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Monday, December 22, 2014

Undergraduate student government ASUNM passes resolution for U.S. and Global Diversity course requirement, Student Regent Jake Wellman discusses Lottery Scholarship and tuition increase policy

news@dailylobo.com

Freshmen who begin attending the University in fall 2014 may be required to take a U.S. and global diversity course.

At an Associated Students of the University of New Mexico (ASUNM) Senate meeting on Wednesday, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling for the University to require a three-credit U.S. and global diversity course be added to the requirements for an undergraduate degree. The resolution states that the course could be completed as part of the core curriculum or in courses offered by the student’s degree-granting school. The requirement will not increase the credit-hour requirement for graduation.

According to the resolution, the Provost’s Diversity Council Curriculum Committee proposed that the course be “designed with a substantive focus on understanding race, class, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and disability in the U.S. and/or global context” and that “University graduation rates improve when students are exposed to different diversity experiences.”

ASUNM Chief of Staff Gregory Montoya-Mora said the requirement will help students become more familiar with diversity-related issues, such as sexism and homophobia, and provide students with a more well-rounded education. He said that although students could choose between 100- to 400-level courses to fulfill the requirement, at least half of that course’s curriculum has to be based on diversity issues.

“You’re not going to be able to fulfill all of (the graduation requirements) within one department, that’s not what we’re supposed to do. We’re not a trade school; we’re a University,” he said. “I could think of a slew of courses already that satisfy this requirement. It’s substantive, so it’s not like you can take SOC 101 (Sociology 101) and it covers one week on this.”

Montoya-Mora said that because the University serves minority students and diversity studies will improve the value of the degree, the University should uphold ASUNM’s resolution. He said students and the University should take advantage of the diversity on campus.

“We’re sort of in a special place in New Mexico,” he said. “To have diversity everywhere, a curriculum that reflects that and indulges that and reflects that is something that’s going to add immense value to your degree.”

ASUNM Sen. Damon Hudson said the Senate needed to pass the resolution to ensure the Senate’s voice is heard when changes to graduation requirements are made.

“If we don’t get on the boat with this, the boat’s leaving without us,” he said. “If we want to have any knowledge or any power or any voice in the changes that will occur with this, then we need to get on board.”

Lottery Scholarship
Student Regent Jake Wellman, who addressed the Senate on Wednesday, said New Mexico is facing a solvency issue with the Legislative Lottery Success Scholarship, and that the scholarship costs more to fund in one semester than the amount of revenue collected in one semester.

Wellman said some options to correct the solvency issue include making the scholarship requirement need-based, increasing the grade-point average requirement, tailoring scholarship eligibility based on the institution or providing a one-time allocation for each student. He said the solution may be a hybrid of these options.

“If you get the Lottery (Scholarship), you get like $2,000 no matter which school you go to, and you get to use that,” he said, explaining the option for a one-time allocation.

Wellman said that at a Lottery Scholarship Summit on Nov. 27, speakers will address each option and the consequences that each option entails.

“We have invited some legislators from Santa Fe to come down and weigh in on what they like and what they don’t like,” he said.
Wellman said students will be able to share their opinions with the Board of Regents after the summit. He said he and the regents hope the solution for the solvency issue will come from students.

“(The Board of Regents) can have students weigh in on what they would like to see happen, and take the results to the legislators to attempt to pass a bill that favors the students’ opinions,” he said. “We want to get students together and figure out a way to cut the money that is given out in a way that helps the students succeed, rather than penalizes them for the state not planning financially.”

New tuition policy
Wellman said the regents’ Academic Student Affairs and Research Committee, which he sits on, has begun creating tuition-increase policy, which includes five to six restrictions on future tuition increases. He said the policy will not allow the administration to request an increase tuition in a random fashion.

“In the spring, when you want to come to us and say we want a 5 percent tuition increase or a 10 percent tuition increase to make the budget work this next year, these are the restraints,” he said.

Wellman said some of the policy plans include tying tuition to inflation and that if the administration wants to increase tuition, its request will have to be justified within the context of the policy.

He said the policy is awaiting approval from the Board of Regents and that if it passes, the administration will have to uphold it.

Lottery Scholarship Summit
Nov. 27
Time and place to be determined