After a long struggle, UTRGV SGA appears ready to vote on DREAM Center resolution
Updated: Feb 20, 2019
By Jonathan Salinas
After months of negotiations, back and forth, protests and constant pressure put on the UTRGV Student Government Association (SGA) by student organizers from the Students Together Coalition, emails obtained by Únete appear to show that SGA is prepared to pass a resolution in support of a DREAM Center at UTRGV without condition to a ‘Multicultural Center,’ as was counter-proposed by SGA and university administration since the inception of the idea.
One of the many but most recent crucial points came on Thursday March 1, when the legislative branch of SGA voted in favor of sending a resolution calling for the establishment of a DREAM Center at UTRGV back to committee, after unexpected revisions (made without notifying student organizers/authors) to the final document were noticed at the meeting.
Student activists and SGA senators sparred during debate and discussion over whether a ‘multicultural center,’ which was the language in question, should be built over a DREAM Center, wherein resources for DREAMers would be available.
Student activist, Giovanni Escobedo, member of La Union de Chicanxs Hijas de Aztlán (LUCHA) and Phiota Alpha Inc. gave a powerful speech during the ‘Petition of the Students’ over why a DREAM Center is necessary on campus, also mentioning online attacks he and others had received from SGA senators (a fuller version of the meeting can be seen here, wherein SGA senators did not respond to accusations).
However, Senator from Brownsville campus, Ivan Morado, argued that they wished to meet with LUCHA organizer, Alejandro Sanchez before the meeting, who declined. Sanchez responded by saying it was decided upon by the coalition that no further meetings with SGA were to happen until they were shown better support from them, weary of bureaucratic procedures that waste time.
Fellow LUCHA organizer and Young Democratic Socialists of America (YDSA) President Bianca Castro expressed that should the language remain the same, her and fellow student activist names be removed from the list of co-authors, which included Castro, Sanchez and TFN/URGE Officer Aileen Garza.
After more than an hour of back and forth, DREAM Center Ad Hoc chairperson, Senator at Large Andrea Francis, motioned to send resolution back into committee. The day/time of meeting was not set then, but organizers were later contacted with a time that they could not attend.
Expressing discontent with not being consulted about time, the student organizers then provided the SGA with an ultimatum of explicitly creating a DREAM Center or lose their cooperation. They received a reply dated on March 20 stating that the SGA would agree to the language and finally vote on a resolution that would establish the creation of a DREAM Center. The title of the resolution contains “Dream Center Resolution,” however, the resolution statement states thus: “THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED that the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley create, fund, and establish a center for undocumented students that provides resources and services tailored to the unique needs of our undocumented student population such as but not limited to financial aid assistance, counseling services, post-graduation career advising, academic support, and ombud services.”
The name of the center is a very important point for student organizers as it would be symbolic for the community often not told there is a place for them in the university, reassuring students that they are protected and safe by the institution they attend, as well as an example to other universities around the state and the nation. Student organizers have not yet said whether they will endorse the resolution, as they are pending approval by the board, Students Together Coalition.
Nonetheless, students and administration find themselves in yet another argument over ‘what’s in a name?’ But for the first time in UTRGV’s brief history, it seems like a victory in such a matter will go to student organizers. If so, anyone who still says that ‘protests don’t work’ will need only look at the long struggle led by students and their faculty allies to see that such a remark is rendered void by the very actions they sought to belittle.