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Students voice LNG concerns Seek petition against deal with university

BY Bryan Ramos | THE RIDER

UTRGV student Aileen Garza protests the agreement between UTRGV and NextDecade, LLC, last Thursday at the Quad in Edinburg./Sarah Carvajal/The Rider
UTRGV student Aileen Garza protests the agreement between UTRGV and NextDecade, LLC, last Thursday at the Quad in Edinburg./Sarah Carvajal/The Rider

Students are protesting UTRGV’s agreement with the developer of a proposed liquefied natural gas project at the Port of Brownsville.

Last Thursday afternoon, members of the Environmental Awareness Club gathered at the Quad in Edinburg, urging the campus community to call UTRGV President Guy Bailey to express their opposition to the memorandum of understanding between the school and NextDecade, LLC, the developer.

The protest follows the Sept. 2 meeting of the Student Government Association, in which a concern was announced regarding the LNG deal.

UTRGV and NextDecade, LLC, signed the agreement Aug. 31 at the President’s Office in Edinburg.

SGA President Denisse Molina-Castro said a student contacted the senate to voice a concern about the agreement.

The student asked the SGA to start a petition and protest against the LNG deal. Molina-Castro said it first needs to draft guidelines for petitions because the existing rules are from legacy institution UT Pan American.

The partnership aims to implement STEM-based education and research programs with pathway opportunities for students to enter the workforce in the energy, engineering and technology industries, according to a UTRGV news release about the agreement.

In other SGA business, Molina-Castro met with the judicial, legislative and executive branches to appoint four new members and approved the 2016-17 Special Event and Travel Funds guidelines.

The four newly appointed students are Associate Justices Bryan Villanueva in Brownsville and Jasmin Alejandre in Edinburg, Chief of Staff Kevin Garza and College of Business and Entrepreneurship Senator Alberto Adame, who served as UTRGV’s first SGA president.

Edinburg Vice President Peter Averack said the role of the SGA is to listen to the voice of the student body about controversial topics.

“The whole point of SGA is to function as the intermediary between the students and administration and faculty,” Averack said. “As representatives, our goal is to be as informed as possible, to listen to that voice, and collect it, whatever it may be, represent it to administration and at the same time offer information back to the students. If students wanted to go through the process of petition, it is our responsibility to represent the majority of the students.”

Another point of discussion was the Special Event and Travel Funds for students in 2016. Eric Silva, senator at large and chair of the senate, said the special travel funds provide opportunities for students.

“We’re encouraging students to attend conferences and competitions related to their field,” Silva said. “Sometimes you may want to participate but financially you’re not able to do that. By having this program, we’re making it easier for students to be able to go out and participate in conferences and competitions. We’re really trying to encourage our students to experience that.”

Any student or organization that wishes to apply for 2016-2017 special travel funds can visit UTRGV.edu/SGA.

The 12 months of the year are broken into quarters; those planning on traveling at any time must apply for funds within the first two weeks of a quarter. The application for students traveling between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30 opened last Tuesday via V-Link.

The SGA met last Friday. Visit utrgvrider.com for more information.

All SGA meetings are open to students. For more information, follow the UTRGV Student Government Association page on Facebook.

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