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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Student governments to protest proposed budget

ASUNM and GPSA are calling on the regents to retract a proposed $77 student fee increase and 3 percent tuition increase. The organizations are co-hosting a protest in the SUB Atrium on Thursday from noon to 1 p.m.

Sen. Caroline Muraida, who is helping organize the protest, said the goal is to give students a voice in the decision. Muraida said the Board of Regents should not have proposed the increase during spring break, while students were off campus.

“The protest is to raise awareness and present a strong unified voice to say that we are not OK that the decision was made without communication with the students and with the community,” she said. “It is a symbolic gesture to have reached that conclusion when very few students were on campus. It speaks to the board’s perception of what the Student Fee Review Board and the Strategic Budget Leadership Team are capable of accomplishing and recommending. Frankly, it’s disturbing.”

Muraida said she is not opposed to a tuition increase that is carefully considered by an administration that actively seeks student input, something she said has not happened.

“I understand the need to raise tuition to reflect the current economic climate, but I also think that needs an explanation,” she said. “I’m not opposed to an increase in tuition as long as it is fair and well thought out, but (we need to consider) what we will receive from the state. If tuition is going to be increased, we need to see a parallel and equal increase in value added to this University.”

ASUNM Attorney General Greg Montoya-Mora said students are underrepresented in the decision-making process, and that it’s time for something to change.

“I think it’s something really beneficial for the students to agree on and really unite behind,” he said. “Nobody wants to pay any more.”

ASUNM scheduled an emergency Senate meeting for tonight at 7 p.m. to discuss passing a resolution on the issue. Montoya-Mora said he hopes the meeting will create official documentation voicing student opposition to the increases.

Muraida said she will push for a strong resolution condemning the regents’ proposal to raise fees over the SFRB and SBLT recommendations.

“I can’t speak to whether everyone is opposed to (the increases), but personally I have a lot of respect for the process of allocating student fees and I witnessed the deliberation process, and I put a lot of trust in the decision and final outcome.”

GPSA Rep. Matthew Rush said time constraints prevented GPSA from placing a similar resolution on the agenda for its steering committee meeting held Monday, but said representatives could propose an emergency measure for the March 31 meeting.

The Board of Regents has yet to finalize either the tuition or fee increases and will discuss the budget further on March 23 before approving the final budget April 27.