Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

What happened this semester?

UTSA freezes in-state tuition, reviews DEI programs and expands Main and Downtown Campuses
What+happened+this+semester%3F
Calli Recore

What a semester it has been for the Roadrunners. As we wrap up our coursework and prepare for finals, let us take a look at some of the most notable campus news stories from the last few months.

Tuition and fees

Three days after classes began, the University of Texas Board of Regents voted to freeze certain in-state tuition and fees for two years, prompting UTSA to follow suit. UTSA announced on Sept. 18 that it would be freezing all resident undergraduate academic costs, keeping tuition and fees at the Fall 2021 rate until 2025. 

The same week, UTSA athletics announced their proposal to increase the mandatory athletics fee paid by all students each semester by $1.50 per credit hour, capped at 12 hours. Students showed mixed reactions to the proposed increase, and it was ultimately rejected on the Homecoming ballot — the same ballot that named Alondra Castillo and Melyna Perez the first female duo to win Spirit of the Roadrunner.

If the proposal had passed, the maximum athletics fee would have been increased from $240 to $330. Throughout the “Everyone Wins” campaign, Dr. Lisa Campos described how the increased funding would support 16 different sports in addition to student worker positions and spirit groups like Rowdy Crew, UTSA Cheer, ROTC and UTSA’s Spirit of San Antonio Marching Band. The increased fee would have also gone towards building awareness around UTSA’s athletics program, promoting university pride and improving the student experience at athletics events.  

In early November, longtime UTSA donors Ed and Linda Whitacre donated $1 million to support UTSA athletics’ fundraising for a new volleyball and basketball practice facility and the Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design. The donation will be split evenly between the two programs. 

UTSA has had its sights set on the practice facility since 2021, with its launch of the Bold Champions campaign, and Campos stated that donations such as the Whitacre’s will support UTSA athletics in place of the failed fee increase. To learn more about and support the Bold Champions campaign and the new practice facility, click here.

Texas legislature

Senate Bill (SB) 17 was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in June, effectively prohibiting diversity, equity and inclusion offices, duties, training and statements in institutions of higher education as of Jan. 1, 2024. Originating in the 88th Texas Legislature, the law prohibits preference or any kind of differential treatment on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.

In August, UT System distributed working guidance to all of its institutions to ensure compliance with SB 17, and UTSA began working to develop a strategy to screen campus affairs that may be affected. The guidelines specify that “the bill’s restrictions do not apply to academic course instruction.” 

By September, UTSA had begun the review process and created a website to address frequently asked questions. 

The university updated faculty, staff and students again on Oct. 13 as the Program, Activity and Initiative Review (PAIR) team sorted through more than 300 submissions from a campus-wide stakeholder working group to determine which were exempt, which needed to be changed and which will be discontinued by Jan. 1. 

This month, UTSA revealed that the determinations regarding each submission have been finalized and approved by President Taylor Eighmy. According to UTSA Today, only 10% of submissions will be discontinued under SB 17 and nearly half can continue without modification. The evaluative results were sent to stakeholders via email on Nov. 15. 

Programs which require revision will be monitored by unit leaders and their responsible dean, vice provost or vice president to ensure that the modifications take place. UTSA will conduct an internal review of all activities in 2024 to verify these changes. The update also explains that UTSA remains “committed to ensuring jobs are not lost,” regardless of how SB17 impacts the Office of Inclusive Excellence, and that separate updates will be shared soon.

Also introduced in the 88th legislative session, SB 18 modifies the tenure and employment of faculty members at public higher education institutions. The law, which went into effect Sept. 1, eliminates tenure for newly hired professors and requires institutions to allow termination in instances of “professional incompetence” or “conduct involving moral turpitude.” “Tiered employment” systems for faculty are permitted so long as professors receive an annual review.

UT System and UTSA have not yet released a statement on SB 18. The update on Oct. 13, however, disclosed that UTSA officials discussed the law in meetings with the Faculty Senate and Department Chair Council and would soon meet with the Staff Senate, Student Government Association and other campus groups. 

Other laws that passed during the 88th Texas Legislature which impact higher education include House Bill (HB) 8, which codified an outcomes-based approach for Texas community college funding, as well as HB 1595 and House Joint Resolution 3, which established the Texas University Fund to support the state’s interest in research at public universities.

For future updates on legislation that impacts higher education, visit utsa.edu/today or paisano-online.com.

Campus expansion

In August, UTSA announced plans for its seventh on campus residence hall, Blanco Hall. The dormitory will house up to 594 freshmen and sophomores in single and double-bed units and will function as a living-learning community, as current plans allocate 2,000 square feet for a teaching kitchen and 1,000 for a nutrition research and learning center. Construction is currently underway near Chisholm Hall on Resident Lot 3 and is expected to continue through June 2025. In the meantime, over 200 parking spaces have been reallocated to the north end of the Barshop lot.

At the Downtown Campus, UTSA recently broke ground on its new Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Careers (IEC) building. The new building, known as San Pedro II, is part of a new initiative by UTSA to address San Antonio’s workforce needs by preparing students for careers in interdisciplinary fields such as cybersecurity, computer and data sciences. The completed IEC building is expected to be 180,000 square feet, with a total project cost of $124 million. 

Classes for Spring 2024 will begin on Jan. 16, and The Paisano will resume printing the following week. In the meantime, subscribe to our mailing list to stay informed next semester. Happy holidays from your friends at The Paisano.

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About the Contributors
Jessica McLaren, News Editor
Jessica McLaren is a senior digital communications student. She is from Austin, Texas, and she has been working with The Paisano for several years now — first as a staff writer and now as the News Editor. Though she has loved to write for virtually her entire life, Jess only recently discovered her passion for visual design through her studies at UTSA. She values open-mindedness and compassion and believes the media is a powerful tool that can be used to strengthen the forces of humanity if used mindfully. Once she graduates, Jess plans to use her expertise in writing, editing and design to help people better understand themselves and the world around them by creating compelling and engaging communication campaigns as a self-employed writer and designer. When she’s not writing an article or researching for one, you can usually find her reading a book about philosophy with a good cup of coffee.
Calli Recore, Graphic Artist

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