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A change in language SGA approves Vaquera Resolution

UPDATE: At 5:37 p.m. Friday, Jonah Goldberg, UTRGV associate athletic director for communications, sent an email to The Rider stating the following: “[Athletics Director] Chris [King] has not taken a stand or ever made a comment about the resolution, and he would never say students don’t care about representation. Chris has the utmost respect for the Student Government Association and all they do across the campuses.”

Changing mascots was controversial issue when UTRGV was being formed. Now, the students may see a change in language of the mascot that many have been getting used to.

English senior Katy Garcia Flores, said using the term Vaquera and Vaquero is good for the student community.

“I think that actually it’s a good idea that they want to do both genders, Vaqueros and Vaqueras,” Garcia Flores said. “I guess, it’s going to make them feel more represented in their gender than if they just say Vaqueros.”

The Student Government Association passed a resolution April 8 seeking that the term Vaquera be used along with Vaquero to equally represent all genders in the mascot.

Among the authors of this resolution are students Sergio Barrera, Valerie Cerda and Monica Alvarez, who are members of LUCHA (La Unión de Chicanxs Hijxs de Aztlán). LUCHA and the Student Equality Alliance helped to write the resolution.

The “Vaquera” Resolution was created to describe “all genders of the entire UTRGV student population” and will do this by having the soon-to-be-designed mascots represent these genders “adequately” in merchandise sold by the school and emails sent to the university community, according to the resolution.

“Someone sent me a drafted resolution,” said Florentino Saenz, senator for the College of Health Affairs, said in an interview. “It needed a lot of work. … I presented it to our committee. We made some changes here and there, added some sentences, specified on some things that weren’t really clear.”

Among the changes the committee made was the definition of what the resolution was aiming to change. The resolution was in the committee for three weeks before it was presented to the senate, Saenz said.

Asked if the SGA had approached the Athletics department, which could be affected by this resolution, Saenz replied: “Sergio and some of his colleagues, when they came to us with the resolution they had drafted, they mentioned how they had a huge chunk of background information that my committee had cut out.”

Most of the information included interviews and talks with the director of Athletics.

“They had bits and pieces of that conversation in there and how [Chris King] had opposed the resolution itself, how it didn’t matter, how students didn’t care about representation and all that,” Saenz said. “We do know that he was against it but other than that, seeing those little bits of information in the background information of that resolution; that’s all I know about the sports director.”

The Rider tried to contact King for comment.

Jonah Goldberg, associate athletic director for communications, responded via email, stating: “The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics was not included in this resolution at any point in the process and therefore has no comment on the matter.”

Another resolution, passed on March 4 by the senate, “approves the inclusion of all-gender restrooms in all new facilities being constructed by the university.”

The resolution states that these restrooms will be available to the campus community. They will accessible to anyone regardless of gender and/or disabilities and include child changing stations.

All-gender restrooms will be separate from the current restrooms.

Students Gabriela Azuara, Stacey Morales, Juan Villela and Denisse Molina, SGA vice president for the Brownsville campus, wrote the resolution.

The first mention of having all-gender restrooms on the UTRGV campuses came from Villela during the SGA’s Student Body address Sept. 15 on the Brownsville campus.

As previously reported by The Rider, Villela said his friend had a past experience where she was not allowed to enter a women’s restroom on the UT Brownsville campus.

“She’s been taking hormones for years,” he said in an interview after the address. “She’s been thinking about doing removal of her genitals. I think it’s really unfair she had to use the boys’ restroom. It was really uncomfortable for her. It was really unsafe for her to go to the boys’ restroom. I think [UTRGV] should begin implementing gender-neutral bathrooms, mostly because UT Dallas is already doing it.”

Both resolutions were signed by SGA President Alberto Adame and will be presented to the university administration, according to Adame.

Adame said he is working on how and when he will present both resolutions to administrators.

The next SGA meeting will be conducted at 2 p.m. today in University Library room 3.102 in Brownsville and the Academic Services and Computer Labs building room 1.106 in Edinburg.

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