Student Body President claims students are getting stronger in State of the Student Body Address

Bella Nieto, News Editor

Every semester, by requirement of the constitution of the UTSA Student Government Association (SGA), the president of SGA must give a State of the Student Body Address. On Nov. 18, Jose Escobedo, the current SGA president, addressed the student body; the following speech is Escobedo’s remarks and analysis of the overall disposition and state of the UTSA student body. 

UTSA Student Body President Jose Escobedo

Madam Vice President, Mister Speaker, members of the Student Senate and Executive Cabinet – my fellow Roadrunners;

I hope you all enjoyed that video, that was just a small snapshot of our student body – a student body that is perhaps the most resilient group we have seen in our history. I’d like to talk more about that but first, let me just introduce myself and Student Government for those that are unfamiliar or tuning in after the event. 

My name is Jose Escobedo and I have the distinct honor and responsibility of serving as your Student Body President here at UTSA. I was elected through a student-wide vote this past March and I’ll continue to serve in my role until our next Spring General Election this next upcoming semester. My team and I came into office with three goals in mind: to rebuild and refocus Student Government as an organization, to continue our work of supporting your academic success, and building relationships that will allow us to reach our full potential as the premier advocacy group for student interests. 

We have done some incredible work on all three fronts and have expanded our efforts in other areas that needed attention. 

In just these short eight months, this team has managed to draft and pass a revolutionary new constitution that will go into effect with the next administration. We have implemented training and protocols meant to elevate our organization to the highest standard of professionalism that you – as the student body – deserve. We have also launched our Government Aide Program – or GAP – as an opportunity for students to intern with Student Government and learn what it takes to run this organization. Our belief is that in order for SGA to take that next step and realize our full potential, we must invest in the next generation of student leaders and ensure there will always be capable, compassionate and bold individuals ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow.

Now when it comes to academic success, we have found that we must take a holistic approach. This is an area where we have really expanded our efforts and tried to meet students where they’re at rather than where we initially thought they were. For the most part, we have continued our push for diverse curriculum and grading standards – one such accomplishment towards this goal has been the securing of an American Sign Language course now being offered this upcoming semester. Our work with the Office of Academic Innovation has been vital in this area, especially as we continue to lend our support for upgrades in classroom technology – 21st-century students should not be taught using outdated methods and tools. 

Where we have expanded is our approach to student life and spirit. It’s hard to succeed at a university where you don’t feel safe or proud to be at. Student safety is of the utmost priority for us and we have continued to advocate for smart, realistic COVID safety protocols as we returned to campus. I’m happy to say that students have done a great job of understanding the risks and have taken the proper precautions, including getting vaccinated. As UTSA and San Antonio at large continue to see dwindling case numbers, let’s not forget to stay vigilant and stay prepared. 

Now that we have returned to campus though, it has been exciting to see our student body come to life and see places like the Roost, the Sombrilla Plaza and our home sporting games be filled with students of all walks of life. We have tried to supplement this surge in school spirit by launching the Fresh Start UTSA campaign meant to act as a benchmark after a year and a half of so much sacrifice and hardship. We wanted to facilitate a positive outlook among students and tried to do that in a few ways. 

Although we ran into a few problems with the continuation of this program, we were able to fund and deliver a bike giveaway which was meant to promote alternative means of transportation. We have also funded two Mental Health First Aid trainings which is an important training we’ve committed to providing for two years now. Another initiative we have continued to support is our Personal Hygiene Initiative, which provides free, accessible, and high-quality menstrual products and condoms. Thanks to our secured partnership with the UTSA Wellbeing and support services, we have ensured that this program will continue to be funded and expanded for years to come – for us in Student Government this is a huge “mission accomplished” moment. Most recently we carried out three Scantron giveaways where we handed out Scantrons, Green Books and free snacks to students in preparation for finals. 

I could go on, but honestly, the greatest accomplishments are achieved by you all. This student body never fails to amaze me and any opportunity I’ve gotten I’ve said just as much. In any given classroom it’s not uncommon to see a freshman straight out of high school looking for the full college experience, or a working professional looking to further their education, or a veteran coming back after their service. I’m so glad we get to share these spaces together and I’m so proud of each of you. We are a working-class student population that is redefining higher education every day.

Our accomplishments in research have particularly inspired me, especially in our cybersecurity, aerodynamics and our contributions to studying COVID-19. 

Of course, I have to mention just how incredible our athletics program has done this year as well. Our student-athletes have been phenomenal ambassadors for our university and have continued to show their strength in talent as well as their character, especially with the adoption of the Brenda Tracy Rule. We are reaching new highs and thanks to their hard work, our brand has seen a dramatic increase in exposure. 

I’ll save most of my “thank you’s” for my farewell next semester, but I did want to take this moment to thank my team and administrative support from the Office of Student Affairs and Student Activities for the incredible work they’ve done. It takes a lot of people doing their jobs to ensure that we’re successful, and I can’t overstate how grateful I am.

Overall, the state of the student body is getting stronger every day. This pandemic has taken a serious toll on all of us in different ways, but it has also shown that a new world is possible. One where we can be both ambitious and thoughtful. Where we can be bold and yet willing to sit back and listen. One where we can be individuals but still connected to shared values. Opportunities to reshape our society into a better, more just one are rare. Here at UTSA, we have the unique ability to be experimental and show what higher education can look like with a fresh perspective. Let the spark of change start wherever you are and never forget that now and forever – we are Roadrunners.