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Friday, December 19, 2014

Students to address Lottery Scholarship, other UNM concerns in Santa Fe this Tuesday

by John Tyczkowski
news@dailylobo.com

UNM students are taking the future of the Lottery Scholarship into their own hands.

Tuesday is UNM Day, the annual University advocacy event at the New Mexico Legislature, where students can talk to their legislators face-to-face.

“It’s the perfect opportunity for students to show our representatives and senators what UNM’s needs are, as well as to get students politically connected with their legislators,” said Cindy Nava, ASUNM executive director of governmental affairs.

This year, students are focusing on securing the solvency of the Lottery Scholarship. Other concerns include maintaining the current in-state tuition rates, securing enough funding for the University to keep the UNM shuttle bus system running and maintaining the campus lighting network.

ASUNM President Caroline Muraida said ASUNM spent months preparing to tackle the Lottery Scholarship solvency issue.

“I personally worked very closely with student regent Jacob Wellman to come up with helpful ideas,” she said. “As a whole, we’ve been looking to other states to see what they’ve been doing to save their similar programs.”

Muraida said she and Wellman emphasize the importance of having students be aware of the causes at stake.

“Lots of students use these things we’re advocating for, whether it’s campus shuttles or the Lottery Scholarship,” Muraida said. “They should know that they can make a difference when it comes to keeping these things around.”

Nava said that this year, ASUNM developed a new plan for students to engage legislators in meaningful dialogue both one-on-one in their offices and on the floor of the Legislature.

“In previous years, students would drop by (legislators’ offices) for casual visits,” she said. “This time though we’ve had training sessions for students on what UNM’s needs are so they can speak to their legislators effectively in favor of the issues.”

Trainers taught students how to talk to legislators and how to accurately and succinctly articulate UNM’s needs, she said. The training ended with mock legislator interviews to further aid students, she said.

“We don’t want them to be scared or uncomfortable when talking to these people, especially one-on-one,” Nava said.