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

SGA President Zachary Nepote reflects on his presidency

SGA+President+Zachary+Nepote+reflects+on+his+presidency
Jake Mireles

As Spring Commencement approaches, students in senior standing at the University of Texas at San Antonio reflect on their academic journey, with Zachary Nepote, the Student Government Association (SGA) president, among them.

Nepote, who was elected as the SGA President in Spring 2023 for the 2023-24 academic year, has discussed the initiatives undertaken by the SGA during his tenure.

“This year, we got to interact with students more and understand their concerns. We hosted events that allowed for this type of feedback to be facilitated at our annual SGA Field Day, Trick or Treat the Paseo, our Open Educational Resource (OER) advocacy and outreach downtown town halls, and we’re gonna have one more today as well,” Nepote said.

“Graduate student seminars, Ready Prize cabs, Mental Health First Aid training and then we will also be hosting the upcoming University Life Awards and Earth Day Festival on the 22 of April. But, in addition to hosting these traditional events, we held various seats on university-wide committees on issues relating to the student experience, such as your dining experience, parking, how the university invests strategic investment funds, and sustainability. This allowed us to insert unique student perspectives into policy conversations that impact students in unique ways.”

When The Paisano last spoke to Nepote, he highlighted three initiatives he wanted to work on before graduation. These were the student worker visibility initiative, increasing student organization engagement and expanding OER.

“I think that all three of them were a success. First, starting with the student worker initiative. That’s been an ongoing initiative for the past two years and this year we’re able to provide feedback to the appropriate university administration about the student worker experience and how the cost of living in San Antonio is rising. Fortunately, the president’s office decided to raise student worker wages. So that’s an explicit win for student workers, for the working class, for students at UTSA.”

He continued, “In terms of increasing student organization engagement, we were able to get a Leaderfund out there for student organizations to use. The Leaderfund is money in SGA that can be used for student organizations. So they can get reimbursed for the costs that are associated with putting on an event or something like that. We are continuously working to make it easier for student [organizations] to get that money upfront.”

Regarding OER, Nepote highlighted successes in partnering with the library’s OER team and hosting faculty recognition events. He emphasized the importance of supporting faculty who create free textbooks to promote equity in education.

“Our advocacy and outreach for OER was also a success, we were able to partner with the library’s OER team and host a faculty recognition event. Faculty don’t get paid for creating these free textbooks, they just get their tenure and their salary. And so it’s really underappreciated,” Nepote said. 

“If we want more equity in our education, especially at a school that’s mostly working class, where students can’t afford textbooks, we have to support the faculty who are doing underappreciated work. And so we were able to partner with them for that event and also advocate for OER at the Provost level, at the University President level and also at UT System.”

Over the past few semesters, SGA has been working to combat their low voter turnout. When asked about their plans to increase voter turnout, Nepote mentioned efforts to be more present in various events throughout the year and expressed confidence in improving voter turnout.

“SGA has been working to increase our voter turnouts by being more present in a variety of events throughout the year but also through our candidate rally and candidate debate candidate seminar and so through our presence in these unique spaces that allows us to have these interactions with students and increase our voter turnout,”Nepote said. “I’m feeling very confident about voter turnout this year.”

Addressing concerns about delays in distributing funds to student organizations, such as Leaderfund, Nepote acknowledged administrative errors and assured that efforts were underway to rectify the situation.

“We’re working with the director of the Student Involvement Center to clear up the holdup in the funds and get them out there,” Nepote said. “It’s just you know, everything at universities is really bureaucratic and slow. The time frames are not as quick as we might see in the private sector, in other fields or even in our classes.”

Reflecting on his presidency, Nepote expressed satisfaction with the accomplishments but hoped for continued advocacy for affordable textbooks and OER in the future.

To stay informed on news regarding SGA, refer to paisano-online.com.

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About the Contributors
Malaki Lingg, Web Editor
Malaki (he/they) is a third-year Digital Communication student at UTSA. He is originally from Nevada but has lived in the Austin area for most of his life. When not writing for The Paisano you will most likely find him thrifting, gardening or attending a concert. This is his fifth semester with The Paisano and his second as an editor.
Jake Mireles, Opinion Editor
Jake (He/Him) is a second-year political science major at UTSA. Originally from Austin, he plans to move anywhere but Texas after graduation. If he is not climbing out from under a mountain of homework, you can usually find him listening to podcasts, playing saxophone or being an avid napper. This is his third-semester writing for the Paisano and his second semester serving as the Opinion Editor. He is excited for many to come while he explores a possible career path in journalism.

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