Editor's Note: The original version of this article indicated the incorrect information about the dates ASUNM members are elected. The article has been corrected. The Daily Lobo apologizes for any confusion.
Sen. Emily Hartshorn, a student representative in the Associated Students of the University of New Mexico, understands that ASUNM struggles to represent UNM’s incredibly diverse campus.
“There is a specific group in (the ASUNM Senate), and they don’t reflect everyone,” she said. “It is something we need to talk about.”
That’s one of the reasons why she introduced legislation to change the way ASUNM elections are organized.
On Wednesday, her effort came to fruition as the student legislative body voted 16 to 2 to amend the ASUNM law book. Barring a veto from the executive desk, ASUNM presidential and senatorial elections will take place over consecutive days, and online voting will remain open for 56 hours straight.
Presidential elections are held over a two-week period: the first election day is a Wednesday and the second is the following week on a Thursday. The senatorial elections are held two weeks later and face a similar process.
The legislation faced some pushback from the Senate, but the majority of representatives supported the measure.
Hartshorn hopes this will bring out more voters and change the perception that a student making an ASUNM bid has “to be Greek to get elected.”
“The 20 senators are here to represent all students, not just the Greek program,” she said.
Of the 20 representatives, 60 percent of the ASUNM Senate are members of UNM’s Greek life.
“The only people voting are from Greek life and larger student organizations who have candidates running,” Hartshorn said after working closely with members of the ASUNM Elections Commission to draft her legislation.
“Who we vote into office is who we have represent us as a whole,” said Sen. Satchel Ben, a co-sponsor of the bill. He said he hopes the change will bring more students out to vote.
Over the last decade, an average of 1,500 students have participated in ASUNM elections. Last year 2,416 students and 1,551 students voted in the presidential and senatorial elections respectively.
Similar programs in other regional schools have increased voter turnout in student government elections.
“There’s always the perception that student government is from Greek life,” ASUNM president Noah Brooks said in an August interview with the Daily Lobo.
Of the currently staffed positions within the executive office, four of five are members of UNM Greek life.
Though promoting diversity was a key consideration in Hartshorn’s decision to push the legislation, she said she supports ASUNM and its mission.
“I don’t think that what they’re doing is bad,” Hartshorn said. “I think what they’re doing is great.”
In addition to increasing voter turnout, the new effort will better the ASUNM brand and continue the streamline to all online voting, said Elections Commission representatives.
On Sept. 16 a hiring listing was posted onto the ASUNM website and social media accounts looking for six internal positions that became available after several resignations.
On Sept. 18, four days prior to the application’s close on Sept. 22, the jobs were listed in the advertisement section of the Daily Lobo. ASUNM administration said flyers were also posted in the SUB.
Applicants had six days to complete and submit their applications from the time of the online posting to the Sept. 22 deadline. In total, 12 people submitted applications.
Deputy Chief of Staff — a ranking position within ASUNM that pays a $4,320 salary — became available after former leadership resigned. That position had six combined applicants, and the remaining six students applied for the five other openings.
Two positions, the “Cherry Reel Film Festival Chair” and the “Lobo Spirit Events Director,” had only one applicant each, whereas a coordinator and a marketing position had two applicants each and one position, the “Special Projects Coordinator,” had no applicants whatsoever. That position will not be filled this semester.
ASUNM President Noah Brooks hires executive and assistant directors as well as leadership within his office. Directors hire internal agency positions directly. Before taking their position, all hires have to be approved by the ASUNM Senate.
Information on the candidates, like name and degree program, was withheld from the Daily Lobo “to allow each candidate to feel as though they have a fair and equal chance at getting the position,” said Noah Michelsohn, ASUNM Director of Communications.
More than 40 percent of ASUNM agency positions are currently held by members of UNM Greek life.
The agency positions account for $137,848 of the ASUNM general fund. In total, ASUNM allots nearly $250,000 of the general fund to pay for various salaries and stipends.
The ASUNM general fund is financed by $20 that comes out of each undergraduate’s student fees.
In addition to paid positions, ASUNM relies on hundreds of volunteers to put on its numerous events through the semester.
Brendon Gray is a beat reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers ASUNM. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @notgraybrendon.