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The Students have Spoken

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UTRGV students say ‘yes’ to referendum 

Texas Border Business

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By UTRGV News and Internal Communications

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – NOV. 11, 2021 – UTRGV students have voted in favor of a proposal to support programs aided by a future increase in the intercollegiate athletics fee.

A total of 5,784 students, or about 18 percent of the student body, voted during the three-day referendum Nov. 8-10. Voter turnout was the largest to date for any UTRGV student vote.

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The $11.25 per credit hour increase, capped at 12 hours, starts in Fall 2022 and will help support spirit, football, marching band and women’s swimming and diving programs.

A total of 3,497students voted in support of the proposal, or 60.5 percent.

About 39.5 percent, or 2,287, voted to not support the increase.

The increase in the intercollegiate athletics fee will be for new incoming students and graduating students who return for another degree. Current students who remain within the UTRGV established Guaranteed Tuition and Fees program will not have to paythe fee increase. 

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The next step in the process is approval of the fee increase by The University of Texas System Board of Regents in 2022, likely sometime in early 2022.


UTRGV President Guy Bailey said the vote is a major step forward for the university, as it helps support UTRGV’s larger goal of transforming campus life.

“This is an exciting time for our students, who have made the choice to enhance the UTRGV experience for our campus community and for the entire Rio Grande Valley,” Bailey said. “Their support to expand and create new programs will amplify the campus spirit and leave a lasting legacy for future Vaqueros and alumni.”

He expressed his gratitude to everyone who participated in the referendum, in any way.

“I want to thank all students who exercised their right to vote; the Student Government Association for conducting a respectful and professional referendum process; Dr. Magdalena Hinojosa and Chasse Conque for sponsoring the referendum on behalf of the university; and all our students, faculty and staff who helped to provide information regarding the referendum to our campus community.”


José Pablo Rojas, SGA president, said he is thrilled to be part of university history and to have helped lead an election that will have such an impact to the UTRGV community and the South Texas region.

“Our students have spoken,” Rojas said. “They are ready to welcome these new athletics programs that will enhance campus life and school spirit. We are excited to be part of this historic change and I’m happy we have been instrumental in starting a new Vaquero legacy.”

UTRGV competes at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics — NCAA Division I — as members of the Western Athletic Conference. UTRGV currently sponsors 16 sports programs, including baseball, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track & field. 

Chasse Conque, UTRGV vice president and director of athletics, said passing the referendum serves a purpose that is broader than creating and expanding new programs.

“We are deeply appreciative of the student body for supporting this referendum,” he said. “This is a significant step forward in our journey to transform UTRGV and the Rio Grande Valley. We look forward to bringing this initiative before The UT System Board of Regents for their approval.

“The addition of these programs will give us the opportunity to enhance the university experience both for our campus community and for the Valley communities we serve. I want to extend my appreciation to the Student Government Association and Dr. Maggie Hinojosa for their efforts in bringing this referendum before the student body,” Conque said.

UTRGV leaders say the new programs, among other things, will create numerous new opportunities for students and the people of the Valley by: 

  • Expanding access to athletics throughout the Valley, as the football team plans to play in Brownsville and Edinburg with marching bands performing, and the swimming and diving team will compete in new natatorium being built in Pharr. Free transportation will be provided for students to home football games on the Brownsville and Edinburg campuses. Students will receive free admission to all home football games and swimming and diving competitions. 
  • Creating nearly 500 new opportunities for student involvement, with more spirit program members; marching band participants; football and swimming and diving student-athletes; additional student athletic trainers and student managers; and student employment opportunities. 
  • Enhancing school spirit and pride on our Brownsville and Edinburg campuses and throughout the Valley with performances by our marching band and expanded spirit program.  
  • Increasing UTRGV’s enrollment and providing more funding to the University, not only through tuition but also through formula funding which determines state allocations. 
  • Boosting the local economy and creating more job opportunities for UTRGV students, alumni and community members. 

Dr. Maggie Hinojosa, senior vice president for Strategic Enrollment and Student Affairs, said UTRGV is committed to continue working with the student body on this initiative and to keep tuition and fees affordable for students. 

“We are excited about the opportunities the fee increase will provide for our students and the campus community, including a transformation of the campus life experience,” she said. “We pride ourselves on programs that allow us to keep debt low, and we want our Vaqueros to know that the increase will not affect our ability to remain one of the most affordable universities in Texas.” 


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV, which has an enrollment of more than 32,000 students, has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, Weslaco and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

UTRGV competes in 16 sports at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics – NCAA Division I – as a member of the Western Athletic Conference.

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