A new president, vice president and ten new senators were sworn into their positions within the Associated Students of UNM on May 12.
The new ASUNM Senators and fresh executive team — headed by president Noah Brooks and vice president Sally Midani — are now tasked with addressing campus issues, following through on campaign promises and representing the next generation of UNM undergraduate students.
“I’m very excited for the upcoming year,” Brooks said in his first address to the UNM community since the election in March.
“I can’t wait to get started,” he said, adding that his goals are to serve the students and accomplish his campaign promises.
Outgoing ASUNM President Kyle Biederwolf commended the newly elected senators, vice president and president for their work so far.
Fully confident in the new administration’s ability to serve UNM’s students, Biederwolf praised the new governing body.
Brooks and Midani, who ran together in the election, are looking to accomplish their campaign platform which included: helping prevent sexual assault on campus, streamlining advisement and transforming UNM into a destination University.
On the campaign trail Brooks and Midani criticised the UNM advisement system. Brooks noted the efforts already made to streamline advisement, including updating the online interface, are already underway.
In effort to increase campus involvement, the new student government hopes to provide students with free shuttles to and from UNM sports games, he said. ASUNM hopes those efforts will support their efforts to make UNM a destination University.
But his first priority, Brooks said, is trying to salvage as much of the lottery scholarship as possible.
“We’re going to do everything we can to save the lottery scholarship for the students,” he said, noting the special legislative session recently scheduled for May 24 will be discussed on the first day Brooks and Midani take office.
The special session was called to address the legislative stalemate that ensued after Governor Susana Martinez’ line-item veto of the state legislature’s proposed budget. Among the vetoes were the budgets of state colleges and universities, including UNM.
Though the governor vetoed the proposed budget, the University can expect funding for the next fiscal year, according to Acting UNM President Chaouki Abdallah.
In a weekly letter to UNM, acting president Abdallah said university administrators are focused “on making sure that no further cuts are applied.”
ASUNM joined the opposition to the line-item vetoes in a letter signed by then-president Kyle Biederwolf.
The letter, signed by six student body presidents across the state, expressed disappointment with the state’s elected officials.
“If the governor truly cared about higher education in this state, she would not leave our higher education institutions and the thousands of students they serve in the dark about their anticipated budgets for the next year,” the letter read.
Amid the efforts to piece together a budget, little mention has been made about the lottery scholarship directly.
Contributions to the lottery scholarship through the liquor excise tax will expire for the next fiscal year. Pending final figures, the expiration could mean a 30 percent dip in tuition coverage, according to reports from Enrollment Department administrators earlier this year.
Budget issues are just one of the many problems the new executive team and senators face this week when they take office.
Nonetheless, Midani, Brooks and the senators have a supportive team behind them.
“I’m confident this young generation of leaders will take the baton and run with it,” said ASUNM Chief Justice Seth Barany.
“I’m extremely excited to work with the new senators that are coming in,” Midani said.
Midani gave advice to incoming students looking to get involved on campus: “jump into anything and everything,” she said.
Brooks reiterated Midani by encouraging new students to become involved with ASUNM by joining the Emerging Lobo Leaders program and attending Senate meetings.
“The more you’re involved, the more the University gives back to you,” Brooks said.
Information on the Emerging Lobo Leaders program and the Senate meetings schedule can both be found online through the ASUNM website.
Brendon Gray is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notgraybrendon.