The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico full Senate meeting on Wednesday featured a conversation between senators and President Garnett S. Stokes, an update on the incoming UNM taproom and a delay of the Spring Budget Bill, which, at the time of the meeting, featured cuts to almost all student organizations.
Questions for Stokes
Stokes assured all those present at the meeting that she is “(here) to listen to what’s on the mind from our various constituents.”
March 29 marks Stokes one-month anniversary at UNM, and she plans to deliver a State of the University address after 200 days.
After the senators introduced themselves to Stokes, the floor was opened to questions. Becka Myers, ASUNM President-elect, asked what challenges Stokes feels the University faces.
“All higher education struggles with budget,” Stokes said.
She continued and said that she wanted to create a trajectory that was less dependent on state funding and that she was hopeful the financial state of the University will improve when the economy also improves.
“My most obvious and pressing issue now is trying to manage our athletics budget,” Stokes said.
Emily Wilks, ASUNM vice president elect, asked Stokes what she is looking forward to most about being a Lobo.
“I’m excited about what is possible,” Stokes said. “Finding out what needs to happen here and getting it done together.”
UNM taproom Updates
Next, two representatives from Institutional Support Services, Executive Director Melanie Sparks and Associate Vice President Chris Vallejo, gave a brief recap of the UNM taproom to senators and answered a variety of their questions.
The duo said the project must surpass one final hurdle and gain approval from the State Board of Finance — the project will be presented to the board in April.
Sparks said the project is expected to be approved and construction will begin in May.
She also said the taproom is expected to be constructed behind WisePies in the Student Union Building, and the project would expand onto the patio to feature both indoor and outdoor seating.
Sen. Emily Hartshorn asked if the hours of operation for the taproom were already set.
Vallejos said the taproom would operate using “standard business hours,” and when the taps are closed, the area may still be used for seating.
He also said those under 21 will still be allowed entry into the taproom, and the space is expected “to evolve” and may be utilized for events, such as live music.
Sen. Jack Hodge inquired about possible pricing for beer and if local breweries will be involved.
“There were five breweries that came forward to have talks,” Sparks said. “We’re still navigating that, but we want to focus first and foremost on New Mexico beers.”
She also said cost will be relative to factors such as the alcohol content of a certain beer, but pricing will “be competitive.”
Spring 2018 Budget Bill delayed
Eventually, senators introduced the Spring 2018 Budget Bill.
During discussion of the bill, Sen. Satchel Ben, the ASUNM finance chair, confirmed an earlier report that “there were some mistakes” in the budget bill and an extra $4,000 was found moments before the meeting started.
Due to this oversight Ben encouraged other senators to table the bill until the next full Senate meeting, so that the Finance Committee may distribute the extra funds.
The motion was made and passed unanimously. ASUNM will vote on an updated budget bill on April 11, and the Finance Committee will meet one week before on April 4.
Despite this extra $4,000, the majority of student organizations, service entities and governmental offices that ASUNM allocates money to are facing severe cutbacks to the amount they originally requested.
Included in these reductions are the three Greek Life governing bodies.
The Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council and Multicultural Greek Council requested $10,780, $13,196 and $13,099, respectively. At the time of Wednesday’s meeting they were allotted $3,551, $3,444 and $3,620, respectively.
Other groups that faced major cuts include Lobo Parenting and Society of Automotive Engineers.
Lobo Parenting originally requested $2,292, but are currently allocated $277. The Society of Automotive Engineers requested $80,486, but are currently allotted $21,00.
In total $1,107,657 was requested of ASUNM, and they allocated $674,989.
The amounts distributed may change after the Finance Committee distributes the aforementioned $4,000, but at the time of Wednesday's meeting, Ben said he had “not thought about specifics just yet” and that he was still unsure where the money would go.
Austin Tyra is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers the Board of Regents. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AustinATyra.