In 2016, there was a merging of the Office of Community Relations with the Division of Student Affairs. Since its consolidation, some San Marcos residents believe the restructuring has left a void in the community.
For 15 years, the Office of Community Relations served as a bridge for the San Marcos community by providing community programs, and introducing secondary education opportunities to SMCISD middle school students through campus tours of the university.
Pack It Up and Pass It On is a program that allows university students to donate unwanted items and appliances to low-income families in the community. Items were collected by the Office of Community Relations and distributed within LBJ Ballroom so community members could “shop” for back to school supplies.
Miguel Arredondo, a fifth-generation San Marcos resident and District 1 SMCISD trustee, said the closure of the Office of Community Relations has since left unmet needs for low-income residents of the San Marcos community.
“I think the restructuring of the Community Relations Office definitely left a void and created some significant unmet needs in San Marcos,” Arredondo said. “For instance, the Pack It Up and Pass It On program not only diverted an estimated six tons of items from landfills year after year when freshmen moved out- that was back to school shopping for hundreds of San Marcos CISD families.”
Community Relations programs were originally funded by the university, the most expensive being the Pack It Up and Pass It On program, which budgeted $6,725 in 2015.
While some programs were expensive to manage, University Spokesman Matt Flores said the decision to consolidate was not due to financial concerns, but rather an effort to provide more resources.
“While this move was not made because of financial considerations, we felt resources, in terms of staff focused on student leadership and service, could be more effective if aligned under Student Affairs rather than split out as a separate function under University Advancement,” Flores stated in an email.
Since the Community Relations Office has dissolved, programs like the Student Volunteer Connection, Achieving Community Together and the Center for P-16 Initiatives have continued to engage with the community. Although, some criticize that their program efforts are not enough.
“I think the size and scope of what Community Relations was doing was completely different, I would even say a whole different ball game,” Arredondo said. “I think, for whatever it’s worth, you look at our attendance in athletics and things like that and we need to ask ourselves ‘why aren’t more local community members supportive of Texas State athletics and academics and initiatives of a university that is essentially in their own backyard?’ And I think that separation shines a light or alludes to something else that is going on, in that maybe the community doesn’t see Texas State as their hometown university.”