San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 29th, 2009
ASG hopefuls speak to town-gown relations

Chris Covo, the Associated Student Government’s liaison to the San Marcos City Council, is among three candidates for the ASG presidency at Texas State. Photo by Sean Batura.

By SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

Candidates for the presidency of Texas State’s Associated Student Government (ASG) are voters that the move to enact a new noise ordinance in San Marcos will not proceed without significant student engagement.

However, the three presidential candidates also pledged to forge closer ties between the university and long-term San Marcos residents.

“If (students) are breaking the law, then I think they should be held accountable for it,” said ASG presidential Brice Loving. “But, at the same time, do I think we should seek out legislation that purposefully focuses on students, to punish them? I don’t think that (kind of legislation) should be passed.”

Loving, an ASG senator and native of Arlington, said he gets the impression that the proposed noise ordinance, which city councilmembers passed on first reading March 2, is targeted at students. Loving said the passage of the noise ordinance as proposed would cast a shadow over Texas State and San Marcos, reinforcing “party town-party school” stereotypes.

“I guess they have a right to pass legislation, but at the same time, they might want to think about the marketing ramifications, the fallout,” said Loving, marketing junior. Loving said he may support a noise ordinance that has been revised to account for the concerns of many students.

ASG Executive Assistant and City Council Liaison Chris Covo, who is seeking the ASG presidency, declined to speak about the proposed ordinance except to say, “the mayor and the city councilmembers have been amazing, and the chief of police has been trying so hard to work with us, and we feel great about that.”

San Marcos Assistant Police Chief Lisa Dvorak fielded questions on ordinance revisions March 2 at an ASG-hosted public forum attended by San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz and members of the city council.

“I guarantee you, that ordinance will not be passed until the student body has their say,” said Trenton Thomas, finance junior and ASG presidential candidate. Thomas said the noise ordinance as proposed was not acceptable, but “it’s getting there.”

On another issue, Thomas said he is in favor of dispatching the ASG External Affairs Committee, its Athletic Advisory Council and its Athletic Marketing Department to garner support from nearby businesses and communities for the university’s effort to reach Football Bowl Series football (FBS) classification in 2012.

The university is in the Football Championship Series football (FCS) classification of Division I college football. Proponents of the change in status say the added prestige gained by the attainment of FBS would result in significant benefits for the university. Thomas said the university needs support from San Marcos’ permanent residents if it is to attain the needed average ticket sales and attendance rates.

“We want San Marcos to feel like Texas State is their team,” said Thomas “…if we can get the city of San Marcos to back our cause and work with the city to get all this Aggie and (University of Texas) and other schools’ paraphernalia out of the stores, have them have more support and push Bobcat pride into the overall community, I’m telling you, the support will be something that’s automatic, it’s something that we’re going to be striving for … and I think ASG can make strides in doing that.”

Thomas labeled San Marcos as “up and coming” and said it is “a beautiful town,” but said he was not sure many students will be able to realistically consider settling down in the area unless the United States economy improves. Thomas said the university’s Career Services Department could play a role in informing students about employment opportunities in the surrounding area and get local businesses to campus job fairs, but added that his administration would not pursue the policy unless the results of his proposed Bobcats ROAR program (Bobcats Reaching Out to Achieve Resolution) indicates students are interested in settling down in the area.

Thomas described the Bobcats ROAR program as consisting of monthly “informative conversations between the student body and ASG” which could take place in Sewell Park, the outdoor amphitheater at the LBJ Student Center or the Alkek Teaching Theatre.

Loving indicated that at least the city government is on board with helping students stay permanently, saying, “I’ve heard first-hand from the mayor that one of the things she wants to do is make the people who come to Texas State … want to stay here after they graduate.”

Loving said his experience working in the campus dorms as a resident assistant gave him valuable experience at planning “community builders.” As such, Loving said his administration would look into planning activities that would allow students and members of the surrounding communities to mingle.

Loving said the university’s Common Experience program holds promise as a town and gown community building event. Most Common Experience events now occur on campus. Loving said more could be held at off-campus venues with the help of the city government.

Texas State University’s Common Experience portion of its website states:

“A river runs through San Marcos — it doesn’t just run through Texas State,” Loving said. “So that might be something everyone in the community wants to attend. (The university’s) (Common Experience) marketing efforts are concentrated only on Texas State … but there’s no reason why we can’t incorporate the city in our plans as well.”

Covo, a native of San Antonio, said he will make it a priority of his administration to provide information to students regarding what laws they are expected to follow and what legal discretion police officers possess. Covo said such information will be provided through such mediums as tablings on campus, fliers and a more informative and interactive ASG website.

Covo said he is hopeful that providing such information, in conjunction with other activities such as community block walks sponsored by the Achieving Community Together (ACT) program, will serve to strengthen ties between students and city residents. ACT describes itself in its materials as a collaboration between the city and the university.

Covo, a member of ACT, said the reputation of the city and university are interdependent, and said he is confident that the university is moving in the right direction through the implementation of its master plan, capital campaign, its growth as a research institution and its move to achieve FBS status.

“All of these things are happening right now,” Covo said. “And a lot of students don’t know that.”

Brice Loving (left) and Trenton Thomas (right) are running for the ASG presidency. Photo by Sean Batura.

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