UNM students showed up in force to voice their displeasure at what they believed was a lack of representation regarding the Legislative Lottery Scholarship’s solvency issue at Wednesday night’s Associated Students of the University of New Mexico Senate meeting.
Discussions continued to swirl over a card handed out at UNM Day last week, which stated that UNM students would like to see the new requirements proposed by Senate Bill 150 regarding the Scholarship passed.
Graduate student Virginia Necochea, who attended UNM Day for the first time this year, said it took her nearly an hour to get to a “zen moment and place” after she read the card, which was distributed with a chocolate gold coin taped on it.
“This right here is a blanket statement,” said Necochea while addressing the senate with the card in her hand. “A misrepresentation of so many students, so many parents, so many community leaders that have been trying so hard since the article came out, talking about some of you and your closed-door meetings in December about this decision you have made to advocate for an increase in GPA and advocate for an increase in core growth.”
At the meeting, graduate and undergraduate students questioned where the money came from to fund printing the color cardstock and who determined that what was written on the card was the unquestioned opinion of UNM students regarding the issue.
The senate was unable to come up with an answer that satisfied any of those in attendance regarding where the printing money came from.
As head of the senate’s Outreach and Appointments Committee, ASUNM Sen. Grace Liu said she believes some of the blame for the misrepresentation of UNM students falls on her committee. She said she believes ASUNM must do a better job reaching out to a wider variety of student organizations in order to have an accurate portrayal of student opinions.
“I have been on this committee three semesters now, and that’s a fairly new idea,” Liu said. “In the sense that we saw outreach as more of us going out there and promoting ASUNM instead of us going out there and actively getting student input, so that has been something we have been working on, especially these past two semesters.”
While most of the criticism from the gallery was directed at the senators, Sen. Liliana Benitez de Luna said she believes that blame for the lack of communication was not all on the Senate.
“I do agree there was a lack in communication,” Benitez said. “But I do want to say that I feel a little bit attacked, because this was out of the senate’s control. This wasn’t with the senate.”
In addition, ASUNM Sen. Ayham Maadi stressed to his fellow senators late in the meeting that it was also their job as individuals to connect with students one-on-one in order to build rapport with those whom they represent. He said this also serves as a means of better gauging student opinions on key issues such as this.
Liu said she agrees with Maadi.
“We can’t just put outreach on one committee,” Liu said. “That’s only a third of the senators and we can’t just have a third of the senators going out and getting the opinions of students. So yes, I agree that it is every senator’s duty to go out there and gather this information.”
At the end of the meeting, senators discussed the possibility of setting up a public forum in which students and organizations alike could voice their opinions on Senate Bill 150.