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Earth Day is observed around the world on April 22, although larger events such as festivals and rallies are often organized for the weekends before or after April 22.

Many communities also observe Earth Week or Earth Month, organizing a series of environmental activities throughout the month of April.

Texas A&M University-Kingsville did its contribution by hosting Sustainability Week from April 15-22.

Sustainability week at TAMUK began with a demonstration at the Javelina pallet garden on gardening techniques by Justin Butts from KEDT’s gardening show “Your Wholesome Garden,” and the week culminated with the Earth Day Fair at the pavilion.

Student organizations, as well as faculty and staff, gathered in the Pavilion with educational posters with information on how to reuse, reduce and recycle among other topics.

Laura B. Prange, Director of Campus Sustainability, said it’s important for students, faculty and every individual on earth to recognize and contribute into maintaining the planet.

“Every individual and every community and every institution has the joy, the privilege and the responsibility of doing what they can to honor and take care of our habitat,” Prange said. “Our habitat is our environment, the place in which we live, whether is on the large scale; that is our planet, or just our campus or home.”

She said even though TAMUK is pretty sustainable there is always room to keep improving.

“We are in such an exciting time,” she said. “We are in the process of tracking and measuring how much sustainability we are doing at this point in time.”

Prange said with all the support there is on campus this is being possible. She also advises students to be mindful day to day with the things they can and can’t do in their surroundings but also to keep in mind the positive contributions and opportunities to be more sustainable.

Hunter Balzen, Junior Environmental Engineer, is an intern at the Office of Campus Sustainability, and he said it’s important to have the Earth Day fair because there are many people that don’t have a sense of recycling or sustainability.

Balzen said here at TAMUK they are trying to instill sustainable values, especially to freshman students, so that students can grow and become more used to sustainable values.

“We try to instill this values so that they’ll grow and become more used to sustainable values in recycling,” he said. “So that as they come through TAMUK we see a greater aggregation towards helping the environment, saving the environment.”

Balzen said he hopes that when students graduate from here they’ll keep those values and hopefully take that to their families and to their jobs.

Balzen said him along with other students are working in a landfill awareness project where he hopes students become more aware where their trash is going and hopefully they become more inclined to recycle.

Toni Cortez, volunteer at the Kingsville Recycling Center, was also present to help spread the word on how and where the community can recycle.

She said in order to make the earth a better living environment people need to cooperate and recycle.

“We take newspaper, plastic bottles, cardboard among many other things,” Cortez said.

Cortez said every effort counts and urges people to get involved in recycling events in the community.

She said if you have anything to be recycled to call the recycling center at (361)595-8098 or to visit their location at 202 W Lee Ave, here in Kingsville.

They also have brochures and information on what things they can take as well as the damages that some of the materials that are thrown into the environment cause.

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Duane Gardiner
Duane Gardiner

Provost Dr. Rex Gandy’s decision to move to Austin Peay State University in Tennessee has prompted a national search for Texas A&M University Kingsville’s next provost.

For now, Dr. Duane Gardiner, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, has been appointed as Interim Provost, university President Dr. Steven Tallant, announced.

Gardiner is set to start as Interim Provost on June 1.

Even though Gardiner will serve his term mostly during the summer, he is expected to address issues such as hiring new personnel, finishing the accreditation report, among other issues.

Tallant said Gardiner will do a great job as interim provost and went on to say that he is exactly who the school needs.  He said he has worked with Gardiner for six years and and said Gardiner is familiar with what the provost does. Gardiner was in charge of SACS, the reaccreditation team that schools go through.

Tallant said he is looking for the next TAMUK provost to be scholarly.

“We want someone that has the rank of full professor,” he said “The provost has to be tenureable, have done all the teaching, all the scholarship and all the research.”

He said the provost is responsible for curricular and academics but works closely with the entire faculty.

“I want an individual that understands the importance of research as we move forward in research and to help develop initiatives along that area,” he said.

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Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s University Police Department reported that a female student was allegedly sexually assaulted Saturday night in a parking lot on campus.
The victim told police that she parked in the Lynch Hall parking lot at approximately 11:30 p.m. when an unknown male approached her from behind, covering her mouth and carrying her to the bed of a parked pick-up truck where he sexually assaulted her before throwing her to the ground and leaving the scene.
UPD has identified the suspect as a male who is about six feet tall with an average build, shaggy red hair and a full beard. The suspect was driving a blue pick-up truck with an extended cab, dark-tinted windows, loud mufflers and a TAMUK logo across the back glass.
“We’ve got a couple of leads but they’ve turned up nothing so far,” said UPD Chief Felipe Garza. “This is a very unusual case because the suspect is not known by the victim, so we’re having to try to identify him and that blue vehicle.”
While UPD seeks out more information on this case, Garza said their priority is taking care of the victim.
“Her health and safety is the most important thing right now,” Garza said. “A counselor has already gone to see her and that’s what we’re concerned with.”
Garza is asking the public for any information on the suspect or his vehicle at this time.
If you have any tips, call UPD at 593-2611.

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The College of Arts and Sciences at Texas A&M-University-Kingsville hosted the fifth annual Dean’s of Arts and Sciences Colloquium on Friday, April 17.

Dr. Mark Vandewalle, CEO and co-founder of the Center for African Resources: Animals, Communities and Land in Botswana (CARACAL), served as the keynote speaker.

Vandewalle is an ecologist and has over 30 years of experience working in wildlife management and research.

The focus of his speech was ecosystem sustainability which he titled “Is Sustainable Management Achievable in the African Context? The African Elephant as a Model.”

“I am going to present a number of challenges using elephants in Botswana as the model,” he said. “Challenges to a potentially sustainable species but in the international context and the difficulties that relate to that.”

He said the fact is the world is moving much more towards preservation rather than a conservation society. Total protection and banning, he said, were other challenges as well.

“Those are challenges for African countries where there is poverty and people are negatively impacted by these animals (elephants) that the rest of the world wants to protect,” Vandewalle said.

He said it is important, especially at  the university level and even at young ages, to get involved because it is their future and if they don’t get involved and have a good understanding about the issue, then they aren’t going to be empowered to be able to enforce future conservation decisions.

Nirmal Goswani, political science professor, has been involved in the colloquium for the past five years and said the main purpose is to bring information from across the world about issues that are important to faculty and students.

“I expect students to take interest in these issues and see if there are opportunities for them to go and visit and take advantage of the internship program we have with them,” Goswani said. “Most American universities don’t have the kind of working relationship we have with this organization (CARACAL) in Botswana.”

He said every year the topic is different depending on the issues that are going on around the world.

“Every year people from different parts of the world come here and speak about different topics and it’s a program that I like to call “Bring the World to A&M-Kingsville,” Goswani said.

Goswani said students that are interested in the internship program at CARACAl in Botswana should also show interest in wildlife conservation, public policy, ecosystem management, ecotourism and agribusiness.

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The Jones Auditorium at Texas A&M University-Kingsville will turn into a musical scenario as middle school and high school students from the whole state of Texas will gather to compete in the Viva El Mariachi Extravaganza on April 25.

It is the third year the event takes place at TAMUK where the participants perform and show their talents, said Sam Diaz, TAMUK Outreach Coordinator at the Rio Grande Valley.

“We are bringing students from Houston, San Antonio, Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley,” Diaz said.

The audience will have the opportunity to see a Grammy nominated artist as well as the Mariachi Javelina.

He said students that participate in the extravaganza do it for the passion towards mariachi music.

“It’s a passion, but now through a lot of hard work, the UIL has sang to mariachi music so the university would like to show their appreciation,” Diaz said. “It’s kind to show them the next step after they get out of high school.”

Diaz said it’s the passion for music that drives these students even when they might be interested in other areas of study such as business, education and engineering among others.

“For them it’s all about the experience, stepping on stage and being part of something bigger that they’re very passionate about.”

Diaz said the event it’s free to the public from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. a $5 professional community concert will take place.

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Mission Improvable filled the ballroom with laughter as they performed based on the suggestions of the audience.
Mission Improvable filled the ballroom with laughter as they performed based on the suggestions of the audience.

Mission Improvable, a well known improv comedy group, also known as entertainers of the year by campus activities magazine 2013, performed April 7 at the student union building, sponsored through Campus Activities Board.

The “entertainers of the year,” Mission Improvable, were back to perform for students of Texas A&M University-Kingsville on April  7 at the Student Union in a night full of mayhem and unpredictability.

“They really engage with the audience and their energy is flowing throughout their performances,” said Ashley Martinez, Campus Activities Board President.

The group, consisting of four people, was Sherman Edwards, Matt Garard, Kevin Branick, and Mike Keeney. On stage, they go by different names, calling themselves “agents.” They work based on the suggestions of the audience at a fast pace.

“They play off the audiences any ideas the audiences,” Martinez said.  “People can bounce off their ideas without being so shy.”

Mission Improvable, named entertainers of the year by Campus Activities Magazine 2013, started in 1998 at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“It was actually really fun,” said Courtney Reese, freshman.  “ I didn’t know what to expect but it was an experience.”

Jeremy Vela, freshman, was one of the students selected to go on stage. He said the experience made him nervous.

“ I was kind of nervous, it felt really weird being on stage in front of people, because I am not used to talking,” Vela said. “It felt awkward, because you had to think on your feet.”

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Students holding up their candles as they read the Rights Pledge together.
Students holding up their candles as they read the Rights Pledge together.

Take Back the Night, a national event, was brought to Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Tuesday, April 14.  The event was created to stop the silence against victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual abuse and more.

“We are helping to shine a light on some issues that a lot of times people don’t really want to talk about”, said Angel M. Hoodye, certified anger resolution therapist for Texas A&M University-Kingsville.  “Very personal issues that can happen to men and women.”

The purpose of the event is letting people know that they can have a voice.  There is hope and resources available to them.

“We hope that they recognize that this can happen to their brother, sister, cousin, anyone”, she said. “And that these are real things that people are dealing with.”

Hoodye said she hopes students understand that counseling is available to them.

The event takes efforts in letting the abusers know that they no longer have control over their victims and that students should be able to feel safe on campus, said Chelsea Nkrumah, SGA President.

“Students are getting together to unite and show their support”, she said.

The event started off with a brief history of how “Take Back the Night” began.

Women from many different countries met as a council to discuss the safety of women as they walk alone through public streets.  In 1973, they arranged a protest against pornography and later in 1975 a march was held in Philadelphia in regards to the murder of microbiologist Susan Alexander Speeth.  The murder victim was stabbed to death while walking home.  Since then, in 1977, the title “Take Back the Night,” was used for the memorial.

An open mic for the survivors was provided to give them the opportunity to speak up about their experience.

“We will also have a vigil, where students can go outside and light a candle,” Nkrumah said.

The lighting of the candle can be used to remember a victim or a friend, someone you know that endured a form of violence.

“It’s not about darkness, it’s about the light”, she said.

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To achieve a savings goal of $1 million for Texas A&M University-Kingsville, President Steven Tallant has appointed a Core Mission Resources Committee with the sole objective of finding a way to achieve said savings with maximum efficiency.

The committee is chaired by Provost Dr. Rex Gandy and has been meeting weekly.

“Proposals revolve around the realignment of administrative functions that result in freeing funds for redirection to core mission activities,” Gandy said.

Core mission activities, Gandy said, are defined as teaching, research and service. The proposals are not intended to sacrifice quality, he said.

Two recent proposals that will be forwarded to Tallant include a realignment of activities within the Jernigan Library and the consolidation of the Department of Teacher and Bilingual Education and the Department Educational Leadership and Counseling within the College of Education and Human Performance, Gandy said.

“Both proposals will reduce administrative costs and provide funds that can be redirected to core mission activities while maintaining the current level of service,” Gandy said.

There is also a proposal before the committee that would combine the positions of Dean of the Honors College and Associate Vice President for Student Success.

“The proposal was scheduled for a vote on April 20, but because of considerable interest in this suggestion, the vote was postponed until April 27,” Gandy said.

The committee sees three alternatives for the Honors College proposal. The committee will either make no changes to the college, combine the two positions as originally proposed, or leave the college in place with the dean assigned part of the time to administrative functions and part of the time to core mission activities.

“As with the other proposals, the rationale behind this recommendation is to reduce administrative expenses and redirect the savings to core mission activities,” Gandy said.

The need to re-allocate money arose when Chancellor John Sharp commissioned a Comprehensive Administrative Review of the Texas A&M University System.  Sharp’s objective was to create suggestions that would enhance administrative efficiency and identify cost savings throughout the system. The final report indicated a savings goal of $1 million for TAMUK, Gandy said.

Those interested in keeping up with committee developments can go to http://tamuk.edu/cmrc/.

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TAMUK students had the opportunity to see art work that portrayed the type of work and the conditions the farm workers face while on he field.

The National Center for Farmworker Health held an art exhibit at the Ben Bailey Art Building on March 31 as part of Texas A&M University-Kingsville’s presidential performing and visual arts series.

Food was offered at the receptions, but this time it stood for something symbolic, said Elizabeth Laurence, International & Multicultural Event Coordinator.

“Most of the items on the table represent the things that are brought to us by those who we honor tonight,” Laurence said. “Those who work so hard and oftentimes put themselves at risk.”

The organization is a national training and technical assistance program located in Buda. Their staff works with community and migrant health centers across the country, providing primary health services to migrant and farm workers.

“The migrant health program started in 1962 with John F. Kennedy, and it really was the beginning of the community program”, said Sylvia Partida, Chief Operations Officer for the National Center for Farmworker Health.

There was a lot of shame for the country to see how farmers were living and being treated and the lack of access to health care, Partida said.

At that time, there were few programs around the country that ended.  These programs had started to serve men that were coming to do work in the United States, Partida said.

The message behind the artwork is to think about the person that picked the next strawberry or cucumber anyone eats.  It was not enough for the organization to work with healthcare and provide services but they needed to make awareness to the general public of the continued need, Partida said.

Art pieces were submitted from around the nation, including Hawaii and San Antonio.

“What is it like for us to be picking our food and not thinking about what’s behind it,” Partida said.

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