Category: On Campus

Residence halls‌ ‌prepare‌ ‌for‌ ‌COVID-19‌ ‌

Residence halls‌ ‌prepare‌ ‌for‌ ‌COVID-19‌ ‌

By Jorge‌ ‌Padilla‌
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

 ‌As the coronavirus spread at an exponential rate in March, the administration began taking precautionary measures to make sure campus residential students could self-isolate. The school asked students and faculty to self-isolate for 14 days before returning to campus, if traveling from other countries.

The Texas A&M International University residence halls received new hand-sanitizer dispensers on each floor to disinfect and help prevent the virus’ spread. Other upgrades‌ ‌occurred over the‌ ‌past‌ ‌three‌ ‌years.

As of March 30, faculty and staff converted the rest of the semester courses to online virtual environments to aid in social distancing. According to a TAMIU email sent to students and faculty, “Spectrum has created a program for students that will provide free Spectrum Broadband and WIFI Access for 60 days for those who do not already have internet access.”

The‌ ‌COVID-19‌ ‌pandemic resulted in caution from ‌the‌ ‌A&M‌ ‌system‌ as it implemented procedures, in accordance with the City of Laredo Health Department. One of those procedures includes the requirement of a facial mask in order to enter any University buildings; it also included the closing of the campus to those without necessary business. Some campus buildings are closed to students but the main ones, such as the Killam Library and the Student Center, are still open during modified working hours.

University‌ ‌Village resident Daniella Buentello ‌said ‌residence hall assistants‌ ‌made efforts so things could run as smoothly ‌as possible‌ ‌this‌ ‌semester.

“They‌ ‌have‌ ‌really‌ ‌been‌ ‌taking‌ ‌initiative‌ ‌to‌ ‌help‌ ‌us‌ ‌out‌ ‌in‌ anything‌ ‌we‌ ‌might‌ ‌need,” Buentello said. “‌‌They‌ ‌have‌ ‌done‌ ‌so‌ ‌well‌ ‌to‌ ‌keep‌ ‌us‌ ‌up‌ ‌to‌ ‌date‌ ‌with‌ ‌what‌ ‌the‌ ‌campus‌ ‌is‌ saying‌ ‌about‌ ‌the‌ ‌coronavirus‌ ‌and‌ ‌helping‌ ‌everyone‌ ‌stay‌ ‌cautious‌ ‌and‌ ‌clean.”

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Rise of esports at TAMIU

Rise of esports at TAMIU

By Ruben Reyes
Bridge contributing writer
Published Monday, April 13, 2020

The TAMIU Smash Club is composed of students who play “Super Smash Bros.” for relaxation and competition.

Over the course of the semester, students formed bonds, thus enhancing the college experience for most. Management information systems major Luis Arriaga said his studies of networking exceeded his expectations in the TAMIU Smash Club.

“I want to have events that bring competitors from around the United States to [Texas A&M International University] and compete with our local Smash players,” Arriaga said.

Arriaga hopes to persuade TAMIU into looking at programs or scholarships for esports.

“TAMIU lags a little behind, but recently, the TAMIU [Recreational Sports Center] bought three gaming monitors and a Nintendo Switch … so there’s definitely support from the staff for gaming.”

    Arriaga’s passion for gaming comes from his love for competition. In recent years, esports continues to grow all over the world due to famous titles such as, “League of Legends,” “Fortnite” and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.” These video game titles all share one trait in common: competition.

According to the Esports Ecosystems Report 2020, the esports market will likely surpass $1.5 billion in revenue by 2023. U.S. cities build esports arenas for tournaments. Esports gained mainstream media attention around the world. It’s an activity anyone can easily compete in, or spectate.

“As long as there are figureheads in the community, there is a chance that esports could grow into a prominent culture in any university,” Arriaga said.

Leonardo “MKLeo” Lopez is well known within the “Super Smash Bros.” community. Lopez is one of the notable players who inspires many people to enter “Super Smash Bros.” tournaments around the world. He is a player who continues to dominate the “Super Smash Bros.” competitive scene by consistently taking major tournaments with prizes ranging up to thousands of dollars.

Arriaga embraces the passion for the “Super Smash Bros.” community on campus and hopes more interest will come in the future. Arriaga hosted several tournaments, including a few approved by TAMIU. The club hosted the Battle at the Border tournament in late July 2019. The tournament was stacked with more than 120 players in attendance, including talent from Arkansas and Honduras, competing for a grand prize of $600.

The success of the TAMIU Smash Club inspired various students to create more organizations of their own for esports. Students voiced interest in creating clubs for other games, such as “League of Legends” and “Overwatch.”

The TAMIU Smash Club participated in a collegiate league in early 2019. Gavin “Cosmic” Gonzalez traveled with TAMIU Smash.

“Playing in the collegiate team was, honestly, a very fun experience,” Gonzalez said. “It felt just as if I was competing in another sport. Being able to represent my school along with traveling with good friends to these events—definitely something I’m going to remember.”

As one of the team’s dominant players, he eliminated nearly every member of Schreiner University’s team during the collegiate crew battles against other Texas universities.

“Having to come up with strategies and changing our lines up on the fly, to beat whoever we were up against, is something that I thoroughly enjoyed,” Gonzalez said. “Having your team and spectators cheer your team on was also a nice feeling.”

Arriaga hopes campus esports will take off to never-before-seen heights. Esports is something he believes should not be ignored or skimmed over and should be treated equally to traditional sports.

“Esports is easier to get into than many other sports but it’s just as hard to master, so we can see greater interest from people to enter esports at TAMIU due to the accessibility, compared to other sports,” Arriaga said.

Arriaga remains optimistic that TAMIU will continue to support the esports community and the TAMIU Smash Club for more semesters to come.

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‘Invisible Graves’ focus of speech

‘Invisible Graves’ focus of speech

By Andrea Martinez
Bridge contributing writer
Published March 30, 2020

Near the U.S.-Mexico border, there are high numbers of unknown dead migrants. These migrants are buried in trash bags in forgotten unmarked graves.

Professor Kate Spradley, a forensic anthropologist at Texas State University, presented “Invisible Graves: Migrant Deaths in the Texas Desert” at TAMIU. She quoted Sheriff Martinez of Brooks County, Texas, “For every person found, there are at least five that are not found.”

Spradley said Brooks County is recognized as “Death Valley” for all the migrants passing through. It is a little further from the border; however, it bears the highest migrant death toll for Texas border towns since 2009. They bury the unknown migrants in the Sacred Heart Burial Park. Most were found in trash bags—about 12 migrants in one grave. They were also buried along with personal belongings and trash.

“Until 2013, people were buried and forgotten in unmarked graves in Brooks County,” Spradley said.

She said Arizona’s medical examiner tries to identify the victims and contact each family. In Webb County, there is a medical examiner; however, they also try to help six other counties in this assessment, making the work more difficult.

One of the other counties the medical examiner takes care of is Cameron and Willacy counties. Spradley investigated the site with her students and they found that when they were told they would find 31 buried bodies, they found up to 70 instead.

In Cameron and Willacy counties, they have paupers’ graves, along with migrants, buried in the middle of nowhere. Paupers are people who died and could not afford proper funerals; however, they lived in the U.S. and likely died of natural causes. Spradley said her team could tell the difference because of the way they are buried. Migrants are kind of just thrown into trash bags with their personal belongings and maybe some trash. Paupers’ graves, on the other hand, are buried with a certain position and are placed more carefully.

When she removed personal belongings found in the graves, she and her team washed them and tried to see if there was anything to help identify the body.

“People carry a variety of things with them when they migrate,” Spradley said. “Personal effects are key for family.”

She mentioned a story of a migrant who died and his sister recognized his shoes and that is how she was able to place a name on the recovered body.

“What about the unidentified bodies that were cremated and the ashes were mishandled?” history major Joshua Grajeda asked Spradley during a Q&A, following her presentation.

“Texas Court of Federal Procedures … you are not allowed to cremate unidentified remains but about five years ago in the health and safety code, they put in there that you can … when approved by a county judge,” Spradley responded.

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Thompson discovers treasure trove

Author discovers treasure trove

By Allan Rodriguez
Sports Editor
Published March 30, 2020

From secrets kept hidden in a shoe box, an award-winning history professor used letters and photographs to create his newest book.

Growing up in the mountains of western New Mexico, Regents Professor Jerry Thompson often wondered why there were no visits from his grandparents and why his mother never spoke about the other side of the family.

“It seemed like they did not exist,” Thompson recalled.

The truth came out right after his discovery of a shoe box hidden by his mother. He discovered letters and photographs that revealed secrets about his family line and about his grandfather—a Cherokee cowboy by the name of Joe Lynch Davis.

“In the early 20th century, Davis was at the center of rampant cattle rustling, deadly gun battles, a bloody range war, daring bank robberies, equally audacious train heists and prodigious court proceedings, which eventually resulted in 14 years in Leavenworth[, Kansas,] Federal Penitentiary,” Thompson wrote in his new book “Wrecked Lives and Lost Souls.”

Rolando Santos | TAMIU Public Relations
Regents Professor Jerry Thompson smiles on campus for a publicity photo.

Thompson never met his grandfather, yet he got to interview someone 20 years ago who did.

When Davis got out of jail, someone by the name of Niece asked him about his reasons for those lawless actions. Davis replied, “It was just what kids did back then.”

“Had I knew that he existed, I think I could have gone out there, found him and maybe said, ‘I am your grandson. Talk to me,’” Thompson said.

Thompson is the author and/or editor of 27 books. He won several awards and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

“It is always a great thrill when you are invited to give lectures like that one I gave last week and be invited to speak to the Civil War Round Table in Houston or Dallas,” he said. “It is always good to see your old friends and people pat you on the back and say, ‘I read your work.’”

Among his other publications are “Vaqueros in Blue & Gray”; “A Civil War History of the New Mexico Volunteers and Militia”; “Cortina: Defending the Mexican Name in Texas”; and one of his most sold books, “Laredo: A Pictorial History.”

Rolando Santos | TAMIU Public Relations
Award-winning history professor and author, Regents Professor Jerry Thompson

Thompson joined the TAMIU faculty 33 years ago.

“There have been times where we have been so hooked on his lecture that we accidentally go over the class time,” history major Jose Meyo said. “Nevertheless, the way he is involved and the way he has motivated me and my fellow classmates has inspired me more to finish my history degree here at TAMIU.”

Meyo said Thompson is a vault full of archives and no one can get access except here at TAMIU.

“He’s a great professor, even though he’s completely opposite from my views,” junior Cristian Rios said. “He encourages every-one in the class to not be afraid of speaking your own views.”

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Esports on campus gets life of its own

Esports on campus gets life of its own

By David Gomez Jr.
Editor-in-chief
Published March 30, 2020

One campus group of student gamers, TAMIU Smash, is making more than a name for itself, as its members bring change to the campus.

Club President Luis Arriaga plays and practices “Super Smash Bros.” at Texas A&M International University; this is one type of esports fighting games he plays both competitively and non-competitively.

TAMIU Smash hosted two huge tournaments in the past which brought in people from the surrounding area to Texas.

“We were able to draw the attention of gamers from Arkansas and even Honduras to come to our tournaments,” Arriaga said. “The max[imum number] of people we have held was around 153 players from all over.”

Leonard Gonzalez | Bridge
Students finish a match of “Super Smash Bros.” on Feb. 26 in the TAMIU game room.

Since then, the University gave the Dusty Den game room some leeway in terms of funding. Dusty Den officials purchased some game systems in light of esports popularity.

“The game room is part of rec[reational sports] … some new things we have added are gaming chairs, Nintendo DS and Switch,” recreational sports employee and senior double major in communication and psychology Tania Jauregui said.

“And sooner, we’ll be getting some Playstations and Xboxes.”

Arriaga said three new game monitors set in the Dusty Den at $500 apiece. These 240 hertz, 1 millisecond monitors help keep eyes relaxed and focused.

Slowly, but surely, esports is catching the eyes and ears, of the campus gaming community—especially Smash Club.

“We are looking to recruit more members because every time we host [a tournament], or afterward, I get people coming up to me [who] say, ‘I didn’t know we had gaming tournaments’ or ‘I didn’t know TAMIU had this club on campus,’” Arriaga said.

He also mentioned that “Super Smash Bros.” isn’t the only game played. TAMIU Smash also plays with past “Super Smash Bros.” games, “Luigi’s Mansion” and the latest Nintendo frenzy—”Animal Crossing.”

“We’ve broken the walls really quick here [at TAMIU],” he said about esports getting its fair share and continued growth.

The next big tournament will be on July 18 and they plan on having more than 200 competitors.

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Coronavirus: ‘It’s a new one and we’ve never seen it’

Coronavirus

‘It’s a new one and we’ve never seen it’

By Jessica Rodriguez
Director of Photography
Published March 30, 2020

New-year goal setting and good cheer quickly disappeared as the latest health scare puts the world on notice—the coronavirus.

On the last day of December 2019, the Chinese government informed the World Health Organization of an epidemic of flu-like cases in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, home to more than 11 million residents. People became ill and it began to spread, increasing the number infected. Officials believed the disease to be part of the coronavirus family.

According to WHO, coronavirus is a “family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe dis-eases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).” Officials ruled out both types of betacoronavirus, leaving many to wonder what type of new disease occurred.

On Jan. 7, the virus was officially identified as SARS-CoV-2, which results in the new disease known as COVID-19.

Hector F. Gonzalez, director of the City of Laredo Health Department explains, “[SARS-CoV-2] is new. It’s part of the coronavirus family but it’s a new one and we’ve never seen it. It’s a new strain. It started in China and remains mainly in China. Of the 75,000 cases confirmed to date, 74,000 are in China and 73,000 of those are in the province of Wen.”

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
Doctors Hospital Emergency Room Saunders attends sick patients during flu season on Feb. 20 in Laredo.

By March 13, The New York Times reported confirmed cases in China reached more than 80,900 infected. The world total reached 143,700 sickened by March 13.

With the virus finally identified, researchers still haven’t found a cure, leaving those infected with few options.

Professor Addo-Mensah, who teaches medicinal chemistry at Texas A&M International University, highlighted the complications of finding a cure in due time.

“Companies or scientists in six months or so will come up with medication or vaccinations, but six months is too long. In terms of life without being lost every day, six months is too much,” Addo-Mensah said.

Jessica Rodriguez | Bridge
A coronavirus prevention warning on display March 6 inside a restroom in Pellegrino Hall.

As of mid-February the disease spread to more than 27 countries, resulting in 2,100 deaths from complications of the virus. That death toll reached 5,397, including 2,217 outside of main-land China, by March 13, according to The New York Times. At least 122 countries reported cases by March 13.

Although halfway around the world, the disease known as COVID-19 steadily crept into the United States. The number of confirmed U.S. cases remained around 200 or fewer until early March. By March 13, though, The New York Times reports more than 2,100 U.S. cases. As of March 11, WHO declared the coronavirus as a pandemic, or a global outbreak of a disease. Previously, it was classified as an epidemic.

U.S. citizens who traveled across and around China started to test positive for the disease, thus bringing the virus closer to home as they start to get quarantined in the states.

San Antonio became one of the 15 U.S. locations to quarantine infected.

While quarantined, patients get their vital signs and temperature checked about two to three times a day by medical staff in San Antonio. As medical professionals look after these quarantine patients, some residents are concerned about going near the hospitals.

Many in Texas hold mixed reactions to the evacuees returning home with the disease. Some fear they will contract the coronavirus, while others believe it is far from possible.

People online turned their confusion and frustration into memes and even hateful rants about the Chinese government.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of March 13, warns against non-essential travel to the following countries: China (80,900 cases), Italy (17,600), Iran (11,300), South Korea (7,900), Spain (4,200), France (3,600), Germany (3,600) and Iceland (100).

Other countries with confirmed cases include: U.S. (2,100 cases), Japan (1,300—which includes 696 from a cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama), U.K. (500), Singapore (200), Canada, Brazil, Israel and Australia (100), India (82), Egypt (80), Russia (45), Argentina (31), Algeria (26), South Africa (24), Mexico (12), New Zealand (5), Nigeria (2) and others with one case.

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Student staff of The Bridge receives honors

During its end-of-semester dinner and awards, several members of The Bridge Independent Student Newspaper Fall 2019 staff were honored for their journalistic work on the paper. The event was held Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 11, at Cheddar’s restaurant in Laredo, Texas.

In addition, promotions were announced: Current Editor-in-chief Matthew Balderas graduates tomorrow, Dec. 12, and current Staff Writer David Gomez Jr. was promoted tonight to become the new editor-in-chief. Current Staff Writer Erick Barrientos was also promoted to the rank of Managing Editor. While both are fairly new to college journalism, they have stepped up to the plate and worked well as a team. In addition to her continuing duties, Director of Photography Jessica Rodriguez will also be picking up the mantle of Director of Social Media for The Bridge. Current Staff Writer Nayelle Acosta steps up to join the newspaper design staff. Current Bridge Illustrator Tomas Cruz will be shifting positions to focus on monetization as the new Advertising Director for The Bridge. Jennifer Rodriguez joins the staff as a photographer. Brandon Valdez joins the staff to help with social media.

The Bridge Hall of Fame Inductee for Fall 2019: Editor-in-chief Matthew Balderas, “For his long-standing service to The Bridge from rookie reporter in 2017 to editor-in-chief and chief designer in 2019, for helping grow the student newspaper and journalism program at TAMIU, and for his countless hours behind the curtain, performing the magic.”

  • The Bridge Best Rookie for Fall 2019: David Gomez Jr.
  • The Bridge Best Deadline Management for Fall 2019: David Gomez Jr.
  • The Bridge Reporter of the Semester: Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Photographer of the Semester: Jessica Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best Editorial for Fall 2019: “Is 33 larger than 39,773? … asking for a friend” by Matthew Balderas
  • The Bridge Best Opinion Column for Fall 2019: “Our ol’ payphone reflects past, present, future” by David Gomez Jr.
  • The Bridge Best Illustration for Fall 2019: “Are you still listening?” by Tomas Cruz
  • The Bridge Best Photo Illustration for Fall 2019: “God the Mother representatives startle students” by Jessica Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best News Story for Fall 2019: “God the Mother representatives startle students” by Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Best News Photo for Fall 2019: “Climate strike raises environmental issues” by Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Best Feature Story for Fall 2019: “Goodbye to a dear friend” by Erick Barrientos
  • The Bridge Best Feature Photo for Fall 2019: “Dance concert displays student creativity” by Jessica Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best Sports Story for Fall 2019: “Men’s soccer wraps up historic season” by Allan Rodriguez
  • The Bridge Best Sports Photo for Fall 2019: “Men’s soccer wraps up historic season” by Matthew Balderas

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Proposed fee changes presented at hearing

As student enrollment rates rise at Texas A&M International University, so does the cost of attendance.

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Stanford professor talks immigration, US way of life in lecture series

Recently, the public discourse has been focused on immigration issues, such as Trump’s wall and the recent changes to DACA. Tomás Jiménez, a Stanford associate professor of sociology, spoke on campus Sept. 19 about his new publication “The Other Side of Assimilation: How Immigrants are Changing American Life.”

Continue reading “Stanford professor talks immigration, US way of life in lecture series”

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Judge visits TAMIU

Though it was touted as an informal Q&A format, Webb County Judge Tano Tijerina’s recent visit to TAMIU became more of a motivational speech.

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