April 5th, 2012
In the corner of the Baptist Student Ministry, which is on the corner of Sugar Road and Schunior Street, there is a window that serves as a new, strange little coffee house.
There, David Cardoza and a group of volunteers sell coffee, smoothies, desserts and bubble tea at the Global Coffee House to raise money for student mission trips.
And they do it without setting any prices.
The initiative, started this semester, operates on a donation model and allows patrons to choose how much to pay for what they receive.
“Many people believed students were not going to give much,” BSM Director Robert Rueda said. “However, our experience taught us that students are generous and donate towards the cause of sending students worldwide to serve others.”
The volunteers at the coffee house estimate that they receive $2 on average for every item, enough to cover their expenses and make a profit. Rueda said many patrons compare the coffee to some of the Valley coffee houses.
The money helps BSM students travel to more than 20 countries where they do do charity work, according to Rueda. Money from similar initiatives helped BSM students providing medical clinics in countries in Asia and Africa and working with orphans in Russia and Venezuela.
The Global Coffee House is open Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. and Thursday 12:30 to 3 p.m. and is located in the BSM, across the street from the Wellness and Recreational Sports Complex.
April 5th, 2012
President Stephanie Corte and Vice President George Galindo presided over their last Student Government Association meeting March 30.
“Time goes fast when you work very hard…We haven’t had a break, but it’s been very fulfilling,” Corte said.
Galindo added that he felt their term had been very successful.
The outgoing executive team expressed faith in President-elect Matthew Garcia will be inaugurated along with Vice President-elect Yadira Mejia on April 13.
“Matt has the qualities of a great president, so I am very confident in him. He has a passion for SGA,” Corte said. “It’s going to be a great term.”
April 5th, 2012
The vagina. It goes by many names: hooha, vajayjay, South Texas trim, among others.
It is generally considered a private topic, taboo and sometimes even forbidden. Treated almost like an ominous being that lurks in the shadows. Both men and women alike know it’s there, but they don’t talk about it.
VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood, a UTPA student organization, quite literally put the sometimes uncomfortable topic on center stage with its annual production of The Vagina Monologues Sunday night at the Student Union Theater. The play, written by activist Eve Ensler in 1996, explores real-life stories of women and the humorous and painful truth behind their vaginas.
“There’s a whole taboo aspect in sex, it’s something that you’re not supposed to talk about, but the monologues bring all that stuff out onto the table,” Gloria Lee, a 24-year-old psychology major and volunteer performer, said. “It’s giving off the message where it’s okay to talk about those things and, most importantly, to relate.”
As hosts for awareness events, the members of VOX advocate healthy relationships, educating students on the importance of safe sex as well as reproductive rights. The women in red and black took turns performing their pieces on stage, ranting about pubic hair and men and recounting horrific tales of rape.
“I think the whole point of it all is to really get out of your comfort zone,” Jasmine Hernandez, a 21-year-old VOX member said. “We want to be more open-minded with the issues that are going on and more knowledgeable as well.”
Director Alyssa Treviño explained that women responded most to the monologue “Because He Liked to Look at It.” This piece goes into the mind of a woman who believes her vagina to be repulsive until she meets “Bob,” who informs her that her vagina is a thing of beauty.
“Each monologue has an experience everybody can relate to in one way or another,” Treviño explained. “There is a certain stigma attached to having a vagina, and there’s a double standard when it comes to men and women. The Vagina Monologues crosses that line.”
The Vagina Monologues have been performed in over 140 countries, working side by side with local and international campaigns to put a stop to violence against females. As mentioned in the monologue “Not-So-Happy Fact,” approximately 130 million girls have been victims of genital mutilation. For 15 years the global activist V-Day campaign has used The Monologues to spread awareness and raise money to continue funding the fight.
“I want [people] to appreciate, especially women, all the difficulties we have to encounter and everything we have to go through,” Hernandez said. “We all have something hidden, and we all need to speak out.”
Categories: Arts & Life
April 5th, 2012
UTPA is going blue for autism.
Blue balloons and ribbons line the quad for the National Student Speech Language Association’s first autism awareness event, which took place on April 2, World Autism Awareness Day.
NSSLHA, a pre-professional association for students interested in studying communication sciences, donated event proceeds to the Autism Council for Educational Support and Scientific Studies (Aces³), a local organization hosting a 5K run April 21 at Sharyland High School.
A band played at the event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. NSSLHA members displayed artwork created by autistic children.
But the event had humble beginnings.
“We were going to just make bracelets and sell them,” said NSSLHA adviser Sonya Salinas.
With time, more ideas came into play and eventually snowballed into Monday’s event, band and all.
Speaking of the snowball effect, the number of children diagnosed with autism nearly doubled from 2006 to 2008, increasing from 1 in 150 in to 1 in 88, according to the Center for Disease Control.
“The increased diagnosis rate might be a relatively good thing,” said communication sciences and disorders lecturer Keri Gonzales. “It could mean that professionals are getting better at detecting autism.”
If this is the case, it could allow for some preventative measures, but even with early identification and treatment, raising a child with autism can make even simple tasks difficult.
“Some parents ask me, ‘Where can I go get my child’s hair cut?’ ‘How do we go to a restaurant?’” Gonzales said.
The answer, she says, is to “stay informed” about autism, which more children are diagnosed with yearly than AIDS, diabetes, and cancer, combined. For a condition that costs the U.S. $126 billion annually and has no cure, autism research receives relatively little funding, $79 million yearly.
Along with low funding, the autism community faces misinformation: Some folks think that people with autism are either savants, like Dustin Hoffman’s character in the 1988 film Rainman, or brainless layabouts.
“People think of autism and they think of a kid who can’t think or talk at all. [But] there’s a spectrum,” Associate Professor Shawn Saladin explained.
The autism spectrum contains conditions of differing severity, all of which affect communication and social interaction.
“More and more people are being diagnosed with autism, ” said Saladin. “One in 97 kids will potentially need [speech and language] services.”
According to the Department of Labor, employment of speech-language pathologists, a group serving children with autism, is expected to grow by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Saladin and the 600 plus students studying communication disorders are ready.
“We are training the next generation of speech-language pathologists to meet the growing needs of the population,” he said. “We are strategically planning for growth.”
March 22nd, 2012
PANAMexicanos meetings are moving from Facebook to the Engineering Building.
This new organization’s members have a common goal in mind: to bring students together, whether they’re Mexican or not.
“This organization will be open to anyone who has any interest in knowing about Mexican culture,” said 21-year-old rehabilitation major and co-founder Daniel Frias. “One of our goals is to maintain a sense of Mexican customs between student circles.”
PANAMexicanos started as a Facebook page last fall, and is now becoming a student organization after months of work by Frias and two co-founders, Mauricio Lomeli and Jorge Vivanco. The group currently boasts more than 300 members.
The founders know that they are not a minority at UTPA. According to the Office of Institutional Research & Effectiveness, 90 percent of UTPA undergraduates are Hispanic. The founders hope that that large number will garnish interest in their organization.
“When we first saw how large the group was, and we saw how the group as a community was helping each other, we thought, `wouldn’t this be something cool to do?’” Frias said.
Frias, Lomeli and Vivanco then set in motion their plan to officially start PANAMexicanos. They submitted an application to start the organization in October 2011, then got Richard Trevino, executive director of the Learning Assistance Center, to serve as adviser. Members are currently drafting a constitution for submission to SGA.
“We want to create an experience for students who have never been to Mexico for them get an idea of what the Republic of Mexico is like,” said Lomeli, a 21-year-old actuarial science studies major. “It’s as if by them being a part of this organization, they can at least get an idea of what their heritage is like.”
The co-founders said they want to celebrate real Mexican holidays, traditions and food.
“I feel like sometimes people from here see Mexico as what they see when they cross the border. It’s not about burritos.” Vivanco said. “Or sombreros or burros,” Lomeli finished.
Lomeli also notes that within the group, there is a regional diversity even though the three main members are from the same country.
“I’m from Querétaro, Mexico, Vivanco is a native of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, and Frias is from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon,” he said. “We all may have different experiences of Mexico and we can use that as a way to help bring the students together.”
Co-founder Vivanco, a 20-year-old management major, agrees.
“Our group is not just for Mexican students,” he said. “We have something substantial to give students whether they’re Mexican or not, and that’s a chance to bond with other students. We’re planning on creating social circles within the group to help students interact.”
Aside from creating bonding activities, like watching movies, for students PANAMexicanos will provide something unique to members: a branch composed of senators.
Under this branch, one student, called a senator, representing his or her university college in PANAMexicanos, will be in charge of gathering information about that college and delivering it to targeted members of the club.
“This will serve as representation of the college in the organization,” Frias said. “The senator will coordinate the people in that college and help us with organizing our members.”
As to turnout for the first meeting on Friday, the founders are optimistic.
“We have over 300 members in our Facebook group,” Lomeli said. “Even if a small fraction of that showed up, we’d still be satisfied.”
The first meeting will be held in the Engineering Building on Friday, March 23 at 1 p.m.
Officers are planning to discuss the organization’s mission and talk about what executive positions (treasurer and secretary) and officer positions (public relations, historian, webmaster, photographer, event coordinator) are open.
March 22nd, 2012
Starting with Raghuveer Puttagunta’s term three years ago and building up to Stephanie Corte’s current presidency, bills and resolutions passed by the Student Government Association highlight the personality and priorities of each administration.
Matthew Garcia received sixty percent of the votes in the runoff elections ending on March 8. The new term begins on April 15, and one of Garcia’s first moves as president is to start updating the SGA website and make it more useful for students.
“It’s been sitting there pretty much this entire year,” said Garcia, “People would go on, but there’s nothing really saying, ‘Oh, this is your SGA, these are your senators; these are your senator reps.’”
Garcia’s ideas for the next year include cooperating with various representatives of student organizations at the University to better interact with the student population.
Raghuveer Puttagunta 2009-2010
Requested professors and lecturers to have reserve textbooks for students
Extended open appreciation to all UTPA custodians
Alejandro Rodriguez 2010-2011
Requested changes to the Handbook of Operating Procedures to increase student awareness of the activities of campus councils and committees
Supported the DREAM Act
Stephanie Corte 2011-2012
Recommended measures to increase visibility at the intersection of N. Sugar Rd and W. McIntye Sthttp://www.panamericanonline.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=2405&action=edit
Supported designated smoking areas on campus.
March 14th, 2012
By Jose S. De Leon
As part of a social experiment in professor David Martinez’s Visual Communication class, students took part in exploring the Minuteman debate via posters that explored visual rhetoric (hyperbole, pun etc.). It all led up to a debate on Feb. 27.
“Rather than (the class) doing a regular assignment and I grade it and give it back to them, we’re trying to make a more conscious effort to put it out there with a real audience to receive actual feedback and see how effective their assignment was towards a large audience instead of just their professor,” said Martinez.
The Minuteman Project is an activist organization run by private individuals in the United States which monitors the United States – Mexico border and aims to prevent illegal immigration.
Students making posters showing the pros and cons of the Minuteman Project, and created a Facebook page devoted to the project. The social experiment ended with a debate held in the Student Union on Feb. 27, which drew a small crowd.
“I think this project was very effective,” said graphic design major Pablo Martinez, “It was very effective using Facebook and, combined with the debate, it helped shed more light into the issue. It just needed more participation.
The social media aspect was brought in to show students how to market ideas and events using the latest technology, Martinez said.
During the debate, five students, picked by Martinez, represented a side even if they did or did not believe in it.
“They’re doing something to raise awareness for everyone,” said graphic design major Brandon Dotey,
“It’s not fair for people to get here into the country illegally.”
Student Victoria Garcia disagreed.
“If they really want to help, why don’t they join the Border Patrol?” the graphic design major asked. “The Border Patrol has been trained and they know what to do, the Minuteman do not.”