Petition update

The fight goes on! Let the students decide!!

David Hernandez
Edinburg, TX, United States

Feb 2, 2015 — By DANYA PEREZ- HERNANDEZ

An Edinburg state representative filed a bill Friday that would compel students to ultimately decide the nickname of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Vaquero — the controversial mascot chosen last year.

State Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, said if HB901 becomes law, it wouldn’t abandon the Vaquero as a mascot. But it would compel the university to adopt whatever students choose as the “athletics nickname of the university selected by a plurality vote of the students.”

“There are lots of schools that have certain mascots, but different nicknames,” he said. “So what I’m saying is ‘Our mascot can be the Vaqueros, but we want to choose what our nickname is.’”

But unlike picking the name Bucky for the Bronc — the name of the mascot for the University of Texas-Pan American — students wouldn’t be voting on what to name the Vaquero.

Rather, the bill would add a section to the state’s education code that compel students to vote on the Broncs, the Ocelots and “any other options the university chooses, including nicknames nominated by students and approved by the university.”

If the bill passes, the university would be required to hold an election by the end of the year.

It’s unclear what role the Vaquero mascot would play at UT-RGV if students vote for Broncs or Ocelots as an athletics nickname.

UT-RGV President Guy Bailey faced criticism from some University of Texas-Pan American students and alumni for conducting surveys that didn’t include the UTPA Bronc as a choice for the new university’s mascot.

Ultimately, Bailey revealed the Vaquero as the finalist, which was chosen by UT regents.

The mascot controversy sparked various memes poking fun at the Vaquero and its Mexican origins, student protests, and online petitions trying to save UTPA’s mascot Bucky the Bronc. A Change.org reached 10,000 supporters by Nov. 10.

Canales emerged as a Vaquero critic, as well. He said it was important for him to let all of these supporters know that he is still trying to get something done.

“I have to listen to the voice of my constituents, especially when we have a petition with over 10,000 people,” he said. “It’s my job to file legislation and fight for it.”

Alex Del Barrio, creator of the petition and UTPA alum, applauded Canales’ bill.

“I think that was the biggest outcry, that the students felt that their voice wasn’t heard,” he said. “I think (the bill) is a step in the right direction and it shows that there are still a lot of people very upset about this and they want to see something good happen.”

Canales said this bill is a good middle ground for those for and against the new mascot and he is positive that it’s got potential to pass.

“I don’t file a bill unless I’m 100 percent dedicated to try to help it pass. ... It’s my measure in representation of the district and the people that I represent. It’s a people’s bill.”


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