, and what we want to change is to promote student government enough that students feel they are a part of (it).”
September 26th, 2013
New committees, or working groups, were formed to gather student opinions about the new university. Officially announced at the Student Government Association meeting Sept. 18, these groups will provide input on a variety of topics, such as student tuition and fees, and auxiliaries, which provide support services.
Now called Project South Texas, the merger of UTPA and the University of Texas at Brownsville and the creation of a new medical school in the Rio Grande Valley has been in the works since December 2012, when the University of Texas System Board of Regents officially approved the plan. Now, the plans are starting to take shape with formation of working groups that will include student representatives.
“I had a meeting with (University President Robert Nelsen) and a number of other people. We were going through the working groups and examining where we should include more student involvement,” said Aaron Barreiro, the SGA president at UTPA. “The final draft was presented at 3 p.m. to the University Council, and between (Sept. 16) and (Sept. 17) was when we decided how we would go about filling those available positions.”
Initially, the plan called for all seats to be filled by SGA members, but Barreiro wanted to extend the opportunity to the rest of the student body.
“The paper actually said just SGA students, but coming out of the meeting I wanted more students to have an opportunity to be a part of it because it was something really important,” Barreiro said. “So I came to (SGA) Vice President Erik Sanchez and thought of a way to get more involvement.”
Eleven working groups were discussed at the SGA meeting, with each group comprising six seats. UTPA and UTB will each have six representatives per group. However, these seats are filled not only by students, but faculty and administration, as well. At the SGA meeting, students who attended could nominate themselves or others for 12 available student slots.
“I really believe they’re going to have a lot of input; it involves a lot of things,” said Barreiro, a senior pre-med biology major. “For example, in the academic support services (working group), that’s so broad, it’s going to have to be broken down by colleges and then programs for every specific college and department. It’s going to be pretty involved. I really think what comes out of these is going to be taken into account.”
For each available seat, two people were selected: a person to fill the position and another to serve as alternate. SGA will announce the representatives so students know who to contact if they have input to offer in regards to the new university.
“They still have the opportunity to give input…if they have anything they would like to suggest, they can contact (the representatives),” Barreiro said.
Any decisions or input provided by these working groups will be finalized by January 2014, according to Barreiro.
March 21st, 2013
Thirteen days and 12 votes decided the Student Government Association presidential elections yesterday, as McAllen natives Aaron Barreiro and Erik Sanchez were declared the winners.
“We knew it would be by phone call, but we weren’t expecting to find out the results today,” Barreiro said Wednesday. “We were completely caught off guard.”
The results for the initial election were released March 1. Presidential candidate and incumbent Matthew Garcia and his running mate Yadira Mejia lost the election and a runoff election was held between Barreiro and Melissa Vento.
Barreiro, a 19-year-old senior pre-med biology and psychology major, and former senator, and Sanchez, a 20-year-old senior pre-med biology major, received 962 of the votes while Vento got 950. Vento said Wednesday night that because of the close margin, she and running mate Ruben Delgado plan to request a recount.
“I don’t know how the process would work, and I feel like that has been the case for this entire election,” said Vento, a 21-year-old junior civil engineering major and Edinburg native. “We plan to inquire what it would take to get a recount, and I’m not sure how it would work since it was all (an electronic vote) but we hope something gets done.”
Barreiro and Sanchez stated that if a recount is announced, they would comply.
“(Regarding a recount) If she wants to, she wants to. We aren’t against it. That’s fine.” Sanchez said.
If a recount happens and Barreiro and Sanchez are affirmed as the winners, they will begin their term as executives April 15.
“We are going to enjoy it for now,” said Barreiro. “We are still trying to get our heads around it. There are over 19,000 students on campus and we have to make sure their concerns are met.”
Not only did the SGA election undergo a runoff election after the general election: there were complaints made against some of the campaigns, which delayed results.
Over spring break, the judicial committee, composed of the associate justices and the faculty justice in SGA, met March 11-13 and spoke with the people who had made the complaints. The Dean of Students’ Office declined Wednesday to release the contents of the complaints to The Pan American, according to Rebecca Gadson, the assistant dean of students.
The purpose of the meetings was to understand what the problems were and try to come up with solutions.
Gadson and Maria Fuentes-Martin, the dean of students, were the only people who knew the results of the runoff before they were announced Wednesday, according to Gabriel Torres, the SGA chief justice.
“The reason that we postponed (the results) is we wanted to avoid electing a vice president and president, find out they were guilty and have to tell them the next day, ‘We are sorry. Even though you got elected, you have to step down,’” Torres said.
According to Torres, the complaints were mostly about some of the candidates’ actions during the runoff elections but some were made about behavior during the initial elections as well.
The nature of the complaints revolved around misconduct on the part of candidates, such as violating poster guidelines and rules against campaigning within UTPA buildings.
According to the UTPA Handbook of Operational Procedure policy on free speech, expression and assembly, no person or organization may use a University facility for any purpose other than in the course of the regular mission of the University.
Barreiro said one of the complaints filed against him and his running mate involved a rule stating that no damage could be done to the pillars lining the covered walkways. The complaint stemmed from concerns over how the kind of tape they were using to hang posters and flyers might leave residue.
“Throughout the process, we tried to be as compliant as possible,” Barreiro said. “We were pretty confident that disqualification wasn’t going to happen.”
Along with the recount, Vento said that she and Delgado also want the full contents of the complaints against the campaigns released to the public.
“Even since the beginning, we’ve felt like everything seemed sort of contradictory…it’s just everything was very (sic) untransparent,” she said. “People should have an idea of what exactly went on. We are still unaware of the complaints that were filed; we only have what is rumored.”
ROLE ON CAMPUS
In the event the results stand, one issue Barreiro and Sanchez plan to tackle is to make amendments to the SGA constitution, focusing on areas that they say need to be fixed or changed. These include making senator positions available for students with disabilities, international students and honor students, which is not specified in the current constitution.
Barreiro and Sanchez also aim to enact plans that were featured in their Recognize, Initiate, Solve and Execute platform. One of these is an off-campus outreach program where SGA members will be sent to area high schools to promote the University.
Along with their outreach program, Barreiro and Sanchez want to set up a Quad Side Chat in the University Quad once a week where SGA members will set up a table to talk to students about campus issues.
Other efforts to reach out to students include creating podcasts on Facebook and getting students involved with UTPA sports by approaching students in the Quad and Student Union with invitations to athletic events.
“We want to establish a UTPA-SGA experience,” Sanchez said. “We really want to spread the word that SGA is important and that we really are for the students.”
As for Vento, if Barreiro is reaffirmed as the new SGA president, she said she doesn’t plan to return to the governing body as a senator for the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
“Actually, when we first decided to run – and I can’t speak for Ruben – I said even if we lost, we would still come back to the organization and we’re still going to push for the ideas we had,” she said. “But the entire (election) experience has opened up my eyes to things I didn’t see before, and even after the recount, I probably won’t come back to SGA again.”
March 9th, 2013
Several complaints were made throughout the week about the SGA executive tickets, Melissa Vento and running mate Ruben Delgado and Aaron Barreiro and running mate Erik Sanchez, which prevented the runoff results from being revealed March 7, according to Rebecca Gadson, assistant dean of students.
“I have the results, I just won’t be able to release them until we have a resolution on the complaints that have come forward,” Gadson said.
Matthew Garcia and his running mate Yadira Mejia lost the original election with only 577 votes.
Melissa Vento received 43 percent, or 963 votes while Aaron Barreiro received 31 percent, or 707 votes. Because neither reached 51 percent, a runoff was held between the two, March 4-6.
While Gadson was not able to disclose the reasons of the complaints, she explained the SGA Judicial Committee will need to review the complaints. Its Supreme Court may then decide to dismiss the complaints or summon a hearing.
If a hearing takes place, a three days notice is required which may potentially slow down the process.
The SGA judicial committee will be meeting sometime next week, Monday through Thursday.
“Luckily, members of the SGA Supreme Court won’t be traveling during spring break so we’ll be able to meet throughout next week,” Gadson said.
After a SGA meeting yesterday, Gadson explained it was difficult to say by when the results will be revealed but students should expect them after spring break.
March 4th, 2013
The first round of SGA elections wrapped up March 1 with Matthew Garcia and Yadira Mejia losing the election by 577 votes.
Aaron Barreiro and his vice presidential candidate Erik Sanchez received 31 percent, or 707 votes, while Melissa and her vice presidential candidate Ruben Delgado received 43 percent, or 963 votes.
Since last fall, UTPA has 19,302 students, but only a total of 2,247 voted in the initial presidential election.
Because neither Barreiro nor Vento received a 51 percent majority, a runoff election between the two will be held today through March 6 until 11:59 p.m.
Students can vote on My.UTPA.edu and must click the link in the “ATTENTION BRONCS” section at the top of the page. Elections will be announced Thursday afternoon, the time to be decided.
February 26th, 2013
Presidential Candidate: Melissa Vento is a presidential candidate for the upcoming term.
She is a 21-year-old junior civil engineering major and in the Guerra Honors Programs.
Vice President: Ruben Delgado is a vice presidential candidate for the upcoming term.
He is a 20-year-old senior majoring in accounting and will begin the masters of science in accounting program next year.
PLATFORM: ENHANCE YOUR EXPERIENCE
- Plan to work with Information Technology through SGA to improve WiFi on campus
- Want to work with Student Health Services to establish better walk-in hours for students
- Plan to work with Office for Sustainability to increase the amount of recycling bins around campus and inform students of the proper ways to recycle
- Plan to give a monthly “State of Bronc Country” video address to inform students about the activities, accomplishments and current issues SGA will be addressing
- Want to work with the University administration to increase lighting along the Bronc Trail
For Matthew Garcia’s info here
For Aaron Barreiro’s info here
February 26th, 2013
Presidential Candidate: Aaron Barreiro is a presidential candidate for the upcoming term.
He is a 19-year-old senior pre-med biology and psychology major.
Vice President: Erik Sanchez is a vice presidential candidate for the upcoming term.
He is a 20-year-old senior pre-med biology and chemistry minor.
PLATFORM: RISE (RECOGNIZE, INITIATE, SOLVE AND EXECUTE)
- Want to hold a constitutional convention to work with veterans, students with disabilities, international students and honors students to get them seats in the SGA Senate
- Want to hold a once a week table event to talk to students about resources and events happening during the week
- Want to travel with the Senate to high schools to promote UTPA awareness
- Believe Bronc Spirit is something everyone in the UTPA community should have
- Want to invite new students to more UTPA events
- Want to have SGA collaborate with Bronc Athletics and bring back Bronc Games, which are games held during halftime where student organizations find students on campus to compete
For Matthew Garcia’s info here
For Melissa Vento’s info here
February 26th, 2013
Presidential Candidate: Matthew Garcia is the current SGA president and is a presidential candidate for the upcoming term.
He is 21-year-old senior double majoring in pre-med biology and political science, with a minor in chemistry.
Vice President: Yadira Mejia is the current SGA vice president and is a vice presidential candidate for the upcoming term.
She is a 24-year-old English and Spanish major in UTPA’s teaching program.
PLATFORM: STUDENTS SERVING STUDENTS
- Expand the reach of the Student Government Association by placing focus on the SGA Senate
- Said they will bring experience to the table because they are the current presidents
- Want to create a plan that would ensure senators know the concerns of students by setting up tables outside around the University
- As part of the plan, the senators will be exchanging water bottles and pens to students while listening to their concerns
- Plan to work with different groups, such as athletics, to allow them to have a position in SGA
- Want to keep the UTPA community informed as to what is going on around campus by utilizing any form of communication that is available (TV screens, Bronc Notes, etc)
For Aaron Barreiro’s info here
For Melissa Vento’s info here