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Home | Tag Archives: utep

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“An excuse for discrimination:” Students react to Student and Exchange Visitor Program guidelines

The fallout continues after the July 6th announcement from the Department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that international students attending universities in the United States would be allowed remain in the country only if they are enrolled in face to face courses during the fall semester.

International students I spoke with described these guidelines as a “direct attack” on foreign students in the United States.

The guidelines for those students holders of F-1 (also known as “student” visas) and M-1 nonimmigrant visas stated that they may need to leave the United States if they are enrolled in more than two online courses or if they are only enrolled in programs that are fully online.

In the news release from the ICE Student and Exchange Visitor Program, the solution offered for those students whose classes will be via an online-only format was, “transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status.” 

For some students like Alvaro Rivilla that is not an option.  

Rivilla is a Cellular and Molecular Biochemistry student at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP);  he and his family moved from Spain to the United States four years ago. 

“This semester I will take 13 credits (roughly 4 classes and a lab) this is my last year, and I don’t have more classes to take,” Rivilla said.  “These rules are unfair, you can’t put 1.5M people through that when they are legally paying tuition to (American) their universities.”

His parents and brother hold L-1 and L-2 visas (commonly known as “work visa” and the L-2 visa is given to spouses and children holders of a “work visa”) and now they are in the process to obtain their green cards. 

However, when Rivilla turned 21, he had to switch his status to an F-1 visa – well known as the “student visa”.

“What I hate about this situation is that I am helpless. My family has worked hard to be here, as of today I have spent over $100,000 to get my college degree here in the United States. Despite all the investment and hard work, it seems like this administration wants to kick you out of this country,” he added.

After UTEP released a statement announcing that the institution would work with international students and the university re-adjusted the fall schedule, two of Rivilla’s courses were changed to a hybrid model, which complies with the rule that will allow him to remain in the US.

One UTEP instructor – Dr. Todd Curry – came forward before the university’s statement regarding the new DHS guidelines. “I am happy to offer an independent [study], this title or other, to keep you here, learning, and contributing.” He tweeted last Monday. 

Dr. Curry is an associate professor of Political Science at UTEP, he said that he offered the option of an independent study to all students who needed classes to help them stay in the country and comply with the new guidelines. 

“We want to make sure the class is meaningful and helping them on their degree plan. I will offer an independent study for students interested in my areas of specialization/expertise, and students that might be in smaller departments or have degree plans that are difficult to accommodate.”

When asked how many students have asked him about the independent study Dr. Curry said, “I have had over 20 students email me directly asking about an independent study. They have been scared, unsure, and hopeful to find a possible solution.” 

He added, “Initially, students should contact the Office of International Programs (OIP) first. OIP will in many cases already have solutions depending on departments and colleges, as each student will require an individualized plan, so that they aren’t just taking a class in order to comply with the rule.”

Another UTEP student – who preferred to not disclose their identity – said that both the college and department that they are a part of have worked closely with them to assure that all the options to stay in the country are available and being utilized. 

“I am really grateful to my instructors, and the University as a whole,” the student added.

The student, who is originally from a country in Latin America, added that since the border closures, OIP officials were already looking for options if something like this were to happen.  However, their concern is still there.

“I am worried about this situation and my future…my home country is not letting anyone in due to the pandemic. Even in the worst-case scenario, I will have to wait until September to even consider coming back to my country, when the airports are scheduled to reopen…”

Yazmin Castruita, a Ph.D. student at the University of Madison-Wisconsin and UTEP graduate, has been part of the American education system throughout her entire life.

She’s been vocal about the struggles of being an international student in the United States and the up-side-down implications of these new rules: “it feels like, as time goes by, it’s more challenging with more barriers.”

“I have been an international student as a whole for 19 years now, one of the biggest impacts is discouraging several international students in pursuing education in the United States,” Castruita added.

Even with UTEP’s support of international students and staff’s work finding alternatives, Rivilla fears the changes to the rules aren’t done yet, and he will have to move back to Spain.

“In my case, if they get stricter I will have to leave the country…this situation will not only affect us at an economic level, like me moving back to Spain but also my family and I will be separated.”

Like Rivilla, Antonio Muñoz has a similar situation and point of view. Muñoz, a Creative Writing major at UTEP, is a Juarez resident whose life and schooling are deeply intertwined with El Paso and the U.S.

“Most of my life is based in the US. I’m afraid that I’ll lose that, and I’m afraid…’cause I’m not sure…everyone has a lot of questions but there aren’t a lot of answers.”

Muñoz says his fears are not new.

“Since I became a student in the U.S., there hasn’t been a year that I’m not afraid they will kick me out of the country.”

As for the reasoning behind the new guidelines, each student has their own ideas.

Rivilla recalled a tweet posted by Donald Trump the same day ICE released the new rules for international students, “Schools must open in the fall.”  He believes that all of this is part of a plan drafted by the Trump Administration to force universities to reopen their doors in the fall for in-person instruction.

Muñoz expressed that this event has served an excuse to perpetuate discrimination in the United States.

“[This] is an attempt to politicize a worldwide event into an excuse for discrimination.”

2020 UTEP Soccer Home Schedule announced; Season Tickets On Sale

The 2020 UTEP soccer home schedule was released on Wednesday, which includes an abbreviated C-USA slate and a match-up against Pacific-12 foe Arizona State.

For the first time, fans are able to purchase season tickets to guarantee they will be there to cheer on second-year head coach Kathryn Balogun’s charges.

“With everything going on in our country we are excited to announce our home schedule for the 2020 season,” Balogun said. “This season brings with it some significant and unprecedented changes, but we are excited to host so many home games amidst the travel challenges our country is facing.”

Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (915) 747-UTEP, emailing tickets@utep.edu, or online. Tickets are just $45 for adults and $25 for youth and gain entry to all seven home matches.

All seats are general admission. Single-match ticket prices are $8 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 3-12). Fans can save 20 percent off the single-match adult prices and 29 percent off the single-match youth prices by purchasing a season ticket.

The home slate commences against Incarnate Word (Aug. 28). Division II Lubbock Christian (Sept. 3), Pac-12 power Arizona State (Sept. 6) and Utah Valley University (Sept. 17) are also on the docket for nonconference home contests. It will mark the first regular-season match-up with ASU since 1997, and the initial time that the Sun Devils will visit El Paso.

“We are also excited to host Arizona State in nonconference play as we prepare for the start of conference play with LA Tech,” Balogun said. “We will wrap up our home matches with senior night against North Texas, who sent us home from the conference tournament last year. It will be a great game! We are excited to build on what we started last year and excited to see our fans as that becomes an opportunity.”

With a shortened C-USA slate due to COVID-19, the Miners will have three league home games. LA Tech (Sept. 20) is up first, with UAB (Oct. 4) and North Texas (Oct. 23) also venturing to the Sun City.

UTEP will return 21 players from last year’s squad (10-7-3, 5-4-1 C-USA), including eight starters. It was the first double-digit win total at the school in three years, and the Miners qualified for the league championships for the first time since 2016.

The Orange and Blue also forged a mark of 6-3-2 at home.

For complete coverage of UTEP soccer, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPSoccer (Twitter),@UTEPMinersSoccer (Instagram) and on Facebook or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics.

UTEP Athletics launches revamped Miners Kids Club Presented by GECU

UTEP Athletics launched a revamped Miners Kids Club presented by GECU to give young Miner fans an opportunity to get involved, the department announced on Monday.

“We are so excited to launch the new and improved Miners Kids Club program,” Daniel Veale, UTEP Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing, said. “Having experience in revamping a youth fan club, we plan to take this unique opportunity for kids to the next level. We are so thankful for the new partnership with GECU to make this an elite program for our youngest fans to connect with Miner sports.”

Benefits include exclusive game day activities, official UTEP gear and ID cards and invites to GECU financial education activities and events.

The Miners Kids Club is open to kids aged 12 years old and under with a one-time $25 fee for a lifetime membership until the child is aged out of the program.

There will also be special incentives and discounts for current GECU families and existing members.

“We are delighted to continue collaborating and strengthening our relationship with UTEP through the Miners Kids Club presented by GECU. This unique collaboration will provide a fun experience for children in our community as well as help them grow financially. We are looking forward to how this program will engage kids in the community with fun financial literacy activities,” said President and CEO of GECU Crystal Long.

UTEP officials add that additional perks include a Kids Club ID card with lanyard, official Kids Club T-shirt, exclusive grand prize giveaways, contests and special GECU learning opportunities.

To register for the new and improved Miners Kids Club program, visit Kids Club website or email kidsclub@utep.edu.

For complete coverage of UTEP Athletics, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPAthletics (Twitter/Instagram) or visit the official home of the Miners.

UTEP Art Students earn Templeton Honor

The University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Art recently announced that Jill Font, Ashley Urueta and Gabriela Alvarado were its recipients of the 2020-21 Arleigh B. and Maxie G. Templeton Endowment for Three Dimensional Fine Arts.

The endowment was created in 2017 to assist outstanding undergraduate 3D art majors with a specific project or to pursue research. Each student received $2,000 that could go toward supplies, workshops, materials, educational travel, and small/limited-cost tools or equipment.

Faculty members in the fields of sculpture, ceramics, metals and jewelry nominated students who submitted a portfolio and application to the department’s Art Faculty Review Committee. The application included digital images of current work, a description of the planned project/research, a budget, an artist’s statement and a resume. The process is similar to a request for a professional arts grant.

David Griffin, chair and professor in the Department of Art, called a faculty nomination “high praise” of a student’s artistic and academic abilities. Font was selected for sculpture, Urueta for ceramics and Alvarado for metals/jewelry. Recipients are called “Templeton Student Artists.”

Griffin said awardees typically work on their research projects and body of work through the academic year and end their project/research with a solo exhibition during the spring semester. The recipients then write a final letter of conclusion to the endowment.

“The quality of (this year’s) applications were very high,” he said.

The student’s project proposals explained how they planned to use the endowment funds for travel or to participate in intensive virtual workshops that would enhance their field knowledge. Two mentioned planned purchases of equipment that would help them create and research their art. All provided detailed concepts of what they intended to create for their exhibition.

“This endowment usually goes to our most outstanding young artists,” said Vince Burke, associate professor of art and head of the ceramics program. “Many of them go on to graduate school and continue as professional artists.”

The estate of Maxie Templeton, wife of former UTEP President Arleigh Templeton, established the endowment to honor Wiltz Harrison, a highly respected sculptor and jeweler who taught in UTEP’s Department of Art from 1948 through 1976. He was known for his rigorous artistic and academic standards, his enthusiasm in the classroom, his advocacy on behalf of his students and his sense of humor. He established the department’s metals and ceramics programs and was named a professor emeritus.

Author:  Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

“Picks Up Podcast” with Jon Teicher features Miner Great Robert Rodriguez

In this week’s installment of the “Picks Up Podcast,” UTEP radio play-by-play man Jon Teicher visits with native El Pasoan and former Miner football standout Robert Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who played linebacker at UTEP from 2001-04 and tallied 443 tackles in the Orange and Blue, later enjoyed stints in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans.

He returned to UTEP as an assistant coach, then joined the Minnesota Vikings staff prior to his current assignment as defensive line coach at Arizona State.

Rodriguez went to Montwood High School and lettered in both football and basketball. He was a standout running back for the Rams and was named the El Paso Times Offensive Player of the Year, as well as All City first team for the 1999 season.

The weekly “Picks Up Podcast” takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else, with special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

State Association taps UTEP Counseling Professor as Leader

Paul Carrola, Ph.D., associate professor and coordinator for The University of Texas at El Paso’s Mental Health Counseling program, will become the first president-elect of the Texas Association of Counselor Education and Supervision (TACES) from UTEP when his position becomes official July 1, 2020.

Carrola, a native of San Antonio who has taught at UTEP since 2013, will serve a one-year term as president-elect.

It is the start of a three-year commitment that also will include 12-month periods as president and past president of the organization, which is the second largest division of the Texas Counseling Association (TCA). TACES, which has about 500 members, works to enhance the practice of professional counseling through the promotion of effective counselor education, supervision and leadership.

The UTEP professor has served the organization as a senator since 2017. He said this assignment will be good for him, the University and the community because it will bring positive recognition from the rest of the state.

Among his main duties as president-elect will be to organize and host the group’s annual conference in February 2021 at a location to be determined. He already has some ideas on how he plans to implement programs, workshops and advocacy efforts to enhance counseling throughout the state during his time as a TACES leader.

“As president, I will provide an agenda and vision for the organization that can influence mental health services in the state through policy and legislative advocacy,” he said. He wants to connect resources and training for mental health services in the state and to involve geographically isolated communities such as El Paso in the legislative advocacy process as it relates to mental health services. “I think it is important to have someone from El Paso as president since we are often overlooked by the rest of the state.”

Michael Moyer, Ph.D., professor and associate department chair of counseling at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and TCA president, said he has known Carrola for about a decade and believes that the UTEP professor’s genuine interest in others and his ability to bring people and ideas together will make him a successful TACES leader.

Moyer recalled Carrola as a doctoral student at The University of Texas at San Antonio who stood out because of his diligence and interest in collaborations with faculty for research and service activities.

“(Carrola) has a unique ability to connect with others,” Moyer said. “His incredible work ethic and demeanor allow him to build trusting relationships, which are vital for someone in a leadership role.”

Richard Salcido, executive director of Family Service of El Paso, also is excited about Carrola’s appointment because it will give mental health representatives from the Paso del Norte region more of a voice in Austin.

“This is critical,” said Salcido, who earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1978 and a Master of Education degree eight years later, both from UTEP. “Paul is in the know of what is going on at the state level regarding proposed regulations that affect the mental health profession. He’ll make a great president for TACES.”

Salcido praised the UTEP professor for his efforts to connect the University and his department to the community, and said he will use the same methods to network with TACES members around the state to seek out collaborations for the greater good.

He recalled how Carrola did the same thing at the campus and community levels when he first arrived at UTEP. First, he began to make connections with other faculty in the departments of social work and psychology to create greater synergy. He then began to familiarize himself with the borderland’s mental health service agencies that were or could become internship sites for UTEP students. Since Carrola’s arrival, UTEP places about 10 student interns at Family Service of El Paso.

Karen I. Barraza, a third-year graduate student who expects to earn her Master of Science degree in mental health counseling this summer, lauded Carrola as a passionate educator who motivates his students to be active in their profession.

The El Paso native and first-generation college student said she has conducted research with Carrola, her adviser since 2017, and presented alongside him at this year’s TACES conference.

“Dr. Carrola is a leader inside and outside the classroom,” said Barraza, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UTEP in 2014. “He is knowledgeable about current issues relating to mental health in our community and has built relationships throughout his career to further develop educational programs for students who want to become licensed professional counselors in Texas.”

Author: Daniel Perez – UTEP Communications

UTEP Connect celebrates five years of student success

Alejandra Vasquez-Macias’ higher education journey was lengthy, filled with uncertainties and instability.

In 2011, she was near completion of her education degree, but raising two children, trying to figure out how to attend traditional classes and completing an internship became too much of a struggle. So, she left UTEP to focus on her family.

Several years later, Vasquez-Macias returned to The University of Texas at El Paso to finish what she started. This time, the venue to pursue her academic dreams was more suited to her circumstances.

Online learning made it possible for Vasquez-Macias to return to college. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chicano Studies in Fall 2019.

“I had taken a couple of elective classes online, but never really put forth the effort to dedicate myself to the classes and give it the time I should have allotted to it,” she said in 2018. “Now, with a combination of being much more mature and seeing all the benefits a higher ed degree could provide for my family, I find myself embracing the online experience. So far, this time around, my experience has been amazing.”

Vasquez-Macias, who is now a busy mother of four children, took online classes through UTEP Connect.

UTEP Connect, the University’s collection of fully online baccalaureate and graduate programs and graduate certificates, has been providing online instruction since 2015.

“UTEP Connect was created with the idea of the nontraditional student,” said Hector M. Gonzales, the director of UTEP Connect. “These students may have full-time jobs, be in the military, live outside of El Paso or have other life commitments that do not allow them to attend classes on campus.”

And there are students such as Vasquez-Macias who enroll in the University and after a year or two, have to stop.

Gonzales said based on the 2018-19 school year, 65% of UTEP Connect students were transfer students from institutions throughout the country, 33.8% were continuing students — students who attended UTEP but have been out for at least one academic year – and 1.1% were incoming freshmen.

However, it is important to note that those incoming students are not recent high school graduates. Rather, they are individuals years removed from high school who realize the value of a college education and decide to enroll in an online program to accommodate their already busy lives.

UTEP Connect is a unit of UTEP’s Extended University, which serves as the hub for nontraditional academic programs, professional training and education, and community enrichment.

“UTEP has a long tradition of delivering high-quality online courses and degrees, with programs from the School of Nursing leading the

way,” said Beth Brunk-Chavez, Ph.D., dean of Extended University. “In the past five years, we have taken a deliberate and careful approach to developing and delivering online programs across several colleges at UTEP. In collaboration with faculty, our focus is the experience of our students and their success. In all aspects of our work – from the course development process, to our marketing, from our enrollment counselors to our advisors – our guiding question is always, ‘How does this decision affect the students?’ UTEP Connect programs succeed when our students do.”

Extended University works with UTEP’s academic colleges to coordinate and manage a rapidly growing inventory of fully online degree and certificate programs.

Between Summer 2015 and Spring 2020, 2,183 students graduated from UTEP Connect online programs, including 963 undergraduates, 1,175 graduates and 45 students in graduate certificate programs.

UTEP Connect offers eight bachelor’s programs, 10 master’s programs (including three nursing programs), and five graduate certificate programs.

“The professors who teach on campus are the same professors who teach our online students,” Gonzales said. “The quality of education online students receive is no different than those of the traditional students.”

The number of classes UTEP Connect offers and the number of available spots in those classes has increased during the past five years.

Video+Gallery+Story: TTUHSC El Paso, UTEP develop ‘Texas Breather,’ low cost, 3D-printed ventilator for hospitals

Nationwide, hospitals are concerned about a possible shortage of ventilators as more Americans require treatment for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus disease that can cause life-threatening respiratory problems such as pneumonia.

A collaboration between Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and the University of Texas at El Paso could help solve the problem. Using 3D printing, the team of physicians and engineers have developed an innovative, low-cost ventilator for the health care sector.

Scott Crawford, M.D., associate professor and director of TTUHSC El Paso’s Training and Educational Center for Healthcare Simulation (TECHS), is helping lead the initiative to manufacture the shoebox-sized devices, dubbed the Texas Power Bag Breather, or Texas Breather.

“This low-cost ventilator would be used if existing mechanical ventilators were not available in any setting requiring assisted breathing,” Dr. Crawford said. “While there’s a particular need in third-world and developing nations, if an industrialized nation became overwhelmed, it could help in those regions as well.”

The Texas Breather design was developed by Dr. Crawford; retired TTUHSC El Paso faculty member Robert Stump, M.D., Ph.D.; and Luis Ochoa, a manager at the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation in UTEP’s College of Engineering. After two weeks of prototyping six iterations of the device, Ochoa requested support from UTEP Keck Center Director Ryan Wicker, Ph.D., to put the full resources of the center behind the project.

“Dr. Crawford, Dr. Stump and Luis converged on a simple, yet elegant and innovative concept that capitalized on the strengths of additive manufacturing,” Wicker said. “Recognizing the need and the potential clinical advantages of the design, this was a perfect application of the Keck Center’s rapid-response engineering capabilities. More than a dozen individuals, including faculty, staff and students, immediately focused 100% effort on getting the design finalized for reliability testing. We combined simulation, design interaction, and rapid prototyping and testing to respond in a pandemic timescale. I am very proud of Luis and the entire Keck team for how quickly we came together to try and make a difference during this pandemic.”

The team has requested an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow health care workers to use the Texas Breather during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hospital ventilators can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but Dr. Crawford believes the Texas Breather can be made using currently available 3D technology for less than $1,000 per unit, thanks to the design’s simplicity. He said each device would take about eight hours to produce.

The main cost-and-time saving innovation of the Texas Breather involves the incorporation of relatively inexpensive bag-valve mask devices that are available in large quantities at hospitals. First responders and emergency health care teams use bag-valve masks to manually provide ventilation to patients who are not breathing or are having trouble breathing.

Close collaboration between the TTUHSC El Paso board-certified emergency physicians and their teams, and the faculty, engineers and students in the Keck Center at UTEP was key to rapidly refining the design of the Texas Breather. The device mounts to an IV pole at the patient’s bedside and provides an adjustable airflow volume and respiratory rate. All mechanical components are fabricated with production-grade material and have successfully passed simulated-use and worst-case scenario testing.

The team used advanced respiratory simulation tools in the TECHS center to test and calibrate the device. These tools, used by TTUHSC El Paso students to study respiratory physiology, played an important part in validating the safety and functionality of the Texas Breather.

“Being able to accurately record the pressure, volume and airflow of the Texas Breather was a key element for pursuing emergency use authorization from the FDA. We’re fortunate to have access to these specialty simulation tools at TECHS,” Dr. Crawford said.

UTEP used a Stratasys 3D printer to produce parts to assemble the Texas Breather devices. Dr. Crawford said the team has produced working prototypes, and with additional funding, large-scale production using 3D printing could produce hundreds per week.

Ochoa, who has been working with Stratasys equipment for nearly two decades, translated the doctors’ design concepts into reality. The team used computer simulation to refine the design, which reduced the number of design-build-test cycles and shortened the development process by weeks. This expertise in UTEP’s Keck Center in close collaboration with the TTUHSC El Paso doctors was the key to success.

Key industry partners of the Keck Center also contributed to the development of the Texas Breather. Medical device professionals from Bessel LLC helped prepare for FDA submission, simulation software maker Ansys Inc. assisted UTEP engineers with extensive simulations, and Stratasys Inc. donated prototypes and materials for fabrication.

Stormy Monks, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Foster School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine at TTUHSC El Paso, and Jesica Urbina, Ph.D., TECHS senior research associate, are working to secure grants to support production of the Texas Breather. Victor Torres, TECHS innovation engineer, and Joel Libove, Ph.D., are assisting in the final design of electrical controls for the ventilator.

“We have the goal of sharing our invention for general use but are pursuing grant funding for manufacturing on a large scale,” Dr. Crawford said. “We would like to produce 1,000 to 2,000 units to assist with the projected deficit of ventilators in American hospitals.”

UTEP Athletics instituting Clear Bag Policy for 2020 Football Season

UTEP Athletics will be implementing a clear bag policy for all six 2020 football home games, and continuing throughout the 2020-21 athletic year including men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, soccer and softball.

The new policy is designed to expedite entry, increase safety and limit the physical contact associated with traditional bag searches.

The policy will also help to enforce social distancing protocols at security checkpoints.

Ticket holders, including children, will be allowed to enter with bags provided they meet one of these specifications:

  • Bags (including clear backpacks) that are clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and do not exceed 12″ x 6″ x 12″
  • One-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (Ziploc bag or similar)
  • Small clutch bag approximately the size of a hand (4.5″ x 6.5″ or smaller), with or without a handle or strap. This can be carried separately or within a plastic bag
  • Medical bags that contain health necessary items are acceptable after proper inspection and approval from venue personnel/security

Fans are encouraged to only bring necessary items into UTEP Athletics venues.

The following items are prohibited and cannot be taken into the venue.  These items would either need to be disposed of, or returned to the fan’s car or residence before entering the venue:

  • Aerosol cans
  • Animals (service dogs or service dogs in training permitted)
  • Artificial noisemakers
  • Balloons
  • Bats, poles and sticks
  • Car seats and baby strollers
  • Coolers/ice chests
  • Camera lenses larger than 4″
  • E-cigarettes
  • Firearms and fireworks
  • Flags on poles
  • Glass bottles
  • Illegal drugs
  • Laser pointers
  • Lawn chairs
  • Missile-like objects
  • Objects that can be used as projectiles (i.e. balls)
  • Outside food and beverages including alcohol (exceptions will be made for those with medical requirements and/or special needs)
  • Scooters, strollers, bicycles, roller skates and skateboards
  • Tobacco products
  • Tripods, monopods and selfie sticks
  • Umbrellas
  • Unauthorized video cameras and drones
  • Water bottles (one sealed, plastic water bottle permitted per patron)
  • Weapons
  • Any object that might pose a risk to the guest or others.

CLEAR BAG POLICY FAQ

Why is UTEP Athletics implementing this policy?

UTEP Athletics regularly evaluates existing policies, practices, and procedures to determine its level of compliance with industry recognized best practices.  We determined that a revision of the policy was necessary in order to continue providing our fans the safest and most enjoyable experience.  World events continue to shape the methods utilized for venue security within UTEP Athletics and the Event Management industry.

How is the new policy more convenient for fans?

The clear bags will enable security to move fans through checkpoints much faster than in the past.  A standard size bag eliminates the need for bag templates to check bag sizes.  Clear bags allow staff to be more efficient and effective in keeping you safe by preventing dangerous items from entering the venue.

How does the new policy improve public safety?

The clear bag is easily and quickly searched and greatly reduces faulty bag searches.

How many bags can a person bring into the venue?

Each ticketed guest is permitted to bring one large clear bag, either the 12″ x 6″ x 12″ clear bag or a one-gallon Ziploc-style bag, plus a small clutch purse (5″ x 7″).  The small clutch allows privacy for small personal items and can be easily searched.

What about diaper bags?

Everything that you would put into a diaper bag must now be carried in a clear bag.  Each member of a family, including children, is allowed to carry an approved clear bag and a clutch purse into the venue.

Can seat cushions be carried into the venue?

Seat cushions and chair backs are permissible.  Seat cushions must be 16″ in width or less.

Can fans bring blankets during cold weather?

Yes, they may bring blankets into the venue by carrying them over a shoulder or arm. These items can be screened easily.

What happens if I show up at the gate with a bag that is not permitted?

Guests carrying bags that do not meet specifications will be asked to return them to their vehicles.

Fans parking in remote lots and/or taking alternate forms of transportation to UTEP Athletics facilities should consult UTEP Game Day policies and procedures prior to arrival in order to minimize inconveniences.

If I have items that I need to bring into the venue for medical purposes and they won’t fit in the clear bag, what do I do?

Exceptions will be made for fans with approved medical needs.  Medically necessary bags or equipment brought into a venue will be inspected and tagged by security.

For questions about medical equipment or other needs, please call the UTEP Special Events Office at (915) 747-5481.

Do I have to put everything I’m carrying into the permissible bags?

No. Limitations have been placed on the type of bags carried into the venue, not the items that are permissible. Guest can continue to carry items such as keys, makeup, women’s products, combs, phones, wallets, credit cards, cameras, binoculars, etc., in their hands or pockets if they choose not to place them in a clear bag or clutch purse (5″ x 7″). Guests can carry a blanket over their shoulders, and binoculars and/or cameras around their necks or in their hands without the case.  Guests can also carry any personal items that meet the specified criteria in the clear bag or clutch purse.

Will clear bags with patterns or oversized logos be permitted?

No.  These types of bags are prohibited as they can jeopardize the screening process by not allowing security staff to view through and inside of the bag.

NOTE: Other Conference USA institutions who have established a Clear Bag Policy include Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Old Dominion, Southern Miss, UAB, UTSA and WKU.  UTEP Athletics recommends that fans traveling to other venues consult the host school’s game day policies and procedures.

UTEP Volleyball’s Alianza Darley guests on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast”

UTEP volleyball sophomore middle blocker/outside hitter Alianza Darley is the guest on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast” with “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher.

As a freshman last year, Darley payed in 90 sets and 24 matches, while making 10 starts.  She posted the fifth-most kills (132) on the team and led all Miner freshmen in kills.

Darley ranked fourth on the squad in blocks (54.0), turned in three double-digit kill performances and locked in a career-high 12 kills against No. 21 Rice during the first round of the C-USA Tournament.

She has also been named to the Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll for 2020 and earned the  Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal.

Earlier this week, the 2020 UTEP Volleyball home schedule was released and, for the first time, fans can purchase season tickets to ensure that they’ll be there for every exciting moment as the Miners take the floor.

The “Picks Up Podcast,” that airs weekly online, takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else.  Special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, click here.

UTEP Researchers uncover new brain mechanisms in Fruit Flies that may impact future learning, memory research

A research team from The University of Texas at El Paso has made strides in understanding how memories are formed through the brain mechanisms of fruit flies, findings that could enhance our understanding of brain disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and substance addiction, according to an article published in the highly renowned Journal of Neuroscience.

The article, titled “Concerted Actions of Octopamine and Dopamine Receptors Drive Olfactory Learning,” focuses on flexible behavioral choices that are shaped by experiences and cognitive memory processes of fruit flies in a laboratory setting.

The study was led by Kyung-An Han, Ph.D., professor of biological sciences and director of the Master of Arts in Teaching Science (MATS) program at UTEP; brothers John Martin Sabandal, a UTEP graduate who is currently a doctoral student at Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida, and Paul Rafael Sabandal, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in Han’s laboratory.

Martin Sabandal was an undergraduate student in Han’s research lab when he performed research that contributed to the study. A former postdoctoral associate, Youngcho Kim, Ph.D., who is currently a faculty member at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, is also a co-author of the study.

The research team identified the actions of the neurotransmitters octopamine and dopamine as a key neural mechanism for associative learning in fruit flies. This is vital for animals to appropriately respond to the cues predicting benefit or harm. If animals cannot promptly learn and remember the cues, they would not be able to survive or have a decent quality of life.

“I am beyond thrilled about this work getting published,” John Martin Sabandal said. “We expanded our knowledge about the importance of aminergic signaling for olfactory learning in fruit flies. This represents a significant finding in the invertebrate field since octopamine was previously shown to be only important for positively-reinforced learning. This publication was a culmination of the hard work spent during my undergraduate years at UTEP.”

Paul Sabandal said olfactory conditioning in fruit flies has greatly contributed to overall understanding about the mechanisms underlying associative learning and memory. Historically, in fruit flies, dopamine is implicated in both punishment- and reward-based learning while octopamine is widely considered to be essential only for reward.

“This pioneering work serves as an essential framework for future studies to delineate the signals and circuits that shape appropriate behavioral choices important for fitness and survival,” he said. “We strongly believe that our study advanced not only the learning and memory field, but may have implications on related disciplines including dementia and addiction.”

Han said the study may help enhance our understanding of the brain disorders with anomalous memories such as PTSD (augmented memory on traumatic events), addiction (intensified memory on drug-associated cues) or learning disabilities (impaired memory).

“Many aspects of our behaviors are the representations of our memories that are formed by associating information or stimuli that we experience,” Han said. “For example, celebrities are often featured in commercial advertisements, which is because we tend to associate their social status or star power with product values. This is a typical case of classical conditioning for associative learning and memory. Our study tackles the key question of how the association is occurring in the brain using the genetic model Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit flies.”

Kim added that fruit flies provided an excellent primer for the research team to uncover their findings.

“Associative learning is a fundamental form of behavioral plasticity,” Kim said. “Drosophila provides a powerful system to uncover the mechanisms for learning and memory.”

Researchers from The University of Texas at El Paso have made strides in understanding how memories are formed through the brain mechanisms of fruit flies, findings that could enhance our understanding of brain disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and substance addiction. Their work was recently published in the highly renowned Journal of Neuroscience April 2020 edition. Displayed in this photo are researchers and brothers Paul Rafael Sabandal, Ph.D. graduate, John Martin Sabandal, BS graduate and Kyung-An Han, Ph.D. at the 2017 May UTEP Commencement Ceremony.

2020 UTEP Volleyball home schedule announced; Season Tickets on sale now

Tuesday morning, UTEP officials released the 2020 Miner Volleyball home schedule and, for the first time, fans can purchase season tickets.

“I’m really excited about our 2020 home slate of matches,” Wallis said.  “We inherited a road-heavy schedule in our first season last year but we performed very well at home, securing top-100 wins over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Marshall and North Texas.  Our roster is much deeper and more athletic this year and I think we have what it takes, with our returning talent and eight new players, to be a force in Conference USA this season.”

UTEP will launch its home slate with its own I-10 Challenge Aug. 28-29 in El Paso.  The Miners will host Tulane, Incarnate Word and New Mexico in the two-day event at the Don Haskins Center.

“We’re really excited to wrap up the four-year I-10 rivalry tournament here in El Paso at the Don Haskins Center opening weekend,” Wallis said.  “We were able to add New Mexico to the field, which is something that (Lobos coach) Jon Newman-Gonchar and I have been pretty adamant about since he got hired last year as well.  We want that I-25 rivalry renewed each season.”

The remainder of the Miners’ home matches will be played at historic Memorial Gym.  The following weekend (Sept. 4-6), UTEP will serve as co-host of the Borderland Invitational with NM State.  The Miners will face off against UT Arlington, Abilene Christian and the arch-rival Aggies.

The Miners will kick off their Conference USA slate on Saturday, Sept. 26 when they host UTSA.  It will mark the first of three straight C-USA home matches with North Texas (Oct. 2) and Rice (Oct. 4) scheduled to come to El Paso the following weekend.

The Miners will return home to host Old Dominion (Oct. 16) and Charlotte (Oct. 18) in a weekend set sandwiched between a pair of road series.

UTEP’s conference home schedule will wrap up the last weekend of October as the Miners will host Florida Atlantic (Oct. 30) and FIU (Nov. 1).

“What I really like about our conference schedule is that we have several of the top teams at home, including UTSA, North Texas and Rice right off the bat,” Wallis said.  “Conference USA is a top-10 volleyball conference so everybody will be tough to beat, but we’re excited to have several of the top teams playing here in El Paso and having to deal with our rowdy fans.  We finished third in the conference in attendance last year and I’m hoping we can get in the top-two this season, especially with our great slate of matches!”

The Miners’ home slate will come to a close on Nov. 24 when they play host to NM State for a second time on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Wallis and company put together the best turnaround by a first-year staff in program history a year ago, as the Miners went from five wins in 2018 to 13 victories in 2019.

Additionally, the Miners advanced to the C-USA Championships for the first time in three seasons, and had their highest finish in the conference standings since the 2012 campaign.

Wallis and the Miners also registered a 6-3 mark in Memorial Gym, their first winning mark in the Sun City in six years.

Wallis and the Miners will enter the 2020 campaign with a more experienced roster.  UTEP returns 12 players who saw action a season ago, including standouts Cheyenne Jones, Irbe Lazda and Serena Patterson.  Jones was a second team All-Conference USA performer last season, and Lazda was one of the top freshmen in the conference prior to sustaining a season-ending injury.

The full 2020 UTEP volleyball schedule will be announced on a later date.

Season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (915) 747-UTEP, emailing tickets@utep.edu, or by going online.

Tickets are just $60 for adults and $35 for youth and gain entry to all 14 home matches.

All seats are general admission.  Single-match ticket prices are $8 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 3-12).  Fans can save 46 percent off the single-match adult prices and 50 percent off the single-match youth prices by purchasing a season ticket.

For complete coverage of UTEP Volleyball, follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPVB (Instagram) and @UTEP_VB (Twitter), or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics.

2020 UTEP Volleyball Home Schedule

Date                Opponent                                Location                                  Time

Aug. 28            TULANE ^                                Don Haskins Center                10 a.m.

                        INCARNATE WORD ^              Don Haskins Center                4:30 p.m.

Aug. 29            NEW MEXICO ^                       Don Haskins Center                3 p.m.

Sept. 4             UT ARLINGTON#                     Memorial Gym                        10 a.m.

                        ABILENE CHRISTIAN#             Memorial Gym                        5 p.m.

Sept. 6             NM STATE#                             Memorial Gym                        3 p.m.

Sept. 26           UTSA*                                     Memorial Gym                        1 p.m.

Oct. 2              NORTH TEXAS*                       Memorial Gym                        6 p.m.

Oct. 4              RICE*                                       Memorial Gym                        12 p.m.

Oct. 16            OLD DOMINION*                    Memorial Gym                        6 p.m.

Oct. 18            CHARLOTTE*                          Memorial Gym                        12 p.m.

Oct. 30            FLORIDA ATLANTIC*               Memorial Gym                        6 p.m.

Nov. 1              FIU*                                        Memorial Gym                        12 p.m.

Nov. 24            NM STATE                               Memorial Gym                        1 p.m.

 

All times MT

* Indicates C-USA match

^ I-10 Challenge

# Borderland Invitational

UTEP College of Health Sciences Associate Professor collaborates on LGBTQ+ COVID-19 Texas Study

Oralia Loza, Ph.D., public health sciences associate professor at The University of Texas at El Paso, and the Borderland Rainbow Center (BRC) have collaborated on a survey that examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected the LGBTQ+ population in Texas.

Led by Phillip W. Schnarrs, Ph.D., at The University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School, the survey involved a statewide coalition of community and research partners, including UTEP and El Paso’s BRC, to better understand the needs, concerns and challenges of LGBTQ+ Texans and their allies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Preliminary results from this first-of-its-kind survey found that gender diverse people and queer people of color are experiencing a number of disparities. They include higher rates of COVID-19, more difficulty accessing a variety of services, and higher rates of anxiety and depression, as well as high unemployment compared with white participants.

The results, which are broken down by race, ethnicity and gender identity, are available here. Researchers plan to release the findings by individual Texas counties later this year.

“The purpose of the study is two-fold,” said Loza, who collaborated with the BRC to include representation from El Paso in the survey data. She is currently translating the survey and preliminary findings of the study into Spanish.

“One is to understand what are the needs of the LGBTQ population in our community because it has never been assessed before, especially statewide. But also, community organizations such as the BRC can use that data to show evidence of the need to advocate for those services. Other community organizations also can use the data to generate findings that are specific to the work they do. If their focus is mental health, they can look at the mental health data and report the needs for their city.”

The survey, which launched May 4, 2020, will continue to recruit participants until July 30, 2020.

To date, researchers have gathered data from 1,000 LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies, including 111 respondents from El Paso. The survey is available here.

Researchers said the data collected will be given back to community partners to use for future planning, as well as the development and delivery of programs to support LGBTQ+ individuals and allies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UTEP, TTUHSC El Paso, NMSU, EPCC, DACC unite to encourage community blood donations

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), New Mexico State University, El Paso Community College and Doña Ana Community College are uniting efforts to encourage the community to donate blood and save lives.

A combined goal of 100 pints of blood is set for a two-day blood drive that will take place on the UTEP and TTUHSC El Paso campuses.

The blood drive will take place from noon to 6 p.m., June 25 and 26 at the El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center on the UTEP campus and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., June 25 in Academic Education Classroom 221 on the TTUHSC El Paso campus.

“It’s great to see UTEP and all other universities working together to assure there is blood on the shelves for the community we serve; it’s truly amazing!” said Martin Gomez, donor recruitment manager at Vitalant.

“Blood should always be there waiting for patients. Patients should never have to wait for the blood.”

To ensure that blood donors are in a safe environment that upholds local health ordinances and social distancing protocols, appointments made in advance are required.

Appointments can be made at vitalant.org (search for sponsor code “UTEP” or “TexasTech”) or by calling 877-258-4825.

Blood donors are required to wear face coverings during the drive.

UTEP Soccer’s Nicole Pugsley appears on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast”

UTEP soccer senior midfielder/defender Nicole Pugsley is the guest on this week’s “Picks Up Podcast” with “Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher.

For the 2019 season, Pugsley was one of two Miners to start all 20 matches on the season.  She also helped UTEP record seven shutouts while limiting six other opponents to only one goal.

The seven shutouts tied for sixth on the program’s single-season list.

On the academic side, Pugsley was named a C-USA Commissioners’s Academic Medalist (2018, 2019, 2020) and was on the C-USA Commissioners’s Honor Roll (2018, 2019, 2020)

The “Picks Up Podcast,” which airs weekly on the UTEP Miner Website, takes an inside look at UTEP Athletics, offering perspectives and analysis not available anywhere else.

The “Picks Up Podcast” features special guests including Miner coaches, staff, student-athletes and alumni.

To go directly to the podcast landing page, please click here.

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