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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Student Fee Review Board holds forums to discuss student organization funding before deliberations this weekend

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By Juan Labreche / New Mexico Daily Lobo

English and Native American studies senior Matthew Skeets addresses the Student Fee Review Board (SFRB) Thursday afternoon about the relatively low retention rate of Native American males at UNM. The SFRB held community forums Tuesday and Thursday in the SUB to hear student opinions on the allocation of student fees.

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UNM student and El Centro de la Raza employee Laura Ordonez said that without her employer, she wouldn’t have been able to continue with school after having a child.

“Halfway through my freshman year, I found out I was pregnant. I went in and told them about my situation and they were willing to work with me,” she said. “I actually worked up until three days before I gave birth.”

Ordonez was just one of the students who shared their personal experience with campus organizations Tuesday.

The Student Fee Review Board held community forums Tuesday and Thursday where students, staff and members of the University community voiced their opinions about organizations that have requested funding. The board will allocate approximately $11 million to $13 million in student fees to various campus organizations for the 2013-14 school year. Board member Richard Baca said that while the SFRB hearings are more focused on budgets, the forums give people a chance to say why certain groups are important and should receive funding.

“Seeing the numbers is one thing, but actually hearing from people is completely different,” he said.

Board member Matthew Rush said holding the forums also shows students where their fees are going and why the funded organizations are important.

More than 100 people spoke at the forums, detailing their own experiences with on-campus groups, such as American Indian Student Services, Student Health and Counseling and the UNM Children’s Campus.

UNM Chicano Studies professor Carmen Samora spoke at the forum and thanked the LGBTQ Resource Center and other campus organizations for providing resources to help her be a better teacher.

“I have recently been given the opportunity to teach about Raza genders and sexualities and Chicana feminisms and I found a welcoming place there,” she said. “They helped me fill the classes so I could have classes to teach and gave me a lot of information. They are also a very safe place for me to send students to.”

Baca said the testimonies given will help with the deliberation process but that it will still be difficult.

“If we could give money to every departmental organization that wanted it and everything they requested we’d be happy to,” he said. “But we know that students have limited budgets so we see what’s working and what’s most important to students.”