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Friday, December 19, 2014

Roybal recollects teamwork, legislation

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By Britney King / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Jaymie Roybal

sozden@unm.edu

As her term comes to an end, ASUNM President Jaymie Roybal said she is proud of ASUNM’s accomplishments this year and hopes that the administration continues to listen to the student body. She said she aimed to keep tuition low and improve student health facilities because student wellness, she said, should be a priority at UNM. The Daily Lobo sat down with Roybal to reflect on her achievements as ASUNM president and learn more about her plans for the future.

Daily Lobo: One of your primary goals was to keep tuition low. Tuition increased by 3.75 percent this year compared to 5.5 percent last year. While tuition increased, it didn’t by as much as in previous years. How much of an effect do you think your actions and the actions of students had in keeping it low?

Jaymie Roybal: One of the things I’m most proud of is that I was able to work well with GPSA President Katie Richardson. ASUNM and GPSA have different priorities but we worked together to keep tuition and fee increases low. It’s something that hasn’t been done in the past.

ASUNM and GPSA having a united voice had a big impact on keeping the tuition increase low. Any tuition increase is unfortunate for students but 3.75 percent is less than the 5.5 percent increase from last year and students will see that, although it is more money, it means more services for students. Part of library costs will be covered by the tuition increase and next year there will be new professors, graduate assistantships and teaching assistantships.

DL: Despite aims to keep student fees low, SFRB recommended a $16.71 increase over last year and the administration is likely to add an additional $50 fee for Athletics. Why did student fees increase so much this year?

JR: SFRB stands behind the $16.71 recommendations. The increase will offer more services for students. It will fund a recreational center and includes extended hours at Johnson Center and a 24-hour library. But I strongly disagree with the $50 fee for Athletics. ASUNM fought against that and I am very unhappy that the regents support it. ASUNM has been very vocal about our dissatisfaction with the additional funding for Athletics.

DL: What would you have done differently?

JR: I would have liked to create more opportunities for administrators to engage with students because the administration rarely comes in contact with the student body aside from working with ASUNM, GPSA, SFRB and other organizations.

It’s unfortunate because as much as student leaders can represent the student body, the administration doesn’t interact with the rest of the student body, and it could have more of an impact if the administration was more involved. I think it’s necessary that they hear the students’ voices as well.

DL: What do you plan to do in the future?

JR: I graduate in December and I hope to go to graduate school, law school and get my MBA. I don’t intend to continue a position within ASUNM but I accepted an internship at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network that will start this summer.

DL: One of your key goals at the state Legislature this year was the repeal of the tuition credit, which is a tax on higher education that students pay to the government. How did your actions and the actions of ASUNM ensure that got taken off the books?

JR: It’s been a lengthy process and a big part of it was educating state Legislature because they weren’t really aware that the tuition credit existed. We explained that the tuition credit balanced the budget of the state and they took it to heart.

DL: The bike share program, which would allow students to rent bicycles from electronic pay kiosks on campus, will be funded $50,000 from student fees through the SFRB, conditional on the rest of the $250,000 in funding being raised by ASUNM. Where are you on the fundraising process and will we see that program implemented next year?

JR: I hope to see it implemented next year and we’re waiting for the final quote from the company we’re working with that will provide us with the bicycles. It’s possible to get the money in place by the time my term is up.

DL: Some students opposed expanding Johnson Center or creating a new recreation center, which you supported during your administration. Do you still stand by the claim that students need better exercise facilities, and what cost do you think is reasonable for students to pay to receive them?

JR: Students need to have the best services that they can have. I don’t believe that student fees should be increased to pay for the center. With all the new housing on campus and the incoming students, we need somewhere for those students to go to improve student health and wellness on campus.

We pay a facility fee for various buildings on campus and that fee should go to pay for the buildings students use, like a wellness center. There are many options that can be explored to find funding for the center. It’s just a matter of finding the money.

DL: You recently attended a summit on behalf of UNM in Washington, D.C. as a member of the National Campus Leadership Council, which is a national group of student body presidents from schools across the country. What was addressed at the summit and how does UNM student leadership compare to leadership at other schools?

JR: We exchanged ideas and talked about our successes and failures. We also discussed the issues students have with the Obama administration, tuition, fees, sustainability, student engagement and involvement, campus safety and affordability of education. We had a lot to contribute and a lot of other students were impressed by all that UNM had to share. UNM is on the same level, if not above, other student leaders. We had a lot of ideas to share like Spring Storm and FIESTAS that the other leaders found interesting.