|EDINBURG, November 24 - UT-Pan American professor and columnist Samuel Freeman says he agrees with state Sen. Juan Hinojosa on what to name the new university coming to South Texas.
In a letter to UT System Chairman Paul L. Foster, Hinojosa last Thursday, a Democrat from McAllen, said he has heard from many of his constituents and the majority view is the new university should be called UT Rio Grande Valley.
Earlier this month, the UT System announced five possible names for its new university in South Texas. The five names are: UT Rio Grande Valley, UT for the Americas, UT Las Americas, UT International and UT South. It has asked South Texas residents, as well as students, staff and faculty at UTPA and UT-Brownsville, to give their view.
Freeman, who teaches politics at UTPA, has offered his view.
“Much thanks for Senator's Hinojosa's position on the new name for the new university. He is absolutely correct. UT-RGV is the most appropriate name for the new university. Each of the others is flawed, some deeply flawed,” Freeman wrote, in a letter to the Guardian.
“The argument UT-RGV may not ‘evoke an image of the much larger canvas the new university could be operation on,’ noting it would attract students from outside the Valley, and implying UT-RGV would not reflect their origins, is specious. UT-Austin names a specific city in Texas, not a large geographical area; yet students from all over the world (as currently at UTPA) attend this university named for one city.
“Both variations (English and Spanish) of University for the Americas will be offensive for multiple reasons. First, this name is very close to the name of a very prominent university in Mexico. Name duplication should be avoided if possible, especially we the new university is to be billed as a university to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Mexico/Latin America. Second, the name is very close to the infamous School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia, that, for decades has trained soldiers from Latin America in the fine arts of torture, death squad operations, assassination, and over throwing democratic governments to be replaced with murderous military dictatorships.
“UT-International does nothing to improve upon the already widely recognized Rio Grande Valley, a term recognized and used on BOTH sides of the border. ‘International’ is amorphous, whereas UT-RGV gives specific identification to the region.
“Finally, UT-South simply is stupid. For the vast majority of people outside of Texas, "South Texas" means Houston, Austin or San Antonio, none of which are border cities, or are actually in south Texas. It does not mean the region of the state hundreds of miles south of all those cities. Rather than adding to the identification of the region, UT-South takes away from it.
“As Senator Hinojosa notes, there really is only one name appropriate for the new university, The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley.”
The UT System Board of Regents is expected to announce the name of the new university before the end of the year. The System has asked the residents of South Texas to provide their views by Dec. 6.
Those with a suggested name for the new university can tweet via @utsystem using the hashtag #ProjectSouthTX. They can also provide feedback via Facebook by liking UT System at www.facebook.com/utsystem. They can also email their thoughts at projectsouthTX@utsystem.edu. And they can call at 512-499-4473.