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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

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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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The Gaboon Viper is one of the 450 snakes that are housed at the serpentarium and is found in various parts of Africa.
The Gaboon Viper is one of the 450 snakes that are housed at the serpentarium and is found in various parts of Africa.

Texas A&M University-Kingsville could soon be in the national spotlight thanks to researchers who are working on developing a universal anti-venom at the National Natural Toxins Research Center.

The universal anti-venom would help save thousands of lives around the United States, especially the lives of people who live in deserted areas. But also snakebite victims around the world would benefit, said Dr. Elda Sanchez.

The NNTRC is working along with AM Biotechnologies, a company out of Houston, which manufactures synthetic molecules. Those molecules are the ones researchers are using to develop the anti-venom, Dr. Sanchez said.

Dr. Sanchez, Executive Co-Director at the NNTRC, said there are lots of venoms in the world but in reality there are only about 11 different types of toxins that can be found in snakes’ venom.

“The objective is to make molecules that can neutralize those 11 different types of toxins that can be found in all the snakes around the world,” Dr. Sanchez said.

Dr. Sanchez said in different countries there are different types of anti-venoms, which makes it hard for snakebite victims to afford the lifesaving vaccine and even worse, sometimes those vaccines don’t function correctly.

The research, which consists of three phases, began in 2014 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. So far, only phase one has been successfully completed.

“We finished the first phase and what we did was to make an aptamer about a specific type of toxin, because we have to test first that we can do it,” she said. “We focused on making one or two molecules and prove that the aptamer could neutralize the toxin.”

After the molecules were created they were put to test, she said.

“We tested the aptamer in a specific snake myotoxin and it worked,” Dr. Sanchez said. “The molecule was also put to test on a snake myotoxin from another country and it also worked perfectly.”

Phase two will consist of making more extensive studies and make other aptamers about the other types of toxins that are left and seeing if those toxins are neutralized by the molecule, she said.

Dr. Sanchez said phase three of the research would consist of clinical trials, if everything functions correctly. It also may be possible to make aptamers for all the toxins.

Globally snake bites affect the lives of some 4.5 million people every year. Conservative estimates suggest that at least 100,000 people die from snake bite, and another 250,000 are permanently disabled.

Mark Hockmuller serves as the curator at the John C. Perez Serpentarium where 450 venomous snakes are housed.

Some of Hockmuller’s duties include taking care of the snakes and extracting the venom from the snakes for research.

“Every day we extract venom from about 20 to 30 snakes,” he said.

He said some of the challenges faced when extracting the venom is that the snakes are aggressive and always try to hurt him.

“The challenge is to make sure that we have a good team in place to be able to handle the snakes,” Hockmuller said. “There are some snakes that are more dangerous and more unpredictable than others.”

Most of the snakes spend their life span at the serpentarium. However, snake exchanges with other research centers can be possible.

“We study all venomous snakes, and their venom and all different species are useful to us,” Hockmuller concluded.

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The Second Amendment guarantees citizens the right to bear arms. Should that right extend to college campuses too?

The state legislature thinks so.

Texas legislators are debating proposed bills in both the House and Senate to allow open carry and concealed carry across all public universities in the state.

Different versions of the bill have different implications. A bill introduced by Allen Fletcher, the Republican state representative from Tomball, would allow concealed carry in every building, including dormitories, classrooms and buildings.

Other bills don’t go that far, but it’s clear the legislature is determined to allow firearms on campus sooner rather than later.

“They feel that’s what Texans want on this point,” said University Police Department Chief Felipe Garza.

That may be what Texans want, but most universities have come out in opposition to it. Students at the University of Texas have organized rallies against the measures, and the chancellor of the University of Texas system William McRaven expressed his opposition to the bill.

“I continue to hear from students, parents, staff and faculty about their uneasiness related to this legislation,” McRaven said in a statement to TIME magazine. “In light of this, it is my responsibility to continue to express our concerns as the Senate bill goes to the House and the House bill goes through the process.”

Garza, who also serves as the president of the Texas Association of College University Police Administrators, said the bill wouldn’t bring down the type of crime college campuses face which are usually nonviolent.

“We don’t think it’s a good bill for college campuses,” Garza said. “They’re addressing crimes of violence on campus, but campus violent crime is very low. The majority of our crime is theft.”

The reason faculty has expressed dissatisfaction for the bills is because they feel it may stifle the free exchange of ideas.

“Universities are designed for students and faculty to have open discussion,” Garza said. “They push the envelope. That’s what universities do. Many (people) can get emotional.”

However, because the majority of TAMUK students are under 21, Garza said he doesn’t expect the law to make much of a difference citizens have to be 21 to carry firearms according to the legislation.

Theft is another concern Garza mentioned.

“Our contention as police administrators is students lose laptops and iPads, so what are the chances they’re going to lose (firearms) as well,” Garza said.

Either way, Garza said UPD is prepared to adhere to the law no matter which way the bill goes.

“I don’t think it’ll affect (our jobs) one way or another,” Garza said.

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The air was warm and sticky as more than 300 Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) students joined forces with the City of Kingsville for last Saturday’s “Bigger Event”. The event was organized and sponsored by the Student Government Association (SGA) and brought together many different student organizations, like the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and the Peer Educator Program (PEP Talk). Many of the university’s student organizations put a strong emphasis on community service, so seeing so many student volunteers wasn’t surprising. Graduate student Adekola Mayukun represented NSBE and was excited to participate, he said. “We have always been involved in community service, for us it’s an integral part of why we are here,” Mayukun said. “This kind of event aligns very strongly with our organization because we like to raise socially viable students; people who show responsibility to society.” The residents of Kingsville have consistently shown support and adoration for TAMUK events, said SGA President Chelsea Nkrumah. “This event means that we are not separate from the community; we are apart of Kingsville and we are not just a university within itself,” Nkrumah said. Nkrumah spent the day making sure all of the projects went smoothly, she said. The help from the Javelinas was not unnoticed. Susan Ivy, Director of the City and Parks Department was thrilled to have as many helpers as she could at the Kennedy Park and the Brookshire pool sites. “The students from the university and all of the groups are very generous with their time and we take advantage of it as often as we can,” Ivy said. “ I don’t know what we would do without them.” Because the Bigger Event is sponsored by SGA, each student senator leads a group

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in one of the many beautification projects around the city. Senior double major Jacob Gaslin led a group in the cleaning of the cities bandstand along with Downtown manager, Cynthia Martin. “Community appearance is very important to the city and is one of their big initiatives,” Martin said. “Kingsville has had a band as long as it’s been a city and they played music here.” Many members of SGA like Gaslin and Nkrumah have participated in the bigger event more then once and to them it’s a social duty. “This is my third year doing this because I see how much the community does for the university and this is my home away from home so I like giving back,” Gaslin said. The day ended in the tailgate area at Javelina stadium, with laughter and food as the volunteers met to discuss the contributions to their home away from home.


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...