The University of Texas System Board of Regents will award the University of Texas Permian Basin with additional funds this month to support Odessans affected by the Aug. 31 shooting.
Regents announced Friday that UTPB’s student government will receive $10,000 to allocate as they deem best, similar to what was done for the University of Texas at El Paso following the Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso.
Gunman Seth Ator on Aug. 31 killed seven people and injured 25 others on a wild shooting spree around Odessa. The shooting spree ended when Ator was shot to death by law enforcement near Cinergy Theatre.
UT System Student Regent Daniel Dominguez said the intention behind the board’s decision was to recognize that responding to the mass shootings that transpired in both cities required collaboration between many people and agencies.
“The board of regents is very concerned about the safety and security of each and every one of the community members,” he said. “The board felt it was a good thing to recognize both communities and, at the same time, try to provide some funding so that the student government association at both universities could use those funds in order to assist programs run by the university or give some recognition to the first responders who played a very important role in both events.”
UTPB Vice President for Student Development and Leadership Becky Spurlock said the UTPB Student Senate is eager to identify programs where support can be given to those impacted by the tragedy.
“We are profoundly grateful to Chancellor (James) Milliken and Chairman (Kevin) Eltife, on behalf of the regents and UT System, for their generous gift to the UT Permian Basin community,” Spurlock said in a prepared statement.
Dominguez said the approved funds could be available for use by UTPB by mid-October.
“When I found out that we received the money, I was in shock and I literally got chills,” UTEP Student Government Association President Jessica Martinez said. “It caught us by surprise because the board of regents doesn’t do that often so knowing that we have the board of regents and people outside of our area that are looking out for us and have El Paso in their minds and hearts really helps.”
UTEP is allocating its funding from the board of regents primarily to host an appreciation event in honor of the first responders that will be open to all students and members of the community.
Martinez said the remaining funds will go toward the El Paso Community Foundation to support their ongoing efforts to aid survivors and victims’ families.