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Fee committee hears more funding requests Food pantry, mentoring and Student Media propose budget increases

Jennifer Cerda, food pantry coordinator, speaks before the Student Fee Advisory Committee during a meeting Feb. 26 in Cortez Hall 118 on the Brownsville campus. Cerda proposed more space for the food pantry in Brownsville along with other requests. MICHELLE ESPINOZA

Associate Dean of Students for Student Support Michael Banegas and Food Pantry Coordinator Jennifer Cerda have gone before the Student Fee Advisory Committee to ask for a budget increase in the program.

Banegas and Cerda were among four administrators who addressed the committee Feb. 26 in Brownsville.

“You have to see what we’re doing with the little bit of money that we have,” Banegas said. “I’m just so proud of everyone doing their part.”

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Food Pantry opened its doors in late November of last year in Cortez Hall on the Brownsville campus. Since its opening in Brownsville, the Food Pantry has served 143 students.

During Cerda’s presentation, Associate Dean of Students for Student Rights and Responsibilities Doug Stoves asked if the students have to register when they use the food pantry and its services.

“They register and fill out two forms,” Cerda said. “The first form is a household assistance form. That form lets us know their income and how many people live in their home. The second form is an online form that we have on our website, which asks questions like their name and student ID. Once they fill out that paperwork, they’re already in our system and they are good to go.”

Banegas asked the committee for funding to help purchase more nonperishable items, hire more personnel and increase employee wages.

“It’s just a great need on our campus, it really really is,” Banegas said. “It takes all of us, it really does. Now that I have the ability to help, I’m going to do it.”

Delma Olivarez, director of leadership and mentoring and interim associate dean for Student Involvement, proposed an increase in the Retention Initiative program’s budget. Services focus on mentoring students, informing their families about academic opportunities and strengthening their academic and leadership skills.

Olivarez also proposed budget increases and structure change for the Student Leadership Academy initiative.

“We focus on topics like goal setting, ethical leadership, effective communication, leadership diversity and self-reflection,” she said. “I’m very pleased. We have a very unified group of students.”

Students participating in the Freshman Leadership Academy help incoming students better prepare to leadership roles in student organizations such as the Student Government Association.

Student Media Director Azenett Cornejo requested funding for the student newspaper, radio, magazine and television programs.

Cornejo made a one-time funding request to purchase golf carts to deliver the student newspaper on the Edinburg and Brownsville campuses.

“Currently we have to borrow golf carts from other departments to deliver the paper,” Cornejo said. “Those golf carts are critical to the timely delivery of our newspaper on both campuses.”

Cornejo also requested one-time funding to replace old computers that are used by students in the UTRGV-TV program. Stoves asked her if there were other funding sources for the department.

“We do have a multimedia advertising and underwriting program,” Cornejo said. “We broadcast on YouTube and not on our university website because [the university is] still building our website.”

The committee deliberated the proposals for Fiscal Year 2016 one-time budget requests and Fiscal Year 2017 budget requests last Friday in Brownsville.

The next SFAC meeting will take place at 2 p.m. Friday but will be closed to the public.

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