All pronouns in the constitution will now consist of they/them/they’re as the primary form of identification.
ASUNM President Rachel Williams said she sees the amendment as a big step towards campus-wide inclusiveness for students who may want to serve in ASUNM to feel more welcome.
“It’s about comfort at the end of the day,” she said. “Should we have a student who does identify as gender-neutral who comes into ASUNM and is participating any way (not feel) like the Constitution is binary and exclusive and they don’t really feel like they’re as much as a part of it as they could be just because a couple of words that are very obviously easily changed?”
Constitutional amendments, per ASUNM policy, require a two-thirds vote by elections voters to pass. That number was widely surpassed as 987 of the 1,528 who made it to the polls voted in favor of the change, while only 225 voted against, amounting to 81 percent of students who voted on the amendment being in favor.
The amendment was originally proposed in fall 2013 and put on the ballot for that semester’s elections, but it failed. Williams attributed that to the abundance of amendments on the ballot semester, leading to voter fatigue.
“(There was) just way too much on the ballot that they didn’t really care,” she said.
Sen. Kyle Biederwolf re-introduced the proposed amendment in February and it passed the Senate.
Frankie Flores, administrative assistant at the LGBTQ Resource Center, attributes the change in student sentiment to growing awareness about the transgender community.
“I think that people are talking about transgender individuals in an open manner and considering the amount of violence that has been enacted upon the transgender community; I think that’s coming to light more so that people are more conscious of it.”
Williams said that the language in the constitution will also now be more uniform with the ASUNM Law Book, in which terms like “they” and “the body” are used.
Williams said she’s excited that both governing documents of ASUNM will now be gender-neutral.
“I 100 percent throw my weight behind this and I’m so happy that 81 percent of the voters agreed that this was something that our constitution needed to see.”
UNM was recently ranked 17th by BestColleges.com for providing outreach and resources to LGBTQ students. Flores said that the amendment continues to lead that initiative of working towards a more inclusive campus.
“I think that other organizations are going to be much more mindful of making sure the language is as inclusive as possible,” he said.
David Lynch is a staff reporter at The Daily Lobo. He can be reached at news @dailylobo.com or on Twitter @RealDavidLynch.