SGA Inauguration Ceremony

April 17th, 2014

Newly elected Alberto Adame and Carla Fernanda Peña officially began their duties as president and vice president of the Student Government Association April 14. The UTPA Visitors Center lobby hosted the SGA’s 2014-2015 Inauguration Ceremony April 11, where Adame and Peña gave executive addresses.
Adame and Peña will be the last executive team to serve a full year under the name UTPA. After mergin UTPA and the University of Texas at Brownsville and creating the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley, the 2015-2016 elected officials will divide their terms between both entities.
Adame, a finance major, said he is thankful to the students for giving him and Peña this opportunity and would like them to be involved with upcoming UTPA events.
“I’m very excited, but there’s also a kind of melancholy because UTPA is going away, but still very exciting nonetheless,” said Adame, a Monterrey, Mexico native. “I’m also very grateful to the students because we couldn’t have done it without the support of the student body.”
The inauguration began with Elections Committee Chair Yadira Mejia introducing Vice President for Student Affairs Martha Cantu for opening remarks. Following Cantu was the oath of office for every college, including senators for the College of Business Administration, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and senators at large, which then led to the president and vice president’s oaths.
“I’m very excited and a little bit nervous,” Peña said. “We definitely want to make changes for the better of the University and we’re hoping to get this done, but also (we don’t want to) forget about UTPA because we’re still here so we want to keep our Bronc spirit and just transition to UT-RGV together.”
Adame and Peña replaced SGA incumbents President Aaron Barreiro and Vice President Erik Sanchez.
“More than anything, I want to thank every single person in the University for giving us this opportunity and just to stick with us. Also to come out to all the events we’ll have,” Adame said.
Their platform centered on healthier food options around the University, longer library hours and larger parking lots.
“Our door is always open for (the students),” Peña said. “If they ever need anything, we’re always here for them. We’re here for the students, not for us, so just stick with us. We want to make changes to the University and hopefully they’ll support us and if they need anything, they’ll come to us as well and we’ll help them together.”

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Weekly updates 4/10-17/2014

April 17th, 2014


  • Broncs take top three spots in men’s and women’s hammer throw April 11 in the University of the Incarnate Word Cardinal Invitational at Tom Benson Track Stadium

  • Broncs had 12 top-five finishes April 12 in the Cardinal Invitational

  • Next event is April 17 at the Cal State LA Twilight Open in Los Angelas, Calif.

  • Next event is Mount Sac Relays April 17-19 in Walnut, Calif.

  • Next event is Long Beach State Invite April 19 in Norwalk, Calif.


  • Won against Utah Valley University Wolverines 6-2 April 11 at Brent Brown Ballpark in Orem, Utah

  • Won against the Wolverines 13-0 ending in the seventh inning due to 10 run rule

  • Lost to the Wolverines 14-11 at Brent Brown Ballpark

  • Bryan Ramirez earns Western Athletic Conference Hitter of the Week

  • Next series is against Bakersfield April 25-27 at Edinburg Baseball Stadium

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Chivalry isn’t dead

April 17th, 2014

UTPA alumnus Robert De Leon said his father used to abuse his mother. Once he grew up, De Leon found that he was becoming abusive himself, not physically, but mentally and emotionally.

According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, between 1994 and 2010, approximately four in five victims in violent relationships in the U.S. were female. In 2012, 114 women were killed and there were 188,992 family incidents that included physical beating and verbal abuse among other types of violence in Texas.

“I’m here to share my story as a domestic violence survivor because I witnessed and experienced domestic violence in my home from a very young age and through my adolescent years,” explained 33-year-old De Leon. “So I thought that was what men were supposed to do or how men were supposed to act.”

In October 2013, De Leon founded “Bromodels” at his home in San Juan. The Valley-wide organization’s team consists of three other men that visit schools and universities to raise awareness about male violence toward women.

Bromodels teaches men about gender equality and speaks about proper ways to treat women. This organization attempts to solve the problem at its root by reaching out to males of all ages. De Leon believes that boys are prone to being violent because manhood is defined as being tough. Crying is considered feminine, so young men try to hide their feelings.

“As (boys) grow and get older, they’re suppressing those emotions and they can’t be expressive…because the moment that they shed a tear, their father, their friends, peers, media, they’ll say ‘stop acting like a girl’ or ‘that’s so gay,’” De Leon said. “That’s where men will see women as inferior to them, because they’ve learned that only women are submissive and only women cry.”

The strong traditional influence of Mexican culture in the Rio Grande Valley often brings in “machismo,” meaning manhood or male pride. De Leon said people tend to associate machismo with the character of “el valiente” from Mexican bingo. El valiente is a card depicting a man in a fighting stance holding a bloody knife. In English, it translates to “the violent man.” That is what De Leon is trying to change, showing that there has been a basic misunderstanding about what the term means; often it is seen as derogatory.

“I found that machismo is defined as someone that is worthy of imitation, and so we want to make people aware that machismo is actually a good thing,” De Leon explained.

Many people have grown to see masculinity as a bad thing, he said, but nobody acquaints it with chivalry. To be chivalrous is to be courageous, to be courteous, loyal and considerate to women. That is the version of machismo De Leon subscribes to.

















Mujeres Unidas is a local organization that has provided shelter and programs for 32 years to women, men and children who have experienced domestic violence and sexual assault. This organization has two branches that serve people in different ways.

The section of MU that most people are familiar with is for women and children who have been in an abusive setting. With two McAllen offices and one in Weslaco, MU helps individuals by offering shelter, counseling and legal services.

Yesenia Ibarra, the coordinator of MU’s other section, the Batterers Intervention and Prevention Program (BIPP), said abusers grow up with domestic violence around them and they inherit that behavior.

BIPP focuses more on the batterers rather than the victims themselves. The 24-week program is similar to anger management but targets family violence. Ibarra believes this program is more effective because in group sessions, participants are able to give each other feedback.

“Many (abusers) have seen violence in their home. They go on seeing that their father was violent towards their mother, so when they get older they think that that’s normal,” said Ibarra, who has been BIPP’s coordinator for eight years.

According to, 30 percent of children who were abused will later go on to abuse their own children.

“That’s one of the reasons I do these presentations. To get more men involved and (so they can learn) how we as men can prevent violence against women,” De Leon said.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) recorded 1,907 answered domestic violence hotline calls in Texas the day they conducted their 2013 census Sept. 17, which means more than 79 calls were answered each minute.

UTPA engineering major Victor Diaz feels one reason men might feel the need to treat women violently is because do not respect females.

“These men will use violence against women if they are mad or upset and think it’s alright to abuse them whenever and however they want,” Diaz said. “I believe Bromodels is a good cause because the more males that are aware of this abuse, then statistically the percentage of women being abused will decrease.”

Ibarra believes Bromodels can have a positive impact on the community and that it is important to start talking to children as young as 11 years old about stopping or avoiding violent behavior.

“I think it’s a really good approach to try to catch them at a younger age and the people that (BIPP) deals with have already offended, so they’re already in the system,” she said.

According to the Domestic Abuse Shelter of the Florida Keys (DASFK), about 4,000 women die from domestic violence each year. Ibarra mentioned that children may also be indirectly affected, adding to the toll of the problem.

“Most people associate family violence with just the physical aspect. They don’t think about the verbal abuse or the emotional abuse and even a lot of the participants that we get don’t see that being violent towards their partner is affecting their children,” Ibarra explained.

DASFK’s website also lists different types of domestic abuse including intimidation and guilt or scare tactics. Because of his history with abuse, De Leon said drinking would only make things worse, so he began to search for a solution.

“(I began) to abuse alcohol to express myself when I was angry, confused or frustrated,” he explained. “That was when I started to make something of these feelings and finding a way to let them out, which was talking to other men about it and saying, ‘You know what? It’s OK that I’m hurting right now.’”



To spread awareness, Bromodels participates in the annual Walk-a-Mile In Her Shoes, hosted by Mujeres Unidas. The latest edition will take place April 26 at the Edinburg Municipal Park. The 5K marathon will be followed by a mile challenge, where men wear high heels and walk a mile to spread awareness of violence against women. The 5K is available to men and women but, the 1K challenge is a men-only event.

The public is able to register at MU’s main office for $25 at 511 N. Cynthia St. in McAllen or online at Registration is open until the day of the event.

While he appreciates the event, De Leon said it doesn’t compare to some of the struggles women face, but believes it is a great way to raise awareness of some issues. He said the ultimate Bromodel is supposed to “encourage and empower” all males to become the solution when it comes to ending violence against females.

“At the end of the day, I know that there is a lot of violence against women and girls, but at the same time we have to recognize that these behaviors attribute to violence against ourselves as men,” De Leon said. “We have to do a better job of taking care of ourselves, but at the same time with an understanding that we have to respect, and when I say women and girls, I’m talking about all women and girls.”

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UT-RGV to become an NCAA Division I athletic program

April 17th, 2014

The University of Texas System Officials announced the plans regarding the future of the UTPA and University of Texas at Brownsville’s athletic programs as the transformation of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley begins.

UTPA is currently a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and has a range of NCAA Division I sports programs, including intercollegiate athletics, club sports and intramural sports. UTPA is sponsored by 14 intercollegiate athletic teams and is adding women’s soccer for the 2014-2015 academic year and men’s soccer the following year.

The existing UTPA participates will be converted into athletic programs at UT-RGV, meaning that UTPA  athletics will be the foundation to building the UT-RGV athletics.

UT-RGV will be a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I, by sponsoring multiple amounts of sports for men and women and having the number of participants. The first step to establishing UT-RGV’s athletic program is to discontinue UTB’s program at the end of 2014-2015 academic year.

UTB currently competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as a member of the Red River Athletic Conference.

UTB student-athletes will be able to keep their scholarships, whether they choose to continue to play sports or not.

“During this transition, our focus remains on building a better future by establishing this new university and I have no doubt we will also create a first-class athletics program that the entire Rio Grande Valley can support,” said UTB President Juliet Garcia.

UTB is giving 79 current student-athletes scholarships for the students who want to continue their education at UT-RGV. As of now, UTB athletic includes women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country and men’s and women’s golf.

The athletes will be given the chance to try out for UT-RGV teams, earn scholarships and will retain the benefits of their UTB scholarships even if they don’t remain part of an athletic team. UTB will also assist any athlete who is interested in transferring to another college to pursue their athletic desires. If a student-athlete decides to transfer, they will be able to start right away, as opposed to sitting out a year since the athletic program was discontinued.

As a result of the merger, six full-time athletics positions and seven part-time administrative positions will be terminated. The staff members will be provided with a full range of support services, ranging from job search assistance to access to a counseling services.

“Out of concern for our student-athletes, coaches and staff, we wanted to make this announcement as soon as possible to provide them with enough time to explore the various options available to them,” said UTB Athletic Director Todd Lowery.

The athletic committee has been formed and is in charge with developing a plan that brings together UTB and UTPA to create a single NCAA Division I-AAA program while ensuring the welfare of student-athletes will stay maintained and won’t be compromised. The committee, co-lead Chris King and Todd Lowery, will make recommendations to the UT System regarding the location of the men’s and women’s programs, athletic facilities and athletic budget and has recommended that the UTB campus is not fit the necessary requirements that a division one school should have.

“This is the beginning of a new era which will provide student-athletes with NCAA Division I sports programs that will build the fan base and garner support from across the Rio Grande Valley,” said Pedro Reyes, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs for the UT System.

The UT System Board of Regents approved the merger to create a new university that will be eligible to benefit from the state’s Permanent University Fund (PUF) in 2012.

Since the Texas Legislature approved the creation of UT-RGV in June 2013 the UT System, UTB and UTPA have been discussing a plan to seamlessly meld the two institutions. The timeline for UT-RGV calls for the submission of the consolidation plan to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in April 2015. The decision from SACS will announced by June 2015.

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Event Calendar for April 16-24

April 17th, 2014

Screen shot 2014 04 16 at 7.31.23 PM Event Calendar for April 16 24

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Preparing for catastrophe

April 17th, 2014

The destruction of the Gulf Coast left by Hurricane Ike six years ago played on a screen as community members and University staff looked on in disbelief. Finance Insurance Real Estate, also known as FIRE, held a natural disaster symposium April 10 in hopes of preventing destruction like the kind left by Ike in the Rio Grande Valley. The conference was held at the Community Engagement and Student Success building located on Freddy Gonzalez Drive and Highway 281.

Hurricane Ike came two months after the Valley had been struck by Hurricane Dolly July 2008. The cost in damages added up to more than $1 billion, according to The National Weather Service.

Experts from all over the country attended the symposium, including UTPA Provost Havidan Hernandez and U.N. Representative Elina Palm to speak on the importance of disaster resiliency in the Valley.

“At the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) our primary focus is to engage with different factors to mobilize them to act before disaster strikes,” Palm said. “It is all about building resilience and reducing risk.”

Palm discussed the different ways an area can prepare for a disaster and build up resiliency. Examples included building regulations and designing buildings and homes with Mother Nature in mind.

In turn, the Rio Grande Valley has begun working on resilience by having a mock tornado drill March 5 in Brownsville as part of Rio Grande Valley Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 2-8. The week was designated by Gov. Rick Perry in 2013.

Awareness Week comes after the Valley was hit with a severe hail storm March 2012 that resulted in $200 to $500 million in damages, according to The National Weather Service.

At the April 10 event, symposium organizer Kenneth Lovell discussed the importance of being prepared and stressed the population growth of the Rio Grande Valley. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2012 the RGV has a total population of more than 1.3 million.

Furthermore, UTPA is also helping build resilience by developing a disaster studies master’s program that will teach researchers how an impending storm can affect the human population it strikes, according to a 2013 article in The Monitor.

“If you look at our economy you will see that a lot of (it) is dependent of Winter Texans. If a hurricane hits us and there is damage to their homes, they would not come back,” said Lovell, a UTPA lecturer in economics and finance.

In order to raise awareness in cities worldwide about the importance of disaster resilience, the UNISDR created the Making Cities Resilient campaign which launched in 2010. The campaign advocates for a commitment from local governments to build resilience to disasters by way of better city planning and.

“There were some cities in the Galveston area that survived Hurricane Ike because they took the advanced precautions,” Lovell said. “We need to recognize that this can happen here in the Valley and we need to think about how we can make this type of disaster less effective.”

At the symposium, UTPA President Robert Nelsen discussed the need for action in the community.

“The new university, the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley, will be an anchor institution. An anchor institution is an institution that is committed to solving problems in the community. UT-RGV needs to reach out,” Nelsen said. “We will graduate students who will be able to solve societal problems and more importantly we will volunteer and be engaged in that work as a University from here on out.”

According to Palm, there has been a decrease in mortality risks, destruction and death for weather related catastrophe due to less vulnerability. This decrease is because of early warning systems, improved weather forecasting and preparedness.

“There is nothing else I want to emphasize more than the importance in planning and trying to avoid building more risk,” the U.N. representative said. “Building resilience is not a cost, it is an investment.”

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UTPA runner nationally ranked

April 17th, 2014

University distance runner Martin Casse is ranked eighth in the nation in the one-mile run, with time of 4:05.14 set April 3 at the Texas Relays in Austin.

The France native is not far behind Andrew Colley, a North Carolina State athlete who holds the number one spot with a time of 3:59:34, set at the Blue Shoes Invitational in Greensville, S.C. April 12. Second is Graham Crawford, also a NCSU athlete, with a time of 4:00.01. Nathan Strum is ranked third with a time of 4:01:39, made at the Sun Angel Classic April 10. Casse has made major noise for himself, and the UTPA program, by breaking into the top 10.

The Bronc graduate student has improved his mile from 4:17.80 at the Western Athletic Conference Indoor Championships in 2013 in Moscow Idaho and is currently just over four seconds slower than third place Strum.

Currently, Casse is balancing a full graduate schedule for a master’s of business administration while pursuing full-time athletics. Though it is a handful, he said he needs both for a balanced life.

“I think it is good to have classes and to have something to do besides running,” Casse said. “I have friends in France…they stopped studying to focus on (running). I mean what happens if you get injured?”

Currently Casse is looking to  move back to his native country to obtain a second grad degree at at Leon University in Leon, France.

He has made a name for himself at UTPA in the track and field community. In the 2013 season, he competed in four meets and finished first in the 800 meter at the Great West Conference Championships with a time of 1:58.18. He often runs the mile, as well as various relays, and the 800 and 1000 meter dash at track and field events.

In addition, he was awarded UTPA Performance of the Year honors April 4, 2013. UTPA Performance of the Year is an honor given to student-athletes  that display discipline and do well in their chosen sport.

Now that he has added a national ranking to his list, looking at his recent achievements, Casse has thought about living the life of a professional runner. But he feels that other work takes higher priority.

“I don’t know if I’m good enough to (go professional),” Casse said. “And risk getting late on my studies, (or) not being able to do what I wanted to do as far as my academics.”

Casse is still building up his running portfolio. During the outdoor season at UTPA, he took first place during the Great West Conference Championship May 3-5 in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 4:05.49. During the season, which ends June 14, he finished in the top five in 10 of 11 events, including three first-place finishes, three seconds and two thirds.

He is now preparing for the National Collegiate Athletic Association West Preliminary Round in Fayetteville, Ark. June 11-14, as well as the Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships in Orem, Utah April 14-17.

“It’s more about the NCAA prelims,” Casse said. “I’m pretty confident this year because I gained a lot of experience. When I go into big races I’m not scared anymore. I really go to win and I think now I have the form and the mentality to perform well.”


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Tossing for the top spots

April 17th, 2014

Normally, competitors in field events are overshadowed by the runners, but April 11 the UTPA throwers grabbed the attention as the Broncs took the top three spots in both women’s and men’s hammer throw at a recent meet at the Tom Benson Track Stadium in San Antonio.

Head Coach Xavier Richardson believes this is the type of momentum needed in order to compete at the Western Athletic Conference Championship starting May 14.

“I think it’s a great motivator as they move closer to conference championships,” Richardson said. “It’s great to have intermediary goals met along the way as a reminder you are moving in the right direction.”

At the University of Incarnate Word Cardinal Invitational, freshman Spaniard Javier Carretero won the hammer throw with a distance of 57.25 meters.

Junior Trey Taylor came in second with a toss of 50.61 placed second in the javelin throw with a mark of 47.79 meters and third in the discus with a 44.37-meter effort. Senior and Mission High School alumnus Jesus Alvarez took third place in the hammer throw with a career-best of 48.99 meters. The Mission native also took third in shot put with a throw of 15.26 and fifth place in the discus with 43.99 meters.

Also participating in shot put was redshirt senior Barclay Scott Bann, who finished in fifth with a throw of 14.62 meters.

In the women’s events in San Antonio, junior and San Antonio native Jasmine Davison won the women’s hammer throw with a career-best  of 53.76 meters. Also with career bests were freshman Cristina Santiago Bravo and senior Vivian Espinoza. Bravo had a throw of 53.24 meters, which was good for second, and Espinoza, a PSJA North alumna, came in third with a mark of 48.95 meters.

Bravo also participated in the javelin throw and won fourth place with a distance of 36.85 meters. Freshman and Edinburg native Alyssa Canul came in 11th place with a 21.60-meter throw.

The Broncs took the top three spots in the men’s and women’s hammer throw events and Richardson was not surprised.

“The throws group definitely had a great meet at The Cardinal Invite. There were some great improvements and great marks,” he said. “I can’t say it’s ever a surprise when they throw well. We know they have the talent for (it, and) we see it every day. It’s just nice to see the improvements showing up in competition and getting the marks.”

The team also recorded 11 other top-five finishes on the final day of competition April 12, including junior Leocajuan Williams, who won the women’s triple jump with a mark of 11.50 meters. Also, junior Deandra Barroso placed second in the 400-meter hurdle with a time of 1:02.28.

The Broncs’ next event will be on the West Coast, as the team splits into three groups to compete in the California State LA Twilight Open April 17, Mount Sac Relays April 17-19 and the Long Beach State Invite April 19.

Richardson knows that the events will be difficult, but coming off the UIW Cardinal Invitational has both coach and team feeling confident.

“It’s also a great motivator as we move out to some great West Coast Competition this weekend,” Richardson said. “It’s great to know you are on your A-game and throwing at – or near – your best moving into competitions like Mount Sac Relays.”


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Some assembly required

April 17th, 2014

Caleb Elizondo, a senior computer information systems major at UTPA and public relations director for the Association of Information Technology Professionals, has found a way to use his education to help the less fortunate. He has been refurbishing and donating computers to an orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico through a volunteer project that promotes technology education to young children.
The orphanage, Casa Hogar MAMI, is a shelter for girls where education, room and board and medical/psychological attention are offered 24 hours a day. MAMI is an acronym for Ministerio de Amor y Misericordia, or Ministry of Love and Mercy. The orphanage can care for up to 50 girls, according to its website.
Jerald Hughes, an associate professor in computer information systems and quantitative measurement, started the project in fall 2013.
“The City of San Juan…and also a local FBI office, donated some monitors, and individuals and faculty have donated parts and PCs to be given to (Casa Hogar),” Hughes said. “So my team’s job was to go through every single one of them, make sure they’re in good working order and remove the parts or replace the ones that weren’t.”
AITP is a national organization that provides a community network for those seeking to be IT business professionals. They provide education programs for advancing technology and business skills, networking and online resources, according the main AITP website.
“The students from the AITP chapter are the ones doing the work,” Hughes said. “There are probably around 10 of them all together that have done the majority of the work. And of course their benefit is a lot of hands-on experience in hardware and software (and) figuring out what the system’s needs are.”
The members of AITP provided “operating systems” for all of the computers in addition to a program, which they wrote the code for, that made Linux easier to install. An operating system is software that supports a computer’s basic functions, such as executing applications and scheduling tasks.
Elizondo explained that students in AITP who are knowledgeable in the IT field are often bilingual and have been beneficial the organization in Mexico.
“Since the orphanage is in Mexico, we decided to (install the software) entirely in Spanish, which was pretty interesting,” Elizondo said. “And to be honest, I think if another university or college tried to do this, they might have had some difficulty…luckily (we) have some bilingual students that were able to run the code, install the software and everything in Spanish. So (this) was a learning process for those of us that don’t speak Spanish.”
The computers that were donated to AITP go through the process of being wiped clean, followed by “troubleshooting” at no cost to the organization. Troubleshooting is the process of tracing and correcting faults in an electronic or mechanical system.
“We had to resort to open-based software or freeware, which is why we chose a Linux operating system,” Elizondo explained. “If we were to go with some sort of Windows system (like) XP, 7, Vista, Windows 8, all of those would either have to be obtained at a high price or would have to be obtained illegally (and) we’re not in the business of doing things illegally, so we resorted to a Linux-based operating system that the kids can use.”
As of February 2011, there are 76.5 million Linux users. Linux is a computer operating system that is similar to Windows and OS X, which is the operating system powered by Apple computers, and is entirely free.
According to Elizondo, the Linux operating system was originally difficult to operate, but they have since developed a new, user-friendly version that makes it easier for children to use.
“My favorite part was being able to help other kids in need,” Elizondo said. “You know, develop their future and work with peers and other students from the organization and not only learn, but teach some of the underclassmen who have never worked with Linux before and installing anti-virus software.”
Ascension Mares, AITP president, said the organization likes to search for community engagement opportunities as a group to help out where it can.
“It involves the community and without this, a lot of our organization and the work that we do wouldn’t have any benefit,” said Mares, a Los Angeles native. “So we benefit and the orphanage benefits, so we would like to continue doing this so that we can continue our training and we can continue helping the orphanage.”
The organization had done community service before they started with the Reynosa orphanage. The idea of donating computers began with members’ volunteer work in Peñitas.
“We donated some computers to the local community center (in Peñitas) and I knew it was something our students would be good at and enjoy, so as soon as we found out that San Juan had surplus computers to use, we got right on it and figured out how to transfer them (to Mexico),” Hughes said.
According to Hughes, this will be an ongoing project and he does not want to see it end.
“The purpose of this is community outreach and engagement with the people of Rio Grande Valley,” he said. “These will be the first computers these students have ever touched. These children have not had access to anything like this kind of technology.”

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Tuition on the rise

April 3rd, 2014

As UTPA approaches its final year before merging with the University of Texas at Brownsville, its students may see a possible increases in their fall 2014 tuition. Whether this increase is related to the creation of the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley has been discussed by students.

Karina Saucedo, a junior English major, said that there may be a connection between the tuition increase and the upcoming university merger.

“I guess they are doing it to accommodate (the new university) or just to get certain grants that maybe they need, or more money from the government,” the 19-year-old said. “They are putting schools together so they think, ‘How are we going to afford this?’ Raise it. Raise the tuition.”

The proposed tuition for fall 2014 is $1,830.36, a $94.36 increase from fall 2013. This three percent increase would be a leap from the 0.14 percent increase seen between the 2012 and 2013 school years. Despite proposed increases, UTPA’s tuition will still sit more than $2,000 below that of the University of Texas at Dallas and nearly $1,800 below that of the University of Texas at Austin.

“I feel that (UTPA) shouldn’t do it,” Saucedo said. “I guess we just have to bear it and hope financial aid gives us enough to cover it.”

While the proposed tuition raise seems unnecessary to some students, the Cost of Education Committee released a Powerpoint explaining the processes of initiating a possible rise in cost for students and where the funds would be distributed.

The Powerpoint states that the possible increase in tuition would help fund two new buildings on campus that will cost approximately $900,000. Also the University must set aside funds for exempt students, such as veterans. These factors, among others, are responsible for the possible increase, according to the committee.

The Cost of Education Committee consists of two faculty members, seven staff members, one parent and 10 students, including current Student Government Association President Aaron Barreiro. The committee members meet to discuss increases before making suggestions to University President Robert Nelsen.

Barreiro said that the committee is responsible for looking at tuition costs and deciding whether to approve an increase. The committee then sends recommendations for an increase to the University President Robert Nelsen.

“There are number of different factors that play a role in whether or not tuition increases,” Barreiro said. “This past fiscal year, the tuition increase was focused on taking the money and giving it back to students through a number of different programs.”

After a possible increase in tuition, UTPA and UTB would remain the two most inexpensive schools within the UT system, just below the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and the University of Texas at Tyler, according to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

According to an article by The Monitor, UTB may see an increase of nearly 7 percent in their fall tuition rates.

While a previous article by The Monitor stated that the possible tuition increase at UTB is set to match that of UTPA, University of Texas System Spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said that this is not the case.

“There’s no connection between UTB tuition and UTPA tuition,” LaCoste-Caputo said. “That discussion about what tuition will be at UT-RGV has not begun.”

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