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ASUNM looking to improve transparency

ASUNM President Rachel Williams said connectivity across campus has always been the most important thing to her. She said one of her goals is for ASUNM to have a more positive and widespread presence on campus, in which students can get to know their senators as people who care.

“What I want is for ASUNM to be a word that is familiar with students – for example that ASUNM was the organization that brought UNM someone as amazing as (musician) Jack White,” Williams said.

ASUNM’s Student Special Events was able to book the popular rocker, who will perform at Popejoy Hall on Feb. 3, according to ASUNM’s website.

Williams said her time in office last semester helped her recognize her weaknesses and strengths as president of ASUNM, and that she will work to develop the latter for the good of the student body. She said she will strive to be more involved in the Senate to help put a face on ASUNM that students will feel comfortable with.

“I feel like I have really come into my own. I hope to work more with the Senate so there are more people who know what is happening on campus at any given time,” she said. “There is a lot that our university is facing, and having input from various sources – the Senate and especially the Joint Council – is imperative.”

Jenna Hagengruber, ASUNM vice president, also said that connectivity with students remains a priority. One thing that Hagengruber said she and Sen. Victoria Pryor have been working on is a student success week the week before midterms and finals.

Although the details are still being work out, Hagengruber said they hope to be able to provide students with the tools that they need to be successful.

In an effort to further transparency with students, ASUNM will begin filming their meetings and archiving them so that anyone can tune in when they would like and see what business is being worked on during senate meetings.

“That is a really big initiative that we all have to put a lot of effort into. We have to do a lot on our end to make sure we are prepared,” she said. “We have to make sure we are very transparent, that we are bringing everything to the table that we are being professional, that we are being the leaders we were elected to be.”

Hagengruber said that her time in office during the fall semester humbled her in a way she hopes to build on. She measures her success by how ASUNM senators are conducting their duties, she said.

“I learned that this position is very hidden. People know what President Williams does; she speaks out to the student body. People know what the Senate does because they are the ones writing legislation and implementing it,” she said. “Not many people know what I do, and that is okay with me. If the Senate is doing a good job, then that reflects on my job.”

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Hagengruber said the legacy she hopes to leave behind is one in which UNM’s undergraduates understand that ASUNM’s senators are in office to represent their opinions, as well as their needs.

“We don’t just sit in the office for 50 hours a week for nothing,” she said. “We are here to work for you. We are your servants, we are not in charge. We are doing what you want us to do. So I really want to push that this semester.

“I just want the students to know that we are actually here. We don’t just sit in the office for 50 hours a week for nothing, you know? We are to work for you. We are your servants, we are not in charge. We are your servants. We’re doing what you want us to do. So I really want to push that this semester.”

However, even some UNM students who are aware of ASUNM do not approve of some of their priorities. Andrew Santangelo, a fifth-year economics and management major, is one such student.

“I think they try to get involved in some things where it does not really matter if they get involved or not, but they feel like they have this obligation to,” he said.

Santangelo said he thinks there is still a gap between ASUNM and the student body, one in which he said ASUNM believes they have free will to do whatever they want.

“Sometimes I feel like there is a gap. Even though sometimes people say they do not really care or they do not want them (ASUNM) to do something, but they (ASUNM) say ‘oh, but you voted and we are in here, so we have the power to do so, whether you like it or not,’” he said.

Williams said she hopes to change that state of mind during her final semester in office. She said she hopes to help prepare ASUNM as best she can for the 2015-16 school year and beyond.

“Whether students in five to 10 years even know who I am or what I did is not important to me,” she said. “I hope I can truly stress, in all that I do this semester, that I am interested in the future of this organization, my fellow students and the university as a whole.”

David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.

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