UTRGV PSA Preparing for Spring

Thursday, months after losing officers to graduation, Janet Ekezie, president of the Political Science Association, conducted a meeting to hold a special election and update members on the agenda.

Ekezie is a senior set to graduate this spring. She was elected to office in the fall after having been a member of the PSA since her freshman year. Ekezie emphasized that the organization is open to all students regardless of their major, it is not exclusive only to those that are planning to earn a degree in political science.

“The main goals for this semester are to create conversation on current political issues, raise money, and to also create an environment where students can come and express their concerns in relation to politics and political science,” said Ekezie.

Ekezie worried that students wouldn’t have a way to express their opinions regarding the current political climate.

“Creating a conversation is very much important because we’re going into this world that has these issues and if we don’t have a perspective or knowledge about them, then it’s kind of unfortunate. I just wanted to create that avenue for students,” said Ekezie.

Ekezie added that the organization’s main outreach to gain members is through the UTRGV political science department. She stated that they usually see membership go up after the speaker events.

“Last semester was relatively successful, especially because of the two speaker events that we had,” said Ekezie. “They were panel discussions on the Republican Tax Plan and DACA.”

Jerry Polinard and James Wenzel are professors at UTRGV with a Ph.D. in Government from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Houston, respectively.

“We hosted Dr. Polinard and Dr. Wenzel for the first event. We had Dr. McNeely and Dr. Chomsky speak for us at our second event.

Natasha McNeely is a political science professor specializing in race and ethnicity politics with a Ph.D. from The University of Iowa. Daniel Chomsky specializes in the politics of the mass media with a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. McNeely and Chomsky are professors for UTRGV.

Ekezie believes that the conflict surrounding illegal immigration and the border wall are among the many things that need to be discussed, along with our relationship to countries such as North Korea.

                                                                Photo By: Laura De Leon

“We haven’t decided who the speakers will be for this spring, but we’d like to have the topics revolve around environmental policy, immigration, and international relations. These things should be discussed considering our current president’s interesting perspective,” said Ekezie.

Nicolas Leandro, a graduate student with a degree in political science, happened to attend one of PSA's speaker events last spring.

“I needed to kill some time on campus when I saw a flyer with Dr. Chomsky’s name on it. I figured I’d check it out. It was pretty interesting to me because he touched on the election that had just taken place,” said Leandro. “I feel like a lot of people had strong opinions about it, because of Trump, so it was cool to hear something from a professor.”

Leandro graduated in 2017 and is currently pursuing a law degree.

Ekezie added that the club plans to do more publicizing and not just rely on people joining the organization by hearing about it in a class. The PSA currently has 17 members.

The club had two vacant officer positions because of graduation. The meeting, which was held on Thursday, Jan. 25, was open for all who wished to participate in voting. Attendance was not mandatory, but those that were interested in serving as an officer for the PSA were encouraged to attend. One must pay an annual fee of $10 to have voting rights.

The two positions up for grabs were secretary and treasurer. The secretary will oversee the recording of information for the organization and make sure that the proper newsletters are sent out to PSA members. The treasurer will be in charge of keeping track of membership fees, the organization’s finances, and appropriation of funds. The association voted unanimously for Andrea Chavez as secretary. Jesus Balderas was also elected unanimously for treasurer position.

Last semester, the PSA ran into a problem when it came close to graduation. Some of the paperwork regarding graduation funds was not submitted in time, which led to members not being able to wear their cords and stoles that had been earned. In order to be eligible to receive PSA graduation benefits, members must attend at least three meetings and one event. During the meeting on Thursday, officers voted on a provision pertaining to the funds for the organization’s graduating members.

                                                                Photo By: Laura De Leon

The new provision is as follows: In the event that the president or the vice president is rendered incapacitated, or somehow unavailable, the adviser of the association will take on the duties of acquiring graduation regalia. The current adviser of the organization is Sonia Alianak, a political science professor with a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, and the author of two books on Middle Eastern Politics.

Along with being the adviser, Alianak works closely with the treasurer to manage the funds. 

“Any time that we need money. I write the check and they go get the money,” said Alianak. “I’m looking forward to this semester because last semester we had 15 new members and we were able to raise more money with the fundraiser that we had.”

She stressed that it is important for everyone to apply on time if they are graduating just to make the process easier. Alianak also stated that because she is the adviser for the group, she has the most pull for recruiting students to join the PSA.

“I try to remind my classes every week that we’re going to have a meeting on Thursday," Alianak said. “We’ll have pizza there so hopefully we get even more new members.”

The Political Science Association will have its first spring general meeting on Thursday, Feb. 1 at 12:15 p.m. in ELABN 109. The officer team will introduce themselves, share prospects for the coming semester, and present information about current events that will benefit the student body and the association.