About 200 UNM students are expected to travel to Santa Fe today to advocate on behalf of the University during the New Mexico legislative session’s annual UNM Day. Students attending UNM Day through ASUNM’s Governmental A airs O ce will receive a free round-trip Rail Runner ticket, free lunch at Tomasita’s Mexican restaurant and a letter excusing them from class for the day, but Florencio Olguin, executive director of ASUNM Governmental A airs, said he hopes students are coming because they believe they can help improve the lives of current and future students. “UNM Day is important for students because it gives us an opportunity to voice our concerns on issues that a ect us,” he said.
Olguin said ASUNM’s 2012 legislative priorities include advocating for the continuation of the Legislative Lottery Scholarship, eliminating the legislative tuition tax credit and requesting funding for improved lighting on campus and a new commuter shuttle. Along with New Mexico State University, UNM is supporting House Joint Memorial 14 and Senate Joint Memorial 27, which propose creating a task force to study Lottery Scholarship funding options, Olguin said. “It would include three students representing New Mexico institutions of higher education … to (discuss) how to keep the Lottery scholarship solvent,” he said.
“We think this is a positive step for eventual solvency of the scholarship.” GPSA Lobby Committee co-chair Travis McIntyre said the committee is looking forward to working with their undergraduate counterparts from UNM during the 2012 state legislative session. McIntyre said a member of the Lobby Committee has been at the Legislature every day since the session started. “We will talk about our No. 1 issue, the tuition credit,” he said.
“The tuition credit is the amount the government says you need to increase tuition by, because they are going to give you that much less money. It’s basically a tax on students.” McIntyre said the Lobby Committee will also advocate for a proposed new funding formula, which would determine UNM’s budget based on student performance, rather than enrollment numbers. He said he also plans to advocate for the reinstatement of graduate student funding in the form of grants. Since 2002 the state has given $100,000 per year in grants to fund graduate student research projects that benefited New Mexico, but those grants were cut last year. UNM’s Office of Government and Community Relations provided the funding to purchase Rail Runner train tickets for undergraduates, graduates and alumni, Olguin said. Additionally, ASUNM Governmental Affairs has a line item in its budget dedicated to funding lunch for UNM Day.
ASUNM Senator Caroline Muraida said UNM Day is a time when UNM
students can unite under one banner, regardless of the organizations they belong to within UNM. “UNM Day is a great opportunity for all students, not just those involved in student government or government affairs, to take an active role in the legislative process,” she said. “This is an opportunity to advocate on behalf of issues that affect all students, like the lottery scholarship, honors college, or tuition credit.”