PRSSA was founded in August 1979 by then-college students Kenneth McClintock, Puerto Rico’s current President of the Senate, and Luis Fortuño, Puerto Rico’s current Resident Commissioner and the 2008 New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate.
The organization was constituted to promote the discussion of Puerto Rico’s political status dilemma in mainland United States colleges and universities, promote statehood for America’s largest territory and facilitate absentee balloting in the islands’ elections for the estimated 15,000 young voting residents of Puerto Rico registered in college campuses throughout the states and Washington, DC.
McClintock served as the association’s first president from August 1979 to June 1980, when he graduated from the Tulane University Law School. McClintock was responsible for establishing the PRSSA throughout stateside colleges and universities during his tenure. PRSSA grew to over 500 members and 35 chapters throughout the United States. McClintock also organized the first PRSSA Convention in the now defunct Cerromar Hotel in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico. The three-day convention featured then-congressman and future Senator Paul Simon as keynote speaker, as well as then-Governor Carlos Romero Barceló and statehood patriarch and former Governor Luis A. Ferré as speakers.
Fortuño, a Georgetown University undergrad, succeeded as the second president from 1980 to 1981. He then organized the PRSSA’s absentee voting campaign for the 1980 Puerto Rican general elections. The approximately 1,500 absentee votes garnered by the PRSSA were an important factor in the reelection of Governor Romero Barceló by a 3,000-vote margin.
Among founding PRSSA leaders, Tulane University student Pedro Pierluisi went on to become Puerto Rico’s Attorney General and the 2008 NPP candidate for Resident Commissioner, George Washington University student José Rodríguez Suárez went on to become Puerto Rico’s Under Secretary of State and José Jaime Pierluisi became Governor Pedro Rosselló’s Economic Advisor prior to his untimely death in 1994. Other PRSSA founding members who have been prominent in later life include Francisco Cimadevilla, Editor-in-Chief at Casiano Communications, Ricardo Skerrett, an immigration attorney in Tampa, Florida, and Manuel De Juan, a former Assistant Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.
The PRSSA was dormant from 1981 until 1993, when another group of pro-statehood students reactivated the organization. Oreste R. Ramos presided over the association from 1993 to 1994 and organized the absentee voting campaign for the 1993 status plebiscite in Puerto Rico. Rogelio Carrasquillo then presided over the PRSSA from 1995 to 1997 and coordinated the absentee voting campaign that contributed to the reelection of then-Governor Pedro Rosselló in 1996. The organization returned to inactivity in 1997.
In November 2007, José Cabrera and William-José Vélez González, students from the University of Dayton School of Law and Florida International University respectively, reactivated the association. Cabrera served as president and Vélez González served as vice president. Presently, Sebastián Negrón serves as President, after succeeding Gustavo Bravo.
The current incarnation of the Association has grown to more than 5,000 members and 70 Chapters at colleges and universities in over 20 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
The PRSSA actively promotes the participation of pro-statehood students in the national and Puerto Rican political processes, serves as a pro-statehood student think tank, leads a grassroots approach to lobby both Houses of Congress, and develops the future leaders of the statehood movement through informational and internship programs.