The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Communications staff, students recount The Mesquite’s history

Communications staff, students recount The Mesquite’s history - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Photo Illustration by Amber Esparza

Students, faculty and staff may look at The Mesquite’s online articles, social media posts and its logo throughout campus. However, has anyone ever wondered the history of the publication and how it has evolved over time?

The Mesquite was established in spring 2009, one semester prior to Texas A&M University-San Antonio becoming a standalone university.

Students and faculty felt it would be important to start a school newspaper because there were no student publications. There were only 16 communication majors.

“Our first goal was to create a student publication office to do two things: First, to provide a newspaper of record to chronicle all the developments that were happening on the southside and on campus,” said Professor Jenny Moore, director for student media at A&M-San Antonio. “The second thing we wanted to do was to provide experiential learning opportunities.” 

The Mesquite staff in fall of 2016.

There were about four different title options. However, after a vote within A&M-San Antonio, it was decided to give The Mesquite title because of the reference of the natural mesquite trees near and around campus.

“I believe the mesquite tree is one of the five to seven different little symbols on the class ring,” Moore said.

In 2010, there were about eight students in the new student publication.

Tammy Busby, the first editor at The Mesquite in 2010, said she faced many challenges in the first semester. 

“Motivating the reporters to submit their stories, attend the meetings and show up was rough,” Busby said. 

Busby described her former duties as cat-herding.

“Imagine trying to get a cat to learn tricks, it is almost impossible,” Busby said. “It is not management because nobody needs to be micromanaged. At that point, we wanted to allow as much creativity as possible. It was about finding strength within the team.”

In 2010, there was not a Jaguar Student Media room such as the one provided now in Room 320 of the Central Academic Building.

Armando Villarreal and Brigid Cooley, managing editor and assistant editor in fall 2019, talk with Jaguar Student Media Director Jenny Moore at a Mesquite staff meeting in the Central Academic Building Room 320 on Sept. 30, 2019. File photo by Victoria Martinez

Instead, the newsgroup used a classroom with no computers. If a computer was needed, students would have to go to a student lab or use their personal one.

Moore was also able to recall some of the challenges within the first few semesters.

“We had no equipment and no computers so everything the students produced was with their own cameras, laptops, whatever technology was around back in 2009,” Moore said.

Even a lack of networking was an issue.

“I was a new faculty member,” Moore said. “Introducing myself to community development offices, nonprofits and getting to know the politics of the South Side. I had to make many connections for the students, who the majority of them were not from the South Side— was another challenge.” Moore said. 

Now, The Mesquite is active on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube.

With pressures the first year, there also came positive changes in 2010.

“We finally got the website going that year,” Busby said. “It was very exciting to see the reception of the school towards the newspaper.”

Administrators from A&M-San Antonio became supportive and cooperative. 

“I was befriended by the president’s secretary,” Busby said. “She introduced me to the president and we kind of formed a bond. The president had a lot of meetings and events she could not attend, so she would send me in her place—to me that was an honor.” 

The Mesquite staff in fall 2019.

Busby was editor for The Mesquite for one semester.

The Mesquite website has grown throughout the years.

“It wasn’t mobile, so it wasn’t really responsive,” Moore said. “It was much smaller. The three values we focused on the site were ‘campus, culture and community.’” 

Not only did A&M-San Antonio become accredited in 2014, The Mesquite also had come around the same time to bring the student media cultura to campus and the southside community.

The Mesquite is one of three branches of student media at A&M-San Antonio, with the others being Enlace, which was launched in 2017, and El Espejo, which is going on its fourth year of production.

Editor’s note: this story was updated at 4:10 p.m. Nov. 25, 2022, to correct the year A&M-San Antonio was accredited from 2009 to 2014. 

About the Author

Ashley Khamtrashyan
Assistant Editor
Ashley Khamtrashyan is a communication senior who transferred from Northwest Vista College. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling. Ashley is also part of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists. After graduation, in May 2024, she plans to pursue a career in journalism as a reporter.

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